As an infantry division of the United States Army, the 7th Infantry Division exists as a unique 250-man deployable headquarters at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, overseeing several units. None of the 7th Infantry Division’s own historic forces, however, are currently active.
Based at Fort Ord, California for most of its history, the Division was first activated in December 1917 in World War I. Although elements of the division saw brief active service in World War I, it is best known for its participation in the Pacific Ocean theater of World War II where it took heavy casualties – engaging the Imperial Japanese Army in the Aleutian Islands, Leyte, and Okinawa.
Following the Japanese surrender in 1945, the division was stationed in Japan and South Korea, and with the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, was one of the first units in action. It took part in the Inchon Landings and the advance north until Chinese forces counter-attacked and almost overwhelmed the scattered division.
The 7th Infantry Division would later fight in the Battle of Pork Chop Hill and the Battle of Old Baldy. From 1953 to 1971, the Division defended the Korean Demilitarized Zone with its main garrison at Camp Casey in South Korea. In compliance with the Reorganization Objective Army Division’s plan during this time, the Division underwent a complete reorganization.
The Division’s former headquarters company grew into the 1st Brigade, 7th Infantry Division while the 13th Infantry Brigade was reactivated as the 2nd Brigade, 7th Infantry Division. The 14th Infantry Brigade was reactivated as the 3rd Brigade, 7th Infantry Division.
In 1965 the division received its distinctive unit insignia, which alluded to its history during the Korean War. On April 2nd, 1971, the division returned to the United States and was inactivated at Fort Lewis, Washington. In October 1974, the 7th Infantry Division reactivated at its former garrison, Fort Ord. In the late 1980s, it briefly saw action overseas in Operation Golden Pheasant in Honduras and Operation Just Cause in Panama. It provided domestic support to the civil authorities in Operation Green Sweep in the early 1990s and assisted with the 1992 Los Angeles Riots.
In 1994, the 7th Infantry Division was inactivated at Ft. Ord and Ft Ord was closed. Reactivated in 1999 at Ft Carson, Colorado, the Division’s final role was as a training and evaluation unit for Army National Guard brigades, which it undertook until its inactivation in 2006.
On April 26th, 2012, the Department of Defense announced that the 7th Infantry Division Headquarters would be reactivated as an administrative unit. This was completed on October 10th, 2012 at Joint Base Lewis McChord. In response for increasing demands for ‘readily available, high-level leadership cadres drawn from divisional headquarters,’ it was announced on December 23rd, 2014, that the 7th Infantry Division Headquarters would reorganize into a deployable unit.