On 4 September 1917, the 351st Infantry was constituted as an Organized Reserve Regiment, and assigned to the 88th Division. Personnel were drawn from the stated of Minnesota. During the ensuing months of the Frist World War, “The Spearhead Regiment”, as we are known, fought valiantly in the Alsace campaign. The streamer for this action was pinned on our colors by General of the Armies John J. Pershing in a ceremony after the signing of the Armistice. It is from this service in France that we derive the Fleur-de-Lis of our coat of arms, and our Regimental motto, “Toujours Pret” – Always prepared. The Regiment was inactivated in 1919.
In July 1942, shortly after the advent of the second global conflict, our Regiment was returned to active duty. For the next seventeen months, we trained at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma, again as part of the 88th Division.
The 351st Infantry embarked for North Africa in November 1943, where we landed our men, some at Oran, and some Casablanca. While there, we trained in preparation for battle. On 1 February 1944, we again set sail, this time bound for Naples and the Italian campaign. A few days later, at rocky Casaleone, the Spearhead Regiment relieved the war-weary men of the 36th Division and moved up on line.
Early in March the Regiment relieved a British unit near Minturno, and held the position throughout March and April. Then, with the other elements of the 88th Division, we pushed on to Castleforte, and to Santa Maria Infante, kingpin in the mighty Gustav Line. Within 48 hours of the order to open fire, we had blasted the first gap in the Gustav Line, and had opened the road to Rome.
From the heights of Mt. Passasera, the Spearhead Regiment engaged in the offensive to gain Rome, and on the afternoon of 4 June broke into the Eternal city.
Then followed the battles for Lake Albano, Tarquinia, Pomorance, Volterra, and Laiatico; in July the battle for the Arno River crossing, and from September to mid-November the battle of the Gothic Line.
We spent the months that followed on a “static front” in the Winter Line. And then came the storming of the Po River.
The Regiment pushed on to Verona, San Giovanni, and Marostica. On the morning of 3 April 1945, we knifed into the Alps. As the division continued to drive the enemy north, news of the German surrender came on 3 May.
At the completion of our combat operations we had advanced from Naples to within 70 miles of the Brenner Pass, covering approximately 585 miles of some of the most rugged terrain in Europe. During our 344 combat days, we had accounted for over 40,000 enemy casualties, and had destroyed great amounts of stores and equipment. Eighteen members of the Regiment received the Distinguished Service Cross, and there were 650 lesser awards for valor. Over two-thirds of the Regiment wore the Purple Heart.
In January 1945, the Third Battalion was awarded the Distinguished unit Badge for its part in the capture of Volterra. In June 1946 the Second Battalion also received the Distinguished Unit Badge for its action during the capture of Mt. Capello. Also, the entire Division was awarded the French Croix de Guerre.
In September 1945 the Spearhead Regiment took over the northern sector of the Morgan Line, with orders to maintain law and order along this Italian-Yugoslav border until the Peace Conference could establish a permanent boundary.
On 23 February 1946, our Regiment was sent to Trieste, where we were to comprise the main portion of the American garrison in the then-proposed Free Territory of Trieste. This is the mission we carry on today. In Opicina, Banne, and San Giovanni our battalions stand “Toujours Pret.”
Note: Date of document unspecified. Courtesy of National Archives, College Park Maryland.