24th Division History
Schofield Barracks, Hawaii
The Hawaiian Division was established at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, on 1 March 1921, to provide land defense of the territory strategically located at “the cross-roads of the Pacific.” It was built from units of the old World War 1, 11th Infantry Division. The Hawaiian Division was concentrated on one post during the interwar years which was unlike most divisions in the continental United States. The new division was also manned at higher levels than other divisions, and its field artillery was the first to be mechanized. This division, also known as the “Pineapple Army,” pulled peacetime garrison duty in idyllic climes of the semi-tropical Pacific islands for more than 20 years. The Hawaiian Division soldiers wore the Taro Leaf shoulder patch which would later pass down to two new divisions that would go on to distinction. The taro leaf is symbolic of Hawaii, and the plant’s root is use to make poi, a basic food staple in the native diet. The Hawaiian Division occupied the Schofield Barracks base on Oahu, the most prominent Hawaiian Island. This pre-World War II Army division had a different structure than that which would eventually become known as “The Victory Division,” and bear the distinction of being “First to Fight.”
As war clouds were gathering over the Pacific in the Fall of 1941, the Hawaiian Division structure was deemed to be unsuitable for modern warfare. This old structure was based on an organizational square of two infantry brigades, each with two infantry regiments and supporting units. The new structure would be triangular, built around three infantry regiments and supporting units. The Army command used the existing four infantry regiments to build two new divisions, the 24th and 25th Infantry Divisions. The 19th and 21st Infantry Regiments plus the 11th and 13th Field Artillery Battalions from the old division formed the new 24th Division. Headquarters of the Hawaiian Division was redesignated as Headquarters, 24th Infantry Division. The 34th Infantry Regiment was added to round out the new structure. Two artillery battalions, the 52nd and 63rd were formed simultaneously with the new division. The 26th Anti-aircraft Artillery Battalion, 24th Medical Battalion, and 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion were also added to the new division. Thus, the new modern division was formed and would have just 68 days of peacetime duty left before making its mark in the Pacific Theater. The Special Troops were organized later on New Guinea. They were Division Headquarters Co., 724th Ordnance Maintenance Co. (later battalion), 24th Quartermaster Co., 24th Signal Co., 24th Military Police Platoon (later company), Division Band, and the 24th Mechanized Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop (later company).
The insignia of the new 24th Infantry Division consisted of a green taro leaf with a yellow border set on a red disk bordered in black. This new insignia would symbolize one of the most famous fighting units in U.S. military history, taking on any aggressor in the steaming jungles, up rock hard mountains, through the frigid snow, on blood soaked beaches, and on burning sands. On December 7, 1941, the new 24th Infantry Division trained its guns on attacking Japanese aircraft and at this time its motto became ascribed…"First to Fight." The legacy left by this new division, "The Victory Division, "will live long and proud in U.S. military archives, and in the mind and hearts of man.
World War II 1941-1945
The 24th Infantry Division wears a single Silver Campaign Star on its Asia-Pacific Theater Campaign Medal. This single silver star acknowledges the five campaigns fought by the Victory Division, four of which are signified by Arrowheads denoting that the 24th Infantry Division spearheaded the operations. The 24th Infantry Division distinguished itself by fighting in more campaigns in the Pacific Theater than any other division.
After the Pearl Harbor attack, the Division was ordered to immediately set up an elaborate system of coastal defenses on the north side of Oahu Island. At this time the Division also engaged in amphibious training and underwent jungle warfare training. After stepped up conditioning and orientation the Taromen were put on transport ships and moved to Rockhampton on Australia’s east coast. Four months later they moved to Goodenough Island just east of New Guinea for additional training. While on Goodenough Island the division was alerted. They were formed into Task Force Reckless with the 41st Infantry Division and ordered to move against Hollandia in Dutch New Guinea. The Taromen’s mission was to land at Tanahmerah Bay and secure the Hollandia Airdrome. The division was finally going to mount an offensive attack against the enemy. The assault plan called for the 24th Division to go ashore at Red Beach 1 and Red Beach 2, the latter being the primary target. The Red Beach 2 assault would come from four battalions, two each from the 19th and 21st Infantry Regiments. One battalion of the 19th and the 34th Infantry Regiment were to remain in reserve. The remaining battalion of the 21st was assigned to Red Beach 1. U.S. and Australian Navy ships pounded the beaches prior to the invasion. The landing craft moved toward the beaches under a heavy surf. The beachheads were established quickly with primarily small arms resistance. The inland trek towards the airfield was tortuous as vehicles could not maneuver the narrow trails and often bogged down. Supplies were often cut off from the troops. Airdrops were limited due to the poor visibility and heavy rains. After 5 days of sporadic fighting enemy patrols and ambushes, as well as the adverse weather, terrain, and logistics, the Taro Leafers linked up with the 41st Division and the airfields were secure. The first mission was successfully completed.
