I made this graphic to share on Facebook. The Native American symbols on the regiment coat of arms are more reflective of the Oklahoma home of the regiment rather than a reflection of Thedford’s own ancestry; as far as I know he had NO Native American ancestry. I have not researched the history of the coat of arms, either. It’s possible that this was not the coat of arms during Thedford’s service since the regiment changed from infantry to cavalry sometime this century. Maybe I’ll do a little more research and update the graphic in the future.
The enlistment date and KIA date are verified, official dates. Aside from those, I don’t have specific information about Thedford’s experiences; that is to say, he could have been sick, or otherwise un-participatory, during any of the events on the timeline. The dates are mostly garnered from the resources listed below for Thedford’s entire regiment or division.
Salpeter, Norbert; Salter, Carl; and United States Army, “180th Infantry: a regiment of the 45th Infantry Division” (1945). World War Regimental Histories. Book 48.
Summary relating to Thedford:
By May of 1942, the regiment was at Fort Devens, Mass, where it experienced its first amphibious training, along with a rigorous conditioning program. The winter months of 1942 were spent at Pine Camp, New York, where the men underwent weather conditioning. The regiment then engaged in mountain training and amphibious operations at Camp Pickett, Va., from January, 1943 to May 25th, when it departed for Camp Patrick Henry, VA. On June 4, the regiment embarked, leaving the U.S. on June 8th, and arriving in the vicinity of Oran, Algeria, North Africa, on June 21, 1943.
From “Winterline, Italy | 15 November 43 – 15 January 44:” describing the actions of Thedford’s regiment during the period in which he was killed:
On the 45th Division front the only important action was an assault by the 1st and 3d Battalions, 180th Infantry, on 30 and 31 December. Their objectives, the hills astride the Sant’ Elia road from Mount Molino north to Mount Rotondo, were held by the 3d Battalion, 134th Grenadiers, and the 2d Battalion, 100th Mountain Regiment. At 0615, 30 December, seven battalions of artillery put down a fifteen-minute concentration on Mount Molino and the town of Acquafondata. Then the artillery fire was shifted closer to the enemy front lines, and at 0630 the assault companies of the 180th Infantry jumped off.
As the men moved forward, they fired heavily, but the enemy remained quiet; for a while all went well. On the north of the road Company K was on Mount Raimo by 0815; at the same time Company L gained Mount Rotondo. To the south Company B, moving through smoke and early morning fog, got on the first knob of Mount Molino’s northeastern slope; Company C on its left reached the east nose of Hill 960 by 0900. Tanks from Company A, 755th Tank Battalion, moved up an engineer-cleared path through Casale and supported the attack. About 0920 the tanks retired for more ammunition, and artillery fire was lifted from Mount Molino in the belief that our troops were progressing satisfactorily.
Everywhere along this front, however, the enemy had only allowed the 180th Infantry to advance to within the most effective range of his heavy weapons. His artillery then opened up in force; machine guns laid down interlacing bands of fire; mortars delivered such effective counterbattery that the 3d Battalion mortars could fire only two rounds during the whole day. Under the additional pressure of enemy counterattacks, all the assault units were forced to withdraw to their initial positions except for Company L, which continued to hold Mount Rotondo.
On 31 December rain began and later turned to snow. During the afternoon the 1st Battalion made another unsuccessful try at Mount Molino. By dark the attack of the 180th Infantry was over, and our troops had gained only one hill, Mount Rotondo. Both battalions were utterly exhausted by the most grueling fight they had yet experienced; the rifle companies were left with an average of sixty-six men apiece. To cap their defeat, a blizzard struck on New Year’s Eve, sending snow-edged winds over the mountains and down into the men’s fox holes. All through the first day of 1944 the officers of the 1st Battalion kept their troops busy making limited patrols, chopping wood, or digging deeper fox holes to keep from freezing. The men, piling on all the clothes they had, crowded into the few available bunkers or huddled about fires to await better weather before resuming the offensive.