"At precisely 2145 hours 22 March 45, the 3rd Battalion's spearheading companies, I and K,
moved down to the riverbank were 204th Engineer Battalion personnel awaited in readiness.
Preparations functioned quickly, smoothly, and above all, quietly, as the assault teams were formed and
loaded into the boat. K Company shoved off at 2230 and paddled across the 800 feet (at that point) river
without a shot being fired from the enemy shore. In the first boat to reach the far bank were: K
Company CO, 1st LT Irven Jacobs, Lt John A Mannow, Pfc William Hewitt, Pfc Vergil Miller, Pvt
Theodore Strategos, Pvt Richard J Huiller, Pfc Arthur Juengel, Pvt John Surace, T/5 Richard E Rose and
Pvt John L Paquitt. They were the first of the Division to cross the Rhine, and when the balance of K
Company arrived on the East Bank, it marked the first time in history that a crossing of the Rhine River
had been forced by troops in assault boats. As K Company hit the shore, a group of seven surprised
Germans promptly surrendered and paddled themselves across the river without escort.
"Meanwhile, just as I Company, commanded by Capt Link, prepared to follow up K in crossing,
heavy firing opened from the right flank where the 1st Battalion troops were simultaneously crossing
approximately 700 yards down-stream at Oppenheim. It developed that B Company's 1st Platoon had
been spotted by enemy machine gunners, who commenced firing while assault boats were yet in
midstream. Regiment then advised 3rd Battalion that 1st Battalion would delay its crossing for 10
minutes, but Lt Col Birdsong, 3rd Battalion CO, decided to get I Company across anyway while all of K
Company organized on the far shore. Along with I Company's first wave were Maj Stiller aide to Gen
Patton, and Lt Cocke of the Air Force who went as observer with the infantry. A flurry of shellfire
managed to partially silence enemy automatic weapons in the 1st Battalion sector, but this heavy firing
also alerted the enemy along the entire regimental front, and as I Company neared the far shore it also
received some heavy machine-gun fire. No casualties were incurred, but when L Company crossed in
3rd Battalion reserve 10 minutes later, personnel paddled under increasingly heavy small arms fire.
Some infantrymen were wounded.
"During this time, 1st Battalion assault troops of A and B Companies were meeting with very
heavy resistance in crossing approximately 700 yards South of the 3rd Battalion at Oppenheim. The
Rhine Crossing itself was a tribute to the courage of riflemen, for whom it was necessary to paddle 800
feet into the very teeth of the enemy fire. B Company under 1st Lt Bryant pulled abreast. When assault
boats were eagerly beached on the hostile shore, enemy fire increased and included that of Panzerfausts.
An example of what was required in order to establish and extend the 1st Battalion bridgehead is the
action of B Company's 2nd Platoon which was reorganized and led by S/Sgt Foster Ferguson, who took
over platoon leadership when the platoon sergeant became a casualty. Concentric rifle and rifle grenade
fire alone punched a hole in the enemy's perimeter defense system which consisted of a strong line of
machine-gun nests, but no pillboxes. Fierce small arms skirmishes raged for a half and hour.
Temporarily, at least, enemy resistance reached fanatical proportions, with infantrymen of Ferguson's
platoon firing directly into large rectangular foxholes to eliminate strongpoints. Deadly marching fire
extended the bridgehead, and shortly thereafter the 1st Battalion struck inland. Pfc Paul Conn, Jr., B
Company rifleman, remained behind to hold down an enemy machine gun nest that was bypassed. It
was an all-night affair for Conn who was forced to dig in with his bare hands, for less than 30 yards
away the enemy machine gun intermittently opened at anything that moved. 'I was tempted to swim
back across the Rhine,' said Conn afterwards. Conn remained in a cramped position through the entire
night, and when daybreak came he saw 10 Germans who comprised the machine-gun nest. Conn then
attempted to work his M1, but it jammed. Finally in desperation he flung all caution to the winds, pulled
out a hand grenade and rose before the enemy. Transfixed at the sight of a lone American menacingly
coming toward them, the 10 Germans threw up their arms and surrendered. Thus ended Conn's ordeal in
the last vestige of enemy resistance on the river's edge.