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 A Summary History of the 4th Infantry Division

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"The Ivy Division"

(Updated 9-3-08)

The 4th Infantry Division, whose motto is "Steadfast and Loyal," is a heavy mechanized division in the United States Regular Army. The 4th ID has a storied history from WWI, WWII, Vietnam, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Arguably the most modernized division in the army, the 4ID is currently organized with four Brigade Combat Teams (BCT), a fires brigade, an aviation brigade, and various supporting units. Currently home based at Fort Hood, Texas, the "Ivy Division" is in the process of re-stationing to Fort Carson, Colorado, around unit deployments to Iraq.

The 4th Infantry Division is nicknamed the "Ivy Division." This comes from the design of the shoulder sleeve insignia which has four green ivy leaves joined at the stem and opening at the four corners. The word "Ivy" is a play on the Roman numeral four, IV. Ivy leaves are symbolic of tenacity and fidelity, the basis of the Division's motto, "Steadfast and Loyal." The Division's second nickname, "Iron Horse," has been recently adopted to indicate the speed and power of the division.

Click to preview or purchase "The Boldest Plan is the Best" from Amazon.comThe 4th Division was formed at Camp Greene, North Carolina on December 10, 1917 for service in World War One. The 4th Infantry Division went into action in the Aisne-Marne campaign in July 1918, at which time its units were piecemealed and attached to several French infantry divisions. Almost a month later, the Division was reunited for the final days of the campaign. During the next four months, the 4th I.D. saw action on the front lines and as reserves. Suffering over 11,500 casualties in the final drive for the Allied victory, the 4th Infantry Division was the only division to serve in both the French and British sectors of the front.

By the end of WWI, 2,611 Ivy Division soldiers were killed in action and 9,895 others were wounded. The 4th Division remained in Europe for occupation duty until returning to the United States on July 31, 1919. The 4th Division was inactivated at Camp Lewis, Washington on September 21, 1921.

The 4th Infantry Division was reactivated on June 1, 1940 at Fort Benning, Georgia as part of the U.S. Army buildup prior to the country's entry into World War II. From June of 1940 until late in 1943, the 4th Infantry Division served as an experimental division for the Army, testing new equipment and tactics. Finally, after years of training, the Ivy Division moved to England in January of 1944 to prepare for Operation Overlord, the D-Day landings in Normandy.

The amphibious invasion of Europe began on June 6, 1944. The Division's 8th Infantry Regiment was the first Allied ground unit to assault German forces on the Normandy Beaches. The remainder of the Division quickly followed, landing on Utah Beach. For 26 days the Division pushed inland, reaching the Port of Cherbourg and sustaining over 5,000 casualties. Breaking out of the Beachhead and expanding operations well into France, the Division was given the honor of being the first Allied unit to participate in the liberation of Paris. The Ivy Division quickly moved on through northern France reaching Belgium and the border of Germany by September 1944. In November, the 4th Infantry Division moved into the Hurtgen Forest and fought what was to be its fiercest battle. The 4th Infantry Division held its ground during the Battle of the Bulge; crossed the Rhine, then the Danube, and finally ceased its advance at the Isar River in southern Germany.

When the 4th Infantry Division's WWII combat operations ended on May 2, 1945, 4,097 soldiers had been killed in action, 17,371 were wound, and 757 would later die from their wounds. The Division returned to the United States in July 1945 and was stationed at Camp Butner, North Carolina, preparing for deployment to the Pacific. However, the Japanese surrendered before the 4th ID was deployed. After the war ended the 4ID was inactivated on March 5, 1946. The Division was reactivated as a training division at Fort Ord, California on July 15, 1947.

On October 1, 1950, the 4th Infantry Division was re-designated a combat division, training at Fort Benning, Georgia. In May 1951 it deployed to Germany as the first of four U.S. divisions committed to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) during the early years of the Cold War. The division headquarters was located in Frankfurt, West Germany. After a five-year tour in Germany, the division redeployed to Fort Lewis, Washington in May of 1956. The 66th Armor Regiment and 4th Signal Company of the 4th Infantry Division served in the Korean War.

