Mouwembleem 7th Infantry Division (Sleeve patch 7th Infantry Division)

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The 7th Infantry Division is an infantry division of the United States Army. Today, it exists as a unique 250-man administrative headquarters based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord overseeing several units, though none of the 7th Infantry Division's own historic forces are active.

The division was first activated in December 1917 in World War I, and based at Fort Ord, California for most of its history. Although elements of the division saw brief active service in World War I, it is best known for its participation in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II where it took heavy casualties engaging the Imperial Japanese Armyin the Aleutian Islands, Leyte, and Okinawa. Following the Japanese surrender in 1945, the division was stationed in Japan and Korea, and with the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 was one of the first units in action. It took part in the Inchon Landings and the advance north until Chinese forces counter-attacked and almost overwhelmed the scattered division. The 7th later would fight in the Battle of Pork Chop Hill and the Battle of Old Baldy.

On 1 July 1940, the 7th Division was reactivated at Camp Ord, California, under the command of Major General Joseph W. Stilwell. The 12th and 13th Brigades did not reactivate as part of an army-wide elimination of brigade commands within its divisions. The division was instead centered around three infantry regiments; the 17th Infantry Regiment, the 32nd Infantry Regiment, and the 53rd Infantry Regiment. Also assigned to the division were the 31st, 48th, 49th and 57th Field Artillery Battalions, as well as the 7th Signal Company, the 707th Ordnance Company, the 7th Quartermaster Company, the 7th Reconnaissance Troop, the 13th Engineer Battalion, the 7th Medical Battalion, and the 7th Counter Intelligence Detachment. Most of the troops in the division were selective service soldiers, conscripted as a part of the US Army's first peacetime military draft.


The 7th Division was assigned to III Corps of the Fourth United States Army, and transferred to Longview, Washington, in August 1941 to participate in tactical maneuvers. Following this training, the division moved back to Fort Ord, California, where it was located when the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor caused the United States to declare war. The formation proceeded almost immediately to San Jose, California, arriving 11 December 1941 to help protect the west coast and allay civilian fears of invasion. The 53rd Infantry Regiment was removed from the 7th Division and replaced with the 159th Infantry Regiment, newly deployed from the California Army National Guard. For the early parts of the war, the division participated mainly in construction and training roles. Subordinate units also practiced boat loading at the Monterey Wharf and amphibious assault techniques at the Salinas River in California.

On 9 April 1942, the division was formally redesignated as the 7th Motorized Division. and transferred to Camp San Luis Obispo on 24 April 1942. Three months later, divisional training commenced in the Mojave Desert in preparation for its planned deployment to the African theater. It was again designated the 7th Infantry Division on 1 January 1943, when the motorized equipment was removed from the unit and it became a light infantry division once more, as the Army eliminated the motorized division concept fearing it would be logistically difficult and that the troops were no longer needed in North Africa. The 7th Infantry Division began rigorous amphibious assault training under US Marines from the Fleet Marine Force, before being deployed to fight in the Pacific theater instead of Africa. USMC General Holland Smith oversaw the unit's training.[10]

Aleutian Islands[edit]

Elements of the 7th Infantry Division first saw combat in the amphibious assault on Attu Island, the western-most Japanese entrenchment in the Aleutian islands chain. Elements landed on 11 May 1943, spearheaded by the 17th Infantry Regiment. The initial landings were unopposed, but Japanese forces mounted a counteroffensive the next day, and the 7th Infantry Division fought an intense battle over the tundra against strong Japanese resistance. The division was hampered by its inexperience and poor weather and terrain conditions, but was eventually able to coordinate an effective attack. The fight for the island culminated in a battle at Chichagof Harbor, when the division destroyed all Japanese resistance on the island on 29 May, after a suicidal Japanese bayonet charge. During its first fight of the war, 600 soldiers of the division were killed, while killing 2,351 Japanese and taking 28 prisoners. After American forces secured the island chain, the 159th Infantry Regiment was ordered to stay on the island, and the 184th Infantry Regiment took its place as the 7th Division's third infantry regiment. The 184th Infantry would remain with the division until the end of the war. The 159th Infantry Regiment would stay on the island for some time longer until returning to the United States, where it would remain until the end of the war.

American forces then began preparing to move against nearby Kiska island, termed Operation Cottage, the final fight in the Aleutian islands campaign. In August 1943, elements of the 7th Infantry Division took part in an amphibious assault on Kiska with a brigade from the 6th Canadian Infantry Division, only to find the island deserted by the Japanese. It was later discovered that the Japanese had withdrawn their 5,000-soldier garrison during the night of 28 July, under cover of fog.


After the campaign, the division moved to Hawaii where it trained in new amphibious assault techniques on the island of Maui, before returning to Schofield Barracks on Oahu for brief leave. It was reassigned to V Amphibious Corps, a US Marine Corps command. The division left Pearl Harbor on 22 January 1944, for an offensive on Japanese territory. On 30 January 1944, the division landed on islands in the Kwajalein Atoll in conjunction with the 4th Marine Division, code named Operation Flintlock. The 7th Division landed on the namesake island while the 4th Marine Division forces struck the outlying islands of Roi and Namur. The Division made landfall on the western beaches of the island at 09:30 on 1 February. It advanced halfway through the island by nightfall the next day, and reached the eastern shore at 1335 hours on 4 February, having wrested the island from the Japanese. The victory put V Amphibious Corps in control of all 47 islands in the atoll. The 7th Infantry Division suffered 176 killed and 767 wounded. On 7 February, the division departed the atoll and returned to Schofield Barracks.

