"Rock of the Marne"
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. The Division as a whole entered combat for the first time during
WWI 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.
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
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
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
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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