News: 7th ID eyes the Pacific, reactivates as Army’s ‘Stryker Division’
Story by Staff Sgt. Lindsey Kibler
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - A new chapter in Army, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, history was written Oct. 10, as Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza, 7th Infantry Division commanding general, and Command Sgt. Maj. Delbert D. Byers, 7th Inf. Div. command sergeant major, uncased the Bayonet division colors at its reactivation ceremony on JBLM’s Watkins Field in front of hundreds of senior leaders, soldiers, former 7th Inf. Div. veterans, and civilians.
“The 7th Infantry Division has a diverse, incredible tradition… it has fought in all types of climates, and conducted operations from amphibious assaults to airborne operations to light infantry operations and even had a short stint as a motorized unit. We’ll now add to that tradition, by taking on the role as the Army’s ‘Stryker Division’, as the only division with three Stryker brigades within the division formation,” said I Corps commanding general Lt. Gen. Robert B. Brown, the ceremony’s reviewing officer.
“The 7th Infantry Division will be a superb addition to this team, and we are all very excited about this activation ceremony,” Brown added.
On April 26, the secretary of the Army directed the activation of a two-star command at Joint Base Lewis McChord, Wash., in order to provide training and readiness support to designated JBLM units. On May 17, the deputy chief of staff of Army G-3/5/7 signed an executive order directing the reactivation of Headquarters, 7th Infantry Division. The division officially reactivated on Oct. 1.
The 7th Inf. Div. provide command and control of five subordinate brigades and will focus on personnel, medical, material and training readiness. The brigades include the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division; 3rd SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div.; 4th SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div.; 16th Combat Aviation Brigade; and 17th Fires Brigade, which totals nearly 18,000 soldiers.
As I Corps, commanded by Lt. Gen. Robert B. Brown, shifts its mission focus to Pacific Rim operations, Lanza thinks his division, and its subordinate brigades, are in the best position to accomplish whatever mission they may face.
“That the brigades of the 7th Infantry Division are supporting this monumental shift is fitting,” Lanza told the audience. “The Bayonet Division’s rich legacy was forged largely on the battlefields of the Pacific. From the jagged peaks of the Aleutian Islands, to the beaches of Leyte and Okinawa, up and down the mountains of the Korean peninsula, and through the streets of Panama City, the (7th Infantry Division) was at the forefront.”
Currently, two of the division’s brigades— 2-2 SBCT and 3-2 SBCT— are deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, while the third, 4-2 SBCT, is preparing deploy there in the upcoming weeks. The 17th Fires Brigade recently returned from their tour in eastern Afghanistan. The 16th CAB has not yet deployed from JBLM after relocating to the installation from Fort Wainwright, Alaska, in August 2011.
“From 2004 through 2010, the brigades represented before you were in near constant deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. From Ramadi to Baghdad, Diyala, Taji, and Baqoubah; these soldiers distinguished themselves on some of the most intense battlefields seen by our military in decades; securing critical objectives and fostering ever-increasing stability,” said Lanza, pointing to representatives of each brigade who stood in the ceremony.
He added that soldiers from these units have been awarded more than a 1,000 awards for valor, to include two Distinguished Service Crosses. Soldiers under the 7th Inf. Div. are no stranger to valor, as the division headquarters proudly displays the pictures of the 16 Bayonet soldiers who earned the Medal of Honor during conflicts in World War II and the Korean War.
Lanza expressed his gratitude for being selected to command such a historically iconic division, and emphasized the care of his soldiers, and their families, is one of his top priorities.
“We owe this to our troops before, during, and after combat operations. We are prepared to receive and reintegrate our soldiers and families when they return, especially those soldiers and families that have sustained permanent wounds or made the ultimate sacrifice,” Lanza explained.
Before leaving the podium, Lanza asked but one thing of those standing on the parade field— for trust.
“The 7th Infantry Division song asks you to ‘Trust in Me.’ Today, I ask instead that you ‘Trust in We’— the men and women of the 7th Infantry Division. Combat tested, and buoyed by a remarkable lineage of heroes who have worn the patch of the 7th Infantry Division; we stand ready to build on this proud legacy established by those that have come before us.”
A BRIEF HISTORY OF 7TH ID
It was activated in December 1917, as 7th Division, in World War I, and subsequently inactivated and reactivated four additional times until its most recent inactivation in August 2006. Although elements of the division saw brief active service in World War I, it is best known for its participation in the Pacific theater of World War II where it took heavy casualties engaging the Imperial Japanese Army in the Aleutian Islands, Leyte, and Okinawa.
Following the Japanese surrender in 1945, the division was stationed in Japan and Korea. With the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, and the division’s location, it was one of the first units in action. It took part in the Inchon Landings and the advancement north until Chinese forces counter-attacked and almost overwhelmed the scattered division. The 7th ID later went on to fight in the Battles of Pork Chop Hill, Old Baldy and the Chosin Reservoir.
After the Korean War ended, the division returned to the United States and turned its focus towards the Central and South Americas. In the late 1980s, it briefly saw action overseas in Operation Golden Pheasant in Honduras and Operation Just Cause in Panama. In the early 1990s, it provided domestic support to the civil authorities in Operation Green Sweep and during the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. Following the riots, the division was slated to be inactivated as part of the post-Cold War drawdown of the US Army. The 1st Brigade relocated to Fort Lewis and was later reflagged as the 2nd Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division while the 2nd Brigade and the 3rd Brigade of the 7th was deactivated at Fort Ord. The division headquarters was formally deactivated in June 1994. It was, again, reactivated in 1999 at Fort Carson, Colo., as an Active Component/Reserve Component Division, responsible for the training and evaluation of three enhanced National Guard Brigades from Arkansas, Oregon and Oklahoma; it was inactived in June 2006.