7th Infantry Division – WW-2

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The 7-D was activated on Dec 6, 1917, eight months after the American entry into World War I, as the 7-D of the Regular Army at Camp Wheeler, Georgia. One month later, the unit prepared to deploy to Europe as a part of the American Expeditionary Force. Most of the division sailed to Europe aboard the SS Leviathan. While in France, the 7-D did not see action at full divisional strength, though its infantry and reconnaissance elements did engage German forces. On Oct 11, 1918, it first came under shell fire and later, at St Mihiel, came under chemical attack. Elements of the 7-D probed up toward Prény near the Moselle River, capturing positions and driving German forces out of the region. It was at this time that the division first received its shoulder sleeve insignia.
In early November, the 7-D began preparing for an assault on the Hindenburg Line as part of the Second Army. The division launched a reconnaissance in force on the Voëvre Plain, but the main assault was never conducted as hostilities ended on Nov 11, 1918. During its 33 days on the front line, the 7-D suffered 1.709 casualties, including 204 killed in action and 1.505 wounded in action.

After the end of World War One, the division served in occupation duties as it began preparations to return to the US.

The 7-D arrived back home in late 1919, served at Camp Funston, Kansas, until July 1920, and finally moved to Camp Meade, Maryland until Sep 22, 1921, when it was inactivated due to funding cuts. The 7-D was represented in the active Regular Army from 1921 to 1939 by its even-numbered infantry brigade (14th) and select supporting elements. Other units of the division were placed on the Regular Army Inactive list and staffed by Organized Reserve personnel. These reserve units occasionally trained with the 14th Infantry Brigade at Fort Riley, Fort Crook, Fort Snelling, and Fort Leavenworth, and conducted the Citizens’ Military Training Camps in the division’s area. The division was formed on a provisional status during maneuvers in the 1920s and 1930s, and the division headquarters was activated for the August 1937 Fourth United States Army maneuvers at Camp Ripley, Minnesota, with the Minnesota Army National Guard, the 92nd Infantry Brigade.

On Jul 1, 1940, the 7-D was formally reactivated at Camp Ord, California, under the command of Gen Joseph W. Stilwell. Most of the early troops in the division were conscripted as a part of the US Army’s first peacetime military draft. The 7-D was assigned to III Corps of the 4-A, and transferred to Longview, Washington, in August 1941 to participate in tactical maneuvers. Following this training, the division moved back to Fort Ord, California, where it was located when the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor caused the USA to declare war. The formation proceeded almost immediately to San Jose, California, arriving on Dec 11, 1941, to help protect the west coast and allay civilian fears of invasion. The 53-IR was relieved of assignment to the 7-D and replaced with the 159-IR, newly deployed from the California Army National Guard. For the early parts of the war, the division participated mainly in construction and training roles.

Subordinate units also practiced boat loading at the Monterey Wharf and amphibious assault techniques at the Salinas River in California. On Apr 9, the division was redesignated as the 7th Motorized Division and transferred to Camp San Luis Obispo on Apr 24. Three months later, divisional training commenced in the Desert Training Center in preparation for its planned deployment to North Africa. On Jan 1, 1943, the division was redesignated 7th Infantry Division, when the motorized equipment was removed from the unit and it became an infantry division. The 7-ID began rigorous amphibious assault training under US Marines from the Fleet Marine Force, before being deployed to fight in the Pacific instead of North Africa. Gen Holland Smith (USMC) oversaw the unit’s training.

Casualties
Killed in Action : 1948
Wounded in Action : 7258
Missing in Action : 3
Die of Wounds : 386

Campaigns
Aleutian Islands, Jun 3 1942 – August 24 1943
Eastern Mandates, January 21 1944 – June 14 1944
Leyte, October 17 1944 – July 1 1945
Southern Philippines, February 27 1945 – July 4 1945
Ryukyus, March 26 1945 – July 2 1945

Awards
Medals of Honor, 3
Distinguished Service Crosses, 26
Distinguished Service Medal, 1
Silver Star, 982
Bronze Star, 3853
Legion of Merit, 33
Soldier’s Medal, 50
Air Medal, 178
Campaign Streamers, 4
Philippine Presidential Unit Citation

Commanding Generals
Maj Gen Joseph Stillwell, Jun 40 – Aug 41
Maj Gen C. H. White, Aug 41 – Oct 42
Maj Gen Albert E. Brown, Oct 42 – Apr 43
Maj Gen Eugene Landrum, May 43 – Jun 43
Maj Gen A. V. Arnold, Jul 43 – Sep 43
Maj Gen Charles H. Corlett, Sep 43 – Feb 44
Maj Gen Archibald V. Arnold, Feb 44 – Sep 45

Order of Battle – 1944
17th Infantry Regiment
32nd Infantry Regiment
184th Infantry Regiment
HHB Division Artillery
31st Field Artillery Battalion (155-MM)
48th Field Artillery Battalion (105-MM)
49th Field Artillery Battalion (105-MM)
57th Field Artillery Battalion (105-MM)
7th Reconnaissance Troop, Mecz
13th Engineer Combat Battalion
7th Medical Battalion
7th Counter Intelligence Corps Det
Headquarters Special Troops
Hqs Company, 7th Infantry Division
Military Police Platoon
7O7th Ordnance Light Maintenance Company
7th Quartermaster Company
7th Signal Company

Overseas Wartime Assignments

Amphibious Training Force #9 – May 22, 1943,
Central Pacific Area Command – September 16 1943
V Amphibious Corps (attached) – December 11 1943
Central Pacific Base Command – July 1, 1944,
Tenth Army – February 10 1945
XXIV Corps – February 22 1945
Tenth Army – July 31, 1945,
XXIV Corps – August 15 1945

On Jul 1, 1940, the 7-ID was formally reactivated at Camp Ord, California, under the command of Gen Joseph (Vinegar Joe) W. Stilwell. Most of the early troops in the division were conscripted as a part of the US Army’s first peacetime military draft. The 7-ID was assigned to the III Corps of the 4-A and transferred to Longview, Washington in August 1941 to participate in tactical maneuvers.

