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 A Summary History of the 3rd Infantry Division

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"Rock of the Marne"

(Updated 7-22-08)

The 3rd Infantry Division is a mechanized infantry division of the United States Army based at Fort Stewart, Georgia. Nicknamed the "Rock of the Marne," the 3rd Infantry Division's current configuration consists of four Brigade Combat Teams (BCT), one Aviation Brigade, and various support elements. The unit has served the United States in World War I, World War II, Korea, the Cold War, and now in Iraq.

The 3rd Division was activated at Camp Greene, North Carolina in November of 1917 for service in the First World War. The 3rd Division was composed of the 4th, 7th, 30th, and 38th Infantry Regiments, the 10th, 18th, and 76th Field Artilleries, and the 6th Engineers, with a total of 28,000 men. Elements of the 3rd Division entered combat for the first time during WWI on May 31, 1918 when the 7th Machine Gun Battalion was engaged near Chateau Thierry. The Division as a whole went into combat on July 14, 1918. During the German's last offensive of the war, the 3rd Division held their positions on the Marne River as units on either side of them withdrew. This action spoiled the German bid for Paris and earned the Division their nickname, the "Rock of the Marne." The Division's motto, "Nous Resterons Là" which is French for "We shall remain there," also comes from that action. During WWI, two members of the 3rd Division were awarded the Medal of Honor.

Click to preview or purchase "The Boldest Plan is the Best" from Amazon.comThe 3rd Division was designated the 3rd Infantry Division in 1941. The Division first saw action on November 8, 1942, landing in French Morocco. The Rock of the Marne was in the vicinity of Salzburg, Austria when World War Two ended on May 6, 1945. During the course of the war, the 3rd Infantry Division fought in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, Germany and Austria for a total of 531 consecutive days of combat. 3rd Infantry Division soldiers earned 36 Medals of Honor during WWII. At Anzio in the Italian Campaign, the Division fought off three German divisions. While there it suffered more than 900 casualties, the most in one day of any division in World War II. The most highly decorated soldier of the war, Lieutenant Audie Murphy, served with the 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division.

When North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, the 3rd Infantry Division was one of ten active divisions in the U.S. Army. The division arrived in Korea in September 1950 and joined in the operations in the Hamhung-Hungnam area. On November 23, 1950 China entered the war and the massive strength of the Chinese Army was felt all along the front. During the Korean War, the Division was known as the "Fire Brigade" for its rapid response to crisis.

By 1951, elements of the 3rd ID helped recapture Seoul, the South Korean capital, and the Chinese were pushed back to the 38th Parallel. As the Chinese tried to recapture the capital, the brunt of the attack fell on the 3rd Infantry Division's sector and the Marne division became the "Rock of Seoul." Again the Chinese were driven back to the 38th Parallel. The war ended when an Armistice was signed on July 27, 1953 and by October 1954 the division had returned to Ft. Benning, Georgia. During the Korean War, eleven more Medals of Honor were awarded to 3rd Infantry Division soldiers.

From 1958 to 1996, the 3rd Infantry Division was stationed in Germany as part of the main defense protecting Western Europe from the threat of attack by Warsaw Pact Nations headed by the Soviet Union. As part of the U.S. Army's VII Corps, the 3rd ID was stationed throughout various towns in Bavaria. The division remained on constant alert as the arms race continued. The Division was a key link in American Cold War strategy and their readiness throughout those years contributed greatly to the West's ultimate victory over Communism at the end of the Cold War in 1989.

On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait and posed a threat to Saudi Arabia. Units of the Rock of the Marne Division deployed with VII Corps from Germany for Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. The 3rd Brigade, 3ID was attached to the 1st Armored Division in their race through Iraqi territory in the "100-hour war." By the time the Persian Gulf War was declared over on February 28, 1991, the 3rd Infantry Division had destroyed 105 enemy tanks, 70 enemy armored personnel carriers, 92 enemy trucks, 4 enemy artillery pieces and captured 836 prisoners.

During the 1990's the Army went through a downsizing with the goal of maintaining a ten-division active force. As such, the 24th Infantry Division was inactivated and re-flagged as the 3rd Infantry Division on February 15, 1996. The Division was consequently re-stationed from its bases in Germany to Fort Stewart, Fort Benning, and Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia. The Division repeatedly demonstrated its deployability since then by maintaining a battalion, and later a brigade task force presence in Kuwait. It has also moved sizeable forces to Egypt, Bosnia and Kosovo in partnership training and peacekeeping missions. Since Sept 11, 2001 units have been sent to Afghanistan, Pakistan and other Middle Eastern countries to support the War on Terrorism.

In January 2003, Soldiers in the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) were officially informed that they were headed for the Middle East to do their part in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The entire division deployed in weeks to Kuwait. It was called on subsequently to spearhead Coalition forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom, fighting its way to Baghdad in early April, leading to the end of the Saddam Hussein regime. After combat, Soldiers from 3rd Inf. Div. shifted focus to support and stabilization operations in an effort to rebuild the war-ravaged country. The division returned to Ft. Stewart in August 2003.

The Marne Division was selected as the first division in the Army to be organized under the new modular system. Beginning in 2004, the 3rd Infantry Division began re-organizing. The division shifted from three maneuver brigades to four "units of action," which are essentially smaller formations, with one infantry, armor, cavalry, and artillery battalion in each brigade combat team (BCT). A Combat Aviation Brigade is also part of the Division structure. Each of these units of action engaged in several mock battles at the National Training Center (NTC) and Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC), in preparation for a second deployment to Iraq.

The Third Infantry Division was the first division in the U.S. Army to serve a second tour in Iraq. In January 2005, the division returned to Iraq and led U.S. and coalition forces in Baghdad. The 1st and 3rd Brigades of the division supported the 42nd Division in Northern Iraq. The hard work created conditions for a secure Iraqi election and transfer of power to the first democratically elected national government in Iraq. The Division served with its coalition partners during Operation Iraqi Freedom III for a year before returning to Georgia in January 2006.

On November 17, 2006, the Army announced that the 3rd I.D. would be the first Army division to serve three tours in Iraq as part of the 2007 "troop surge." The Division Headquarters deployed from Fort Stewart in March of 2007. Task Force Marne was composed of more than 20,000 U.S. soldiers, more than 26,000 Iraqi army soldiers, and over 46,000 Iraqi police. Along with combat operations, Task Force Marne focused on rebuilding the local government, Iraqi security forces and the economy. The 3rd Infantry Division Colors returned to Fort Stewart in June of 2008. The 1st and 3rd Brigade Combat Teams have also returned home, while the "dog faced soldiers" of the 2nd and 4th BCTs, the Aviation Brigade, and the 3rd Sustainment Brigade are still in Iraq completing their 2007-2008 tours.

 

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