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The 4th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army: A Brief History


On December 10, 1917, the same year that America entered World War I, the 4th Division, American Expeditionary Forces, was organized at Camp Greene, North Carolina to begin its long tradition of service to the United States. Filled with draftees, the 4th Infantry Division, whose insignia had been adopted by its first commanding general, Maj. Gen. George H. Cameron, became known as the “Ivy” Division because its insignia consisted of four green ivy leaves on a khaki background. The 4th Infantry Division also derived its numerical designation from the Roman numeral IV; hence the nickname, “Ivy” Division. The division’s motto, “Steadfast and Loyal,” has described the Iron Horse soldier for nearly 100 years.

By June 1918, the entire 4th Infantry Division had arrived in France, and before entering combat in July for the Aisne-Marne Offensive, the 4th Infantry Division fought with distinction across France and received great praise for their heroic efforts during St. Mariel and the Meuse-Argonne campaigns. With the Armistice signed on November 11, the 4th Infantry Division moved to serve both the French and British sectors as well as all Corps in the American sector and was the first to crack the Hindenburg Line.

The 4th Infantry Division was reactivated in June 1940 and began training immediately for war. Sent to England in January 1944 for amphibious training prior to D-Day, the 4th Infantry Division was first ashore, landing at Utah Beach on June 6, 1944. After a successful landing and breakout from Normandy, the 4th Infantry Division pushed into France and liberated Paris.

The 4th Infantry Division then moved to Luxembourg where it breached the Siegfried line and entered Germany. The 4th Infantry Division moved north to face the enemy in the bloody Hurtgen Forest and after weeks of brutal combat returned to Luxembourg for action in the Battle of the Bulge. The 4th Infantry Division halted the enemy advance in December, gained the offensive and attacked across the Rhine and into eastern Germany during the spring of 1945.

The 4th Infantry Division was again called into action in the fall of 1965 and sent to Vietnam. The division was given a large area of the Central Highlands to control and a base camp was soon established at Pleiku. During the next four years, the 4th Infantry Division engaged the enemy in combat, conducting search and destroy missions and constant patrols to defend their assigned territory. They eliminated enemy incursions moving from the Ho Chi Minh Trail thru Cambodia and Laos. When the division departed Vietnam in late 1970, it had earned 11 campaign streamers and 12 soldiers had earned the Medal of Honor.

The attacks of September 11, 2001 resulted in a swift and unified action to destroy those responsible. The U.S. Army invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to search for and destroy al Qaeda, its sympathizers and its leader Osama Bin Laden. The action became known as Operation Enduring Freedom and focused on eliminating the Taliban organization which supported al Qaeda and practiced domestic terrorism against the people of Afghanistan. As the war evolved U.S. and NATO forces increased in number to also provide necessary security training and infrastructure development for a free and democratic Afghanistan.

The 4th Infantry Division returned to combat in 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and would deploy multiple times during the next eight years. After arriving in April 2003, the division established Task Force Iron Horse at Tikrit and engaged the enemy north of Baghdad. In December 2003, the 4th Infantry Division along with special operations forces captured Saddam Hussein.

The 4th Infantry Division Headquarters returned in both 2005 and 2007 to command Multi-National Division-Baghdad and the division’s brigade combat teams also made multiple deployments in support of the war. During their service in Iraq, Iron Horse soldiers would balance combat operations to eliminate threats with massive rebuilding projects and sophisticated training programs. The Iron Horse Division deployed, serving as the command for MND-North in support of Operation New Dawn, in 2010.

The 4th Infantry Division cased its colors again, June 24, 2013, symbolizing the beginning of the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion’s one-year deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The 4th Infantry Division deployed part of its headquarters to support NATO’s International Security Assistance Force Regional Command-South in its mission to support and enable Afghanistan’s National Security Forces to conduct security operations and create the necessary conditions to promote economic development and governance in the Kandahar, Zabul, Uruzgan and Daykundi provinces.

After returning from their deployment to Regional Command-South, Afghanistan, the 4th Infantry Division received the Army’s Regionally Allocated Forces mission in Europe. Arriving in Europe Feb. 13, 2015, the 4th Infantry Division Mission Command Element (MCE) serves as an intermediate headquarters for U.S. Army Europe, operating in support of Atlantic Resolve.

The 4th Infantry Division headquarters was the first division-level headquarters to deploy to Europe as part of the regionally allocated forces concept. The MCE is a headquarters element tailored to provide mission command for all U.S. ground forces participating in Atlantic Resolve, and oversees continuous, enhanced multinational training and security cooperation activities with allies and partners in Eastern Europe, to include countries of Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Germany.

The 4th Infantry Division is Army’s only balanced division with the combination of armor, light, and Stryker infantry. The 4th Infantry Division is the most versatile division in the U.S. Army providing options to joint force commanders.

The 4th Infantry Division is located at Fort Carson, Colorado. It has earned 22 campaign streamers for participation in World War I, World War II, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Since World War I, 25 soldiers have earned the Medal of Honor.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This post was created using public information from a U.S. Army website.)

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