Prelude to WWII, Fort Sam Houston and Louisiana Maneuvers 1940 – 1942

For twenty three years between the two wars, the 2nd Infantry Division was stationed at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Many of its officers and men were Texans. However, the unit was also made up of a large Hispanic community as well as the Czechs and Slovaks from one of the largest communities in the USA, settled in Texas. During the years of peace and as a result of its own tests conducted in the peace time, the 2nd Infantry Division pioneered many changes in military technique and equipment. For example, the Division became the first unit to take the triangular division´s organization. As a result of the new form of organization the 38th Infantry Regiment had been transferred to the 2nd Infantry Division alongside of the 9th Infantry Regiment and 23rd Infantry Regiment.

In 1940, final tests were completed during maneuvers in Louisiana and in October of that year, utilizing the results of these tests, the organization was completed essentially as the Division fought throughout the World War II. The 2nd Infantry Division consisted of already mentioned three Infantry Regiments: the 9th, 23rd and 38th and also the 12th, 15th, 37th and 38th Field Artillery Battalions. Division’s Special Troops included the 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion, 2nd Reconnaissance Troop as well as several non-combat units such as the 2nd Signal Company, 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Quartermaster Company, Military Police Platoon, 702nd Ordnance Company. 

Following year the massive maneuvers in Louisiana continued and the 2nd Infantry Division had begun with an airborne training in Texas. At that time the Airborne doctrine was at its very beginning so the training was meant to be for experimental purposes. After the VIII Corps maneuvers in Louisiana in late summer 1942, the Division undertook tests to develop a technique for the transport by air of an entire infantry division, concluding this operation in October 1942. On October 16, 1942 orders were received for a permanent change of station. The Division, commanded by Maj. Gen. Walter M. Robertson, was to be transferred to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin. On November 20, 1942, the Division moved by rail to Camp McCoy, leaving Fort Sam Houston for a permanent change of station for the first time since 1919. The main reason for such a massive transfer was a decision that the entire division will be participating in the first large-scale winter training program and maneuvers ever conducted in history of the United States Army.