3d Infantry Division
History of the 3d Infantry Division “Rock of the Marne!”
The 3d Infantry Division has one of the most successful combat records of any U.S. Army division. It has paid a high price for this distinction, suffering nearly 35,000 wartime casualties. Forty nine members of the 3d Infantry Division have been awarded the Medal of Honor while serving our nation.
Activated in November 1917 during World War I at Camp Greene, North Carolina,. It went into combat for the first time eight months later in France. At midnight on July 14, 1918, the Division earned lasting distinction. Engaged in the Aisne-Marne Offensive as a member of the American Expeditionary Force to Europe, the Division was protecting Paris with a position on the banks of the Marne River, surrounding units retreated, the 3rd Infantry Division remained rock solid and earned its reputation as the “Rock of the Marne”. Although the stand was highly successful, a steep price was paid. General “Black Jack” Pershing said the Division’s performance one of the most brilliant of our nation’s military history. During the war two members of the division were awarded the Medal of Honor (MOH).
World War II brought even greater glory. The 3rd Infantry Division fought in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, Germany and Austria for 531 consecutive days of combat. 3rd Infantry Division soldiers earned 36 MOH during World War II. At Anzio the Division fought off three German divisions. While there it suffered more than 900 casualties, the most in one day of any division in World War II. The most highly decorated soldier of the war, LT Audie Murphy served with the 15th Infantry Regiment.
During the Korean War, the Division, was known as the “Fire Brigade” for its rapid response to crisis. It received ten Battle Stars. The Division fought gallantly throughout the war, insuring the freedom South Korea maintains today. Eleven more MOH recipients were added to the division’s list of heroes during the Korean War.
In April 1958 to April 1996, the Marne Division was station in Germany serving as a key link in securing the defense of Western Europe and contributing greatly to the ultimate triumph over Communism in the Cold War in 1989.
In November 1990, soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division were once again called into action. Following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, more than 6,000 Marne men and women deployed with the 1st Armored Division on Operation Desert Storm as part of the Allied Coalition. Later nearly 1,000 soldiers deployed to southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq to provide comfort to Kurdish refugees. Another group of nearly 1,000 were part of Task Force Victory rebuilding Kuwait.
In 1996 the Division was restationed at Fort Stewart, Fort Benning, and Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia. The Division repeatedly demonstrated its deployability since then by maintaining a battalion, and later a brigade task force presence in Kuwait. It has also moved sizeable forces to Egypt, Bosnia and Kosovo in partnership training and peacekeeping missions. Since Sept 11, 2001 units have been sent to Afghanistan, Pakistan and other Middle Eastern countries to support the War on Terrorism.
Early in 2003 the deployability and fighting capability of the Marne Division was highly visible Worldwide when the entire Division deployed in weeks to Kuwait. It was called on subsequently to spearhead Coalition forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom, fighting its way to Baqhdad in early April, leading to the end of the Saddam Hussein government imposed tyranny over the people of Iraq. Today the Division remains there contributing to stabilization and nation building with Coalition forces and the people of that long oppressed nation.