Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size

Military Photos

4th Infantry Division, "Iron Horse"

(1663 total words in this text)
(2443 Reads)  Printer-friendly page
On November 19, 1917, the same year that America entered World War I, the 4th Infantry Division was formed at Camp Greene, North Carolina to begin its long tradition of service to our country. Filled with draftees, the Fourth Division, whose insignia had been adopted by its first commanding general, Major General George H. Cameron, became known as the "Ivy" division. Its insignia consisted of four green ivy leaves joined at the stem and opening at the four corners of a square on a khaki background. The Division also derived its numerical designation from the Roman numeral IV, (4 and IV mean the same thing) hence the nickname "Ivy" division. Also, in the language of flowers, ivy means "Steadfast and Loyal" - the division's motto.

In April 1918, the Ivy Division's Doughboys embarked aboard a number of ships - all 29,180 officers and men - en route to fight in France. The first casualties of the division were suffered as the ship carrying men of the 58th Infantry Regiment was hit by a German torpedo, killing 56 men. After a brief layover in England, the Ivy division landed at Calais, Bordeaux, and Brest en route to the front lines. By mid-June the mighty Aisne-Marne campaign was shaping up and the Ivy Doughboys were sent to bolster the French 6th Army. Unbeknownst to the men of the Division, their movements were beginning to create a historic precedent and by the time the "great war" would end some months hence, the Ivy Division would serve with distinction - as the only American combat force - with both the French and the British in their respective sectors. When the war ended on November 11, 1918, the Ivy Division had earned battle streamers with the names of Aisne Marne, St. Mihiel, Meuse Argonne, and Defensive Sector emblazoned on them. A price had been paid - 69 officers and 2,000 men killed in action and total casualties of killed and wounded added up to 499 officers and 13,150 men. The Ivy Division had fought and defeated sixteen enemy divisions. Nine days after the end of the war, the Fourth Division marched into Germany to undertake occupation duties; and it wasn't until August 1919 that the Ivy Division's Doughboys returned to the United States. France had been the Division's first battlefield. A generation later, a new breed of Ivy Division soldiers would again fight in France.

As war clouds engulfed Europe, the 4th Division was reactivated on June 1, 1940 at Fort Benning, Georgia as America began to increase the size of our armed forces. Selected to act as an experimental unit for the development of methods recently demonstrated by the German blitz through Belgium and France, the 4th Motorized Division began a three year, wide-open experiment. From August 1940 through August 1943, the division participated in the Louisiana Maneuvers, was moved to the newly opened Camp Gordon, GA where they participated in the Carolina Maneuvers, and was moved to Fort Dix, New Jersey before being redesignated the 4th Infantry Division. A movement in September 1943 to Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida gave the division realistic amphibious training in preparation for the assault on fortress Europe. January 18, 1944 saw the Ivy Division embark the port of New York en route to a final training phase in England. Chosen as the spearhead amphibious division of the D-Day landing on the Normandy coast of France, the men of the 4th Infantry Division stormed ashore at H-Hour (0630 hours) on a stretch of the French coast named, for this operation, Utah Beach. It was for his actions on this day that assistant division commander, Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. earned the first Medal of Honor in the division.

After their successful D-Day landing, the men of the Ivy division fought through the hedgerows of the Cotentin Peninsula en route to taking the critically important port of Cherbourg. The division was in continuous action during the period 6-28 June when the last resistance around Cherbourg was eliminated. During this period, the 4th Infantry Division sustained over 5,450 casualties and had over 800 men killed. With hardly a pause to catch their breath, the Ivymen continued to attack through the hedgerowed country and, along with the 2nd Armored Division, spearheaded the breakthrough that occurred at St. Lo on July 25, 1944. Exploiting the break in the German lines, the division continued the attack across France and on August 25, 1944 were, along with the French 2nd Armored Division, the troops who earned the distinction of liberating Paris from four years of Nazi rule. Passing through the wildly applauding Parisians, the Ivymen left the victory parade in honor of the liberation of Paris for outfits following in our wake and continued the pursuit of the Germans. On September 11, 1944, a patrol from the 4th Infantry Division became the first Allied ground force to enter Germany. Fighting in the Siegfried Line followed. Mid November found the division in the bloodiest battle of its history. The most gruelling battle in Europe was fought in the Hurtgen Forest. Fought in the cold rain and snow and in a forest of pine and fir trees 150 feet in height, the Ivymen slugged it out yard by yard and day by day against determined German artillery and infantry resistance. By early December, the division had fought through what now was a twisted mass of shrapnel-torn stumps and broken trees and had accomplished its mission. Casualties in the Hurtgen often exceeded 250% of the original strength of a rifle company.

