The Second Infantry Division has a proud and honorable history which reflects the heart of the American Soldier. Having fought in four wars, the 2nd Infantry Division is one of the most decorated divisions in the United States Army. It boasts 38 Medal of Honor recipients, and over 20 campaign participation credits.
World War I
The 2nd Infantry Division was organized on 26 October 1917, at Bourmont, Haute Marne, France. At the time of its activation, the Indianhead Division was composed of existing Army and Marine units of the American Expeditionary Forces which were the 3rd Infantry Brigade, which was a normal Organic Brigade which included the 9th Infantry Regiment; 23rd Infantry Regiment; and the 4th Marine Brigade, which consisted of the 5th Marine Regiment and the 6th Marine Regiment, a battalion of Field Artillery, and various supporting units.
Twice during "The Great War" the division was commanded by Marine Corps generals, Brigadier General Charles A. Doyen and Major General John A. Lejeune, marking the only times in U.S. Military history when Marine Corps officers commanded an Army division. Major General John A. Lejeune, was nicknamed "The Old Indian," he had led the Division in numerous important engagements, including St. Mihiel, Mont Blanc Ridge, Champagnet, and the Meuse-Argonne. He later went on to become the Commandant of the Marine Corps.
The division spent the winter of 1917 - 1918 training with French Army veterans. Though judged unprepared by French tacticians, the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) was committed to combat in the spring of 1918 in a desperate attempt to halt a German advance toward Paris. The 2nd Infantry Division drew its first blood in the nightmare landscape of the Battle of Belleau Wood, and contributed to shattering the four year old stalemate on the battlefield during the Chateau-Thierry campaign that followed.
On 28 July 1918, Maj Gen John A. Lejeune, USMC, assumed command of the 2nd Infantry Division and remained in that capacity until August 1919, when the unit was demobilized. The division won hard fought victories at Soissons and Mont Blanc, for which it was awarded the French Fourragère in the colors of the Croix de Guerre. Finally the Indianhead Division participated in the Meuse-Argonne offensive which spelled the end of any German hope for victory. On 11 November 1918 the Armistice was declared, and the 2nd Infantry Division marched into Germany where it performed occupation duties until April 1919.
The 2nd Infantry Division returned to the United States in July 1919. Having fought in every major US engagement, the Indianhead Division emerged from World War I as the most decorated American Division of the American Expeditionary Forces.
The Interwar Era
Upon returning to the United States in July 1919, the division was stationed at Fort Sam Houston, at San Antonio, Texas as one of three divisions to remain intact and on Active Duty for the entire interwar period. It remained there for the next 23 years, serving as an experimental unit, testing new concepts and innovations for the Army. In 1940 the 2nd Infantry Division was the first command reorganized under the new triangular concept, which provided for three separate regiments in each division. Indianhead soldiers pioneered concepts of airmobility and anti-tank warfare, which served the army for the next two decades on battlefields in every corner of the globe.
The Division started taking part in maneuvers at Christine, Texas between 3 and 27 January 1940. It then moved to Horton, Texas for maneuvers from 26 April to 28 May 1940, followed by maneuvers at Cravens, Louisiana from 16 August to 23 August 1940. It returned to Fort Sam Houston, where it continued training and refitting, until it moved to Brownswood, Texas for the VIII Corps Maneuvers from 1 to 14 June 1941 at Comanche, Texas. The division was then sent to Mansfield, Louisiana from 11 August through 2 October 1941 for the August-September 1941 Louisiana Maneuvers.
The Indianhead Division was then transferred to the VIII Corps Louisiana maneuver Area on 27 July 1941. In May 1942, Major General Walter Robertson assumed command of the Division. He would remain the Division Commander for the entire war through Victory in Europe Day (VE) Day in 1945. On 22 September 1942, the Division returned to Fort Sam Houston. They then moved to Camp McCoy at Sparta, Wisconsin on 27 November 1942. Four months of intensive training for winter warfare followed.
In September 1943 the division received their staging orders, and moved to the Camp Shanks staging area at Orangeburg, New York on 3 October 1943, where they got their Port Call orders. On 8 October 1943 the division officially sailed from the New York Port of Embarkation, and started arriving in Belfast, Northern Ireland on 17 October 1943. They then moved over to England, where they trained and staged for forward movement to France.
