Like many other units that fought so bravely in the European or Pacific Theater during World War 2, the 83rd Infantry Division established a Veterans Association after the end of the conflict. World War 2 forged a special bond that could not be broken, that of the combat infantryman. The 83rd Infantry Division that had seen action during World War 1 was reactivated in 1942 and a total of almost 15 000 young Americans were brought together from all over the country. Three years later, the division had suffered 170.2% or 23980 casualties.
After living together for more than two years in the mud of Camp Atterbury, the hedgerows of Normandy and the terrible cold of the Ardennes these men, once strangers to each other, had become a family. The 83rd Infantry Division Association was built on this camaraderie and its initial mission was best described by James Hanrahan, the Association’s first president: … to keep firm the friendships and fraternal companionship that had their conception at Atterbury but matured and ripened through the thorough aging of war. Within our ranks, in peace as in war, there are rich and poor; Republicans and Democrats; lawyers and laborers; farmers and factory men; Protestants, Jews, Catholics and agnostics. The patch of the 83rd is big enough to shade and merge all differences. Once a year we will assemble through our association newspaper. For the rest of our lives I pray we will be together constantly in the pleasant grip of comradeship.
The Association has met every year since 1947 and today it includes the veterans, the families and friends of the 83rd who continue the commitment to the original mission while adding the vision to preserve and promote the legacy of the 83rd as well.
Our mission is to build on the camaraderie first developed among the members of the 83rd Infantry Division and attached units during World War II by bringing all 83rd veterans, including veterans of the 83rd ARCOM and 83rd ARRTC, together at an annual reunion and through the Association magazine, the Thunderbolt; by expanding the Association’s membership by social media and other means to include relatives and friends of the 83rd; by honoring all those who served in the 83rd and attached units, living and deceased; and by preserving and promoting the 83rd’s historical legacy for all.