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40th Infantry Division (Mechanized)

As of July 2006 as part of the Army National Guard's modularization process, the 40th Infantry Division was scheduled to reorganize into 5 Brigade Combat Teams and one Aviation Brigade. According to the National Guard, the 40th Infantry Division would consist of the 40th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the 207th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the 81st Armored Brigade Combat Team, and the 40th Aviation Brigade. National guard units from California, Oregon, Hawaii, Arizona, Washington, Alaska, New Mexico, Indiana, Nebraska, and Guam became part of the 40th Infantry Division once modularization was complete.

On 13 January 1974, the California Army National Guard was reorganized. The three separate brigades, the 40th and 49th Infantry, and the 40th Armored were eliminated, and the 40th Infantry Division (Mechanized) was organized and remains in existence today.

Division teaming began in 1998 as a pilot program, pairing the 49th with the 1st Cavalry Division headquartered at Fort Hood, Texas, and California's 40th Mechanized Division with the Army's 4th Mechanized Division, also headquartered at Fort Hood. This original division teaming was announced at the 1998 National Guard Association conference by then Army Chief of Staff Gen. Dennis J. Reimer. It was part of a program to integrate the active and reserve components, or AC/RC integration. Under division teaming, one division would have the lead in certain areas, and the divisions would share resources. When one division deployed, the other would mobilize to provide replacement operations, Reimer said during his conference speech. The Army's 1st Cavalry Division required additional personnel in order to mobilize to Bosnia in 1998. Had the Army already begun a pilot program matching active-duty divisions to Guard divisions, additional personnel could have come from the Guard.

Recent Operations

Members of Battery F 144 (TA) Field Artillery made 40th Infantry Division history by being the first National Guard unit to deploy since the Vietnam War. In Nov 1997 Battery F represented the state of California in Bosnia. During this deployment Battery F conducted FireFinder Radar Operations, convoys and base security all with little to no armor, with the extremely high threat of mine strikes or ambushes. Most drivers exceeded 13,000 miles during the seven months in country. In November 2000, again, Battery F was called to duty for its expertise in the Kosovo region.

Upon arrival to Afghanistan Radar Operations virtually unknown and uncared for quickly became a very important resource. Battery F soldiers were a leading factor in the Base Defense Operations.

The 40th ("Sunshine") Division was originally organized at Camp Kearney, near San Diego, California, September 16, 1917, and was composed of National Guard organizations of the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. The Division enjoyed a continuity of policy and tradition, due to the command of Major General Frederick S. Strong, United States Army.

The 40th was originally composed of National Guard organizations of the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. What was the composition of the "SUNBURST" Division? It was the bone and sinew of the Great West, full of boldness, replete with a spirit of initiative and practicality. Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah! Each of these states, in territory about two-thirds the size of France, is set aloft on the great Rocky Mountain Plateau that tops the American Continent, or borders the broad pacific. These men of the 40th Division partook of the character of the country from which they came. They were of unsurpassed physique, hardy and enduring. They came from the ranches and the mines, from forests and the factory, from the vineyards and the marts of commerce. Every practical handicraft, every business, every learned profession was represented, and an analysis of its personnel would show the Division to contain all elements that to to make up our highly intricate, modern civilization.

Preparedness for the war had not proceeded very far before the division became of the replacement order, many of its men being sent to fill out other organizations than the original components of the Fortieth Division. In this way the identity of the division was largely submerged in the general good of the army - a source of some disappointment at the time but later of satisfaction, gained through the realization that the men of the division did their work well. Also, the division, when it moved overseas, contained many men who were added to the army by the selective draft.

The relations of the division with the people of San Diego were always of the most cordial kind and, even in the years to come, will be the subject of much pleasant recollection. Evidences of this friendly interest and co-operation were many on both sides; the division organizations took part in many "drives" and war work programs of the period, while the people of San Diego did all within their power to make the stay of their soldier friends at San Diego pleasant and beneficial. The many social affairs of the time, some at the camp and some in the city, formed a pleasing part of the program of those days. No less interesting to many San Diegans were the many athletic contests at the city stadium in which various teams from the Fortieth Division took part, the keen competition and manly American sportsmanship of the contestants vividly illustrating the spirit with which the sons of the Southwest went into the war.

