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11th Armored Division
Legacy Group

The 11th Armored Division has a proud and distinguished heritage. It served with honor to defend the nation, and to preserve the cherished freedom that the United States of America and its citizens have long enjoyed. The Division was activated on August 15, 1942, at Camp Polk, Louisiana. Soon after the Division was formed and staffed, a period of intense training ensued, first in Louisiana, then in Texas, and finally in California. In September, 1944, the well armed and equipped Division embarked for Europe, landing in England for final staging and preparation for combat. In early December, 1944, the Division deployed to the continent, landing in France, and making preparations to attack German pockets of resistance on the coast of Brittany.

When enemy forces mounted a desperate attack in the Ardennes Forest of Belgium, the Division was rerouted, rushed across France, and committed into action in what was soon to be known as the Battle of the Bulge. The 11th Armored Division was then assigned to the US Third Army, commanded by General George Smith Patton. Upon reaching the battle zone, the Division attacked, encountering a simultaneous headlong attack by German units that were seeking to close off the recently opened corridor into besieged Bastogne. Although sustaining heavy battle casualties, the Division continued the attack, closing with US First Army units on January 16, 1945 at Houffalize, Belgium, finally terminating the "Bulge" incursion.

The Division continued to attack through Belgium, Luxembourg, and into the German Rhineland, reaching the Rhine River at Brohl and Andernach on March 9, 1945. The 11th Armored then withdrew, crossed the Moselle River at Bullay, and mounted a second drive through the Moselle-Rhine Palatinate, again reaching the Rhine River in the vicinity of Worms. This drive resulted in the capture of over 20,000 enemy combatants, who were incarcerated as prisoners of war.

The Rhine River was crossed on March 28, 1945, utilizing a pontoon bridge constructed by US Third Army forces. The Division then proceeded to attack at a blitzkrieg pace, moving first toward Berlin, and then following a southeast course, paralleling the border between Germany and Czechoslovakia. On April 26, 1945, the 11th Armored Division crossed the border into Austria, reaching Linz on May 4, 1945. The next day, the Division’s cavalry reconnaissance forces encounter and liberated the concentration camps of Mauthausen and Gusen, freeing thousands of starving and maltreated prisoners. The unspeakable atrocities that the troops witnessed in these camps bore witness to the horror of the Holocaust.

On August 15, 1945, at Gmunden, Austria, the 11th Armored Division was disbanded. At that time, the 11th Armored Division Association was formed. Veterans of the Division, spouses, and descendents of veterans were eligible for membership. Membership eligibility was also extended to persons assigned to military units that were associated with the 11th Armored Division, as well as to those persons and their descendants who had been rescued, helped, or who otherwise contributed to the Division and its Association.

The 11th Armored Division Association held annual reunions each year since its inception. The final reunion was held in Louisville, Kentucky. At the General Meeting held there on August 7, 2010, a decision was made to disband the Association. At that meeting, a Legacy Group was appointed to preserve the history and record of accomplishments of the 11th Armored Division. The Legacy Group is also charged with perpetuation of the web site. It also functions as a communications center for those who wish to remain in contact. For that purpose, an email roster is being established. Those wishing to are encouraged to submit their email addresses them to the Legacy Group at the email address For those who do not have email, they may contact former Association Secretary Robert Pfeiffer, 2328 Admiral Street, Aliquippa, PA 15001, telephone number 724-375-6295.

NBC Nightly News video:

Mauthausen Holocaust survivor, Marsha Kreuzman, reuniting with a liberator soldier from the 11th Armored Division, Joseph Barbella

Final 11th Armored Reunion Recap

Legacy Group Formation

Louisville Reunion 2010

"My Conversion"
a presentation at the Louisville Reunion 
by Rev. Mally Baum, Associate Pastor, 
Trinity Presbyterian Church, McKinney, TX.

I would like to speak to you for a few moments this afternoon about my conversion….don’t get nervous folks….it’s not what you think, my being a pastor and all. I have my “daughter hat” on today. I’m an only child raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, largely by my father, Chet Rohn, a member of the 56th Armored Engineers, Company C. He was drafted into the army while a student at the University of Wisconsin. He took basic training in Oregon and was then assigned to the ASTP. Once in Europe, Dad became the machine gunner on a half track. By day his squad cleared the road of obstacles, built small bridges and on occasion acted as infantry. By night they went ahead to remove mines. I grew up with the stories, though I must admit I took them for granted…funny stories like the time Dad was searching for eggs, and he crawled into a dark henhouse only to be ambushed by a goose that knocked off his helmet and chased him out, nearly scaring him to death. Or the one about the time a town’s Burgermeister handed them the keys to a German army liquor warehouse…so of course they liberated as many cases as the half track would carry. They had so much that each man in the platoon of 30 got twenty bottles each.

