Crittenberger, Willis Dale

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Crittenberger, Willis Dale, born on 02-12-1890 in Anderson, Indiana, was a United States Army officer whose career served as a World War II combat commander of IV Corps  during the later part of Italian campaign from 1944 to the end of the war. He was appointed to the United States Military Academy , graduating with the Class of 1913, two years ahead of fellow cadet, friend and infantry officer, Dwight “Ike “Eisenhower, but wasn’t involved in World War I. With the onset of World War II, Crittenberger was commanding 2nd Brigade of 2nd Armored Division under General Georg Smith Patton In January 1942, he moved up to command 2nd Armored Division  when Patton transferred to North Africa to command First Armored Corps. In 238 battle days the 2nd Armored suffered 7.348 casualties, including 1.160 killed in action. The division was recognized for distinguished service and bravery with 9.369 individual awards, including two Medals of Honor, twenty-three Distinguished Service Crosses, and 2.302 Silver Stars as well as nearly 6.000 Purple Hearts; among those receiving the silver star were Douglas MacArthur. The division was twice cited by the Belgian Government and division soldiers for the next 50 years proudly wore the fourragere of the Belgian Croix de Guerre. In August 1942, he organized, trained and commanded 3rd Armored Corps composed of 7th Armored Division, nickname “Lucky Seven” During its service during World War II, the division captured and destroyed a disproportionate number of enemy vehicles and took more than 100.000 prisoners  and 11th Armored Division, nickname “Sunderbolt”  at Camp Polk, Louisiana where General George Catlett Marshall visited him.  The 3rd  Armored Division had 231 days of combat in World War II, with a total of 2.540 killed, 7.331 wounded, 95 missing, and 139 captured. Total battle and non-battle casualties came to 16.122. Redesigned as XIX Corps, Crittenberger brought XIX Corps to England in January 1944. In 1943, General Dwight Eisenhower initially selected Crittenberger as one of three corps commanders along with General Leonard Townsend Gerow and Roscoe Barnett Woodruff, General_Roscoe_Woodruff_1942_c he died age 84, on 24-04-1975, for the 1944 Allied invasion of France. All three were well known and trusted by Eisenhower. General Omar “Brad” Bradley  who Eisenhower selected as the American commander the D-Day invasion replaced Eisenhower’s picks seeking differing temperaments and commanders that had more corps combat experience. At the time, Commander, U.S. Army Forces in Europe, General Jacob Loucks Devers was seeking a corps commander of Fifth United States Army’s IV Corps for the Italian campaign. Held in reserve during the early portion of the campaign, Crittenberger’s IV Corps replaced VI Corps, under commander General Mark Clark on the front line after the liberation of Rome. Standing infront of the nameplate for a photo, a German sniper hit the bord, see hole in the plate, lucky Clark and Crittenberger.
   Having on its ranks beyond Americans, Brazilians and South Africans, the IV Corps were in combat for over 390 days, 326 of that in continuous combat. Crittenberger commanded IV Corps as the western arm of the Allied thrust through northern Italy to the Po River which ended with the surrender of German forces, under Genralfeldmarschall der Flieger, Albert Kesselring,
here with General Maxwell Taylor the commander of the 101 Airborne Division in Italy on 02-05-1945. The 101 Airborne Division’s 506 Regiment “Band of Brothers” were the liberators of my hometown Eindhoven

Death and burial ground of Crittenberger, Willis Dale.

 Crittenberger’s son, Townend Woodhull Crittenberger, Corporal, United States Army, who was born on 13-05-1925, was killed in action during the Rhine River Crossing on 25-03-1945, age 19. Another son, Dale Jackson Crittenberger, Colonel, United States Army, was killed in the crash of a helicopter on 17-09-1969, while serving in Vietnam during the war there.

      Lieutenant General Willis Crittenberger died in Chevy Chase, Maryland, at the old age of 89, on 04-08-1980. He is buried with his wife Josephine, born Woodhull, who died age 80, in 1978, at Arlington National Cemetery, in Section 2. Close by in Section 2, the graves of General, Commander 92nd “ Negro Division”, Edward Almond, Major General, Commander 8th Bomber Command Europe, Frerick Anderson, Rear Admiral, Commander Destroyer Greyson, Frederick Bell, Navy Admiral, “Operation Crossroads”, William Blandy, General, Commander 32nd Infantry Division , Clovis Beyers, Navy Admiral. Battle of the Leyte Gulf, Robert Carney, Air Force General Lieutenant, Claire ChennaultBrigadier General, First African-American General, Benjamin Davis, Quartermaster Lieutenant General, John De Witt, Major General and Head OSS, William Donovan , Brigadier General, Speck Easley, Marine Corps Major General, Commander 1st Raider Battalion, Merrit Edson, Navy Admiral, Commander Nord Pacific Fleet, Frank Fletscher and Navy Admiral, Commander VII Forces, William Fechteler, Admiral, U.S. Chief of Naval Material, John Gingrich, Brigade General, Assistant Commanding General 45th Division  John huston Church and U.S. Brigadier General, “ Merrills Marauders “ in Burma, Frank Dawn Merrill, U.S. 4* Navy Vice Admiral. Commander U.S.S. Hornet, Doolittle Raid, Marck Mitscher, General Lieutenant and commander of the 80th Infantry Division , Horrace Logan “Mac” McBride.

                           Crittenberger on the right.

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