The 4th Infantry Division deployed from Fort Lewis to Camp Holloway, Pleiku, Vietnam on September 25, 1966 and served more than four years, returning to Fort Carson, Colorado on December 8, 1970. Two brigades operated in the Central Highlands/II Corps Zone, but its 3rd Brigade, including the division's armor battalion, was sent to Tay Ninh Province northwest of Saigon to take part in Operation Attleboro (September to November, 1966), and later Operation Junction City (February to May, 1967), both in War Zone C.

Throughout its service in Vietnam the Ivy Division conducted combat operations in the western Central Highlands along the border between Cambodia and Vietnam. The 4th Infantry Division experienced intense combat against NVA regular forces in the mountains surrounding Kontum in the autumn of 1967. The division's 3rd Brigade was withdrawn from Vietnam in April, 1970 and deactivated at Fort Lewis. In May the remainder of the division conducted cross-border operations during the Cambodian Incursion. The Ivy Division returned from Vietnam in December and was rejoined in Fort Carson by its former 3rd Brigade from Hawaii, where it had re-deployed as part of the withdrawal of the 25th Infantry Division. One battalion remained in Vietnam as a separate organization until January, 1972. During the four and a half years of combat operations during the Vietnam War, 2,531 Ivy Division soldiers were killed in action and another 15,229 were wounded.

After Vietnam the Division settled at Fort Carson, Colorado where it reorganized as a mechanized infantry division and remained at Carson for 25 years. It was during the Division's time at Fort Carson that it had the unofficial nickname of the "Ironhorse" Division. The 4th Infantry Division moved its colors to Fort Hood, Texas in December 1995 to become the Army's first Digitized Division under the Force XXI program. In this program the Division was thoroughly involved in the training, testing, and evaluation of 72 initiatives to include the Division's Capstone Exercise (DCX I) held at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California in April, 2001 and culminating in the DCX II held at Fort Hood in October 2001.

Division elements have supported rotations to Bosnia and Kuwait as well as providing a Task Force to fight forest fires in Idaho in 2000. 4ID Soldiers supported the Winter Olympics in Utah. Since November 2001, the Division's mission was the Division Ready Brigade-prepared to deploy at a moment's notice to anywhere in the world.

The 4th Infantry Division was alerted for the Iraq War on January 19, 2003. The Division's mission was to lead an advance from Turkey into Northern Iraq. Unfortunately the Turkish government did not give their permission for U.S. Forces to use Turkey to attack Iraq, and the Ivy Division had to reroute to the war through Kuwait. Arriving after the invasion had started, the 4th Infantry Division entered Iraq as follow-on forces in April of 2003. The 4th ID was deployed in the northern area of the Sunni Triangle near Tikrit. The Ivy Division became a major part of occupation forces during the post-war period.

In Operation Red Dawn, conducted on December 2003, the Iron Horse Division in coordination with a special unit captured the top High Value Target of Iraq, Saddam Hussein. Hussein was located about 10 miles south of Tikrit, cowering in a "spider hole." His capture has been described by news media as the number one news story of 2003. The Division returned to the United States by April of 2004 with a most successful completion of their tour as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom I. Sadly, 81 Iron Horse soldiers gave their lives in OIF 1.

The 4th Infantry Division's second deployment to Iraq began in the fall of 2005. The Division headquarters replaced the 3rd Infantry Division, which had been directing security operations as the headquarters for Multi-National Division - Baghdad. The 4th ID assumed responsibility on January 7, 2006 for four provinces in central and southern Iraq: Baghdad, Karbala, An-Najaf and Babil. On January 7, 2006, MND-Baghdad also assumed responsibility for training Iraqi security forces and conducting security operations in the four provinces. The 3rd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division was assigned to conduct security operations under the command of Task Force Band of Brothers, led initially by the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). During this deployment 229 soldiers were killed in action.

Today, the 4th Infantry Division is the most lethal, modern and deployable heavy division in the world; it is prepared to conduct full-spectrum combat operations. The Iron Horse has earned twenty-one campaign streamers with sixteen 4th Infantry Division Soldiers presented the Congressional Medal of Honor. The Ivy Division began their third deployment to Iraq in late 2007 and is scheduled to return to the U.S. in 2009. The Division will continue its move to Fort Carson upon their return. The soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division continue to serve their country and live up to their unit's motto of "Steadfast and Loyal."

 

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