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ONLINE EXTRA: 164th Infantry to dedicate memorial at N.D. Veterans Cemetery (Aug. 16, 1994)

A monument honoring soldiers in the 164th Infantry of the North Dakota National Guard will be dedicated Sept. 24 at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery south of Mandan, N.D.

A monument honoring soldiers in the 164th Infantry of the North Dakota National Guard will be dedicated Sept. 24 at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery south of Mandan, N.D.

The dedication will begin at 1 p.m. The ceremony will take place during the 164th Infantry Division's annual reunion in Bismarck, Sept. 23-25.

The $250,000 monument consists of two nine-by-five-foot granite panels that sit side by side in the form of an open book.

Carved in one of the granite panels is a scene of a 164th Infantry Patrol and a brief history of the regiment, which existed from 1885 to 1995. The other panel features a map of North Dakota showing the cities and towns where units of the 164th Infantry were located.

Members of the 164th Infantry Association are currently conducting a fund-raising campaign to complete the financing of the project. The group is about $25,000 short of its $250,000 goal, according to John Landowski, a Grand Forks resident who fought with the 164th at Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands during World War II,

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The 164th was organized in 1885 as the First Regiment, Dakota National Guard. It was renamed the 164th Infantry Regiment in 1917 and was ordered into combat action in World War I as part of the 41st Division in France. It also served in the Philippine Insurrection, the Mexican Border war and the Korean conflict.

But it was during World War II that the North Dakota regiment, filled with part-time soldiers, earned its reputation.

It was the first U.S. Army unit to take offensive action against the Japanese Army on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, when it reinforced the First Marine Division on Oct. 13, 1942. The 164th was awarded the Marine Corps Presidential Unit Citation for its part in the Battle of Henderson Field, Oct. 23-26, 1942.

The 164th first casualty, in the Guadalcanal battle was Ken Foubert of Grand Forks.

The battle was fought for control of the airstrip at Henderson Field, for whoever had the airstrip controlled access to much of the South Pacific.

The regiment was engaged in combat for 600 days in the South Pacific, at Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Sarnar, Mohol, Mindinao, Negros, and the Philippine Islands.

By the time 164th returned home in 1945, if had lost 325 men who were killed in action. More than 2,000 North Dakota soldiers from the 164th received Purple Hearts for being wounded in battle.

Lt. Col. Robert Kerr Hall, of Jamestown, N.D., commanded the 3rd Battalion of the 164th. Hall, who was called "The Hawk" by his men, led the battalion into the perimeter defense for Henderson Field on Oct. 23, 1942. The position was one-half mile from Henderson Field. The Marines had been overrun by attacking Japanese forces. It was about midnight and raining heavily, with the stench of jungle mixing with the smells of exploding shells, rifle and gunfire, according to a history of the battle.

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Hall was awarded the Navy Cross by the 1st Marine Division for his leadership and moving his soldiers into a position to stop the attacking forces. He was the only Army officer or Army enlisted man to receive the award, which is the Navy's second highest honor.

"Defeat at Guadalcanal had a devastating effect on the Japanese," wrote Don Richter in his book, Where the Sun Stood Still, a historical account of the Battle of Guadalcanal. "It was the darkest page in the annals of their military history.

"Maj. Gen. Kiyorake Kawaguchi stated somberly, `Guadalcanal is no longer just a name in Japanese military history. It is the name of the graveyard of the Japanese Army. We lost the campaign and Japan lost the war."

"Rear Admiral Raizo Tanaka declared, `There is no question that Japan's doom was sealed with the closing struggle for Guadalcanal.'"

The 164th Infantry Regiment no longer exist. It was converted to engineer battalions in 1955.

About 50 World War II veterans of the 164th returned to Guadalcanal in October 1992.

Landowski said donations have come from individuals, from veteran and fraternal organizations, businesses, as well as cities throughout the state where companies of the 164th were based. Donations have ranged from $10 to $1,500.

Names of donors who submit pledges or donations by Sep. 1 will be included in a Memorial Dedication Booklet and receive a 164th Infantry Certificate.

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Tax deductible donations may be mailed to 164th Infantry Monument, Box 1111, Bismarck, ND, 58502-1111.

Copyright (c) 1994 Grand Forks Herald

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