6th Infantry Division (Light)
The 6th Infantry Division (Light) was inactivated in July 1994 and replaced by the US Army, Alaska, with headquarters moving to Fort Richardson. The Division had two active brigades and a reserve round-out brigade. Upon inactivation of the 6th Infantry Division (Light) on July 6, 1994, the principal Army unit in the state was the US Army Alaska, which has its headquarters at Fort Richardson, adjacent to Anchorage. The new organization, commanded by a major general, was a result of a Department of the Army decision in March 1993 to downsize the 6th Infantry Division (Light) to a brigade task force. During the 6th Infantry Division's inactivation in July 1994, the 1st Brigade was inactivated at Fort Richardson and activated at Fort Wainwright, Alaska. The 1st Brigade 6th Infantry Division (Light) was redesignated the 172nd Infantry Brigade (Separate) April 17, 1998.
The 6th Infantry Division was activated November 1917, and deployed overseas in June 1918. Major operations included Meuse-Argonne, with 43 days of combat. Casualties included a total of 386 (KIA-38; WIA-348). Commanders: Col. Charles E. Tayman (26 November 1917), Brig. Gen. James B. Erwin (29 December 1917), Maj. Gen. Walter H. Gordon (28 August 1948). The Division returned to the US in June 1919.
The 6th Infantry Division was activated 12 October 1939, and deployed overseas on 21 July 1943, earning the nickname the Sight-Seeing Sixth. The Division moved to Hawaii in July and August 1943 to assume defensive positions on Oahu, training meanwhile in jungle warfare. It moved to Milne Bay, New Guinea, 31 January 1944, and trained until early June 1944. The Division first saw combat in the Toem-Wakde area of Dutch New Guinea, engaging in active patrolling 14-18 June, after taking up positions 6-14 June. Moving west of Toem, it fought a bloody battle with the enemy at Lone Tree Hill, 21-30 June, and secured the Maffin Bay area by 12 July. After a brief rest, the Division made an assault landing at Sansapor, 30 July, on the Vogelkop Peninsula. The 6th secured the coast from Cape Waimak to the Mega River and garrisoned the area until December 1944. The Division landed at Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, on D-day, 9 January 1945, and pursued the Japanese into the Cabanatuan Hills, 17-21 January, capturing Munoz, 7 February. It then drove notrheast to Digalan Bay and Baler Bay, 13 February, isolating enemy forces in southern Luzon. The 1st Infantry Regiment operated on Bataan, 14-21 February, cutting the peninsula from Abucay to Bagac. The Division shifted to the Shimbu Line northeast of Manila, 24 February, took Mount Mataba, 17 April, Mount Pacawagan, 29 April, Bolog, 29 June, Lane's Ridge of Mount Santo Domingo, 10 July, and Kiangan, 12 July. The 6th remained in the Cagayan Valley and the Cordilleras Mountains until VJ-day, then moved to occupy Korea.
Preparations for the occupation of Japan were practically completed when a change of orders was received designating the 6th Division, as part of the XXIV Corps to occupy South Korea. The 6th Division arrived in Kyongsangpukto Province, South Korea in the latter part of October 1945, and immediately commenced occupation duties. The 6th Division maintained this posture until 20 January 1949, when it was deactivated. The division occupied the southern half of the United States zone of occupation until inactivated.
The 6th Division was reactivated 4 October 1950 at Fort Ord, California. There the Division remained throughout the Korean Conflict, training troops and providing personnel for the fight, but not getting into the war as an entity itself. The 6th Infantry Division was again deactivated on 3 April 1956.
The 6th Infantry Division activated at Fort Campbell in November 1967. Budgetary limitations again ended the 6th Infantry Division's existence on 25 July 1968.
The 172nd Infantry Brigade (Alaska) served as a nucleus of the 6th Infantry Division when it was activated on April 16, 1986. The 172nd gave way to the 6th Infantry Division (Light) and United States Army Garrison, Alaska. This marked a new mission for the Army in Alaska as a light, deployable force capable of defending United States interests across the globe. The division became aligned more closely with the Defense Department's forces in the Pacific when, in 1989, it began reporting to the U.S. Army Western Command in Hawaii (later redesignated United States Army Pacific).
In 1990, headquarters for the 6th was moved to Fort Wainwright. In 1993, as part of Army-wide downsizing, the 6th was selected to be reorganized as a light infantry brigade.
Throughout Fort Greely and the surrounding Yukon Training Area, 4,500 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines planned, supported and acted the script written for Northern Edge, an 8-day joint exercise held in March 1994. The staff of the 6th Infantry Division, without tasking any other command, put together an exercise that involved as many echelons of command as large exercises like REFORGER, Team Spirit or Cobra Gold. The exercise was intended to prepare service members for joint peacekeeping operations anywhere in the world. Interservice cohesion was exercised in the joint operation. Soldiers from the 6th ID's 2nd Brigade Task Force worked with Marines from Camp Lejeune, NC. Soldiers and volunteer family members created a tense and realistic civil environment for the peacekeepers. They were backed by troops from 6th ID's 1st Bn., 17th Inf. Regt., who played the opposing forces. A major part of Northern Edge was to train the forces to deal with townspeople who visibly displayed their displeasure at the U.S. presence in their homeland.
In December 1994 the Army announced the new designations for brigades in Alaska and Fort Lewis, WA. The 1st Brigade, 6th Infantry Division (Light) at Fort Richardson, Alaska retained its designation but was aligned with the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry). 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) then consisted of a headquarters and two brigades at Fort Drum, N.Y., and the 1st Brigade, 6th Infantry Division (Light) at Fort Richardson, Alaska.
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