The 7-ID landed on the Namesake Island while the 4-USMC forces struck the outlying islands of Roi and Namur. The division made landfall on the western beaches of the island at 0930 on February 1. It advanced halfway through the island by nightfall the next day, and reached the eastern shore at 1335, on February 4, having wrested the island from the Japanese which put the V Amphibious Corps in control of all 47 islands in the atoll. The 7-ID suffered 176 killed and 767 wounded. On February 7, the division departed the atoll and returned to Schofield Barracks. During the next move, on February 19, the 7-ID took part in the capture of Engebi in the Eniwetok Atoll (Operation Catchpole). Because of the speed and success of the attack on Kwajalein, the attack was undertaken several months ahead of schedule. After a week of fighting, the division secured the islands of the atoll. The 7-ID then returned to Hawaii to continue training and being reviewed in June, by Gen Douglas MacArthur and President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Attached to the US 6-A and assigned to the XXIV Corps, the 7-ID left Hawaii on October 11, heading for Leyte, reinforced by Filipino troops of the Philippine Commonwealth Army. On October 20, the division made an assault landing at Dulag (Leyte), initially only encountering light resistance. Following a defeat at sea on October 26, the Japanese launched a large, uncoordinated counter-offensive on the US 6-A. After heavy fighting which resulted in the capture of the airstrips at Dulag by 184-IR, the capture of San Pablo by the 17-IR and the capture of Buri by the 32-IR. The 17-IR troops moved north to take Dagami after intense jungle warfare that produced high casualties (October 29). The division then shifted to the west coast of Leyte on November 25 and attacked north toward Ormoc, securing Valencia on December 25.
On December 31, after an amphibious landing by the 77-ID to capture Ormoc, the 7-ID joined in the occupation of the city and engaged the Japanese 26-ID, which had been holding up the advance of the 11-A/B. The 7-ID’s attack was successful in allowing the 11-A/B to move through, however, Japanese forces proved difficult to drive out of the area. As such, operations to secure Leyte continued until early February 1945, afterward, the division began training for an invasion of the Ryukyu Islands chain throughout March 1945. It was relieved from the US 6-A while the Philippine Commonwealth troops went on to assault Luzon.
Still assigned to the XXIV Corps but attached to the US 10-A, a newly formed command, the 7-ID began preparations for the assault on Okinawa. On April 1, the Battle for Okinawa began, the 7-ID assaulted the beaches south of Hagushi, Okinawa alongside the 96-ID, the 1st, and 6th MDs (III Amphibious Corps).
These divisions spearheaded an assault that would eventually land 250.000 men ashore. The 7-ID moved quickly to Kadena, taking its airfield, and drove from the west to the island’s east coast on the first day. The division then moved south, encountering stiff resistance from fortifications at Shuri a few days later.
The Japanese had moved 90 tanks, much of their artillery, and heavy weapons away from the beaches and into this region. The XXIV Corps destroyed the defenses after a 51-day battle in the hills of southern Okinawa which was complicated by harsh weather and terrain. During the operation, the division was bombarded with tens of thousands of rounds of field artillery fire, encountering Japanese armed with spears as it continued its fight across the island. Japanese also fought using irregular warfare techniques, relying on hidden cave systems, snipers, and small-unit ambushes to delay the advancing 7-ID. After the fight, the division began capturing large numbers of Japanese prisoners for the first time in the war, due to low morale, high casualties, and poor equipment.
It fought for five continuous days to secure areas around the Nakagusuku Wan and Skyline Ridge. The 77-ID also secured Hill 178 then moved to the Kochi Ridge, securing it after a two-week battle. After 39 days of continuous fighting, the 7-ID was sent into reserve having suffered heavy casualties.
After the 96-ID secured the Conical Hill, the 7-ID returned to the line. It pushed into positions on the southern Ozato Mura hills, where Japanese resistance was the heaviest. It was placed on the extreme left flank of the US 10-A, taking the Ghinen Peninsula, Sashiki, and Hanagusuku, fending off a series of Japanese counter attacks. Despite heavy Japanese resistance and prolonged bad weather, the division continued its advance until June 21 when the battle ended, having seen 82 days of combat. The island and surrendering troops were secured by the next day.
