75 Years Ago — 4ID in WWII — Issue #2 — Who is 4th Infantry Division? / by Matt King

We had great response to Issue #1 of this journey we are beginning. I'm looking forward to a great look back into the history of the 4th Infantry Division's fight across Europe from D-Day to VE Day.

The thought hit me that while we 4th Infantry Division (4ID) veterans and Family members are familiar with the accomplishments and some trivia of the 4th Infantry Division, many reading this have no idea who the 4ID is.

 

Let me introduce you to the 4th Infantry Division:

The 4ID was formed at Camp Greene, NC on 10 December 1917 - two weeks after the 3rd Infantry Division was formed there.

Our 4ID patch is four Ivy Leaves, named after the Roman numeral IV (we old timers know that IV means 4 in Roman numerals, not sure if they teach that any more). In the History of the 4th Division in the World War book, there is a statement: In the language of flowers, ivy means Steadfast and Loyal... Thus, Major General Cameron gave us the motto - Steadfast and Loyal, which remains our motto to this day.

We deployed to France in May 1918 for entry into World War I. We lost our first casualties before landing in France when a German U-boat torpedoed one of our troop ships.

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The 4ID represented the US on the 4th of July 1918 when they participated in a parade in Paris, down the Champs Elysees. Later in July, we were engaged in our first battle with the Germans. By Armistice Day on 11 November 1918, the 4ID had earned five battle streamers for their actions in World War I.

After two years of occupation duty in Germany, the division returned to Camp Lewis, WA and was deactivated in 1921. While on occupation duty, the National 4th Infantry Division Association (4IDA) was formed. We are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 4IDA at our 100th reunion in Springfield, MO in August of this year.

You read in Issue #1 how we were reactivated in 1940 to fight in World War II. Fast forwarding, our division has served Cold War occupation duty in Germany from 1950 to 1956, served in Vietnam from 1966 to 1970, served four tours in Iraq, and all brigade combat teams of the 4ID have served multiple tours in Afghanistan and back in Europe as a deterrent against the rising Russian threat. At this writing, 4ID Headquarters is serving in Afghanistan, their second deployment there.

 

Some interesting tidbits about the 4ID...

Brigadier General Teddy Roosevelt Jr. landed in the first wave of 4ID troops on D-Day, proclaiming, "We will start the war from here" when they landed 2,000 yards off their targeted beach. For his actions that day, he earned the Medal of Honor (there were four other 4ID Soldiers who earned the MOH in WWII).

Ernest Hemmingway attached himself to the 4ID during World War II and is a significant part of our WWII history.

Ernest Hemmingway attached himself to the 4ID during World War II and is a significant part of our WWII history.

Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy's Hamburgers, was a cook with 4ID in Cold War Germany in the 1950s.

Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy's Hamburgers, was a cook with 4ID in Cold War Germany in the 1950s.

 
J.D. Salinger, author of  Catcher in the Rye  which many of us read in school, was an interpreter and interrogator with 4ID in WWII.

J.D. Salinger, author of Catcher in the Rye which many of us read in school, was an interpreter and interrogator with 4ID in WWII.

From 1995 to 2002, the 4ID was, once again, an experimental division in what was called Force XXI, testing equipment, electronics, tactics, etc. that made the 4ID the most lethal division in the world as we entered the 21st century. That is why they were chosen as the assault division to attack into Iraq through Turkey at the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. The 4ID was assigned to Saddam Hussein's hometown in 2003-2004 and were the unit, along with special operations forces, who captured Saddam on 13 December 2003.

Three former 4ID Commanding Generals served later as Chief of Staff of the Army: MG John L. Hines (1924-1926), GEN Dennis J. Reimer (1995-1999), and GEN Raymond T. Odierno (2011-2015).

Current Sergeant Major of the Army, SMA Dan Dailey, served three combat tours in Iraq with the 4ID, as Command Sergeant Major (CSM) of 1-8 Infantry, as CSM of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, and as 4th Infantry Division CSM.

 

You also may ask, "Who is Bob Babcock and what qualifies him for doing this?"

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I served two years with the 4th Infantry Division as a rifle platoon leader and executive officer with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment during our training and first year of deployment from Fort Lewis, WA to Vietnam in 1965-1967. The 4ID is the only active duty division I ever served with - am very proud of it and our history. 

I became an active member of the 4ID Association (4IDA) in 1991 and have missed only one reunion since then. In the early days, I sat and listened to the stories of our WWII veterans about their fight in WWII. In 1995, the last WWII Regimental commander of the 22nd Infantry Regiment asked me to take over as leader of their dwindling group of WWII veterans and open it up to 22nd Infantry veterans from all wars. Over the next ten years, I listened and collected lots of stories and memories from those WWII vets. 

As our WWII vets began to fade away and die, I made it one of my objectives when I became president of the 4IDA in 1998 to preserve their stories. In 2001, I published my first book, War Stories: Utah Beach to Pleiku, which has 325 WWII stories, 25 Cold War stories, and 100 Vietnam stories. I also appointed myself as historian of the 4IDA and continue to hold that job 20+ years later.

In 2002, I became a founding official partner of the Veterans History Project, part of the Library of Congress, with my Americans Remembered non-profit organization. We have interviewed hundreds of WWII and other veterans. 

During the 60th anniversary of D-Day, I led a group of ten 4ID WWII veterans and their Family members on a week's tour of Normandy (I learned more from them than they did from me, and I remember all they told me).

In 2009 to 2011, I was hired by the Department of Defense as the 4ID historian, a job that went away with Army downsizing. Since then, I continue to publish military books and stay in touch with veterans of all wars.

Enough for now - stay tuned and on 4 March Issue #3 will talk about the 4IDs training days in England as we continued to prepare for D-Day and our fight across Europe...


Steadfast and Loyal,
Bob Babcock, 4IDA Historian and Past President