Monday, January 5, 2009

MG Hugh B. Mott ’40, Hero of Remagen Bridge

Major General Hugh B. Mott ’40, hero of Remagen Bridge in World War II and Adjutant General of the State of Tennessee, attended Marion Military Institute from 1939-1940 in the “Army Class” preparing for West Point.

MG Hugh B. Mott ’40 of the Tennessee National Guard.

Born in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1920, Hugh Mott graduated from East Nashville High School in 1939, where he served as a cadet captain in the ROTC. Following completion of his year at MMI in 1940, Mott did not attend West Point but, rather, worked as a civilian with the Army Corps of Engineers, and then enlisted in the Army during World War II. He was commissioned in June, 1943, through OCS at Artillery Officer Candidate School at Camp Davis, North Carolina. Mott then transferred to Engineer Branch, and completed Engineer Basic Officer School at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, in March, 1944. Hugh Mott was assigned to the 9th Armored Division Engineer Battalion at Fort Polk, Louisiana, as a combat engineer.

MMI Cadet Corporal Hugh B. Mott of “C” Company, second year ROTC.

The “Army Class” at MMI, unidentified, in 1940. Cadet Mott should be in this photograph.

Mott and the 9th Armored Division were deployed to France in August, 1944, landing at Normandy in October. They participated in the liberation of France and saw action in the Battle of the Bulge. The Germans then began retreating across the Rhine River back into Germany with the Allies on their heels.

On March 7, 1945, the 9th Armored Division arrived at the town of Remagen, Germany - where the Ludendorff Bridge spanned the Rhine – and found the Germans still retreating across the bridge and preparing to blow it up. First Lieutenant Mott and two of his best men were ordered to diffuse the numerous explosives rigged to the bridge before the Germans could blow it. Under intense direct fire from snipers and machine guns, Mott and his men raced the length of the bridge, cutting wires and tossing detonators into the river, effectively neutralizing German attempts to destroy the bridge. When U. S. infantry arrived to secure the bridge, Mott and his men repaired a gaping hole in the bridge planking, thus allowing tanks to cross the bridge into Germany.

The Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen, Germany, Rhineland-Palatinate.

American troops at the bridge following the fighting.

The East Towers of the Ludendorff Bridge today.

The West Towers of the Ludendorff Bridge today.

The Allied commanders estimated that saving the bridge shortened the war by about six months and probably prevented between 5,000 to 10,000 Allied casualties. Hugh Mott and his men were each awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC), Mott being cited for his “unhesitating action and cool courage” in the face of direct enemy fire.

After Remagen, the 9th Armored Division moved on to Limberg, Frankfurt, and Leipzig, and then pushed into Czechoslovakia before V-E Day. Mott remained with the occupation forces until June, 1946, when he was separated from active service and entered the Reserves with the rank of captain.

Returning to Tennessee as a highly decorated and respected war hero, Hugh Mott won election to the Tennessee House of Representatives, serving from 1948 to 1951. Joining the Tennessee National Guard, he quickly rose through the ranks to major general and was named Adjutant General for the State of Tennessee in 1968, serving until 1971. He led the Guard in suppressing civil unrest in Nashville following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in Memphis in 1968. Mott retired from service with the Tennessee National Guard in 1975.

Mott as commander of the 30th Armored Division in Tennessee in 1968.

MG Hugh B. Mott ’40 died in June, 2005, at the age of 84, following 33 years of service to his country and state. “Mott Hall” at the U.S. Army Engineer School at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, is named in his honor, as is the massive new headquarters of the Tennessee National Guard in Nashville.

Three views of the headquarters of the Tennessee National Guard in Nashville, still under construction.

Note: The Hollywood movie, The Bridge at Remagen, was released in 1969. It depicts a fictionalized version of actual events.