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"Division Ends Era Of Service -
Army Deactivates 3rd Armored"

By The Associated Press
January 17, 1992

Appeared in many newspapers nationwide.

For earlier AP article of the event


FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) - Fifty years of history ended Friday in Frankfurt as the U.S. Army's 3rd Armored Division was formally deactivated and packed away its flag in a stirring ceremony.

"Sir, this is my final salute. Mission accomplished," said Maj. Gen. Jerry Rutherford, the division commander.

Rutherford preceded the final salute to Gen. Crosbie Saint, the Army's commander in Europe, with a loudly shouted "Spearhead!" - the division's nickname, which it earned in combat in World War II. Tears rolled down the cheeks of some of the soldiers gathered for the ceremony.

Gen. Gordon Sullivan, U.S. Army chief of staff, and Hans Eichel, governor of Germany's state of Hesse, were among those witnessing the deactivation at Drake Barracks in Frankfurt.

Farewell speeches recounting the division's history, a deafening salute of 13 rounds from Howitzer cannons, a marching band and a color guard were all part of the activities. Several hundred civilian guests attended.

As a final tribute to German guests in attendance, the band played the country's traditional "Auf Wiedersehen" farewell song.

The unit's colors will be returned to the United States, where they could be reactivated later, Sullivan said.

The ceremony marked the end of an illustrious 50 years for the division, founded in Louisiana in 1941.

After training in California's Mojave desert and other parts of the United States, the division transferred to Britain in 1943. In June 1944, it stormed the beaches of Normandy in France to take on Hitler's Nazi army and earn its nickname.

Deactivated in 1945, the unit was reactivated two years later and returned to Germany in 1956 as the West's frontline of defense against the now defunct Soviet-led Warsaw Pact forces.

In November, 1990, a year after the Berlin Wall fell, the unit was ordered to Saudi Arabia to help drive Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait.

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