The next operation was Biak, one of the Schoutan Islands north of New Guinea. The objective was to capture 3 Japanese airfields located at Mokmer, Borokoe, and Sorido. The lead went to the 41st Infantry Division with the 24th Division's 34th Infantry Regiment attached to it. The 34th Infantry was assigned to take and occupy the Borokoe and Sorido airfields. The two airfields were secured quickly with little opposition. The 34th then linked up with the other 41st Division units and mounted another attack on Mokmer to clean out the stiff enemy resistance there. The 34th Infantry's 2nd and 3rd battalions were to secure the areas west of the Borokoe airfield while the 1st battalion and the 41st Division's 186th Infantry cleared the high ground north of Hill 320. Based on Co. C, 34th Infantry, reports it was concluded that the Japanese might be preparing for either a fierce defensive stand or a suicidal counterattack in a cliff area northwest of the battalion's position. The 1st and 2nd battalions, 34th Infantry, were ordered to approach the cliffs from two directions. The Japanese mounted a strong counterattack while trying to break out of the trap set by the 34th Infantry. Company A was caught between the two battalions and driven back to the battalion command post. Hard fighting ensued and the enemy resistance was finally wiped out. The three airfields were now secure. The 34th Infantry's estimated dead and wounded were approximately 100 dead and 300 wounded.
After the heroic stand by U.S. and Philippine troops at Bataan and Corregidor, the liberation of the Philippines became the primary objective in the Southwest Pacific theater. The troops selected to spearhead this mission were the 24th Infantry and 1st Cavalry Divisions. Together they made up the 10th Corps. Their entrance to the Philippines would be an eastward approach through Leyte, part of the Visayan Group in the central part of the nation. They would go ashore in the northern sector of the invasion beaches. The battle plan was three phased; secure the beachhead, secure the hills behind the beaches, drive northwest across the Northern Leyte Valley to Carigara Bay on the north shore and then move southward through the Ormoc Valley. The assault landing was scheduled for 20 October 1944. The two 10th Corps divisions would land abreast, the 24th Infantry on the left and the 1st Cavalry on the right. In the 24th's sector known as Red Beach, the 19th Infantry Regiment would assault from the left and the 34th Infantry Regiment from the right. The 21st Infantry Regiment had a separate mission. They would land 30 minutes before the main assault force on the islands of Dinagat and Panaon and secure the straight that separates Leyte from Panaon.
The Division's Korean Service Medal bears a single Silver Campaign Star and three Bronze Campaign Stars denoting its participation in eight major campaigns. The 24th Infantry Division's, "Task Force Smith,” was the first fighting unit deployed to Korea. It was first to engage the North Korean aggressor force in the war's first battle, at Osan. The 24th Division was also the first U.S. Division to actively serve under the blue and white emblem of the United Nations.
Task Force Smith
At 0400 hours on June 25, 1950, a world at peace was shocked by the most blatant act of aggression since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Hordes of North Korean Communist troops surged over the 38th Parallel in Korea in an attempt to conquer the peaceful agricultural nation of South Korea. Spearheaded by Russian-built T-34 tanks, thousands of tough, well trained, highly motivated troops made speedy work of the meager South Korean defenses and marched on Seoul, the ancient country’s capital. Only a few hundred miles away on Kyushu, southernmost of Japan’s four major islands, the troops of the 24th Infantry Division awoke to find five years of occupation duty completely destroyed. President Truman, on June 30, 1950, ordered the already alerted Division to the point of action. The men of the 24th were again going to war in an unfamiliar country against an unknown enemy.
