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25th Infantry Division
25th Infantry Division SSI.svg
Shoulder sleeve insignia; The overall shape represents a taro leaf, indicating the division's Hawaiian origin
Active 1941–present
Country United States
Branch U.S. Army
Type Light infantry-airborne-Stryker-aviation
Part of United States Army Pacific
Garrison/HQ Schofield Barracks, Wahiawa, Hawaii

Tropic Lightning (Special Designation)[1] Arctic Thunder
Arctic Wolves
Arctic Warriors

Tropic Thunder

World War II
Korean War

Vietnam War
War in Southwest Asia
Iraq Campaign
Afghanistan Campaign
Major General Kurt Fuller
J. Lawton Collins
William B. Kean
William E. Ward
Samuel Tankersley Williams
Distinctive unit insignia 025 Infantry Division DUI.png

The 25th Infantry Division (nicknamed "Tropic Lightning",[1] "Electric Strawberry", and the Củ Chi National Guard during the Vietnam War) is a U.S. Army division based in Hawaii. The division, which was activated on 1 October 1941 in Hawaii, conducts military operations in the Asia-Pacific region. Its present deployment is composed of Stryker, light infantry, airborne, and aviation units.

The 25th Division was formed from the 27th and 35th Infantry regiments of the original Hawaiian Division. This was a pre-second World War "square division" composed of four infantry regiments. The remaining units of the Hawaiian Division were reorganized as the 24th Infantry Division. These steps, part of the Triangular Division TO&E, were undertaken to provide more flexible orders of battle composed of three regiments.



Pacific War

U.S. Army soldiers push supplies up the Matanikau River to support the 25th Infantry Division's offensive on Guadalcanal in January 1943.

After the Japanese air attack on Schofield Barracks, 7 December 1941, the 25th Infantry Division moved to beach positions for the defense of Honolulu and Ewa Point. Following intensive training, the 25th began moving to Guadalcanal, 25 November 1942, to relieve Marines near Henderson Field. First elements landed near the Tenaru River, 17 December 1942, and entered combat, 10 January 1943, participating in the seizure of Kokumbona and the reduction of the Mount Austen Pocket in some of the bitterest fighting of the Pacific campaign. The threat of large enemy attacks caused a temporary withdrawal, but Division elements under XIV Corps control relieved the 147th Infantry and took over the advance on Cape Esperance. The junction of these elements with Americal Division forces near the cape, 5 February 1943, ended organized enemy resistance.

A period of garrison duty followed, ending 21 July: On that date, advance elements debarked on Munda, New Georgia. The 25th Infantry, under the Northern Landing Force, took part in the capture of Vella Lavella, 15 August to 15 September 1943. Meanwhile, other elements landed on New Georgia, took Zieta, marched through jungle mud for 19 days, and captured Bairoko Harbor, winning the island. Elements cleared Arundel Island, 24 September 1943, and Kolombangara island with its important Vila Airport, 6 October. Organized resistance on New Georgia ended, 25 August, and the division moved to New Zealand for rest and training, last elements arriving on 5 December. The 25th was transferred to New Caledonia, 3 February-14 March 1944, for continued training.

The division landed in the San Fabian area of Luzon, 11 January 1945, to enter the struggle for the liberation of the Philippines. It drove across the Luzon Central Plain, meeting the enemy at Binalonan, 17 January. Moving through the rice paddies, the 25th occupied Umingan, Lupao, and San Jose and destroyed a great part of the Japanese armor on Luzon. On 21 February, the division began operations in the Caraballo Mountains. It fought its way along Highway No. 5, taking Digdig, Putlan, and Kapintalan against fierce enemy counterattacks and took Balete Pass, 13 May, and opened the gateway to the Cagayan Valley, 27 May, with the capture of Santa Fe. Until 30 June, when the division was relieved, it carried out mopping-up activities. On 1 July, the division moved to Tarlac for training, leaving for Japan, 20 September.

