|The 63rd Infantry Division
The proud legend of the 63rd Infantry Division had its beginning at
Casablanca in January 1943, when Prime Minister Churchill of Great
Britain coined the phrase that the Axis powers would "Bleed and Burn in
expiation of their crimes against humanity". From that statement, Brigadier
General Louis E. Hibbs, soon to become the division's
commander,designed the shoulder insignia and the slogan "Blood and Fire".
On 15 June 1943, the Division was activated at Camp Blanding, Florida.
The cadre manning the new division came from Camp Breckinridge,
Kentucky's 98th Infantry Division. Following initial cadre training the
division relocated some 650 miles to Camp Van Dorn, Mississippi,
arriving there during the latter part of August 1943.
During the month of September 1943, men from reception centers all over
the country rapidly brought the division up to strength, and intensive basic
training commenced. In November 1943 the men of the division had
completed basic and small unit training and were anticipating advance and
larger unit maneuvers. This, however was not to be.
In December 1943, all privates, privates first class, along with some
noncommissioned and junior officers were reassigned to other divisions
alerted for overseas movement. The process of receiving replacements
and training them only to have them reassigned as fillers for other divisions
alerted for overseas movement was repeated twice again before the
division was at long last alerted as a unit for overseas assignment.
During March and April 1944 the division was brought to full strength with
replacements coming from training centers as well as men from the Army
Specialist Training Program and the Army Air Corps Cadet Training
Program. The latter two programs had been cut-back and their
participants released for assignment to the Infantry.
As the division reached full strength again, training started anew. By
November 1944 the division was ready for movement to an overseas
area. On 6 November 1944, the 63rd Infantry Division advance party left
Camp van Dorn by train for Camp Shanks, New York and ultimate
shipment to France. The advance party or forward element of the division
was known as Task Force Harris and consisted of the three Infantry
Regiments,; the 253rd, 254th and 255th plus a small supporting staff. The
Task Force was commanded by Brigadier General Frederick M. Harris.
Task Force Harris arrived in Marseille, France on 8 December 1944 and
after a few days in a staging area moved by road and rail to Camp
d'Oberhoffen, France located about midway betwen Colmar and
Sarreguemines. By the end of December 1944, Task Force Harris was
disbanded and all three regiments were reassigned to various divisions of
the 6th Army Group. The 253rd was attached to the 44th Infantry
Division in the Sarreguemines-Riming area; the 254th was attached to the
3rd Infantry Division in the Colmar Area, and the 255th was attached to
the 100th Infantry Division near Bitche.
Thus the three regiments, separated from 63rd Infantry Division control
were destined to make their own history until reunited with the Division in
From mid-February 1945 until the end of the war, the 63rd Infantry
Division made a path of Blood and Fire from Sarreguemines through the
Siegfried Line to Worms, Mannheim, Heidelberg, Gunzburg and ending in
Landsberg Germany at the end of April 1945 when the division was pulled
from the line for a much needed rest.
By war's end Division units had participated in three (3) battle campaigns
and its Infantry Regiments had been awarded seven (7) Distinguished Unit
Awards (Now known as Presidential Unit Citations) and a French Croix
de Guerre with palm.
During he period of December 1944 to May 1945 the division suffered
over 1000 killed, more than 5000 wounded, over 1000 missing in action,
63 captured by the enemy and over 4000 non-battle casualties. Division
forces captured ovcr 21,000 enemy soldiers.
In September 1945 the "Blood and Fire" division was restaffed with "high
point men" from other divisions, returned to the United States and on 29th
of September 1945 was inactivated.
The 63rd Infantry Division came back to life in March of 1952 when it
was activated in the Los Angeles, CA area as a reserve Division. The
division was deactivated again in December 1965, only to return to life
again as the 63rd US Army Reserve Command in February 1968.
During the period after deactivation in 1965 and reactivation in 1968,
elements of the 63rd Reinforcement Training Units (RTU) became
involved in the staffing of the National Rifle Matches in Camp Perry, Ohio
in the Spring of 1966. The 63rd RTU along with personnel from five other
USAR divisions was tasked to staff the National Rifle Matches in lieu of
their two weeks of Annual Active Duty Training. All reserve members of
the support element were designated as the 63rd Div RTU Reserve
Support Battalion and were placed under the command of a 63rd RTU
officer who displayed the 63rd Infantry Division colors in the Battalion's
In 1967, the 63rd RTU was again tasked with the mission of providing
support to the National Rifle Matches in Camp Perry, Ohio and again was
assigned responsibility of command for all reserve component elements in
the support unit. As in 1966, the support element was commanded by a
63rd RTU officer and the colors were again displayed in the support
In 1968 with the formation of the 63rd US Army Reserve Command, the
RTU was inactivated and the 63rd Infantry Division colors were turned
over to the 63rd US Army Reserve Command.(63rd ARCOM).
The 63rd ARCOM embraced California, Arizona and Nevada and was
made up of Combat Service and Combat Service Support units and one
tank battalion. During DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM 22
units of the ARCOM were mobilized. Fourteen (14) of these units were
deployed to Saudi Arabia.
In April 1995, the United States Army Reserve Command, in response to
a downsized force and redefined mission, announced its largest
realignment in decades. As a result the 63rd was once again redesignated,
this time as the US Army 63d Regional Support Command (RSC). Its
geographic boundaries were realigned to conform with the standard
federal district observed by the Federal Emergency Managment Agancy
(FEMA) and other government agencies. This new alignment will held the
63rd support natural disasters and other regional crises much more quickly.
The 63d RSC's main mission will continue to be that of providing combat
support and combat service support to units during deployments; to
support troop projections by filling in for deploying active troops;
providing port, rail and other transportation support; and act as the training
base during full mobilization. The 63rd has command and control of
approximately 14,000 soldiers serving in approximately 140 units in the
States of California, Arizona and Nevada, with obligation to control
budgets, manage supplies and provide personnel support and planning.
In addition the 63rd RSC has the increased responsiblity to support the
major reserve commands located within its boundaries, including the 91st
Division (Exercise), 104th Division (Institutional training) and the 311th
Support Command (Corps). Support includes resource and logistic
managment, personnel functions, real property management, and regional
planning related to military support of civilian authorities.
In 2003 the command was redesignated as the 63rd Regional Readiness
The 63rd RRC is currently commanded by Major General Robert B.
Ostenberg and is headquartered in Los Alamitos, California. The 63rd
RRC continues to support Active Army mission, both foreign and
domestic, including participation in the peace implementation force in
Bosnia and the conflict in Iraq..
The World War II veterans of the 63rd Infantry Division are proud
"Grandparents" of the men and women of the 63rd RRC. We
congratulate and give our support to all who serve our nation today.
Thanks for keeping the "Blood and Fire" alive.
It is expected that the current organization will be redesignated in 2008 as
the 63rd Regional Readiness Sustainment Command and stationed at
Moffett Field, CA.
Click here to visit the 63rd Regional Readiness Command Web Site.
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