134th Infantry Regiment
"All Hell Can't Stop Us"
Casing of Colors Ceremony Schedule of Events
Saturday, August 18, 2001
Fort Omaha, 30th and Fort Streets, Omaha NE
Parking lots open at 9:30 a.m.
Free and open to the public
10:30 a.m. - Concert by 43rd Army National Guard Band From Lincoln NE
11 a.m. - Casing of the Colors Ceremony
Noon - 1:30 p.m. - Army Band resumes concert
From the Official Casing of the Colors Ceremony Program:
Organized in 1855 from independent militia companies of the Nebraska Territory as the 1st and 2nd Regiments, Nebraska Militia, commanded by Brigadier General John M. Thayer. Reorganized as the 1st Regiment Nebraska Volunteer Infantry and mustered into service for the Civil War in 1861. It became the 1st Nebraska Cavalry in 1863 and served on federal duty until 1866. The unit was reorganized as independent companies in 1875, became the 1st Regiment Nebraska National Guard, in 1881, and served in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection (1898 - 1899) as the 1st Nebraska Volunteer Infantry.
The 1st Nebraska Infantry Regiment was reorganized in Nebraska in 1900. In 1913 it consolidated with the 2nd Infantry Regiment and reorganized as the 4th and 5th Infantry Regiments. The unit mustered for Federal service on the Mexican Border in 1916 and for World War I in 1917. It was reorganized as the 134th Infantry Regiment shortly after being mobilized in 1917 and served in World War I (1917 - 1919), as part of the 34th Division, and in World War II (1940 - 1945), as part of the 35th Division.
The unit has earned 23 campaign battle streamers, four Presidential Unit Citations, two Meritorious Unit Citations and one French Croix-de-Guerre with Palm.
"All Hell can't stop us!"
My thanks to Lorrie Fitzpatrick for these newspaper articles. and photos of the ceremony.
Ceremony Salutes Retiring Regiment
By Judith Nygren
World-Herald Staff Writer
Even as Nebraska's only Army infantry unit retired its flag Saturday - ceasing to exist as the regiment that "all hell couldn't stop" - its 23 battle ribbons continued to whip in the wind.
"I didn't cry. I thought I would," said Bob Fowler of Omaha, who served in two of the battles marked by the ribbons, flying atop the colors of the 134th Infantry Regiment.
Still emotions ran deep.
The roughly 800 people lining the parade green at the General Crook House Museum in Omaha watched in silence as the flag was rolled tightly around the pole in preparation for a trip to the military archives.
A few former citizen-soldiers wiped their eyes. Grandmothers nudged squirming children, a signal that this was a time to sit still in a show of respect. A mother held up her toddler to give her a better view of the historic event.
"This is a sad event for many of the soldiers present," Lt. Col. Roger Meisinger of the Nebraska National Guard told the crowd. "But let's not look at this as an end, but as an opportunity - an opportunity to recognize the past accomplishments of the 134th Infantry Regiment and its soldiers."
The regiment's roots date back to the territorial years of the 1850's and span Indian wars, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection. It evolved into the 134th in 1921, and served in both World Wars.
During World War II, the unit battled for the liberation of St. Lo and was among the first to break through to the besieged 101st Airborne during the Battle of the Bulge.
Closer to home, the regiment has been called in to help communities devastated by floods, tornadoes and snowstorms.
Bill Fead, an Army veteran from Omaha, never served with the 134th. But he turned out Saturday to pay respect to the men that he remembered from his childhood, the World War II citizen-soldiers for whom his mother prepared sandwiches and cookies.
Fead said he still remembers taking food down to the train station so his mother and other members of the USO could feed the regiment.
Nearby, brothers Royce and Richard Anderson recalled three generations of family history with the regiment.
Their grandfather served in the Spanish-American War with the 1st Nebraska Volunteer Infantry, one of the many evolutions leading to the 134th Infantry Regiment.
In WWII, their father was a warrant officer with the regiment. Richard Royce and one other brother all answered to the senior Anderson at company headquarters.