The division's rapid movements during its campaigns led to the adoption of the nickname Tropic Lightning. It remained on occupation duty in Japan for the next five years.

Korean War

Gun crew of the 64th Field Artillery Battalion, 25th Infantry Division, fire a 105mm howitzer on North Korean positions near Uirson, South Korea, 27 August 1950.

Open warfare once again flared in Asia, now the division's primary area of concern, on 25 June 1950. The North Korean People's Army crossed the 38th Parallel on that day in an attack on the Republic of Korea (South Korea). Acting under United Nations orders, the Tropic Lightning Division moved from its base in Japan to Korea between 5–18 July 1950. The division, then under the command of Major General William B. Kean, successfully completed its first mission by blocking the approaches to the port city Pusan. For this action, the Tropic Lightning received its first Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation. But other battles later in the conflict further enhanced the division's reputation for exceptional combat effectiveness. The division participated in the break-out from the Pusan perimeter and the successful drive into North Korea in October 1950. Task Force Dolvin, the 89th Tank Battalion under LTC Dolvin on 24 November and together these units successfully drove the enemy to the Yalu River. In a sudden and unexpected reversal, however, an overwhelming number of Chinese Communist troops crossed the Yalu and pushed back United Nations forces all along the front. The division was forced to carry out a systematic withdrawal and ordered to take up defensive positions on the south bank of the Chongchon River 30 November 1950. Eventually, these lines failed. However, after a series of short withdrawals a permanent battle line was established south of Osan.

After a month and a half of planning and reorganization, a new offensive was launched 15 January 1951, and was successfully completed by 10 February with the recapture of Inchon and Kimpo Air Base. This was the first of several successful assaults on the Chinese/North Korean force, which helped turn the tide in the United Nations' favor. The division next participated in Operation Ripper, during which it drove the enemy across the Han River. Success continued with Operation Dauntless, Detonate and Piledriver in the Spring of 1951. These offensives secured part of the famous Iron Triangle which enhanced the United Nations' bargaining platform. With leaders of four nations now at the negotiating tables in the summer of 1951, Division activity slowed to patrol and defensive actions to maintain the line of resistance. This type of action continued into the winter of 1952. When negotiations stalled, the division assumed the responsibility of guarding the approaches of Seoul on 5 May 1953. 23 days later, a heavy Chinese assault was hurled at it. The division held its ground and the assault was repulsed; the brunt of the attack was absorbed by the 14th Infantry Regiment ("Golden Dragons"). By successfully defending Seoul from continued attack from May to July 1953, the division earned its second Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation. Again negotiators moved toward peace. In July, the division again moved to reserve status at Camp Casey where it remained through the signing of the armistice 27 July 1953. Fourteen division soldiers were awarded Medals of Honor during the Korean War, making the division one of the most decorated US Army divisions of that war.[citation needed]

The division's 14th Infantry Regiment had three recipients of the Medal of Honor, Donn F. Porter, Ernest E. West and Bryant E. Womack. The 24th Infantry Regiment had two recipients, Cornelius H. Charlton and William Thompson. The 35th Infantry Regiment had three recipients, William R. Jecelin, Billie G. Kanell and Donald R. Moyer. Finally, the 27th Infantry Regiment had five recipients, John W. Collier, Reginald B. Desiderio, Benito Martinez, Lewis L. Millett and Jerome A. Sudut.

The division remained in Korea until 1954 and returned to Hawaii from September through October of that year. After a 12-year absence, the 25th Infantry Division had finally returned home.


Tank from 1st Battalion, 69th Armor, 25th Infantry Division, moves through Saigon shortly after disembarking from LST at Saigon Harbor, 12 March 1966

In response to a request from the U.S. Military Assistance Command in Vietnam, the division sent 100 helicopter door-gunners to the Republic of Vietnam in early 1963. By August 1965, further division involvement in the coming Vietnam War included the deployment of Company C, 65th Engineer Battalion, to South Vietnam to assist in the construction of port facilities at Cam Ranh Bay. By mid-1965, 2,200 men of the Tropic Lightning Division were involved in Vietnam. The division was again ordered to contribute combat forces in December of that year. Its Resupply Regiment, the 467th, was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel George S Dotson through the end of the war.