The Fortieth Division, in accordance with the precautions observed to prevent train-wrecking or other such violence on the part of misguided and treacherous foes of the Allies, moved out of camp for France with no public notice, the newspapers, as was the case nearly everywhere, refraining from mention of troop movements. Indeed for some time after the last of the units had departed, the San Diego newspapers tried to maintain a harmless deception upon their readers by referring to those units as apparently being still at Kearny. Just what good that accomplished it is hard now to see, as many knew about the division's departure before it was completed, and a spy with small intelligence could have learned all about it with the greatest of ease. It is a source of gratification, however, that the San Diego newspapers, in this as in many other ways, always showed a spirit of fine loyalty to the Government.

Overseas: 3 August 1918 and redesignated the 6th Depot Division; received, equipped, trained, and forwarded replacements. Commanders: Maj. Gen. F. S. Strong (25 August 1917), Brig. Gen. G. H. Cameron (18 September 1917), Brig. Gen. L. S. Lyon (19 November 1917), Brig. Gen. G. H. Cameron (23 November 1917), Brig. Gen. L. S. Lyon (6 December 1917), Maj. Gen. F. S. Strong (8 December 1917). Returned to U. S.: 30 June 1919.

The Division subsequently returned to the United States and was demobilized on 16 July 1919. In 1926, the Division was reorganized and granted recognition as the California-Nevada-Utah National Guard.

With U.S. participation in World War II imminent, the Division was called into federal service on 3 March 1941, and assembled at Camp San Luis Obispo, California, for training. In December, they undertook the defense of the Southern California sector. On 18 February 1942, the Division became a Triangular Infantry Division, the 40th Infantry Division. The two infantry brigade headquarters were eliminated and, in October, the 159th Infantry left and became part of the 7th Division. In April 1942, the Division moved to Fort Lewis, Washington, for advanced training.

In June, the 184th Infantry was transferred to the Western Defense Command for coast defense duties and would later join the 7th Infantry Division.

In late July 1942, the Division was ordered to Hawaii. Movements began on 8 August, and the Division arrived in Hawaii on 1 September 1942, where it defended the outer islands until 16 January 1943. It then assumed defense responsibility for northern Oahu, and intensified training after being relieved of this defense mission 17 October. The Division moved to Guadalcanal 20-31 December, and trained and engaged in limited combat patrolling.

After the cancellation of the projected operations against Lossuch Bay, New Ireland, on 12 March 1944, the Division was directed to relieve the 1st Marine Division in western New Britain Island. The 185th Infantry arrived at Cape Gloucester on 23 April, and the rest of the Division followed on 28 April. Cape Hoskins airdrome was occupied without opposition 7 May. Elements were sent to relieve the 112th Cavalry Regiment at Arawe, and general security operations continued on New Britain until 27 November, when the Division was relieved by the Australian 5th Division. The Division assembled at Borgen Bay, New Britain, 28 November and moved via Huon Gulf, New Guinea and Manus Islands, to the Philippines.

On 9 January 1945, the 160th and 185th Infantry regiments landed in the Baybay-Lingayen area of Luzon, Philippine Islands, on 9 January and seized Lingayen Airfield virtually unopposed. After consolidating in the Dulig-Labrador-Uyong area, the 160th Infantry Battalion began pushing down Route 13 and on 21 January, took Tarlac without resistance. On 23 January, it forced a bridgehead at Bamban and the encountered the main Japanese lines in the Bamban hills.

