The Distinguished Unit Citation for

 

3d Battalion, 398th Infantry Regiment

 

is authorized by War Department General Order 27-45

The 3d Battalion, 398th Infantry Regiment, is cited for outstanding performance in combat during the period 17 to 21 December 1944. near Bitche, France. On 17 December 1944, the 3d Battalion was assigned the mission of breaching the formldable fortifications of the Maginot Line west of the town of Bitche, France. The main line of enemy defense was Fort Freudenberg, a large fortification, and Fort Schiesseck, which had 11 adjacent units, each unit with a gun emplacement or a series of guns ranging from 47mm to 135mm which were mutually supporting and extremely difficult to attack. The walls of the fortifications were from three to ten feet thick and constructed of reinforced concrete. Some of the units had as many as five stories below ground level with underground railroads which were used for supply. With no terrain features for protection and only shell craters for cover, the 3d Battalion, taking advantage of a 45-minute barrage, moved into the attack. Under intense enemy artillery, mortar, automatic weapons, and small arms fire, the 3d Battalion pressed the attack and, after fierce fighting, captured Fort Freudenberg along with units 10 and 11 of Fort Schiesseck. At this point the enemy increased their artillery and mortar fire, forcing the battalion to dig in for the night. At 0930 hours the following morning, 18 December 1944, the attack was continued behind a rolling barrage laid down by supporting artillery. Fighting their way up the steep, barren slope of the difficult terrain, through heavy wire entanglements, the assault detachments, despite harassing enemy fire, rapidly wrested the remaining units of Fort Schiesseck from the enemy. The fighting aggressiveness, courage, and devotion to duty displayed by members of the 3d Battalion, 398th Infantry Regiment are worthy of the highest emulation and reflect the finest traditions of the armed forces of the United States.

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