There were stories of close calls – like the night they got bad directions from an MP. They found themselves in a truck with rifles but no machine guns in the German occupied town of Bourcy – so close to German soldiers that they could have reached down from the truck and touched them as they walked by…Quickly and quietly they turned the truck around and made their way out of the town without incident. Or the time when they were traveling, again at night and without headlights, and their lieutenant’s peep literally bumped head on into a German staff car at the front of a column of trucks and armored vehicles. Quickly the three half tracks went into echelon formation and began shooting….Eventually the platoon sergeant came up to Dad and said, “Hey Rohn, you can stop firing now…I think you got ‘em all.” 

And of course there were heartbreaking stories, like the time my Dad’s sergeant relieved him of guard duty, and told him that his ammunition carrier and dear friend Bud Rauch, whom they had thought had sustained only superficial wounds the day before, had not made it. Dad also told us of their confusion and sorrow as they began to see the bodies of civilians along the side of the road, most of whom had been shot in the head…and they were all wearing the same unusual striped outfits. Then it all became horrifyingly clear when they entered the gates of Mauthausen in May of 1945. 

Dad moved to Texas to live with us about six years ago, so now my husband Chuck, and our two teen-age sons, as well as our friends are hearing the stories, too…We have a picture of a Bavarian landscape hanging in our home, painted by one of the German prisoners Dad worked after the war…sold to Dad for two packs of cigarettes. Everyone’s story is unique, and compared to many of you here, my father’s experiences were relatively easy. For him I think the war was simultaneously the worst of times and the best of times. He has been a student of the war ever since – his library of books and magazines is extensive. 

Dad went to the first 11th Armored Division Convention in Chicago, had a great time, but he didn’t see any of his buddies, so he didn’t go back….though he has literally devoured every issue of the newsletter and he felt he knew many of you through your writings. He and a dear friend had been on the 50th Anniversary European tour and loved it, so when he learned about the last 11th Armored Division trip last spring, we moved mountains to be able to go….my father, my seventeen year old son Christian, and me. My grandmother saved every one of my Dad’s V-mails, and Christian had been transcribing them for an independent study for school…that made this opportunity all the more meaningful for him. We feel so richly blessed to have had the privilege of making this trip, and to have been able to do it with my Dad. I was finally able to put a real location to each of his stories… they no longer felt like legends or fairy tales, they literally sprang to life. On the bus and at meals everyone else’s stories flowed freely as well… Ted Hartman read excerpts from his wonderful book, The Tank Driver, and Dave Bryant shared detailed and insightful entries from his father’s journal. Even the shyer veterans occasionally made their way up to the microphone at the front of the bus when we passed a site that brought back memories. 

I was also deeply touched by the people who hosted receptions, meals and other gatherings to express their profound and on-going gratitude to these veterans for their sacrificial service. And I will never forget the ceremonies at Güsen and Mauthausen on the 65th anniversary of the liberation of these two concentration camps….my immense pride at seeing my father and new friends leading the procession into Mauthausen, followed by banner carrying delegation after delegation of friends and families of survivors from literally all over the world. And I remember the husband of one of the three babies born en route to Mauthausen shaking my father’s hand with tears in his eyes, saying, “Thank you, thank you to each of you. Without you, my lovely wife would not be here today.” 

What can I say? I may be a Johnny come lately, but I am a convert...I no longer take your stories for granted – I value them highly... stories of your perseverance, selfless courage and compassion – even of your mischief. My generation, along with subsequent ones, has been changed by these stories…and we still have much to learn from you. These stories will not be forgotten – they will be preserved and passed on. I am honored to be a participant in the newly, albeit loosely, formed 11th Armored Division Legacy group, and much to my surprise I find myself sharing the sentiments of General George S. Patton, as he described the men of his Third Army. He is perhaps speaking for all of us third and fourth generation folks…. “The highest honor I have ever attained is of having my name coupled with yours in these great events.” 

Thank you.

11th Armored Division Association
63rd Annual Reunion Report

11th Armored Division Association
Reunion and Dissolution Decisions

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