The 91st Infantry Division (famously nicknamed as the “Wild West Division” with a “Fir Tree” as its Division insignia to symbolize its traditional home of the Far West) was an infantry division of the US Army that fought in WW I and WW II. From 1946 until 2008, it was part of the Army Reserve. It was briefly inactivated from 2008 until 2010 when it was elevated back to a division size element as the 91st Training Division (Operations).
Constituted on 5 Aug 1917 at Camp Lewis, near Tacoma, Washington, the division soon thereafter departed for England in the summer of 1918. In September 1918, the division’s first operation was in the St. Mihiel Offensive in France. Serving under the Army’s V Corps, the division fought in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and successfully helped to destroy the German First Guard Division and continued to smash through three successive enemy lines.
Twelve days before the end of WW I, the division, as part of the VII Corps of the French Sixth Army, helped drive the Germans east across the Escaut River. The division was awarded separate campaign streamers for its active role in the Lorraine, Meuse-Argonne and Ypres-Lys campaigns.
In 1919, the 91st was inactivated at the Presidio of San Francisco. After being reconstituted in 1921 as part of the Organized Reserves, the division then served as an administrative control center for the next 21 years.
As the early battles of WW II involving the U. S. were being fought, the division was reactivated at Camp White, Oregon on 15 Aug 1942, under the command of Major General Charles H. Gerhardt. After initial training at Camp White, the division participation in the Oregon Maneuver combat exercise in the fall of 1943.
The division, now under Major General William G. Livesay, departed for Europe on 3 April 1944. There, on the Italian Front, the 361st Regimental Combat Team was detached to participate in the battles for Rome and the Arno River. It became the first formation of the U.S. Fifth Army to reach the river. In September 1944, the division crossed the Sieve River, outflanked the famous Gothic Line, and captured the Futa Pass. For its part in combat, the division was awarded the North Apennines, Po Valley and Rome-Arno campaign streamers. They served 271 days in combat.
The division returned to the States where it was inactivated at Camp Rucker, Alabama, in December 1945. Two members were awarded the Medal of Honor during the war, Roy W. Harmon and Oscar G. Johnson.
In December 1946, the 91st was reactivated at the Presidio of San Francisco as part of the Army Reserve. In 1959, the division was reorganized and redesignated as the 91st Division (Training). In 1993, the division was again reorganized and redesignated as the 91st Division (Exercise) and again in 1999 as the 91st
Division (Training Support).
Its previous headquarters were at Parks Reserve Forces Training Area (PRFTA), (Camp Parks) Dublin, California.
In its 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommendations, the DoD recommended relocating the 91st Division headquarters to Fort Hunter Liggett, California, moving on 1 May 2009.
The 91st Division was reorganized and re-designated as the 91st Training Brigade (Operations) on 1 October 2009. In October 2010, the 91st was redesignated as Training Division (Operations)
The four brigades of the 91st Division were redesignated as separate brigades:
1st Brigade (PRFTA) now 5th Brigade, 75th Division.
2nd Brigade (Fort Carson) now 5th Armored Brigade.
3rd Brigade (Travis AFB) now the 402nd Field Artillery Brigade.
4th Brigade (Fort Lewis) now 191st Infantry Brigade.
William Borders, Army Catholic Chaplain, was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor, while serving with the 362 Infantry Regiment in bitter fighting in Italy. He later became the Archbishop of Baltimore.
Frederick Lippitt, politician and philanthropist.
Oscar Franklin Miller, Medal of Honor recipient.
Deming Bronson, Medal of Honor recipient.
Earl Warren, Governor of California and Chief Justice of the United States.
Richard C. Oshlo, as Commanding Officer of the Division’s 3rd Battalion, 361st Infantry Regiment, was the youngest Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army in W II at the age of 23. He was commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion when it won the Presidential Unit Citation for capturing Livergnano. Later he graduated 1st in his class at the Army’s prestigious Command and General Staff College at Ft Leavenworth and was Mayor of Council Bluffs, Iowa, in 1964.