COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Ohio National Guard's 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team celebrated 100 years of service to the state and nation on Tuesday. Called "Buckeye" since its birth, the 37th has had elements stationed in 126 different communities across Ohio and eight of its Soldiers have earned the Medal of Honor.
Headquarters, 37th Division was constituted on July 18, 1917, as the Ohio National Guard prepared for Word War I. Since its birth, the 37th has proudly served in World War I, World War II, Kosovo and the War on Terrorism. Additionally, the 37th Infantry Division saw federal service during the Korean War, when nearly all of its Soldiers were sent to the front lines as individual replacements.
During World War I, the Buckeye Division fought in France and Belgium, earning credit as one of the best American divisions the German Army faced. Following the armistice, the division was selected to escort the King of Belgium back into his country after years of German control.
Led by Maj. Gen. Robert S. Beightler for the duration of World War II, the division spent 592 days in combat in the Pacific and earned the nickname "heavyweight" from Yank magazine, which wrote: "Seeing the 37th move toward a new front was like seeing Joe Louis step into the ring after the preliminaries. It's a big, tough, skilled division for a big, tough job. It's a heavyweight."
After 51 years of service, the 37th Infantry Division was reduced to a single brigade in February 1968 due to Army force structure changes. Ohio Gov. James Rhodes wrote of the removal, "lest any Ohioan ever forget that there was in fact, and remains for posterity, a division for which superb is the only description. It was a superb outfit, and such units are made by superb men."
The 73rd Infantry Brigade rose from the ashes of the Buckeye Division. First assigned as an element of Indiana's 38th Infantry Division, the Buckeye Brigade reorganized as a separate infantry brigade in 1977 and assumed the mission as a Theater Defense Brigade in 1980. With this mission came the war-time defense of the Aleutian Islands.
Army force structure changes in 1993 again reorganized the 73rd as the 37th Brigade. Now a mechanized brigade, 37th units were the first Ohio formations to be called into federal service after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
On Sept. 1, 2007, the 37th was once again reorganized as the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and proudly brought back the shoulder sleeve insignia of the 37th Infantry Division, a red circle with white border (patterned after the flag of Ohio), which had been dormant since 1968. Since then, the 37th IBCT has deployed to Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and most recently to Kosovo.
Today, the 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team maintains approximately 3,500 Soldiers in the Ohio and Michigan Army National Guards, and is the No.1 IBCT in the Army National Guard inventory for readiness (preparedness of units, Soldiers and equipment, measured by a number of statistics).
The 37th IBCT is currently deployed in support of Operation Joint Guard-Kosovo Force (KFOR), tasked with maintaining a safe and secure environment for people living along Kosovo's southeastern border, and will return home later this summer.