Narrative

Following this training, the division moved back to Fort Ord, California, where it was located when the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor pushed the USA to enter the war. The formation proceeded almost immediately to San Jose, California, arriving Dec 11 to help protect the west coast and allay civilian fears of invasion. The 53-IR was relieved of assignment to the 7-ID and replaced with the 159-IR, newly deployed from the California Army National Guard. For the early parts of the war, the division participated mainly in construction and training roles. Subordinate units also practiced boat loading at the Monterey Wharf and amphibious assault techniques at the Salinas River in California.

On Apr 9, 1942, the division was formally redesignated as the 7th Motorized Division and transferred to Camp San Luis Obispo on Apr 24, 1942. Three months later, divisional training commenced in the Mojave Desert (Desert Training Center) in preparation for its planned deployment to the North African theater.

On Jan 1, 1943, the Division was renamed 7-ID and all the motorized equipment was abandoned. The 7-ID became a light infantry division since the Army had eliminated the motorized division concept fearing it would be logistically difficult and that the troops were no longer needed in North Africa. The 7-ID began then rigorous amphibious assault training under the US Marines from the Fleet Marine Force, before being deployed to fight in the Pacific theater instead of Africa. Gen Holland Smith (USMC) oversaw the unit’s training.

Elements of the 7-ID first saw combat in the amphibious assault on Attu Island, the western-most Japanese entrenchment in the Aleutian islands chain of Alaska. Elements landed on May 11, 1943, spearheaded by the 17-IR. The initial landings were unopposed, but Japanese forces mounted a counter-offensive the next day, and the 7-ID fought an intense battle over the tundra against strong Japanese resistance. The men of the 7-ID were hampered by their inexperience and also the poor weather and terrain conditions but were eventually able to coordinate an effective attack. The fight for the island culminated in a battle at Chichagof Harbor, when the division destroyed all Japanese resistance on the island on May 29, after a suicidal Japanese bayonet charge. During its first fight, the 7-ID suffered 549 casualties (KIA) but 2351 Japanese soldiers were killed and 28 sent to the POWs’ cage. When the American forces had secured the island chain, the 159th Infantry Regiment became definitely an organic regiment of the 7-ID joined a little later by the 184th Infantry Regiment as third 7-ID’s regiment. The 184-IR remained with the division until the end of the war while the 159-IR stayed on the island until returning to the Lower 48, where it remained until the end of the war.

American forces then began preparing to move against the nearby Kiska island, termed Operation Cottage, the final fight in the Aleutian Islands Campaign. In August 1943, elements of the 7-ID took part in an amphibious assault on Kiska with a brigade from the 6th Canadian Infantry Division, only to find the island deserted by the Japanese. It was later discovered that the Japanese had withdrawn their 5000-soldier garrison during the night of July 28, under cover of the heavy fog usual in this area.

After the campaign, the division moved to Hawaii where it trained in new amphibious assault techniques on the island of Maui, before returning to Schofield Barracks on Oahu for a brief leave. The 7-ID was assigned to the V Amphibious Corps, a USMC command. The division left Pearl Harbor on Jan 22, 1944, for an offensive on Japanese territory. On Jan 30, the division landed on the islands in the Kwajalein Atoll in conjunction with the 4th Marine Division (Operation Flintlock).

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 Feb 1. It advanced halfway through the island by nightfall the next day, and reached the eastern shore at 1335 on Feb 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 Feb 7, the division departed the atoll and returned to Schofield Barracks. During the next move, on Feb 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 Oct 11, heading for Leyte, reinforced by Filipino troops of the Philippine Commonwealth Army. On Oct 20, the division made an assault landing at Dulag, Leyte, initially only encountering light resistance. Following a defeat at sea on Oct 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 (Oct 29). The division then shifted to the west coast of Leyte on November 25 and attacked north toward Ormoc, securing Valencia on Dec 25.
On Dec 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 island 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 Apr 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 east coast of the island 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 the 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 control of the US 8-A.

Pfc Leonard C. Brostrom
GO N° 104, November 15, 1945.
Rank: Private First Class
Organization: US Army
Unit: Fox Co, 2/17-IR, 7-ID
Born: Preston, Idaho
Entered Service At Preston, Idaho

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 were 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 attack, and annihilate the entire enemy position.

Pfc John F. Thorson
GO N° 58, July 07, 1945
Rank: Private First Class
Organization: US Army
Unit: Golf Co, 2/17-IR, 7-ID
Born: Armstrong, Iowa
Entered Service At Armstrong, Iowa

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, disregarding the intense fire directed at him, attacked single-handed. 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.

Pvt Joe P. Martinez
GO N° 71 October 27, 1943
Rank : Private
Organization : US Army
Unit: King Co, 3/32-IR, 7-ID
Born: Taos, New Mexico
Entered Service At Ault, Colorado

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 a 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.

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