World War II
With the onset of World War II, the division moved to Ireland and Wales in October 1943, as part of the build up for operation Overlord, the Normandy invasion. There it spent ten months undergoing extensive training. On 7 June 1944, D-Day + 1, the Division landed on Omaha Beach.
Attacking across the Aure River, the Division liberated Trevieres, 10 June 1944, and proceeded to assault and secure Hill 192, the key enemy strongpoint on the road to St. Lo. With the hill taken on 11 July 1944, the Division went on the defensive until 26 July 1944. Exploiting the St. Lo break-through, the 2nd Division advanced across the Vire to take Tinchebray on 15 August 1944. After fierce, 39-day battle, the 2nd Division, fighting in the streets and alleyways, finally took their objective as the vital port city of Brest, which was liberated on 18 September 1944.
The Division took a brief rest 19 to 26 September 1944 before moving to defensive positions at St. Vith, Belgium on 29 September 1944. The Division entered Germany on 3 October 1944, and the Division was ordered, on 11 December 1944, to attack and seize the Roer River dams. Having pierced the dreaded Siegfried Line, the Division was advancing when Nazi Field Marshal Gerd Von Rundstedt unleashed a powerful German offensive in the Ardennes. Throughout the Battle of the Bulge the 2nd Infantry Division held fast, preventing the enemy from seizing key roads leading to the cities of Liege and Antwerp.
In February 1945, the Division attacked, recapturing lost ground, and seized Gemund, on 4 March 1945. Reaching the Rhine 9 March 1945, the Division advanced south to take Breisig, 10-11 March 1945, and to guard the Remagen bridge, 12- 20 March 1945. The Division crossed the Rhine 21 March 1945 and advanced to Hadamar and Limburg an der Lahn, relieving elements of the 9th Armored Division, 28 March 1945. Advancing rapidly in the wake of the 9th Armored, the 2nd Infantry Division crossed the Weser at Veckerhagen, 6 - 7 April 1945 captured Gottingen 8 April 1945, and established a bridgehead across the Saale, 14 April 1945, seizing Merseburg on 15 April 1945.
On 18 April 1945 the Division took Leipzig, mopped up in the area, and outposted the Mulde River; elements which had crossed the river were withdrawn 24 April 1945. Relieved on the Mulde, the 2nd moved 200 miles, 1 – 3 May 1945, to positions along the German-Czech border near Schonsee and Waldmunchen, where the Warrior Division relieved the 97th and 99th divisions. The division crossed over to Czechoslovakia on 4 May 1945, and attacked in the general direction of Pilsen, attacking that city on Victory in Europe (VE) Day.
The 2nd Infantry Division returned to the New York Port of Embarkation on 20 July 1945, and arrived at Camp Swift at Bastrop, Texas on 22 July 1945. They started a training schedule to prepare them to participate in the scheduled invasion of Japan, but they were still at Camp Swift on Victory in Japan (VJ) Day.
The Post World War II Era
Following WWII, the division was ordered moved to the Staging Area at Camp Stoneman at Pittsburg, California on 28 March 1946, but the move eastward was cancelled, and they received new orders to move to Fort Lewis at Tacoma, Washington. They arrived at Fort Lewis on 15 April 1946, which became their Home Station. From their Fort Lewis base, they conducted Arctic, air transportability, amphibious, and maneuver training.
The Korean War
With the outbreak of hostilities in Korea during the summer of 1950, the 2nd Infantry Division was quickly alerted for movement to the Far East Command. The division arrived in Korea, via Pusan on 23 July 1950, becoming the first unit to reach Korea directly from the United States. Initially employed piecemeal, the entire division was committed as a unit on 24 August 1950, relieving the 24th Infantry Division at the Naktong River Line.
The first big test came when the North Koreans struck in a desperate human wave attack on the night of 31 August 1950. In the 16-day battle that followed, the division's clerks, bandsmen, technical and supply personnel joined in the fight to defend against the attackers. Shortly thereafter, the Warrior Division was the first unit to break out of the Pusan Perimeter and they led the Eighth Army drive to the Manchurian Border, the Indianhead Division became the first UN force to enter the North Korean Capital of Pyongyang.
When the Chinese entered the war on 26 November 1950, soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division were given the mission of protecting the rear and right flank of the Eighth Army as it retired to the South. Fighting around Kunu-ri cost the division nearly one third of its strength, but was ten times more costly to the enemy and the way was kept open.