With the Hurtgen Forest behind them, the division moved into a defensive position in Luxembourg and were soon to be engaged in the Battle of the Bulge. General George S. Patton wrote to Major General Raymond Barton of the 4th Infantry Division - "Your fight in the Hurtgen Forest was an epic of stark infantry combat; but, in my opinion, your most recent fight - from the 16th to the 26th of December - when, with a depleted and tired division, you halted the left shoulder of the German thrust into the American lines and saved the City of Luxembourg, and the tremendous supply establishments and road nets in that vicinity, is the most outstanding accomplishment of yourself and your division." As the German push was halted in the Bulge, the Ivy division resumed the attack and continued the pursuit back through the Siegfried Line at the same location it had crossed in September and fought across Germany as the war ground on in the first four months of 1945. When the war ended on May 8, 1945, the 4th Infantry Division had participated in all of the campaigns from the Normandy Beach to Germany. Personnel of the Division during this period wear the five campaign stars for Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes, and Central Europe. The division suffered almost 22,000 battle casualties and over 34,000 total casualties during their eleven months fighting across Europe. On July 11, 1945, the Ivy Division returned to New York harbor and began preparing for the invasion of Japan - fortunately, the war ended before that was required.

The Cold War found the 4th Infantry Division again standing tall in defense of freedom. While others fought the Communists in Korea, the Ivy Division again returned to Germany in the early 1950's and stood strong against the Communist threat to Western Europe. After returning to the States, the division trained at Fort Lewis, Washington for the next time they would be called into battle. The next time was in Vietnam in late summer of 1966, twenty-two years and two months after the Ivymen landed on Utah Beach in World War II.

Led in August 1966 by the 2nd Brigade, the Ivy Division headquarters closed into the central highlands of Vietnam on September 25, 1966 to begin a combat assignment against the North Vietnamese that would not end until December 7, 1970.

Eleven additional battle streamers would be added to the 4th Infantry Division colors as the Ivy soldiers fought in places such as the Ia Drang Valley, Plei Trap Valley, Fire Base Gold, Dak To, the Oasis, Kontum, Pleiku, An Khe, and Cambodia. With the largest assigned area of operations of any division in Vietnam, the Ivy division was charged with screening the border of South Vietnam as the first line of defense against infiltration down the Ho Chi Minh trail through Laos and Cambodia and to preempt any offensive on the more populated lowlands. Triple canopy jungles, extreme heat, and seasonal monsoons were constant challenges to the division as were the North Vietnamese Regulars and Viet Cong which they fought. By the time the Ivy Division completed their assignment in Vietnam and returned to Fort Carson, Colorado at the end of 1970, 2,531 Ivy soldiers had been killed and 15,229 had been wounded. Eleven Ivy division soldiers had earned the Medal of Honor during that time period.

Resuming training and Cold War missions, the 4th Infantry Division remained stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado from 1970 through 1995. During this period, the division was converted to a Mechanized organization and frequently sent units to Europe to continue the Cold War mission of standing tall against the Communist threat. In December 1995, the Ivy Division was moved to Fort Hood, Texas. Combining the armor strength of the 2nd Armored Division with the Mechanized Infantry strength of the 4th Infantry Division, the Ivy Division again became the experimental division of the Army, as it had been in the early 1940's. Today the Ivy men and women are leading the United States Army into the 21st century under the banner of Force XXI. They are busy developing and testing state-of-the-art digital communications equipment, night fighting gear, advanced weaponry, and doctrine to prepare the United States Army for wars in the next century. Recently, the division has adopted to nickname "Iron Horse" to better reflect the power they possess.

Military History
Forum Posts

Military Polls

Should women be included in the next draft?

[ Results | Polls ]

Votes: 149

This Day in History
1813: Americans capture Fort George, Canada.

1919: A U.S. Navy seaplane completes the first transatlantic flight.

1940: Units from Germanys SS Deaths Head division battle British troops just 50 miles from the port at Dunkirk, in northern France, as Britains Expeditionary Force continues to fight to evacuate France.

1941: The German battleship Bismarck is sunk by British naval and air forces.

1942: German General Rommel begins a major offensive in Libya with his Afrika Korps.

1944: American General MacArthur lands on Biak Island in New Guinea.

1965: Augmenting the vital role now being played by U.S. aircraft carriers, whose planes participated in many of the raids over South and North Vietnam, U.S. warships from the 7th Fleet begin to fire on Viet Cong targets in the central area of South Vietnam.