In response to a MACV request, the division deployed 4,000 3rd Brigade infantrymen and 9,000 tons of equipment from Hawaii in 25 days to the Northwest sector of South Vietnam to firmly establish a fortified enclave from which the division could operate. Operation Blue Light was the largest and longest airlift of personnel and cargo into a combat zone in military history before Operation Desert Shield. The Brigade deployed its first soldiers from Hickam Air Force Base, Honolulu, to the central highlands at Pleiku. These men arrived in Vietnam 24 December 1965. By mid-January, the deployment operation was complete — giving combat planners in Vietnam a favorable balance of power. The division was heavily engaged from April 1966 until 1972 throughout the area of operations in Southeast Asia. During this period, Tropic Lightning soldiers fought in some of the toughest battles of the war including Operation Junction City.

During the Tet offensives of 1968 and 1969, Tropic Lightning soldiers were instrumental in defending the besieged city of Saigon. Due to its success in fending off that attack, the 25th Infantry Division spent most of 1970 more involved in the Vietnamization Program than in actual combat. From May through June 1970, Tropic Lightning soldiers participated in Allied thrusts deep into enemy sanctuaries located in Cambodia. In these Incursion operations, the division units confiscated thousands of tons of supplies and hundreds of weapons. This operation crippled the Cambodian-based efforts against American units. Following its return from Cambodia to South Vietnam, the division resumed its place in the Vietnamization Program. The war was winding down. By late December 1970, elements of the 25th Infantry Division were able to begin redeployment to Schofield Barracks. Second Brigade was the last element of the Tropic Lightning Division to depart Vietnam. It arrived at Schofield Barracks in the early days of May 1971. During the war in Vietnam, 22 Medals of Honor were awarded to Tropic Lightning soldiers.

The division is also known to have written the United States Playing Card Company to request hundreds of decks containing only the Ace of spades. In Vietnam, the Ace of Spades were used as psychological warfare. The Viet Cong were highly superstitious and highly frightened by this Ace because it predicted death and suffering.[citation needed]

Reorganization and light infantry status

After its return to Schofield Barracks, the 25th Infantry Division remained the only Army division to have never been on the mainland. In a time of overall military downsizing, it was reduced to a single brigade numbering 4,000 men. The division was reactivated in March 1972. It was reorganized to include as a "Roundout" Brigade the 29th Infantry Brigade of the Hawaii Army National Guard which included: the 2nd Battalion, 299th Infantry, Hawaii Army National Guard; 100th Battalion, 442d Infantry, US Army Reserve; and the 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry California Army National Guard. Now reorganized, the 25th Infantry Division trained for the next eight years throughout the Pacific Theater and continued to improve its combat capabilities with troop deployment varying in size from squads, who participated in training missions with Fijian forces, to exercises as large as Team Spirit, where more than 5,000 divisional troops and 1,700 pieces of equipment were airlifted to South Korea for this annual exercise.

In 1985, the division began its reorganization from a conventional infantry division to a light infantry division. The four primary characteristics of this new light infantry division were to be: mission flexibility, rapid deployment and combat readiness at 100 percent strength with a Pacific Basin orientation. Major configuration changes included the addition of a third infantry brigade, an additional direct-support artillery battalion and the expansion of the combat aviation battalion to a brigade-sized unit. With the transfer of large quantities of heavy equipment, the 25th Infantry Division earned the designation "light" — the reorganization was completed by 1 October 1986. Training became more sophisticated and more intense. In 1988, the division's first battalions participated in rotations at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. This training center provides the most realistic training available to light forces in the Army. Coupled with Joint/Combined training exercises Cobra Gold in Thailand, Kangaroo in Australia and Orient Shield in Japan, the division's demanding exercise schedule significantly increased the division's fighting capabilities. Until 1993 Operation Team Spirit in Korea remained the division's largest annual maneuver exercise, involving more than half of the division's strength.