On 5 February 1951, the 23rd Regimental Combat Team moved into the narrow valley of Chipyong-ni. Colonel Paul Freeman, the 23rd Regimental Combat Team Commander, realized that he occupied a salient in front of the main defensive line and requested permission to fall back, however; Lieutenant General Matthew Ridgway, the Eighth United States Army Commanding General, ordered the 23rd Regimental Combat Team to make a stand against Communist Chinese Forces.
On 13 February 1951, the 23rd Regimental Combat Team, with the attached French Battalion, was cut off and surrounded by three Chinese divisions. As the surrounded 23rd Regimental Combat Team exhausted supplies due to intense fighting, air drops were conducted to restock the ammunition, ration, medical and equipment supply dumps. The Air Force conducted over 131 sorties utilizing Napalm to demoralize and destroy the Communist Chinese Forces. For more than three days the 23rd Regimental Combat Team bravely fought in freezing weather killing over 5,000 Chinese and causing the Communist Chinese Forces to withdraw. The Battle of Chipyong-ni was the first major defeat for the Chinese and proved to be the turning point of the Korean War.
Again in April and May 1951, the 2nd Infantry Division was instrumental in smashing the communist's spring offensive. After smashing the communist offensive, the Indianhead Division was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation; the highest decoration the United States can award a division. What followed were alternating periods of combat and rest. While statesmen sought an armistice agreement, the Warrior Division fought for hilltops in the Iron Triangle, Pork Chop Hill, Baldy Hill, Bloody Ridge, and Heartbreak Ridge.
Finally, on 9 April 1953, the Division was moved to a rear area and on 20 August 1954, four years after its last unit arrived in Korea, the Division was alerted for re-deployment to the United States.
A Rest from the Fight
In the summer of 1954 the 2nd Infantry Division was transferred from Korea to Fort Lewis, Washington, where it remained for only two years, until being transferred to Alaska in August 1956. On 8 November 1957, it was announced that the division was to be deactivated. However, a few short months later, in the spring of 1958, the Department of the Army announced that the 2nd Infantry Division would be reorganized at Fort Benning, Georgia, with personnel and equipment of the 10th Infantry Division returning from Germany. Fort Benning remained the home of the new 2nd Infantry Division from 1958 to 1965, where they were initially assigned the mission of a training division. To improve combat readiness, in March 1962 the Division was designated as a Strategic Army Corps (STRAC) unit. Following this the Division became engaged in intensified combat training, tactical training, and field training exercises, in addition to special training designed to improve operational readiness.
In January 1963, the division was selected as the first Army division to be organized under the Reorganization Objective Army Division concept, providing for three brigades supported by armor, cavalry and artillery units, as well as administrative and support elements.
The Cold War Era
On 1 July 1965, the division's colors returned to the Republic of Korea. The Soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division removed their First Team Division patches and became 2nd Infantry Division Warriors. The 2nd Division was assigned to guard portions of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), and help deter war on the peninsula. North Korean forces were engaging in increasing border incursions and infiltration attempts and the 2nd Infantry Division was called upon to help halt these attacks. On November 2, 1966, soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment were killed in an ambush by North Korean forces. In 1967 enemy attacks in the DMZ increased, as a result, 16 American soldiers were killed that year.
In 1968 North Koreans continued to probe across the DMZ, and in 1969, while on patrol, 4 soldiers of 3rd Battalion, 23rd Infantry were killed, but by 1970 the North had decided that their efforts against the Division weren't worth the cost and organized attacks stopped that year. By March 1971 Republic of Korea forces had assumed the responsibility for the defense of all but 500 yards of the DMZ, allowing the 2nd Infantry Division to maintain combat readiness in case of any eventuality.
On 18 August 1976, CPT Arthur G. Bonifas and 1LT Mark T Barrett, of the United Nations Joint Security Force, were attacked and killed by North Korean border guards during a routine tree-trimming operation within the Joint Security Area.
Three days later on 21 August 1976, the United Nations Command responded with Operation Paul Bunyan. The 2nd Infantry Division assembled Task Force Brady, named after the Division Commander, in support of Task Force Vierra, named after the Joint Security Area (JSA) Battalion Commander. At 0700 hours a Republic of Korea Special Forces company, the 9th Infantry Regiment, and B Company, 2nd Engineers, moved into the JSA and cut down the infamous “Panmunjeom Tree”. B-52 bombers, escorted by U.S. F-4 fighters and ROK F-5 fighters flew at a high altitude near the JSA. At Osan Air Base, F-111 fighters had been armed and fueled, ready to take off at short notice. The aircraft carrier Midway task force had also been moved to a station just offshore. The 2nd Infantry Division delivered an unmistakable message to the North Koreans, as well as to the world.
