|Author: Austin "Red" Goodrich|
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|The eighteen-year-olds who filled the ranks of the 86th Blackhawk Division were headed for college or the Air Force when they were ordered into the infantry. Their non-commissioned officer superiors made up for their limited formal schooling by street smarts acquired during work on farms and factories all over the country.|
Sociologists and military historians might have forecast a disastrous future for such a topsy-turvy composition of 15,000 infantry troops. But somehow it worked. The 86th Division, named after a brave military leader of the Sauk Indians, trained in Louisiana and California before being sent to the European Theatre of Operations. In its 42 days of combat, the Blackhawks fought their way from the Ruhr Pocket 220 miles into Bavaria, crossed seven rivers and took 53,000 prisoners.
The "kids," now men, ended their military service in The Philippines, after which many of them returned to successful careers in medicine, law and business.