Thirty Army Reserve Soldiers from various units joined the ranks of the 7th Infantry Division during a multicomponent activation ceremony Nov. 3 at French Theater on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
During the ceremony, the Soldiers switched patches they wore from their Reserve units and replaced them with the iconic hourglass patch of 7th Inf. Div. The ceremony was used to recognize the division as one of the newest multicomponent divisions in the Army.
In May 2013, just more than a year after the division was reactivated at JBLM, Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff at the time, who is now retired, directed multicomponent augmentation be implemented to support the 7th Inf. Div.'s mission.
The Reservists will finally, after four years, fulfill the directive and will be utilized to help achieve the division's mission and fill any training and readiness gaps in the division.
Major General Willard Burleson III, 7th Inf. Div. commanding general, hosted the activation ceremony, which was attended by members of Task Force Bayonet and Soldiers from both the National Guard and Army Reserve.
"It's not insignificant that we are here today, with the mission we have right now, to provide training, readiness and administrative oversight over a number of subordinate units," Burleson said after watching a historical video that chronicled the division's service over the past 100 years. "This (ceremony) fills a gap that all our Army leadership recognized several years ago when the unit was reactivated (at JBLM)."
Burleson, in his brief remarks, stressed to the active-duty 7th Inf. Div. Soldiers and to the incoming Reservists that they are all of part of the same team and there would be no distinction in how the two components would be treated going forward.
"You are part of the team," Burleson said. "It's one team."
Major General Patrick Reinert, commander of the 88th Readiness Division and the higher headquarters for the Reservists participating in the ceremony, further solidified Burleson's comments.
"We don't have Army National Guard on our uniform," Reinert said. "We don't have Army Reserve on our uniform, we have U.S. Army on our uniform -- we are all one team."
Several members of the division said they have worked hard over the past few several weeks to make their new teammates feel like they are part of the team.
Since arriving at the 7th Inf. Div., the Reservists have been integrated throughout the division headquarters to get familiar with the organization's mission, history and how it operates.
The division has also taken an active role in ensuring their new teammates maintain their readiness in the areas of physical fitness, weapons proficiency and maintenance, to name a few, as well as ensuring both their personnel and professional needs are being met.
"We have been integrating the Reserve Soldiers for a while now," said Capt. Jaimie Daniels, commander of Headquarters Service Company, 7th Inf. Div. "The only difference now is that they are actually authorized and are officially part of our team, as of (Oct. 3), with the new (Table of Distribution and Allowances) change."
The new Soldiers come from various Army Reserve units from all over the country, which includes the 200th Military Police Command, located at Fort Meade, Md.; the 301st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, located at JBLM, and the 88th Readiness Division, located at Fort McCoy, Wis.
Many of the Reservists said they came to the division for the training and career progression afforded to them while serving in an active-duty unit such as the 7th Inf. Div.
Private First Class Reece Beaulaurier, a satellite communications operator and Seattle resident, joined for similar reasons.
"We actually get hands-on (training) with the equipment," Beaulaurier said. "Everyone's super-friendly and open. They don't treat you like a Weekend Warrior -- they actually treat you like a Soldier."
Unlike at most Army Reserve units, Reservists in the 7th Inf. Div., attend Battle Assembly six consecutive days each quarter and work during the week, which allows them more time to train with their active-duty counterparts.
The activation of the multicomponent unit happens as the division approaches the 100th anniversary of its inception in the Army.
Established on Dec. 6, 1917, the Bayonet Division has served in World War I, World War II, Korea, Panama, and more recently, supported the Train Assist and Assist --South mission in Afghanistan in 2015.
Ironically, the 88th RSC celebrated its centennial earlier this year in August.