I was pleased to get an email on Feb. 22 from “Charlie Sherpa,” writer of the Red Bull Rising blog. The blog is dedicated to information about and for the “Red Bull Division,” the 34th Infantry Division — which happens to be the division Babe served from late 1943 till he was killed in May 1945.
“Sherpa” wrote a nice take-out highlighting my little project here and taught me a few things in the process.
For example, I hadn’t thought to consider Babe’s rank while he was in the army. He was a “technician fifth grade,” a radio operator in the infantry. Sherpa’s entry notes that the rank of “technician fifth grade” was unique to World War II. He linked me to this Wikipedia page about it.
Those who held this rank were addressed as Corporal, but did not have the authority to give commands as a corporal would. The wearers of the rank were often called “Tech Corporal.”
Sherpa also taught me a little more about the lineage of the units Babe served.
Yes, he was a member of the 34th, but within that, he was part of the 168th Infantry Regiment. And it is this unit that Babe his referencing in an earlier letter, after he gets his assignment, when he says “what an outfit. It’s the best on this side and I don’t mean maybe. It’s got a history that dates way back to the Rainbow Division of the last struggle.”
Sherpa puts it in context for me:
In World War I, the U.S. 34th Inf. Div.—then nicknamed the “Sandstorm” division—comprised U.S. National Guard troops from North and South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. The Midwestern connection continues to the present. The division headquarters is now part of the Minnesota National Guard, and is located Rosemount, Minn. Present-day units that notably continue to wear the “Red Bull” sleeve insignia include Minnesota’s 1st Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.), 34th Inf. Div. (1-34th BCT), and the Iowa National Guard’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Inf. Div. (2-34th BCT).
The 168th Infantry Regiment’s lineage is currently maintained by the Iowa National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry Regiment (1-168th Inf.), headquartered in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and a subordinate unit to the 2-34th BCT.
I’m grateful for the recognition by someone who knows what he’s talking about, and for the additional information.