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Ormond Beach Observer Thursday, Apr. 23, 2020 3 months ago

WWII national guardsmen honored with presidential unit citation for 1944 battle

The citation was signed but never issued. Thanks to members of the national guard and an Ormond Beach resident, the president signed the order on March 17.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

After 74 years, the 30th Infantry Division, who served during World War II, have finally been issued a presidential unit citation for their heroic actions during the Battle of Mortain in 1944.

It was an effort that took several years to accomplish, with individuals like North Carolina National Guard Maj. Gen. Gregory Lusk, Maj. Gen. Todd Hunt, independent filmmaker Lou Adams, North Carolina District 8 U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson and Ormond Beach resident Robert Baumer all playing a role in recognizing the 12,000 national guardsmen. Nicknamed the "Old Hickory Division" due to the men's hometowns being in the Carolinas, Tennessee and Georgia, the men held off 80,000 German soldiers and 300 tanks and armored vehicles at Mortain for five days.

Though the PUC was approved back then, but the award was never actually fully issued. 

Ormond Beach resident Robert Baumer with his book about the 30th Infantry Division in 2017. File photo

In 2018, Hudson arranged a meeting between Trump and one of the surviving veterans, King Kenny, Baumer said in a statement. Kenny handed over a briefing book, which was given to the National Security Council for review. 

On March 17, President Donald Trump signed the order to recognize the 30th Infantry Division with the award. 

“The Heroes of Old Hickory, alive and departed, are standing taller and shoulder to shoulder today," Lusk said to Baumer in a text message.

The North Carolina National Guard plans to host the 74th-annual reunion of the division, and the PUC will be presented to the surviving veterans.

“There’s less than ten veterans still amongst us,” Baumer said. “I found one in Panama City Beach. Jack Eddins is 95 years old. He was surrounded for five days at Mortain. He told me he was going to be there so he could honor his brothers who couldn’t make it.” 

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