Elements took part in the capture of Engebi in the Eniwetok Atoll on 18 February 1944, code named Operation Catchpole. Because of the speed and success of the attack on Kwajalein, the attack was undertaken several months ahead of schedule. After a week of fighting, the division secured the islands of the atoll. The division then returned to Hawaii to continue training. There, in June 1944, General Douglas MacArthur and President Franklin Roosevelt personally reviewed the division.


The 7th Infantry Division left Hawaii on 11 October, heading for Leyte. At this time it was under the command of XXIV Corps of the Sixth United States Army. On 20 October 1944, the division made an assault landing at Dulag, Leyte, initially only encountering light resistance. Following a defeat at sea on 26 October, the Japanese launched a large, uncoordinated counteroffensive on the Sixth Army. After heavy fighting, the 184th Infantry secured airstrips at Dulag, while the 17th Infantry secured San Pablo, and the 32nd Infantry took Buri. The 17th Infantry troops moved north to take Dagami on 29 October, in intense jungle warfare that produced high casualties. The division then shifted to the west coast of Leyte on 25 November and attacked north toward Ormoc, securing Valencia on 25 December. An amphibious landing by the 77th Infantry Division effected the capture of Ormoc on 31 December 1944. The 7th Infantry Division joined in the occupation of the city, and engaged the 26th Japanese Infantry Division, which had been holding up the advance of the 11th Airborne Division. The 7th Division's attack was successful in allowing the 11th Airborne Division to move through, however, Japanese forces proved difficult to drive out of the area.]As such, operations to secure Leyte continued until early February 1945. Afterward, the division began training for an invasion of the Ryukyu island chain throughout March 1945. It was relieved from the Sixth Army, which went on to attack Luzon.



The division was reassigned to XXIV Corps, Tenth United States Army, a newly formed command, and began preparations for the assault onOkinawa. The Battle of Okinawa began on 1 April 1945, L-Day, when the 7th Infantry Division participated in an assault landing south ofHagushi, Okinawa alongside the 96th Infantry Division, and the 1st, and 6th Marine Divisions. of III Amphibious Corps. These divisions spearheaded an assault that would eventually land 250,000 men ashore. The 7th Division quickly moved to Kadena, taking its airfield, and drove from the west to the east coast of the island on the first day. The division then moved south, encountering stiff resistance from fortifications at Shuri a few days later. The Japanese had moved 90 tanks, much of their artillery, and heavy weapons away from the beaches and into this region. Eventually, XXIV Corps destroyed the defenses after a 51-day battle in the hills of southern Okinawa, which was complicated by harsh weather and terrain. During the operation, the division was bombarded with tens of thousands of rounds of field artillery fire, encountering Japanese armed with spears as it continued its fight across the island. Japanese also fought using irregular warfare techniques, relying on hidden cave systems, snipers, and small-unit ambushes to delay the advancing 7th Infantry Division. After the fight, the division began capturing large numbers of Japaneseprisoners for the first time in the war, due to low morale, high casualties, and poor equipment. It fought for five continuous days to secure areas around the Nakagusuku Wan and Skyline Ridge. The division also secured Hill 178 in the fighting. It then moved to Kochi Ridge, securing it after a two-week battle. After 39 days of continuous fighting, the 7th Infantry Division was sent into reserve, having suffered heavy casualties.


After the 96th Infantry Division secured Conical Hill, the 7th Infantry Division returned to the line. It pushed into positions on the southern Ozato Mura hills, where Japanese resistance was heaviest. It was placed on the extreme left flank of the Tenth Army, taking the Ghinen peninsula, Sashiki, and Hanagusuku, fending off a series of Japanese counterattacks. Despite heavy Japanese resistance and prolonged bad weather, the division continued its advance until 21 June 1945, when the battle ended, having seen 82 days of combat. The island and surrendering troops were secured by the next day. During the Battle of Okinawa, the soldiers of the 7th Infantry Division killed between 25,000 and 28,000 Japanese soldiers and took 4,584 prisoners. Balanced against this, the 7th Division suffered 2,340 killed and 6,872 wounded for a total of 9,212 battle casualties during 208 days of combat. The division was slated to participate in Operation Downfall as a part of XXIV Corps under the First United States Army, but these plans were scrapped after the Japanese surrendered following the use of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Occupation of Japan

A few days after V-J Day, the division moved to Korea to accept the surrender of the Japanese Army in South Korea. After the war, the division served as an occupation force in Korea and Japan. Seven thousand, five hundred members of the unit returned to the United States, and the 184th Infantry Regiment was reassigned to the California Army National Guard, cutting the division to half its combat strength. To replace it, the 31st Infantry Regiment was assigned to the division. The 7th Infantry Division remained on occupation duty in Korea patrolling the 38th parallel until 1948, when it was reassigned to occupation duty in Japan, in charge of northern Honshū and all of Hokkaido.During this time, the US Army underwent a drastic reduction in size. At the end of World War II, it contained 89 divisions, but by 1950, the 7th Infantry Division was one of only 10 active divisions in the force. It was one of four understrength divisions on occupation duty in Japan alongside the 1st Cavalry Division, 24th Infantry Division, and 25th Infantry Division, all under control of the Eighth United States Army

Sleevepatch 7th Infantry Division

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