"People would ask, "What do you call your dad?" Richard Anderson recalled. "I'd tell them, Dad or Mister," depending on whether the conversation was taking place at home or on duty.
Richard Anderson, who went on to serve 20 years of active duty and eventually outranked this father as Lt. Col. Anderson, said he regretted the decommissioning of the 134th, "but that's the way the military is."
The Guard has to change as the Army's needs change, he said.
The regiment is being reorganized into transportation and decontamination units.
While it is difficult to see the 134th and its history come to an end, Meisinger said, the state actually stands to benefit from the reorganization.
The change, for example, will allow the companies to recruit women, who are prohibited from joining combat units. It also will bring more military vehicles into the state, which can then be used when the Guard helps with disasters.
The reorganization also means that the distinction of serving in the 134th has taken new meaning, said Brig. Gen. Roger Lempke, adjutant general for Nebraska: "Nobody else can say they are a member of the 134th. It's a tradition we carry alone."
To mark that tradition one last time, Lempke called out the battle cry that the 134th took into World War II - "All hell can't stop us!"
Guard Unit's Colorful Past Will Live On
By David Hendee
World-Herald Staff Writer
Hell couldn't stop them, but the Pentagon will. Nebraska's only Army infantry unit - with roots dating to the territorial years of the 1850s - disappears next weekend during a public ceremony at Fort Omaha.
The Army National Guard's 134th Infantry Regiment's flag will be retired Saturday on the parade green at the General Crook House Museum.
Twenty-three campaign ribbons from the Civil War to World War II on the regimental colors commemorate a storied and colorful combat history that includes a general's remark in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War in 1899; "There go those First Nebraskans again, and all hell couldn't stop them."
The unit turned the statement into a WWII battle cry- All Hell Can't Stop Us - and fought with distinction in Europe. The citizen-soldiers battled for the liberation of St. Lo to help secure the Allied foothold in Normandy and were among the first to break through to the besieged 101st Airborne during the Battle of the Bulge.
The regiment's 1st Battalion - its last infantry unit - is being reorganized into transportation and chemical reconnaissance and decontamination units as part of the Guard's restructuring to better serve the regular Army, said Capt. Douglas Hartman of Omaha.
About 550 guardsmen serving in seven eastern Nebraska cities are affected by the change. Companies involved are based in Columbus, Falls City, Nebraska City, Norfolk, O'Neill, Omaha and Wayne. Their mission has been front-line combat.
"It's a bitter pill." Said Bob Fowler of Omaha, a WWII sergeant whose rifle platoon of 42 men dwindled to six during the fight for St. Lo.
"We're all kind of disappointed," he said. "We had pride in our outfit."
Fowler, 80, still carries in his groin a ricocheted German bullet from a skirmish shortly after St. Lo's liberation in July 1944.
"It wasn't a question of getting a Purple Heart (for combat wounds), just how many you'd get," Fowler said. "I know a guy in K Company who got six or seven Purple Hearts."
About 200 Army Guard soldiers will participate in a Casing of the Colors ceremony and cannon salute led by Brig. Gen. Roger Lempke, adjutant general for Nebraska. Regiment veterans, past commanders and current soldiers will participate.
The infantry regiment's history began in 1855 with the organization of Nebraska Territory's first National Guard units. The motto on its unit crest is a Pawnee phrase: "Lah We Lah His" (The Strong, The Brave). The regiment last mobilized for combat in WWII. Its current commander is Lt. Col. Roger Meisinger.
Dan Craig joined the regiment in 1930 from North Platte, Nebraska. He was called to active duty in 1940 and served as the regiment's operation's officer under Col. Butler Miltonberger, also from North Platte.
When the United States entered the war in 1941, the 134th was an all-Nebraska outfit. The soldiers were openly proud of their state. The unit band played the University of Nebraska fight song during training in Arkansas, especially during the Cornhuskers' Rose Bowl season of 1940, much to the chagrin of units from Kansas and Missouri.