On July 1, 1950, Eighth Army ordered the 24th Division to airlift two reinforced rifle companies to Pusan. On the same day, the first members of Task Force Smith, consisting of the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, and 130 infantrymen augmented by antitank teams, arrived in the port city. The next day they were joined by B and C Companies, 75 millimeter recoilless rifle platoons from D and M companies, two platoons from Heavy Mortar Company, the 1st Battalion’s Headquarters Co., and A Battery of the 52nd Field Artillery Battalion. This small party climbed aboard trains in Pusan and moved north. On the train the young, 32 year old, Task Force Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Charles B. Smith, opened his orders. They read simply: "When reaching Taejon, move north . . . stop them where you find them."
On July 3, 1950 the Task Force took defensive positions to guard the Ansong River bridges in the Pyongtaek-Ansong area. On the 4th they moved north to Osan, and it was here that the first battle of the war was fought. In the grim, pre-dawn twilight of July 5, 33 T-34 tanks, closely followed by 4,000 North Korean troops of the 4th NK Division moved into the area held by Task Force Smith. Simultaneously both sides cut loose with their entire firepower. For seven long hours the U.S. troops poured howitzer, bazooka, mortar, and small arms fire at the Russian made tanks. Five were knocked out by artillery shells, but the odds were too great and the task force was surrounded. Abandoning their heavy weapons, the men grimly diminished in number, cut their way through the encircling enemy and withdrew to the south. At Chonan they filtered through the lines of the 34th Infantry Regiment, which was driving north to aid them. Task Force Smith had fought one of the most disappointing, yet one of the most necessary forms of warfare, the delaying action. General of the Army, Douglas MacArthur, Far East Commander in Chief, credited Colonel Smith and his troops with buying the necessary time for the other United Nations units rushing to the war-torn peninsula.
The Return to Korea
After the Division was rebuilt in Japan it undertook hard training to get ready to return to line duty in Korea. In mid July of 1953, just prior to the Armistice, the Victory Division began its return. The 63rd Field Artillery Battalion and the 34th Infantry Regiment were the leading elements. Both units, whose early losses were so devastating that they were reduced to paper, were now back in action. The 63rd Field Artillery delivered fire against the enemy in the I Corps sector, and the 34th Infantry "Dragons" held a blocking position behind the 2nd Infantry Division’s 23rd Infantry Regiment which absorbed heavy blows from Chinese mass attacks in the last days.
The cease-fire brought a new mission to the Taro Leaf Division. The Division would assume responsibility for the prisoner repatriation which would bring our American captives home. The operation was named, "Big Switch.” The Division’s 19th Infantry Regiment was assigned to the camp where allies held anti-Communist Chinese POWs on Cheju-do Island. The 21st Infantry Regiment was assigned to Koje-do Island, a camp which held the hard-core doctrinaire communists. Both islands were off of the southern coast of the country. The 34th Infantry Regiment came off the line and was assigned to Pusan where it organized Task Force Olson. The Task Force escorted freed prisoners to Inchon and from there they sailed to Taiwan.
Defense of the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)
The Division took up semi-permanent encampments throughout the country and continued training. In October of 1953 the Division got a new commanding officer, Major General Carter Magruder. Training continued and the 34th Infantry effected another prisoner transfer in January 1954 without incident. Brigadier General Carl Hutton assumed command of the Division. In Feburary the Division received orders to move to a line position held by the 45th Infantry Division, a National Guard Division which was slated to return to the United States. On March 1, 1954 the Victory Division completed its move to the east central sector. Although in a reserve position, but close to the demarcation-line, its role was in preparation for manning the cease-fire line to watch for any breeches from the North. The U.S. 40th Infantry Division was on the immediate right, and Chinese Communist divisions were directly in front across the line. The Division again changed command and Major General Paul Harkins, who commanded the departing 45th Infantry Division, was now in charge.
