Herbert Berg: WWII TimberwolfThe 104th, later known as the Timberwolf by its uniform shoulder patch, was created in 1921 as a reserve infantry division.
The 104th, later known as the Timberwolf by its uniform shoulder patch, was created in 1921 as a reserve infantry division. It became a combat unit 22 years later. Men joined from every corner of the nation. In November 1942, Herbert Berg became one of them.
Herb vividly remembers basic training at Camp Adair during Oregon’s rainy, cold winter. They slept in tents, sloshed through mud and learned infantry tactics while getting acclimated to conditions similar to European winter.
Midsummer 1943, they moved to the Oregon desert for maneuvers, then to Camp Hyder, the California-Arizona maneuver area for 13 weeks desert training. Later, at Camp Carson, Colorado, they spent three months developing night fighting skills.
When the 104th was called into combat duty, they had only two hours to pack up and move out. They boarded a train for New York, were transferred to a troop ship and later disembarked in France.
The division first became involved in active fighting in October 1944, when with the assistance of the Dutch underground, they liberated Achtmaal and Zundert, Holland.
They went on by train to Wuestwezel, Belgium, and from there they fought their way north though marshy lowlands, crossing canals and dikes to Moerdijk on the Maas River where Herb was injured by shrapnel in battle.
After spending the next several months in an army hospital, he rejoined his battalion to cross the Roer River at Duren.
The Timberwolf joined other divisions and fought the “Battle of the Bulge,” then moved on to fight its way through the “impenetrable” Siegfried Line (a German defense system stretching more than 690 miles of bunkers, tunnels and tank traps).
Just outside Cologne, on his own and in the dark, Herb captured three German soldiers. For this, he was awarded the Bronze Star.
South of Cologne at Remagen, they faced another water barrier. The bridge gone, they crossed the Rhine on a hastily erected floating bridge. Herb remembers hanging onto the outside of his tank along with five other infantry soldiers while crossing.
On March 25, 1945, the Timberwolf teamed up with the 3rd Armored Division to help complete the encirclement of the Ruhr pocket.
On April 11, his division came upon an unforgettable scene, Nordhausen Concentration Camp, where 5,000 prisoners had been conscripted to work in a factory making truck engines and across the road, an underground factory turned out supersonic rockets.
Many dead were found on the ground or stacked on shelves in barracks. Those still alive, walking skeletons, were whisked off for medical treatment.
After making a 350-mile sweep to the Mulde River, they met up with the Russian troops. On May 9, Germany surrendered.
Herb Berg is proud of his service in the Timberwolf Division, which fought for 195 consecutive days under the leadership of General Terry Allen. He has shrapnel in his leg and a collection of service medals to prove it.
Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the upcoming Hanger Dance at Chandler Field, June 13, from 7 to 11 p.m. The event will feature a WWII theme, Big Band music, fun and food. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Herb plans to be there!