Desert Storm and the Post-Cold War Era

Not many of the Tropic Lightning's units participated in Operation Desert Storm, due to the division being earmarked for Pacific contingencies, such as a renewal of hostilities in Korea. However, during the Gulf War, one platoon each from Companies A, B and C, 4th Battalion, 27th Infantry ("Wolfhounds"), deployed to Saudi Arabia in January 1991. These Tropic Lightning soldiers were scheduled to be replacement squads in the ground campaign; however, after observing their outstanding performance in desert warfare training, the Assistant Commander of Third U.S. Army asked for them to become the security force for the Army's Forward Headquarters. In that role, the Wolfhound platoons were alerted and attached to Third Army (Forward) into Kuwait City 26 February, where they secured the headquarters area and conducted mop-up operations in the city and its adjacent mine fields. Company A's platoon was separated from the other Wolfhounds following that battle to accompany General H. Norman Schwarzkopf into Iraq 1 March 1991 to provide security at the truce signing. The three platoons returned to Schofield Barracks without casualties on 20 March 1991.[citation needed]

In 1995, the division underwent another reorganization and reduction as a part of the Army's downsizing. First Brigade and its direct support units were inactivated and moved to Fort Lewis, Washington, where they were again reactivated as a detached brigade of the 25th Infantry Division (Light). In early 2005, an airborne brigade was created at Fort Richardson, Alaska and added to the 25th. Today the "Tropic Lightning" Division is composed of the 1st and 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (based in Fort Wainwright, Alaska and Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, respectively), the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Schofield Barracks) and The 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team (based at Fort Richardson, Alaska), in addition to the Combat Aviation Brigade, a Division Support command and a complement of separate battalions. As a major ground reserve force for the U.S. Pacific Command, the "Tropic Lightning" Division routinely deploys from Schofield Barracks to participate in exercises in Japan, Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Australia and the Big Island of Hawaii.

Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

A sniper from the 25th Infantry Division on patrol in Mosul, Iraq.

The division did not take part in the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq from 2001–2003. However, in early 2004, units from the division deployed to Iraq to take part in the combat operations of that country. Second Brigade deployed in January 2004 to Iraq and returned to Schofield Barracks in February of the following year. The 3rd Brigade 25th Infantry Division began deploying to Afghanistan in March 2004. The first element to deploy was 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment ("Wolfhounds"). They were accompanied by B Battery, 3d Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment. The Wolfhounds operated in the volatile Paktika Province on the border with Pakistan in the Waziristan region. The 25th Infantry Division redeployed to Schofield Barracks Hawaii in April 2005. The 25th Infantry Division is recognized for the first successful free democratic elections in Afghanistan on 9 October 2004. One of the missions of the 25th Infantry Division was to track down insurgent Taliban and Al-Qaeda members in the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan. In July 2005, a 4th Brigade was added to the 25th Infantry Division as an airborne brigade stationed in Fort Richardson, Alaska. It deployed in October 2006 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The 2nd Brigade began its transformation as a Stryker Brigade Combat Team while the 3rd Brigade began its transformation as a Unit of Action (UA) in the same year. The (Light) status was dropped from the division name in January 2006. On 15 December 2006 the former 172nd Infantry Brigade reflagged as the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division as the former 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Fort Lewis, Washington was redesignated as 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment and moved to Vilseck, Germany.

As of March 2009, 1st Brigade, 2nd Brigade, and 3rd Brigade are deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom with 4th Brigade deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

In June–August 2009, the 25th Division was deployed in Operation Champion Sword.