In March 1955 the Division moved to the western line sector and relieved the 1st Marine Division. It took the "Front-line" position that would last until the Division left Korea in 1957. Although an armistice had been signed there was no surrender by either side and no peace treaty had been signed. The two Koreas were still technically at a state-of-war. The Victory Division was now the only U.S. Division with direct face-to-face contact with enemy forces. As part of I Corps, which was headquartered in Uijongbu, the Division had units located above and just below the Imjin River at the 38th Parallel. Munsan-ni was the rail center, the area of Paju-ri was home for the reserve infantry regiment when not on position above the Imjin, and Pubwon-ni was a major crossroad both north and south, and east and west. Within the Division area were Libby Bridge (named for 24th Division Medal of Honor recipient Sergeant George Libby) and Freedom Bridge (the crossing point for repatriated POWs returning home from long captivity). Supporting the Division there were 8th Army and I Corps units. The 7th Infantry Division was in reserve to the Division’s right (east). Main supply routes were established, civilian control lines were manned and traffic control points were set up. All foot and vehicle traffic was checked through these points whether movement was within the Division area or to and from it. Taromen maintained 24 hour surveillance over the DMZ from various outposts, including OP Cherry Herring, OP Maizie, and OP Nina and with combat patrols inside the fences. Adjacent area patrols were daily occurrences, including joint patrols with British, Greek, Turkish and Australian allied forces. Building and maintaining trenches and bunkers was ongoing. The Division remained on a high alert status often scrambling in full combat gear and assuming defensive positions as the wail of the alert sirens and squawk boxes sounded in the strategically scattered compounds. Infiltrators from the north were captured along the DMZ and turned over to R.O.K. authorities for interrogation. The sounds of gunfire, blaring horns, rumbling armor and other eerie sounds, as well as night flares, lights, and loud speaker propaganda were also common during the dark hours of night and early morning as a harassment. Units constantly trained to maintain their combat skills. Each man realized he was part of the Trip-wire defense system. The times were tense, but the will was strong and Taromen remained alert, ready and motivated. The Victory Division troops knew that if the North Korean and Chinese Communist forces broke the Armistice and crossed the DMZ, they again would be "First to Fight."
"The Shield of Bavaria"
When The East Germans erected the infamous Berlin Wall in August of 1961, the volatility of this Berlin flash point increased. The Division’s 1st Battalion of the 19th Infantry Regiment was the leading element sent to Check Point Charley to bolster the 8th Infantry Division units and other allied forces there. A genuine crisis situation persisted at the check point as Soviet and American tanks faced off. Other Victory Division units quickly followed to this area. At this time the U.S. Military started calling up reserve units.
The peacekeeping efforts and the deterrent strength of the 24th Division and other NATO units prevented the break out of another war just 16 short years after the end of World War II, and only 8 years after the fragile "cease-fire" agreement in Korea.
El Salvadore 1985
On 28 February 1985, Delta Company, 24th Aviation “Redhawks” Battalion deployed from Savannah, GA to Soto Cano, Honduras for 179 days to assist the Government of El Salvador in eliminating the MFLN guerrillas. A detachment from Delta Company was assigned directly to El Salvador to provide aviation support to the Special Forces advisors and to the DAO. Many “Redhawk” personnel rotated through this detachment. These "Redhawk" aircrew members flew many missions in their efforts to destroy the MFLN guerrillas. Their missions proved very effective and they were a contributor to the success of the overall operation.
The company departed Honduras and El Salvador on 1 July 1985. Delta Company was awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, and the Superior Unit Award for its service to Joint Task Force Bravo. The unit was also authorized to wear the 24th Infantry Division Taro Leaf shoulder patch on their right sleeve. (Courtesy of: CW5 George C. Arzente)
Hurricane Hugo 1989
|Hurricane Hugo was a destructive Category 5 hurricane
that struck South and North Carolina in September of the
1989 Atlantic hurricane season, killing 56 people and
leaving 56,000 homeless. The storm caused
$10 billion in damages, making it the most
damaging hurricane ever recorded up to that time, surpassing
Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, 3-15 Infantry, 24th ID were sent to South Carolina for several weeks to aid in recovery operations. (Courtesy of: Rick Wallace, 4-64 Armor, 24th ID (Mech.))
