144th Infantry Regiment
Four months after Brigadier General Fred L. Walker assumed command of the 36th Infantry Division from Major General Claude V. Birkhead, he wrote in his journal, "During the past ten days the Division has been required to organize a tank destroyer battalion, submit names of qualified personnel to form part of the cadres for a new Army corps staff, an engineer regiment, the headquarters of a reception center at Fort Dix, an ordnance company, and a quartermaster company. . . . The Division is now really a replacement depot . . ."
A month earlier, two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, General Walker designated the 144th Infantry Regiment for short-notice movement to the West Coast. The 144th had just begun preparations when the regiment received orders to board troop trains the next day for an unknown destination. Like the 131st Field Artillery, the Lost Battalion, which left the 36th Division for service in the Philippines in November, the 144th was to be permanently separated from the Division. While many of the men would eventually serve in combat in Europe and the Pacific, the 144th would never deploy overseas as a unit. They had work to do at home.
The 144th Infantry dates back to six volunteer companies which were organized as the Fourth Regiment of Infantry, Texas Volunteer Guard, in April, 1880. These companies which had been formed before the organization of the regiment were the Lamar Rifles, Dallas; the Fannin Light Guards, Bonham; the Frontier Rifles, Henrietta; the Gate City Guard, Denison; the Johnson City Guard, Cleburne, and the Queen City Guard, Dallas. The Fourth Infantry, Texas Volunteer Guard, continued in state service until after the Spanish-American War, during which all companies of the Fourth Regiment had been mustered into Federal service and redesignated as the Second Infantry, Texas Volunteers.
The regiment did not serve overseas during the Spanish-American War and was mustered out of Federal service at Dallas in November, 1898, after which it reverted to state service. In 1903, the regiment was reorganized and retained its old designation of the Fourth Infantry.
In May, 1916, the Texas National Guard was ordered to mobilize for Federal service on the Mexican Border. The 144th, as the Fourth Texas Infantry, saw service in the Big Bend district of Texas, where it was distributed over approximately 600 miles of patrol territory, its detachments at one time covering 22 different stations. The regiment was most outstanding in the performance of this patrolling duty and was commended highly for its work by the late Major General Frederick Funston, who was at that time in command of the Southern Department. Some of its stations were 90 miles from a railhead. It was mustered out of Federal service in February, 1917.
Called back into Federal service in March, 1917, the regiment was later combined with the Sixth Infantry, Texas National Guard, at Camp Bowie, Fort Worth, to form the 144th Infantry. As a part of the 36th Division, the regiment arrived in France in July, 1918, and was sent to the training area in the vicinity of Bar-sur-Aube, remaining there until September. It served for 10 days as a reserve of the French Army Group of the Center.
In October, 1918, the regiment, along with the 36th Division, was transferred to the Fourth French Army and participated in the Meuse-Argonne offensive (Champagne), October 7-26, when the relief of the division began.
The division moved into the Triacourt Area and the 144th Infantry remained with it as a part of the First American Army until the signing of the Armistice. Shortly after the conclusion of hostilities, the regiment, with other units of the 36th Division, moved to the 13th Training Area around Tonnerre. In May, 1919, it returned to the States to be demobilized at Camp Bowie, Fort Worth, in June.
In 1921, the regiment was reorganized as the 144th Infantry and all of its units were Federally recognized by 1922.
Colonel Holman Taylor was in command of the regiment from 1921 to 1936, when he was promoted to Brigadier General and became commander of the 61st Field Artillery Brigade. In 1938, he was retired, and subsequently replaced by Colonel William E. Lake.
Units of the regiment have performed state duty as follows: storm relief at Dallas and Frost, Texas; riot duty at Dallas and Sherman; strike duty at Texarkana, and service at New London after the high school catastrophe.
With Colonel William Lake as Commanding Officer, the Regiment was inducted into Federal Service at Fort Worth as part of the 36th Division on November 25, 1940. The Regiment participated in the Louisiana maneuvers of 1940 and 1941. The Regiment was alerted for movement the day after Pearl Harbor and December 9, 1941, departed Camp Bowie combat loaded. As troops headed west, there was mild speculation about the unit's destinationthe Philippines, Hawaiino one came close to guessing the actual destination. As the troop trains chugged toward California, the men did not understand what their own fate was to be. In California the trains passed the California Ports and continued north which led the speculation to point toward Alaska.
The 144th arrived at Fort Lewis, Washington, December 15, 1941. Several days later, the Regiment took up positions extending from the northern part of Puget Sound to the California State line, primarily in bays, coves along the coast, and at inland strategic installations. This included bridges, tunnels, etc.
In February 1942 the regiment was relieved from assignment to the 36th Division and formally assigned as a separate regiment to General Headquarters Reserve, Army Ground Forces, Western Defense Command. Due to personnel losses to Officer's Candidate, Aviation Cadets, and Paratroop Schools, a large shipment of inductees was received for basic training at Vancouver Barracks, Washington.
In March 1942 the 144th was relieved by elements of the 44th Infantry Division and transferred to California. There the regiment relieved elements of the 7th Infantry Division in the sector from San Francisco to the northern California border with the regimental headquarters located in Santa Rosa.
May 1, 1942 the newly organized Northern California Sector and VII Army Corps consisted of the following: 53rd Infantry (7th Infantry Division), 125th Infantry (32nd Infantry Division), 144th Infantry, 74th Field Artillery, 76th Field Artillery, 54th Coast Artillery, San Francisco Harbor Defenses, 66th Ordnance Company, and 1st Medical Regiment. The 53rd and 144th formed the Honor Guard for President Quezon of the Philippines upon his arrival in the United States.
The 144th received 1,000 inductees from reception centers in the southeast part of the U.S. in November 1942. A special training battalion was organized to train these men near Santa Rosa. They were soon to return to their home areas as the 144th was transferred to the Eastern Defense Command in January 1943. From Wilmington, N.C., to Key West, Florida, the unit relieved the 104th Infantry of the 26th Infantry Division. The boredom of plodding the lonely beaches was broken once when the regiment guarded the rail line from Florida to North Carolina during President Roosevelt's trip when he returned from an overseas conference.
March 18, 1944 the 144th moved to Camp Van Dorn, Mississippi, as a special training unit to conduct advanced infantry training for inactivated tank destroyer and antiaircraft battalions. In April 900 enlisted men were shipped to Fort Ord, California, and 800 to Fort Meade, Maryland, as overseas replacements. By May 1944 there remained 509 enlisted men who had departed from California with the regiment. These men, plus 116 Officers, then became the training cadre to conduct intensive training for over 9,000 men during the remainder of 1944.
Movement was ordered and completed on January 1, 1945, to Camp Swift, Texas, with trainees who had not completed their training. Training of these and others received continued with weekly shipments to replacement depots.
On April 4, 1945, the 144th arrived at Camp Rucker, Alabama, to join seven other separate regiments in a large scale IARTC: The 90th (10th Division), 113th (44th Division), 125th (32nd Division), 140th (35th Division), 174th (44th Division), 201st, and 300th Infantry Regiments. Training continued until V-J Day. Then orders were received to inactivate the regiments. At this time there were 12 Officers and 117 Enlisted Men in the 144th who had departed from California with the Regiment.
On September 20, 1945, MSgt William J. Hefner, Regimental Sergeant Major, with some assistance from Second Lieutenant John W. Judkins, Post Headquarters, performed the final actions necessary for complete inactivation of the 144th Infantry Regiment.