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38th Infantry Division (Mechanized)

The 38th Infantry Division (Mechanized), headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, has many units located in Michigan cities. The 46th Brigade serves as Michigan's headquarters for units comprising the division.

In August 2002 Army Secretary Thomas E. White approved a plan to restructure elements of as many as four Army National Guard divisions. The plan would withdraw older tanks, and turn four brigades into general-purpose "mobile light brigades." The changes, tentatively scheduled to take effect in fiscal year 2008, focus on units with aging M-1 tanks and M-113 APCs that are costly to maintain and have no prospect of being deployed in combat. The change will convert about one-third of the Guard's heavy brigades, including 3,000 vehicles, to mobile light brigades. All were light units in the 1970s and became heavy units in the 1980s and 1990s. The changes may be limited to two divisions, with a total of four heavy brigades -- each with 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers -- to be transformated into light brigades. This includes three brigades of the New York-based 42nd Division. Two brigades from the 38th Division, in Michigan and Ohio, are expected to be merged into a single brigade and transformed into a light unit. In the Indiana-based 38th Division, it could include the 46th Infantry Brigade, based in Wyoming, Mich.

The spade-shaped shield bears the monogram "CY," which are the first letters of the name "Cyclone Division," approved on October 30, 1918. The history of the insignia originates with a natural disaster, described in the following story. Following a pleasant fall weather, December 1917 turned miserable with temperatures as low as 15 degrees above zero. For the south, that is COLD. For some reason, the 38th was late in getting its wool uniforms and overcoats, and there was much discomfort. Weather again played a trick when a cyclone struck Camp Shelby on April 17, 1918.

The passage of time may have somewhat dimmed the story of the cyclone as being perhaps a mythical basis for naming the 38th the Cyclone Division. It was no myth. The Gold Star Honor Role for Indiana for the years 1914 to 1918 was published in 1921 by the Indiana Historical Commission. It carries the name of Pvt. Vaughn D. Beekman, a native of Marion, Indiana, who enlisted in the Regular Army April 17, 1917. By subsequent transfers he came to Camp Shelby and was a member of the 152d Ambulance Company on April 17, 1918 when the cyclone hit and he was killed. He was buried in the I.O.O.F. Cemetery at Marion. Major General Robert L. Howze, when he assumed command of the 38th Division in August 1918, announced it would henceforth be called the Cyclone Division.

The 38th Infantry Division was created from National Guard troops from Indiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia on 17 January 1941. The 38th Infantry Division arrived in Hawaii on 17 January 1944. It received further training and the duty of the defense of Oahu. Elements trained in the Oro Bay area, New Guinea, from July to November; then moved to Leyte in December. Enemy paratroops attempted to capture the Buri, Bayug, and San Pablo strips on 6 December. The 149th Infantry Regiment destroyed organized resistance, 11 December, and defended the strips until relieved, 4 January 1945. The Division landed in the San Narciso area in Southern Zambales Province, Luzon, 29 January 1945, without opposition. The San Marcelino airstrip was secured on the same day and the port facilities at Olongapo were captured on the 30th as well as Grande Island in Subic Bay after an amphibious landing.

Driving west of Olongapo the 38th destroyed an intricate maze of enemy fortifications in Zig-Zag Pass. While elements landed at Mariveles on the southern tip of the peninsula, 15 February, other units pushed down the east coast road to Pilar and across the neck of land to Bagac along the route of the March of Death. Bataan Peninsula was secured on 21 February, although mopping-up activities remained. Elements moved to Corregidor, 24 February, to clear the enemy from the Rock. Units assaulted and captured Caballo Island, 27 March, Fort Drum on El Fraile Island, 13 April, and Carabao Island, 16 April. The 38th engaged enemy forces in the mountainous terrain between Fort Stotsenburg and Mount Pinatubo, 10 March. Elements pushed north from San Felipe to Palauig Bay and east from Botolan along the Capas Trail cutting the enemy's withdrawal route. The Division moved to the area east of Manila, 1 May, and attacked enemy forces behind the Shimbu Line. By 30 June effective enemy opposition had been broken. The 38th continued mopping up enemy remnants in the Marikina area of eastern Luzon until VJ-day.

On December 2, 2003 SFOR announced the downsizing of the overall SFOR force structure from 12,000 multinational soldiers to 7,000 soldiers in Bosnia. The reduction of troops in the Multi-National Task Force (MNTF) North area of operations would primarily come from the reduction of the U.S. contingent. The U.S. contribution remained consistent with previous contributions, that is, 15% of the total force in Bosnia. This meant that there would be approximately 800 U.S. soldiers in Bosnia. The reorganized SFOR will remained a force capable of maintaining sustained peace and preserving a safe and secure environment.

SFOR 15 built on the achievements of previous IFOR and SFOR rotations in conjunction with government officials, local authorities, and most importantly, the private citizens of Bosnia. The reorganization involved closing Camp McGovern and Forward Operating Base (FOB) Connor. FOB Morgan and Eagle Base served as the two primary bases.

The 38th Infantry Division's mission to the Bosnia-Herzegovina was the first overseas deployment of the division since World War II. This mission was challenging as well as rewarding. Soldiers operated in a unique environment and they were trained to operate in that environment effectively and safely. The culture in Bosnia-Herzegovina is diverse. It is comprised of many ethnic and religious groups. Soldiers of Task Force Eagle contributed to the stability of the country and continue the process of allowing the people to govern themselves and establish a vibrant economy. The soldiers of the Task Force Eagle played an important role in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Peacekeeping and stability operations are a new and daunting task not only for the National Guard, but the U.S. Army overall. The soldiers of Task Force Eagle performed in an exemplary manner.

Information about troop movements in and out of theater was guarded closely and operational security (OPSEC) must be maintained concerning the travel of SFOR 15 soldiers.

SFOR 15 marked the end of U.S. involvement in Bosnia, and SFOR 16 was cancelled. NATO maintained a presence in Bosnia as long as necessary to ensure the successes achieved in the past are not reversed. Soldiers from Stabilization Force 15, along with commanders both past and present of Task Force Eagle and other multinational task forces throughout SFOR, gathered to bring a close to the final SFOR rotation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Task Force Eagle, the U.S.-led element of SFOR in Bosnia, came to an end during a disestablishment ceremony at Eagle Base 24 November 2004.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:27:16 ZULU