101st is First to Get Award of President

By Jules B. Grad

Stars and Stripes Staff Writer

101ST AIRBORNE DIV. Mar. 15—There’s a hallowed place in the United Nations’ hall of fame today for the “Battered Bastards of Bastogne.”

They received their life membership in the sacred shrine this afternoon from the President of the United States.

101st Airborne Division Bastogne

The 101st Airborne Division marches out of Bastogne

The Presidential Citation, first in U.S. military history ever awarded to a division, was presented by Gen. Eisenhower to the 101st Airborne for “Extraordinary heroism and gallantry in defense of the key communications center of Bastogne.”

“Never before has a full division been cited by the War Department, in the name of the President, for gallantry in action. This day marks the beginning of a new tradition in the American Army.” Gen. Eisenhower said upon presenting the citation.

Absent from the review was Maj. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe, who commanded the division during the Bastogne epic. It was he who replied “nuts” to the enemy commander’s surrender ultimatum.

101st Airborne Division Bastogne

General Anthony McAuliffe in Bastogne

101st Airborne Division Bastogne

Paratroopers watch as supplies are dropped into Bastogne

Text of Citation

The text of the 101st Airborne Division’s Presidential Unit Citation follows.

101st Airborne Division Bastogne

Paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division gather air dropped supplies

“The 101st Airborne Division and attached units distinguished themselves in combat against powerful and aggressive enemy forces composed of elements of eight German divisions during the period from 18 December to 27 December 1944, by extraordinary heroism and gallantry in defense of the key communications center of Bastogne, Belgium.

Essential to a large scale exploitation of his breakthrough into Belgium and northern Luxembourg, the enemy attempted to seize Bastogne by attacking constantly and savagely with the best of his army and infantry.

Without benefit of prepared defenses, facing almost overwhelming odds and with very limited and fast dwindling supplies, this division and attached units, maintained a high combat and morale and an impenetrable defense despite extremely heavy bombing, intense artillery fire and constant attacks from infantry and armor on all sides of their completely cut off and encircled position.

This Masterful and grimly determined defense denied the enemy even momentary success in an operation for which he paid dearly in men, material and eventually morale.

The outstanding courage and resourcefulness and undaunted determination of this gallant force is in keeping with the highest traditions of the service.”

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