Can you imagine spending the winter in the snow in Belgium during the winter of 1944-1945? Then can you imagine that when the war ended in Europe, you weren’t going home, but going to the Pacific theater instead?
Well, that was the case for many – but not all of the soldiers who survived the Battle of the Bulge. The Army established a point system to determine who got to go home versus who was sent to the Pacific. This process was discussed in an article in The Birmingham News.
The Birmingham News (Birmingham, Alabama)
22 Aug 1945
Army Bans Overseas Shipment for Enlisted Men with 75 Points
Washington, Aug. 22 (AP) The Army is banning overseas shipment of enlisted men with 75 or more discharge points. At the same time, it was learned that the War Department soon will direct all branches of the Army to cut below 37 the age limit for overseas duty.
At present, the ground forces are screening out of divisions slated for Japanese occupation duties all men 37 or older. The ground forces embrace all troops, including the infantry, except those in the service of supply or air forces.
The later two now are weeding out of redeployment units all men 38 or older.
Just how far the age limit may be reduced has not been determined. One problem is that men in the service forces, chiefly supply troops, are older on the average than those in the ground and air forces.
Enlisted men now can get out of the Army upon request if they are 38 or have a point discharge score of 85, based on a rating system that grants credit for combat, service and dependency.
The announcement that men with 75 or more points are not being sent overseas indicates that the discharge score may be reduced to that figure. However, this may be done in two separate cuts, because the Army says the score must be geared to available shipping.
The department said the 95th and 85th Divisions, the first two redeployed from Europe for service in the Pacific, were screened to eliminate all men with 75 or more points. The 37-year age limit also was used in screening the 95th, but not the 86th, the department reported, because there was not sufficient time to make the necessary personnel changes after the discharge age was lowered from 40 to 38. The age limit in the 86th was 38.
Some men in both the 95th and 8th Divisions have protested against being sent to Japan after having served in Europe. The 95th is now at Camp Shelby, Miss., and the 86th is on the West Coast awaiting shipment to Japan.
The Wikipedia article on the Demobilization of United States armed forces after WWII explains how the points were accumulated.
Soldiers were given one point for each month of military service and one additional point was given for each month of overseas service. Each battle star or decoration earned a soldier 5 points. Soldiers were awarded 12 points per dependent child up to a maximum of three children. A total of 85 points was needed for eligibility. Soldiers who had earned that number of points were to be demobilized as soon as transport back to the United States was available.