Flag Dedication DayThe 70th was activated on Infantry Day, June 15th, 1943 at Camp Adair, Oregon. This was the first time the entire Division would "pass in review" before top 70th commanders and many distinguished Oregonians. The state had taken the 70th as its own and hospitality, individual and corporate, was warm and abundant. Countless organizations, from civic clubs to sororities, contributed to furnishing company day rooms, for instance. But for Trailblazers, a far more important event was that of September 11, 1943, Organization Day. On this day the 70th was officially "born" to impressive Organization Day ceremonies.


Already named to honor the centennial of the Oregon Trail, these men, like the original Trailblazers, came from many areas. Everyone one of the 48 states were represented; so were Alaska and Hawaii, (yet to become states), Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Forty foreign countries, including each of the axis nations, were represented. And like the original Trailblazers, their song was "Oh, Susanna."

Quite appropriately, Missouri-start of the Oregon Trail, sent the largest contingent, 1,165. Four other states, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Texas and Minnesota sent more than a thousand men. It was a young outfit, made of young men.

Training had not waited on the formal organization of the Division. By that time the green recruits were already mastering the rudiments of a soldier's skills. The remainder of 1943 saw continued formation and filling out of the Division. Training took place at a hectic pace. Countless days were spent on the firing ranges as infantry riflemen became proficient with the M-1 rifle. Weapons other than the M-1 were also mastered: the BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle), mortars, light and heavy machine guns, carbines and pistols. Only recently had Cannon Companies become part of an infantry regiment and they were mastering their 105mm howitzers. Division artillery (Divarty) men were learning the capabilities of their heavier guns.



Activation Day, June 15th, 1943

Finally, in late December basic training was over. The 13 week training period had ended with many tests given to the 70th by Fourth Army with the Division successfully passing 95% of the tests. This was no occasion to relax, though. As Maj. Gen. Dahlquist, Division Commander, observed in the official critiquing sessions: "Basic training in this division will never end until the war is over and we are demobilized."

Training continued into 1944 with the Division undergoing final testing, engaging in mock battles with the 96th and 104th Divisions. Late in July 1944, the Division was ordered to move from Oregon to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri (see map). It took 20 trains to carry the whole 70th in average loads of just under 800 men. Western hospitality was demonstrated all along the way; when the train stopped at a station, female volunteers offered cookies, sandwiches and pink lemonade. The great Missouri encampment was just a stop over for the men who had activated the Division in Oregon. But for thousands of new men who filled the ranks at Leonard Wood, it was their Army "homeplace". There they undertook the basic training the "old" Blazers had experienced in Oregon. Here, the Division received a new commander. Maj. Gen. Allison J. Barnett took over, having just returned from the Pacific Theater.




Practicing a Skirmish line

In November 1944, Blazer units, already packed for overseas, were alerted for a short notice move to some POE (port of embarkation). Out of Boston, Massachusetts, the Blazers began their move to France.




Related Items:

History || Honor Roll || Camp Adair Pamphlet || Life Cycle of a Division || Camp Adair Sentry (base paper) || Post Card from Camp Adair showing Post Chapel No. 9 || Camp Adair Card || Fort Leonard Wood Post Card || Fort Leonard Wood Post Card 2 || Personal Account