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The Honor of His Service: An Officer with the 32nd Infantry Division Service During the Second World War

by Colonel Rodger Woltjer, Retired

Merriam Press World War II Biography

eBook not available

Paperback - ISBN 9780359893508 - $11.99

Hardcover not available

The 32nd Infantry Division, known as the "Red Arrow" Division and made up of units from the Michigan and Wisconsin National Guards, was mobilized on October 15, 1940. Slated to depart for Northern Ireland after World War II began, the division was diverted to the Pacific at the last minute, arriving in Australia in May 1942.

Elements moved to Port Moresby, New Guinea, in September 1942, in order to halt the Japanese invasion which threatened Australia. The Red Arrow's 126th Infantry Regiment went by ship; the 128th Infantry was airlifted in the first mass troop movement by air in World War II.

Joining the Australians, the 32nd entered combat on November 16, 1942. The allied forces were to take heavily-fortified Japanese positions at Buna, on New Guinea's southeast coast. It proved to be one of the most difficult campaigns of the war.

Fighting in the hot, steamy jungles, the 32nd was desperately short of basic equipment, weapons, medicine and even food. In the terrible heat and drenching rain, the men of the 32nd—many burning with fever—had to reduce Japanese positions one at a time, usually by rushing them with grenades.

Most of the Japanese fought to the death but, finally, on January 2, 1943, Buna fell. It was the Japanese army's first defeat in modern history, but for the 32nd Division the cost was high: 1,954 were either killed or wounded, with 2,952 hospitalized due to disease.

After Buna, the 32nd participated in the long campaign to drive the Japanese from the rest of New Guinea, and went on to see heavy fighting in the Philippines.

Today, the 32nd Infantry Brigade, Wisconsin Army National Guard, continues to maintain the Red Arrow heritage.

"The Honor of His Service" is a biography of author Ronald Woltjer's father's service in the 32nd Infantry Division prior to, during World War II and afterwards.


Winds of War (Civilian Military Training Camp, National Guard Enlistment, Prelude to War, Mobilization, Camp Beauregard, War Training, Camp Livingston)

Call to War (Movement, New Guinea, The Papuan Campaign, Amphibious Training Instructor, Victory at Hand, Return to the 126th Infantry, Occupation of Japan, Homeward Bound)

Post-World War II (Reserve Assignments, Back to the Army Guard, Retirement)


Appendix: Awards and Photos

146 6x9-inch pages, 126 photos, illustrations, maps, and documents

The Honor of His Service: An Officer with the 32nd Infantry Division Service During the Second World War

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