On 6 February, supported by air and tank fire, the 160th Infantry Battalion moved up Storm Kink Mountain against strong opposition, and on 15 February, the 185th Infantry attacked Snake Hill and gained Hill 1500. After several attempts, the 108th Infantry Battalion captured Hill 7 on 16 February. After the 160th Infantry Regiment captured contested Object Hill on 19 February, the Division rested while air strikes softented up Zambales Mountains. On 23 February, the 108th and 185th Infantry Regiments renewed the offensive and took Sacobia Ridge. On 25 February, the 185th Infantry Division took Hill 1700. The Division was relieved by the 43rd Infantry Division on 2 March. It then assembled in the San Fabian-San Jacinto-Manaoag area for rehabilitation.

The 108th Infantry was detached to the Eighth Army Area Command. It arrived on Letye Island on 13 March, where it was involved in destroying Japanese remnants and reconnoitering Masbate and other islands off its coast. The 19-08th Infantry next landed at Macajalar Bay in Mindanao and assisted in the clearing of the Sayre highway. On 28 June, it returned to Division control.

The Division left Luzon on 15 March 1945, and the 185th Infantry Battalion landed unopposed on southern Panay Island 18 March. It advanced rapidly and took Iloilo 20 March. The 160th Infantry Regiment arrived on Panay island on 26 March, leaving elements behind to complete mopping-up, the Division next landed on Los Negros Island on 29 March. The 185th Infantry Battalion soldiers took to the Bago River Bridge intact after landing at Patik, and the regiment landed unopposed near Pulupandan, securing Bacolod easily on 30 March, as the 160th Infantry came ashore, and it would be here that Staff Sergeant John C. Sjogren of Company I, 160th Infantry Regiment, would become the first of the Division's four Medal of Honor recipients.

On 2 Aril, Talisay was occupied and the Division regrouped 8 April, in preparation for the attack on the Japanese defenses in the Negritos--Patog area. With the 503rd Parachute Infantry attached to it, the Division attacked with three regiments on 9 April. Fighting was intense as the Division cleared ridges and ravines in spite of sharp Japanese counterattacks and torrential rainstorms. As air and artillery support was called in, the drive was stopped and then resumed on 17 April. The 160th Infantry gained the military crest of Hill 3155 on 18 April, but lost it to a Japanese assault until won back by the regiment 23 May.

The 185th Infantry Regiment stormed Virgine Ridge on 2 May, and pushed toward the final Japanese's strong point on Negros Occidental, Hill 4055. The Japanese withdrew from this mountain on 31 May, and pulled into the island interior, ending organized resistance.

The Division assembled in the Octon-Santa Barbara-Tiguan area for rehabilitation and training, and was there when the war ended. In September, the Division moved to the Korea for occupation duty, a country it was to revisit within the decade.

The 40th Infantry Division was the last National Guard Division to return to the U.S. following the war. it was inactivated at Camp Stoneman, California, 7 April 1946, recording 614 killed in action, 2,407 wounded in action, and 134 dying of wounds in World War II.

Cold War Service

Almost immediately, reorganization of the Division was begun with it recruiting limited to Southern California. Two additional infantry regiments, the 223rd and 224th, were organized by expanding the 2nd and 3rd battalions of the 185th Infantry Regiment. The Division was entirely allotted to California. The Headquarters was federally recognized 14 October, and most of the unites were recognized in late 1946.

By mid-1950, the Division was well organized, and on 1 September 1950, was again called into active federal service for the Korean War. The division, some 6000 men understrength initially, trained as best it could at Camp Cooke, California until November 1950. By then, it was still 3000 men short. It was finally brought up to war strength (plus ten percent) in February 1951, when it was alerted for movement to the Far East.

The entire preparation for overseas movement (POM) was affected by its low strength during training, shortage of some critical skills, and the trickle of untrained replacements. The division had a number of deployment difficulties, mostly in logistics. The first problem involved estimating and obtaining the right number and size of packing crates for division equipment. Division combat engineers had to fabricate almost 3500 special boxes for shipping spare parts, typewriters and other items which did not fit the standard box. Ordnance equipment processing was also a problem. No one in the division had ever processed weapons, vehicles and other major items for an overseas move. Technicians from Benicia Arsenal were brought in to assist. The division also had a hard time dividing responsibility for documentation, rail loading and other duties between post and division personnel. After much discussion, the division retained responsibility for moving all ordnance equipment to the post assembly area. Post personnel then assumed responsibility for loading equipment on flatcars, blocking the equipment and lashing it all down.