Southwest Asia 1990-1991 Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm
"The Point of the Spear"
Major General Barry McCaffrey’s Battle Plan Briefing to Secretary of Defense, Richard Cheney and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell
When Secretary Cheney asked General McCaffrey what problems he had, General McCaffrey responded, "Sir, I hesitate to say this, but we have none. The division has rehearsed the plan. The plan is logistically supportable. We are fully modernized. The requisite amounts of ammunition, fuel, and repair parts are on the ground. Our soldiers are the best in the world. We will destroy the Iraqi army in ten days to four weeks."
The 24th Infantry Division (Mech), the heavy element of the XVIII Airborne Corp, wears three Bronze Battle Star on its Southwest Asia Service Medal denoting participation in all three major campaigns; Defense of Saudi Arabia 2 Aug 90 - 16 Jan 91, Liberation and Defense of Kuwait 17 Jan 91 - 11 Apr 91, and Southwest Asia Cease-fire 12 Apr 91 - 30 Nov 95. The Division spearheaded the Allied Coalition Forces’ attack into Iraq. In 100 hours the mechanized division’s 370 kilometer lightning fast attack deep into, through, and encircling, enemy positions severed the enemy’s lines of communications through the Euphrates River Valley and shut down his escape routes. The 24th (Mech) drove faster, farther, and with more firepower than General George S. Patton’s entire 3rd Army stormed across France. The Division’s attack has been called, "The Greatest Cavalry Charge in History".
1st BN Fire Support Team, 41st FA awarded VUA 26 Feb 91 - 02 Mar 91 (Courtesy of: Kevin L. Jones 24th ID)
Hurricane Andrew 1992
August 27, 1992, the military 18h Airborne Corps deployed some 22,000 troops to aid in the recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. This was the largest military rescue operation in U.S. History. The mission was to provide immediate emergency relief including food, water, shelter and medical aid. During subsequent phases, the Corps conducted debris removal operations, repaired schools, established relief supply distribution centers and assisted the local government in establishing sustained recovery operations. 24h ID (Mech.) units involved were the 724th Main Support BN, 91st Chemical Co. and HHC, 24th ID.
Hurricane Andrew hit the Florida coast on 24 August 1992 moving across southern Florida and into south-central Louisiana leaving a path of destruction 25 miles wide and 60 miles long. This hurricane was the most destructive U.S. hurricane of record and the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history. It caused $26.5 billion in damage in the U.S., of which $1 billion occurred in Louisiana and the rest in south Florida. In Dade County alone, the forces of Andrew resulted in at least 15 deaths and up to one-quarter million people left temporarily homeless.
(Courtesy of: MAJ John M. Weaver)
Somalia 1993-1994 Operation Restore Hope
After U.S. Rangers and Somali militiamen engaged in a major all night gun battle on October 3-4, 1993, killing 18 U.S.Rangers and sustaining nearly 100 casualties, it became necessary to use heavy armor and equipment in the region. The 24th Infantry Division (Mech), a crisis response unit, was ordered to deploy from Fort Stewart to Mogadishu on October 4, 1993. They were know as Task Force 1-64 Armor. The Division Ready Force (DRF) consisting of 26 Abrams MIAI tanks, 28 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, 6 Cavalry Fighting Vehicles, 8 M109 Howitzers, 7 Armored Combat Earthmovers and other heavy equipment was loaded and ready within 48 hours. The primary mission for TF 1-64 would be to provide protection to the United Nation’s, Operation Restore Hope, troops operating in the region, and to keep secure the seaport, the airport and the main-supply routes. Task Force 1-64 Armor would remain in the east African country until the final days of the operation.
Kuwait 1994 Operation Vigilant Warrior
In 1994 over 60,000 Iraqi Republican Guard troops, with their tanks and armored vehicles, were massing near Nasiriyah, Iraq, less than 100 miles from the Kuwaiti border. As the Iraqis moved east, displaying the same aggressiveness that preceded the invasion of Kuwait four years earlier, the 24th Infantry Division was sent in response to Saddam Hussein's "saber rattling" and posturing of a significant Iraqi military force along the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border. Operation Vigilant Warrior was launched.