During the Battle of Okinawa, the soldiers of the 7-ID killed between 25.000 and 28.000 Japanese soldiers and took 4584 prisoners. Balanced against this, the Division suffered 2340 killed and 6872 wounded for a total of 9212 battle casualties during the 208 days of combat. The division was slated to participate in Operation Downfall as a part of XXIV Corps under the US 1-A, but these plans were scrapped after the Japanese surrendered following the use of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A few days after the end of the war, the division moved to Korea to accept the surrender of the Japanese Army in South Korea. After the war, the division served as an occupation force in Korea and Japan. Seven thousand and five hundred members of the unit returned to the United States. The 184-IR was reassigned to the California Army National Guard, cutting the division to half its combat strength. To replace the 184-IR, the 31-IR was assigned to the division. The 7-ID remained on occupation duty in Korea patrolling the 38th parallel until 1948, when it was reassigned to occupation duty in Japan and in charge of the northern Honshū and all of Hokkaido. During this time, the US Army underwent a drastic reduction in size. At the end of World War II, the Army had 89 divisions, but in 1950, the 7th Infantry Division was one of only 10 active divisions. It was one of four understrength divisions on occupation duty in Japan alongside the 1st Cavalry Division, the 24th Infantry Division, and the 25th Infantry Division, all under the control of the US 8-A.
Citation: The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Private First Class Leonard C. Brostrom, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action as a rifleman with an assault platoon of Company F, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, which ran into powerful resistance near Dagami, Leyte, Philippine Islands, on 28 October 1944. From pillboxes, trenches, and spider holes, so well camouflaged that they could be detected at no more than 20 yards, the enemy poured machinegun and rifle fire, causing severe casualties in the platoon. Realizing that a key pillbox in the center of the strong point would have to be knocked out if the company were to advance, Private First Class Brostrom, without orders and completely ignoring his own safety, ran forward to attack the pillbox with grenades. He immediately became the prime target for all the riflemen in the area, as he rushed to the rear of the pillbox and tossed grenades through the entrance. Six enemy soldiers left a trench in a bayonet charge against the heroic American, but he killed one and drove the others off with rifle fire. As he threw more grenades from his completely exposed position he was wounded several times in the abdomen and knocked to the ground. Although suffering intense pain and rapidly weakening from loss of blood, he slowly rose to his feet and once more hurled his deadly missiles at the pillbox. As he collapsed, the enemy began fleeing from the fortification and was killed by riflemen of his platoon. Private First Class Brostrom died while being carried from the battlefield, but his intrepidity and unhesitating willingness to sacrifice himself in a one-man attack against overwhelming odds enabled his company to reorganize against the attack and annihilate the entire enemy position.
Citation: He was an automatic rifleman on October 28, 1944, in the attack on Dagami Leyte, Philippine Islands. A heavily fortified enemy position consisting of pillboxes and supporting trenches held up the advance of his company. His platoon was ordered to out-flank and neutralize the strong point. Voluntarily moving well out in front of his group, Pfc Thorson came upon an enemy fire trench defended by several hostile riflemen and attacked single-handedly, disregarding the intense fire directed at him. He was seriously wounded and fell about 6 yards from the trench. Just as the remaining 20 members of the platoon reached him, 1 of the enemy threw a grenade into their midst. Shouting a warning and making a final effort, Pvt Thorson rolled onto the grenade and smothered the explosion with his body. He was instantly killed, but his magnificent courage and supreme self-sacrifice prevented the injury and possible death of his comrades, and remain with them as a lasting inspiration.
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy. Over a period of several days, repeated efforts to drive the enemy from a key defensive position high in the snow-covered precipitous mountains between East Arm Holtz Bay and Chichagof Harbor had failed. On 26 May 1943, troop dispositions were readjusted and a trial coordinated attack on this position by a reinforced battalion was launched. Initially successful, the attack hesitated. In the face of severe hostile machine gun, rifle, and mortar fire, Pvt. Martinez, an automatic rifleman, rose to his feet and resumed his advance. Occasionally he stopped to urge his comrades on. His example inspired others to follow. After a most difficult climb, Pvt. Martinez eliminated resistance from part of the enemy position by BAR fire and hand grenades, thus assisting the advance of other attacking elements. This success only partially completed the action. The main Holtz-Chichagof Pass rose about 150 feet higher, flanked by steep rocky ridges and reached by a snow-filled defile. The passage was barred by enemy fire from either flank and from tiers of snow trenches in front. Despite these obstacles, and knowing of their existence, Pvt. Martinez again led the troops on and up, personally silencing several trenches with BAR fire and ultimately reaching the pass itself. Here, just below the knifelike rim of the pass, Pvt. Martinez encountered a final enemy-occupied trench and as he was engaged in firing into it he was mortally wounded. The pass, however, was taken, and its capture was an important preliminary to the end of organized hostile resistance on the island.