World War II
Activated: 25 February 1943.
Overseas: 8 May 1944.
Campaigns: New Guinea, Southern Philippines, Luzon.
Days of combat: 204.
Distinguished Unit Citations: 13.
Awards: MH-2 ; DSC-9 ; SS-432; LM-10; SM-56 ; BSM-1,515 ; AM-41.
Maj. Gen. Joseph M. Swing (25 February 1943-February 1946)
Brig. Gen. Frank Dorn (February 1946June 1946)
Maj. Gen. Joseph M. Swing (June 1946-January 1948)
Maj. Gen. William M. Miley (24 January 1948 to present).
The 11th Airborne Division arrived in New Guinea, 25 May 1944, and continued training, leaving for the Philippines 11 November 1944. It landed amphibiously, not by jump, on Leyte, 18 November 1944, between Abuyog and Tarragona, 40 miles south of Tacloban, and pushing inland, cleared the Ormoc-Burauen supply trail, an important Japanese combat lifeline. The 11th's general mission was to seize and secure within its zone all exits from the mountains into. Leyte Valley and to secure the western exits from the mountains into the west coastal corridor to assist the attack of the 7th Division toward Ormoc. On 6 December 1944 the paratroopers of the 11th found themselves fighting Japanese parachutists who had landed near the San Pablo airstrip. The Japanese were wiped out in a 5-day engagement. In a continuous series of combat actions, Japanese resistance was reduced on Leyte by the end of December 1944. Heavy resistance was met at Rock Hill, which finally fell, 18 December; a sleeping enemy was caught off guard at Hacksaw Hill, 23 December, and suffered heavy losses. During January 1945 the Division rested and staged for a landing on Luzon. While other American troops were driving on Manila from the north, the 11th Airborne made an amphibious landing 60 miles south of Manila, 31 January 1945, at Nasugbu, and began to drive north. The first combat jump by an element of the division in the war, that of the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment on Tagaytay Ridge, 3 February 1945, met no resistance. The 511th crossed the Paranaque River 5 February, and reached Manila, meeting fierce Japanese resistance. Nichols Field was taken, 12 February, and Fort McKinley was flanked, 12-16 February, and finally taken, 17 February. A combined air and sea assault liberated more than 2,000 American and European interned nationals at Los Banos, 23 February 1945. With Manila declared secure, the Division reduced a strong ring of enemy outposts between Lake Taal and Laguna de Bay, and occupied towns along Highway No. 1, cutting off the Bicol Peninsula. In April the 11th took part in clearing out remaining enemy resistance in Batangas Province, and by 1 May, all resistance in southern Luzon had ended. The final operation of the Division was conducted on 23 June 1945, in conjunction with the advance of the 37th Division in northern Luzon. A Task Force was formed and jumped on Camalaniugan Airfield, south of Aparri. The force attacked and made contact with the 37th Infantry Division, 26 June 1945, between Alcala and the Paret River. In July 1945 the Division trained; in August it was transported by air to Honshu, Japan, via Okinawa, for occupation. duty.
Nickname: The Angels. Shoulder patch: A red circle on a royal blue shield containing a white numeral "11" ; the circle is bordered in white with white wings raising obliquely from the white periphery; in the top arc, the white letters "Airborne" are alined with shape of arc. Association: 11th Airborne Division Association, Military Service Publishing Co., Harrisburg, Pa. (Meade D. Detweiler, executive secretary). Publications: Angels; by Maj. Edward M. Flanagan, Jr., Unit Historian; The Infantry Journal, Washington 6, D. C.: 1948. Pictorial Review; by unit members; Albert Love Enterprises, Atlanta 2, Ga.; 1944.
[Nota Bene: These combat chronicles, current as of October 1948, are reproduced from The Army Almanac: A Book of Facts Concerning the Army of the United States, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950, pp. 510-592.]