Although combat wounds and deaths were heavy - the 3,200-man regiment suffered more than 10,200 casualties - and caused thousands of non-Nebraskans to be plugged into the unit as replacements, the core leadership continued to be Nebraskans.
"They just had the Nebraska spirit, and it served them well," Craig said. "They knew how to work, they were in good physical condition, and they accepted training, they obeyed orders and in combat they were courageous and brave. We had to hold them back at times. They were so aggressive and good with their weapons."
About a dozen of the 134th's battalion commanders were killed or wounded, including Craig, who was injured in March 1945.
"You can't duck forever," he said.
Craig said Miltonberger was a natural soldier. Miltonberger served in France during World War I and was a postman between the wars.
"He didn't have a lot of success in civilian life, but in the Army he knew what to do and when to do it," Craig said.
Miltonberger's leadership caught the attention of Army leaders Dwight Eisenhower, Omar Bradley and George Patton. After the war, Eisenhower encouraged President Truman to appoint Miltonberger chief of the National Guard Bureau in Washington.
Craig ended the war as a lieutenant colonel, after 15 years with the regiment. He went back into the regular Army after the war and served with Miltonberger in the Pentagon and as a military attache in Yugoslavia and Iran. He retired as a colonel and joined a bank in Junction City, Kansas.
Like many young men during the Depression of the 1930s, Fowler lied about his age to join. He was 16, not the required 18, and a student at Omaha Technical High School when he signed up in 1937.
"We got a dollar for each weekly drill and a dollar a day for summer camp," he said.
About 400 men were part of the regiment in Omaha when it was activated one year before the Japanese attacked at Pearl Harbor. Fowler was a member of L Company, a rifle unit.
Rifle companies suffered heavy casualties in France. The combat strength of Fowler's company was 187 men. It suffered 590 casualties.
"That's the way it went across the regiment," he said.
Fowler returned to Omaha after the war and two years later rejoined the regiment. He retired as a major in 1966.
Hartman, who wrote a book about Nebraska's militia, said reorganization is part of a seven-year transformation of the 67th Infantry Brigade into a support group. The process started in central Nebraska four years ago, and the regiment's 1-195th Armor and 67th Forward Support battalions are in various stages of transition.
The reorganization will allow the companies to recruit women, who are prohibited from joining combat units.
The regiment's colors will be retired forever, but Hartman said officials are trying to save the 134th's honors and lineage within a unit in the state.
Fowler said he understands the need to reorganize the Army to use more Guard units to support regular troops.
"There's wisdom to that, but we felt we were better than the regular Army," he said.
"Still, to see the colors put away is a heartbreak. You'll see a few wet cheeks Saturday."
Regiment Played a Key Role In Routing Germans in France
By David Hendee
World-Herald Staff Writer
One month after D-Day, the Allied armies in France during World War II had not advanced far off their Normandy beachheads.
Twenty miles inland from Omaha Beach was the city of St. Lo, a German headquarters and transportation and communications hub, where the most heavily defended position was a hill known as Hill 122.
The 134th Infantry Regiment from the Nebraska National Guard landed at Omaha Beach on July 5, 1944. Nine days later, Col. Butler Miltonberger received orders for the Nebraskans' first combat mission: Attack Hill 122.
By noon on July 15, the battalion had advanced 2,100 yards, but the cost was high, especially for Beatrice Nebraska. Six of its citizen-soldiers were killed. In all, 10 Beatrice men died and 20 were wounded in the four days of combat.
By 8:30 p.m., two companies reached the base of the hill, and the 134th controlled it by 7:30 a.m. July 16. The regiment suffered 792 casualties.
The next day, Pvt. Buster Brown of Omaha's L Company earned a Distinguished Service Cross for destroying enemy machine-gun nests.
Early July 18, the rout of the Germans by the 134th was under way. By 9:00 a.m., members of L Company reached the outskirts of the city. The regiment was ordered, however, to allow the rested 29th Division to claim St. Lo's liberation.
The 134th later liberated Nancy, France, but Miltonberger was bitter to his death that his men did not get credit for liberating St. Lo, said Bob Fowler of Omaha, a veteran of the unit.
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