The President’s order of an immediate response was met within days. The new USCENTAF Commander, Lt Gen John Jumper and most of his key staff had deployed to Riyadh, where he took command of JTF-SWA. This Operation also involved the "plus up" of USCENTAF air assets to more than 170 aircraft and 6,500 personnel. Iraq soon recalled its troops and the crisis passed, but the US decided to retain some 120 aircraft and 5,000 personnel in-theatre in case Hussein repeated his bluff. As an additional measure, USCENTAF also agreed to bed down A-10 aircraft in Kuwait itself for the first time.
The 24th ID(M) was a valuable deterrent during VIGILANT WARRIOR from October to December 1994 when it arrived and began to train vigorously and visibly to demonstrate US presence and resolve to Iraq.
U.S. and Coalition forces employed in support of Operation VIGILANT WARRIOR are:
(U.S. Forces) 2 brigades of the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized), Marine and Army maritime prepositioned forces, Over 200 additional combat aircraft, USCINCCENT, USCENTCOM HQ element, Component Ccs and Staffs deployed in theater Patriot Air Defense personnel and over 20 naval combatants that included coalition forces.
(Coalition Forces) 4 Kuwait Brigades, 1 United Arab Emirates Mechanized Infantry Battalion and 1 U.K. Infantry Battalion.
1-41st FA awarded Army Superior Unit Award 08 Oct 94 - 05 Dec 94 (Courtesy of Kevin L. Jones 24th ID Desert Storm)
3-69th Armor awarded Army Superior Unit Award 08 Oct 94 - 05 Dec 94 (per Kevin L. Jones)
Last Assignment Ft Riley, KS, Ft. Jackson, SC, Integrated Division (IDIV)
On October 1, 1998, the commanding General of Fort Riley, Kansas assumed the responsibility for the training readiness, and oversight of three National Guard brigades. The new unit was deemed the Integrated Division (IDIV) and is composed of an Active Division Headquarters at Fort Riley, an Active Forward Headquarters at Fort Jackson, South Carolina and three National Guard brigades. Formal activation of the IDIV was June 5, 1999 at Fort Riley. The division was designated the 24th Infantry Division (Mech).
The 24th Infantry Division (Mech) is composed of three enhanced separate brigades, the 30th Heavy Separate Brigade at Clinton, North Carolina, 218th Heavy Separate Brigade at Columbia, South Carolina, and the 48th Separate Infantry Brigade in Macon, Georgia. Each brigade consists of two mechanized battalions, one armor battalion, a field artillery battalion, an engineer battalion, a forward support battalion, and several specialty companies to include; cavalry troop, military intelligence company, and an air defense artillery battery.
On order, the 24th Infantry Division (Mech) plans, coordinates, and conducts pre- and post-mobilization operations and training to deploy three enhanced separate brigades with or without equipment to any location in order to conduct Combat and/or Stability and Support Operations and redeploys them to home station.
The 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry of the 48th Separate Infantry Brigade (Mech), 24th Infantry Integrated Division (Mech), took control of Task Force Eagle on 26 March 2001 from the 2nd Battalion, 64th Armored Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division (Mech). The 148th Support Battalion of the 48th Infantry Brigade also deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina for Stabilization Force (SFOR) Rotation 9 to provide support operations for the Task Force (United States contingent to United Nations Operations in support of Dayton Peace Accord). The SFOR9 rotation was scheduled from April to October 2001. The Georgia units were mobilized under a Presidential Selective Reserve Call Up. The units operated from Camp Comanche, Dobol, and McGovern.
While other National Guard units have participated in the Bosnia operations in the past, the 48th Infantry Brigade (Mechanized) is among the first National Guard combat units to command such a large operation.
The 24th Infantry Integrated Division (Mech)
was inactivated on 1 Aug. 2006 at Fort Riley, Kansas.
The inactivation ceremony was held at 9:00 AM on Cavalry
Parade Field in conjunction with a transfer of authority ceremony
and change of command ceremony. Additional information
Additional information requested.
Information compiled and written by Norman E. Tredway, presented herein with permission.