Once the 40th made it to the port, the deployment bogged down because the Army port inspection team arrived almost two weeks late. A special port liaison team was set up by the division to coordinate inspectors, post staff and division units. This ad hoc group was invaluable in speeding the division's load-out. In March 1951, a ten-man advance team was sent to Japan (ten days ahead of the main body) to coordinate reception activities.

Shipping out of Oakland-San Francisco, California, in late March 1951, the Division deployed to Japan for more intensive training. For the next nine months, they participated in amphibious, air transportability, and live fire training from Mount Fuji to Sendai. On 23 December, the Division received alert orders to move to Korea. The Division moved to Korea in January 1952. After additional training and another load-out, the division reached Korea in February 1952, where it relieved the 24th Infantry Division on the battle line.

Then Assistant Secretary of the Army -- Earl D. Johnson -- who noted that 162 of the Division's officers had been advanced in rank between the period of 28 January 1952 and mid-April 1952, commended the Division. "This rate of advancement is indicative of the Division's high caliber, particularly in view of the comparatively short time the men have been eligible for combat promotions," he said.

In mid-1952, counterpart units were organized for state service and designated National Guard U.S. units. The units shared the same numbers as units in Korea, and were staffed by National Guard veterans that had returned from their Korean service. Twelve hundred of these veterans from California organized into the 40th Infantry Division (NGUS) on 2 September 1952.

In Korea, the 40th Infantry Division participated in the war's major battles at Heartbreak Ridge, Sandbag Castle, and the Punchbowl. In these campaigns, the Division suffered 1,180 casualties, including 311 who were killed in action, and 47 who later died from wounds received in action.

It would be during these campaigns that three more soldiers of the Division received the Medal of Honor for their bravery and valor in combat: Sergeant David B. Bleak, Medical Company, 223rd Infantry Regiment; Sergeant Gilbert G. Collier; and Corporal Clifton T. Speicher, both of Company F, 223rd Infantry Regiment.

With the mission "to defend and hold in present positions," combat elements experienced the short firefights and minor thrusts attempted by the Chinese, which typified the type of combat waged in the Korean War. Division elements conducted combat and reconnaissance patrols, holding solidly in their areas of responsibility.

During one period in 1953, the Division enjoyed the reputation of being "the American outfit farthest north in Korea." This was during the period of bitter fighting along the 38th Parallel, and because of the eastern sector of the 155-mile long battle line curved sharply north and east, one of the 40th Division's artillery batteries had guns in action which were almost 70 miles north of the 38th Parallel.

With the signing of the Korean truce and cessation of hostilities, the Division moved to the vicinity of Kumhwa, where it prepared post-Armistice defense positions immediately south of the demilitarized zone. The Division in Korea returned to the U.S. and was deactivated on 19 June 1954, with the Division colors being returned to its California counterpart in ceremony at San Francisco, and once again, there was only one 40th Infantry Division.

The Division was converted from its historic role as Infantry to Armor and redesignated the 40th Armored Division on 1 July 1954.

In 1960, the Division combat units were reorganized under the Combat Arms Regimental Systems (CARS), and then in 1963, was reorganized under the ROAD concept which changed the combat commands to brigades. On 1 December 1967, a major reorganization of the National Guard reduced the Guard to eight combat divisions, the 40th Armored Division being one of the casualties. On 29 January 1968, the Division was eliminated and the 40th Infantry Brigade and 40th Armored Brigade were organized.

The Division's 40th Aviation Company was called to duty in support of the Vietnam War and served a rotation there, providing in-country aviation support.

State Service

The National Guard in any state also serves the emergency needs of the state in which they are located, and the citizen-soldiers of the 40th Infantry Division are no exception.

