Twenty eight year old Tom Kelly has worked tirelessly for the past 6 years trying to preserve the memory of the 100th Infantry Division, known affectionately as the Century Division. Kelly is motivated by the legacy of his grandfather, Thomas B. Harper III, who served with the100th ID during WWII.
Kelly and his partner Joshua Kerner, founded the 100th Infantry Division (reenacted), a civilian organization that uses authentic uniforms and equipment to accurately and respectfully recreate WW II events pertaining to the 100th ID.
Kelly heads the organization and Kerner serves as the assistant. Kerner is also responsible for planning events and assisting with writing the authenticity regulations. They decided to create the unit after they noticed a lack of reenactment about the 100th ID from an educational standpoint. Authenticity has been their main focus so they do extensive research, which includes interviewing WWII veterans.
"Following the final national reunion of the 100th ID, we decided to put forth our maximum effort in terms of equipment, attendance, and interaction," Kerner said. "After meeting numerous veterans at the reunion, we also decided that the 100th Division would be the only division we would portray."
Since WWII the role of the 100th Division has changed many times with the needs of the US Army and the US Army Reserve. Today's 100th Division serves the US Army Reserve as a training division, providing qualified instructors to teach various courses in the fields of military intelligence, signal/cyber, civil and psychological affairs, and health services. In the early 2000's the Base Realignment and Closure realignment brought the organization to its new home on Fort Knox, Ky., and renamed it the 100th Training Division.
Dressed in WWII era Army uniforms, Kelly and Kerner painted a vivid picture of brutal ground combat mixed with an insurmountable dedication to duty, honor, and country fulfilled by Century Division Soldiers during a presentation before Army Reserve Soldiers currently assigned to the 100th TD headquarters.
"The year is 1942, and the nation is at war. The US Army has just activated the 100th Infantry Division with the mission to prepare for deployment to the European Theatre to engage in direct combat operations against Hitler's Nazi Germany," Kelly told the audience. The 100th ID will train for almost 2 years before they are led into battle by Maj. Gen. Withers Burress."
The room filled will applause after Kelly concluded his presentation with the division's WWII accomplishments.
"By the end of the war the 100th ID has earned 3 campaign streamers, fought 185 days of uninterrupted days of ground combat, produced 3 Medal of Honor recipients, liberated and captured over 400 cities, towns and villages, took 13,351 prisoners of war, sustained 916 Soldiers killed in action, 3,656 wounded, and lost 180 men missing in action," Kelly said.
Later that night at a social event, Soldiers of the current 100th TD presented the two gentlemen with coins, awards, and other gifts. The next day Kelly and Kerner toured the Patton museum and the 100th ID museum both located at Fort Knox.
The 100th Division has served in every major conflict from WWII to present day operations. Although the name and mission have changed, the patch and the legacy remains the same. The 100th Training Division (Operational Support) continues to preserve the stories of its Soldiers, past, present, and future.