News: 7th Inf. Div. starts a new chapter in its history
Story by Sgt. Sarah Enos
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Over the last nine years, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., has grown significantly, leading Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh to announce in April plans to reactivate the 7th Infantry Division "Bayonet" headquarters, Oct. 1.
The division will fall under I Corps, which administers 10 brigades and is in the process of delegating five of its brigades to the new 7th Inf. Div. headquarters.
The division has a prestigious legacy of service during World War I and II, the Korean War, and Operation Just Cause. The division also provided domestic support for civil authorities during the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
Among a small number of soldiers selected to report early to the division headquarters is Col. Darron Wright, operations officer, who served with the 7th Inf. Div. previously.
“I started my active duty career in July of ’91 as a platoon leader at the 7th Inf. Div. out of Fort Ord, Calif.,” Said Wright, a native of Mesquite, Texas.
Authorized 250 personnel, the division, who wear an hourglass patch, will lead and command 2nd, 3rd and 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Teams of the 2nd Infantry Division, as well as the 17th Fires Brigade and the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade. The missions and current unit patches of these brigades will remain unchanged.
Wright has had experience with wearing the hourglass patch and reactivating this division in the past and said he felt connected to the Bayonets.
“I was at Fort Ord when the unit deactivated in 1994 and reactivated in 1999 at Fort Carson,” Wright said. “Now turn the clock forward, it’s nearly October and we are standing it up again.”
The division commander, Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza, and the unit’s senior enlisted leader, Command Sgt. Maj. Delbert Byers, are expected to arrive to JBLM by the middle of August.
Soldiers who arrived early have spent the last few months securing a building on JBLM-North and moving in. The division’s headquarters, headquarters company first sergeant, Eugene T. Kuban, was instrumental in streamlining and allocating barracks space and meal cards for incoming soldiers.
Sgt. 1st Class Bryan Johnson, noncommissioned officer in charge of the headquarters operations, has been alongside Kuban in these efforts and explained that everything is going according to plan.
“A lot of these things come with standing up a new organization,” Johnson said. “The functions are in place to account for our Soldiers and take care of them and their Families.”
Researching the unit’s organizational history was on the top of the divisions list, beginning with contacting the 7th Infantry Division Association, an organization for past and present 7th Inf. Div. soldiers, for information and assistance in procuring the unit’s historical items.
In preparation for the reactivation, the division is utilizing the association to reach all its members.
“We are looking to have a good showing of 7th Inf. Div. veterans and possibly integrating them into the ceremonial proceedings,” Johnson said.
Johnson, a native of Brunswick, Ga., recently returned from a mission to Fort Carson, Colo., where the division was inactivated in 2006. He drove back to JBLM in a moving truck with the unit’s historical items.
“We are currently working toward going through all the historical items and doing a detailed inventory,” Johnson said. “We would like to have a lot of the photography framed and on the walls. We would also like to have a display case.”
The division also plans to work with the Fort Lewis Military Museum to place any remaining historic items that cannot be housed in its headquarters under the museum’s care.
Soldiers continue to show up daily and are scheduled to be fully mission capable by Oct. 1.