The Division has distinguished itself in the following major emergencies:

On Thanksgiving Day, 24 November 1927, more than 1,200 inmates at the Folsom State Prison started a melee during a holiday program, seizing hostages and control of the interior of the prison. Then-Governor C.C. Young ordered the immediate call up of Sacramento area units of the 184th Infantry Regiment; within two hours, 85 percent of each company called was mobilized and ready for service. By 1600 hours (4:00 p.m.), more than 250 Guardsmen were on the scene and surrounding the prison.

At the request of prison authorities, tanks of the 40th Tank Company in Salinas were brought ;up from San Jose by train and arrived the next morning, and by dawn, there were 532 soldiers at the prison.

A decision was made to give the prisoners a last chance to surrender and at 0630 (6:30 a.m.), one company of National Guardsmen advanced with fixed bayonets along with the prison's warden to negotiate a settlement. The sight of more than 500 troops with bayonet, machine guns and tanks convinced the prisoners to surrender peacefully.

On 10 March 1933, the City of Long Beach was devastated by magnitude 6.2 earthquake. General Walter Story, who later became Commanding General of the Division, was placed in complete command of the situations. General Story and the citizen-soldiers who answered the call carried out their duties with efficiency and ingenuity, proving the Guard could be counted on in times of disaster as well as times of unrest.

More than 1,752 citizen-soldiers worked to provide emergency relief for the victims of flooding in the Sacramento Valley in December, 1950.

Five years later, 2,212 National Guard soldiers provided relief for the victims of flooding in the central California area.

The Division was called upon to quell a civil disturbance that took place in August 1965 in Los Angeles. The "Watts Riot" required a maximum troop commitment on the part of the Division. Through its prompt response, the 40th won the acclaim of National, State, and local officials for an effective and professional performance of duty.

During the Los Angeles Civil Disturbance of 1992, 8,602 Division soldiers were called to State Active Duty. Three days later, these troops were federalized, serving along with 3,000 Marines from Camp Pendleton and active duty soldiers from the 7th Infantry Division, Fort Ord. Sunburst soldiers worked up to 18 hour shifts, and guarded hundreds of traffic intersections, every Pacific Bell and General Telephone switching station, Los Angeles Police and County Sheriff's stations, major shopping centers, and the Korean Consul General's home.

The arrival of the Guard had a calming effect, enabling agencies to pursue the most critical actions in suppressing violent crime. The guard was used extensively to secure areas subject to looting and vandalism, and served as a deterrent to more widespread lawlessness.

Los Angeles' citizens opened their hearts and their homes, to welcome the defending 'heroes.' The groundwork laid in this civil mutual aid mission with local authorities paid dividends later during the Northridge Earthquake. Continuous liaison and plans with the LA County Sheriff's Department and Los Angeles Police Department assure a rapid deployment of Guardsmen in any future civil disturbance emergency.

The Division provided assistance to victims of the January 1994 Northridge and October 1989 Loma Prieta earthquakes. This assistance included law enforcement support, transporting food, water, and supplies, and providing temporary housing and tenting, as well as cleanup teams and equipment for removing massive debris.

Many residents of the area said they felt more secure, feeling, in the words of one resident, "that someone is in charge," when they saw the Guardsmen arrive for duty in the confusing days immediately following these earthquakes.

Elements under the command of the Division's 3rd Brigade provided assistance to victims of the 1997 Northern California floods. Guard members worked long hours rescuing and evacuating victims trapped by rising flood waters, assisted in sandbagging operations, operated emergency shelters in Armories, transported relief supplies, and worked to help repair levee systems damaged by floods.

The Division calls upon hundreds of citizen-soldiers every year to provide emergency services for the state, from hundreds of soldiers to assist in flood relief activities, to dozens of troops assisting firefighters in forest fire operations, all the way down to a single, solitary enlisted person giving up his or her night so that an Armory can be opened to shelter the homeless from the winter's cold.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:28:07 ZULU