Following its second successful major combat operation of the Second World War, the Soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 7th Infantry Division departed the Marshall Islands and sailed for Hawaii. Landing on Oahu Valentine’s Day 1944, the veterans of the Bayonet Division returned to American soil and a rousing public welcome. The adoration and celebration was a first for the Division’s soldiers who, at the conclusion of their previous campaign, wresting Attu Island from the Japanese in the spring of 1943, concluded with no public fanfare… Just more training for war.
Now stationed at Schofield Barracks outside of Honolulu, men who had battled from arctic cold to tropical heat settled into getting ready for their next combat deployment. The Division’s target would be eight months in the future on the Philippine Island of Leyte. Until then, Bayonet Soldiers established jungle warfare and amphibious training schools to sharpen their hard-won skills and bring new 7th Division recruits up to speed.
In May, the Division proudly paraded before the Commander of all US Forces in the Central Pacific, Navy Admiral Chester C. Nimitz. In August they repeated their performance before Southwest Pacific Area Commander, Army General Douglas C. MacArthur, and none other than President Franklin D. Roosevelt himself.
Operation Flintlock (Jan. 31 - Feb. 4, 1944) marked the initial phase of the American invasion of the Marshall Islands in the Central Pacific during World War II, resulting in the U.S. forces’ seizure of Kwajalein Atoll and Majuro, giving the Americans a foothold in the crucial island chain.
Erik W. Flint is a Lt. Col. in the US Army Reserves and serves as the I Corps command historian. He conducts his work out of the Lewis Army Museum located in the Historic Red Shield Inn building on Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM). The Lewis Army Museum is the only certified U.S. Army Museum on the West Coast. For more information, visit https://lewisarmymuseum.com.