Soldiers, Veterans, and community members gathered together for the 24th Infantry Division’s 74th Annual Reunion Memorial Ceremony at Fort Stewart, Georgia, Oct. 14, 2022. The 24th ID was inactivated and reflagged to become the 3rd Infantry Division as part of the Army's reduction to a ten-division force April 26, 1996.
During this ceremony, Veterans of the historic 24th ID, known as the Victory Division, came together to celebrate their division’s illustrious history and talk about its legacy.
“This is a homecoming for me and for many of us, and it’s emotional,” said Lt. Gen. (Ret.) John Lemoyne. “It’s a great day to come together.”
Chris Stapleton, the 24th ID Association president and a 24th ID alumni, honored these Veterans by explaining the impact they had on his life.
“There are people here I worked directly with that trained me and not only made my career better, but they made me a better person,” Stapleton said. “They taught me to serve our country and our communities.”
The 24th ID was originally part of the Hawaiian Division, which was established at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, on March 1, 1921. In the fall of 1941, the Hawaiian Division split into the 24th and the 25th Infantry Divisions.
The 24th ID distinguished itself during World War II by participating in five campaigns, four of which were spearheaded by the division. The Division also served during the Korean War and was the first to engage North Korea’s aggressor force during the war’s first battle in Osan. Elements of the division went on to serve in Germany at Checkpoint Charlie along the Berlin Wall beginning in the early 1960’s.
During Desert Storm, the Division spearheaded the Allied Coalition Forces’ attack into Iraq. The 24th ID was again called to service Oct. 4, 1993, when it was ordered to deploy to Mogadishu to provide protection in support of Operation Restore Hope.
The last commander of 24th Infantry Division, Gen. Joseph DeFrancisco, cased the colors of the Victory Division for the final time in 1996, ending its stay on Fort Stewart after being activated on the installation in 1975. Moments later, Gen. Jack Keane, the XVIII Airborne Corps commander, handed DeFrancisco the 3rd ID colors, making him the first commander of the “Marne Division” on Fort Stewart. With this action, 3rd ID also took over the role as the armored force of the XVIII Airborne Corps from the Victory Division.
Although the 24th ID cased its colors 26 years ago, 3rd ID continues to honor its predecessor’s legacy here and serves proudly as a supportive partner to the community of Coastal Georgia. With today’s ceremony complete, Veterans of the 24th ID can rest assured that their legacy continues onward with each 3rd ID Soldier.