The 37th division, Ohio National Guard was mobilized prior to World War II on October 15, 1940. The "Buckeyes" Division was sent to the South Pacific in May of 1942 where its three infantry regiments, the 129, 148th, and 149th all distinguished themselves in the tough fighting on Rendova island and Bougainvilla. The division landed at Lingayan Gulf, on the Philippine Island of Luzon, January 9, 1945, and after almost a month of fighting took part in the assault of Manila, entering the city on the 4th of February. The soldiers of the 37th Infantry Division secured the Old Bilibid Prison freeing 1330 civilian internees and military prisoners of war. They made an assault crossing of the Pasig River, cleared the Paco neighborhood, and reduced the Intramuros fortress. The Japanese fortified buildings with skill and the larger reinforced concrete buildings became major obstacles to the men of the 37th. Casualties mounted. The Japanese held not only the access to the buildings, but also fought from inside the buildings themselves, forcing the 37th to fight not only block by block or building by building, but floor by floor and room by room. This was the kind of fighting that placed a premium on a good leadership at squad and platoon levels. Many junior officers and non commissioned officers led by example. A squad leader in the 148th Infantry was the object of a bayonet charge by six Japanese soldiers who charged from approximately 30 yards away. Sergeant Billy E. Vinson warded off the first Japanese soldier's bayonet thrust, then dispatched the assault group with one long burst from his Browning automatic Rifle. He held his forward position until all wounded soldiers in the vicinity could be evacuated. After weeks of hard fighting, Manila was secured on the 2nd of March, 1945. As the 37th Infantry Division history states, "For those who missed Normandy or Cassino, Manila would do." The courage and spirit of the fighting soldiers of the 37th Division is carried on today by the dedicated soldiers of the Ohio National Guard.
Download a high-resolution copy of this print here: [11mb JPG]