Throughout the 1980 and early 1990s, Soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division continued to patrol along the DMZ. With the end of the Cold War, 2nd Infantry Division Warriors left the DMZ in 1992, but remained forward deployed along the most heavily defended border in the world. In 1994, the death of the North Korean leader, Kim, IL Sung, created increased tensions on the Korean Peninsula, this time the North was threatening nuclear development. In 1994, and again in 1999, the 2nd Infantry Division received their 4th and 5th Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citations.
On 29 March 1995, the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division was reactivated at Fort Lewis, Washington as part of I Corps. It gained the fame of becoming the Army's first Stryker Brigade Combat Team in May of 2000.
The Global War on Terrorism
From November 2003 to November 2004, the 3rd Brigade Stryker Brigade Combat Team deployed from Fort Lewis, Washington in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In the sands of Iraq the 3rd Brigade Stryker Brigade Combat Team proved the value of the Stryker Brigade concept in combat and logistics operations.
In August 2004, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team deployed to Iraq where they worked side by side with the Republic of Korea Army; just as it had while stationed in Korea. This deployment was unique in that it was the first operational deployment from the Republic of Korea.
In Iraq, the 2nd BCT was given strategic command to much of the sparsely populated area South and West of Fallujah. Their mission, however, changed when the major strategic actions began to take place within the city of Fallujah. The 2nd BCT was refocused and given control of the eastern half of the volatile city of Ar-Ramadi. For this mission, the Brigade fell under the direct command of the 1st Marine Division and for the second half of the deployment; they were attached to the 2nd Marine Division. This command structure was ironic in that during World War I the 5th Marine Regiment and the 6th Marine Regiment of the 1st Marine Division had fought under the US Army's 2nd Infantry Division.
The 2BCT fought in the Fallujah offensive in November 2004 and provided Iraqis the opportunity to vote in the historic national elections of January 2005. The 2BCT also trained and partnered with thousands of Iraqi Security Force soldiers, enabling them to better secure their country. Additionally, the 2BCT provided humanitarian relief to hundreds of displaced civilians, schools, hospitals, and the underprivileged across its area of operations. In August 2005, the 2BCT redeployed from Iraq to its new home at Fort Carson, Colorado.
From June 2006 to September 2007, the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team deployed from Fort Lewis, Washington in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During the 3rd Stryker Brigade’s second deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom their mission was to assist the Iraqi security forces with counter-insurgency operations in the Ninewa Province.
On 1 June 2006 at Fort Lewis, Washington the 4th Brigade, 2d Infantry Division was formed. From April 2007 to July 2008 the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team was deployed in as part of the surge to regain control of the situation in Iraq. The brigade assumed responsibility for the area north of Baghdad and the Diyala province.
From October 2006 to January 2008, the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team deployed from Fort Carson, Colorado in support of the Multi-National Division – Baghdad (1st Cavalry Division) and was responsible for assisting the Iraqi forces to become self-reliant, bringing down the violence and insurgency levels and supporting the rebuilding of the Iraqi infrastructure.
The 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team deployed to southern Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in June 2009. It was the first Army brigade to deploy to Afghanistan with Strykers and the first full combat brigade to deploy with Land Warrior System. In July 2010, the 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team was inactivated and reflagged as the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
In September 2009 at Fort Lewis, Washington the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team deployed to Diyala province, Iraq that was its third deployment to Iraq and second to Diyala province.
In the fall 2009 the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team deployed to Iraq for a second time in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The last America Combat Brigade pulled out of Iraq 18 August 2010. Convoys of the 4th Stryker Combat Brigade moved out of Iraq to Kuwait, symbolizing the end of their year-long deployment and the departure of the last combat troops in Iraq.
As part of the upcoming rotation of forces operating in Afghanistan, the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team (-) deployed in December 2011. This is the 3rd Stryker Brigade’s first deployment to Afghanistan.
Today, Warriors wearing the 2nd Infantry Division patch are spread out across world. Reflecting the Warrior Ethos of the today's highly modular fighting force the Division is a melting pot of experience and expertise as they face the dangerous threat posed by the communist North Korea and terrorism.