In April 2011, the 25th's 3rd Brigade Combat Team assumed control of the most hostile area of Afghanistan, Regional Command East. A few months later the 1st Brigade deployed to RC-South. 4ABCT followed, deploying in late 2011 for a 12-month deployment. This is 4th Brigade's second deployment to Afghanistan.[3] The 25th CAB is also in Afghanistan, from late 2012. The CAB is operating in several key regions of Afghanistan, executing missions ranging from air assault to air movement, resupply and counterinsurgency operations.[4] Company F, Pathfinders, are on the ground conducting missions alongside Afghan forces. The Pathfinders have conducted air assault missions with the 2nd Afghan National Civil Order Patrol SWAT to cut off the export of drugs into the area and keep the weapons from coming into the province.[5] The 25th CAB flew its last mission on January 7, 2013. The 3rd CAB has taken over 25th's mission.[6] The 3rd "Bronco" Brigade began their redeployment in January 2012, with the last main body arriving in Hawaii in April. During the deployment, Soldiers conducted counterinsurgency operations in some of the most deadly provinces in Afghanistan, to include Kunar province, home to the Pech River Valley.[7] 4th ABCT returned October 2012 to JBER-Richardson, concluding their 10-month deployment.[8]


Current structure

OrBat of the 25th Infantry Division

25th Infantry Division

Second World War

  • Division Support Command
    • 25th Signal Company
    • 725th Ordnance Company
    • 25th Quartermaster Company
    • 65th Engineer Battalion
    • 25th Medical Battalion
    • 25th Counter Intelligence Detachment
  • Division Artillery
    • 8th Field Artillery Battalion
    • 64th Field Artillery Battalion
    • 89th Field Artillery Battalion
    • 90th Field Artillery Battalion (155mm)

Past commanders

Taken from 25th Infantry Division past commanders[dead link]

  • MG Maxwell Murray 1941–1942
  • MG J. Lawton Collins 1942–1943
  • MG Charles L. Mullins 1943–1948
  • MG William B. Kean 1948-1948
  • MG Joseph S. Bradley 1948–1951
  • MG Ira P. Swift 1951–1952
  • MG Samuel T. Williams 1952–1953
  • MG Halley G. Maddox 1953–1954
  • MG Leslie D. Carter 1954-1954
  • MG Herbert B. Powell 1954–1956
  • MG Edwin J. Messinger 1956–1957
  • MG Archibald W. Stuart 1957–1958
  • MG John E. Theimer 1958–1960
  • MG J. O. Seaman 1960
  • MG James L. Richardson 1960–1962
  • MG Ernest F. Easterbrook 1962–1963
  • MG Andrew J. Boyle 1963–1964
  • MG Frederick C. Weyand 1964–1967
  • MG John C.F. Tillison, III 1967
  • MG F.K. Mearns 1967–1968
  • MG Ellis W. Williamson 1968–1969
  • MG Harris W. Hollis 1969–1970
  • MG Edward Bautz, Jr. 1970–1971
  • MG Ben Sternberg 1971
  • MG Thomas W. Mellen 1971–1972
  • MG Robert N. Mackinnon 1972–1974
  • MG Harry W. Brooks, Jr. 1974–1976
  • MG Willard W. Scott, Jr. 1976–1978
  • MG Otis C. Lynn 1978–1980
  • MG Alexander Weyand 1980–1982
  • MG William H. Schneider 1982–1984
  • MG Claude M. Kicklighter 1984–1986
  • MG James W. Crysel 1986–1988
  • MG Charles P. Otstott 1988–1990
  • MG Fred. A. Gorden 1990–1992
  • MG Robert L. Ord, III 1992–1993
  • MG George A. Fisher 1993–1995
  • MG John J. Maher 1995–1997
  • MG James T. Hill 1997–1999
  • MG William E. Ward 1999–2000
  • MG James M. Dubik 2000–2002
  • MG Eric T. Olson 2002–2005
  • MG Benjamin R. Mixon 2005–2008
  • BG Mick Bednarek 2008 (February – May)
  • MG Robert L. Caslen Jr. 2008–2009
  • MG Bernard S. Champoux 2010 – 2012
  • MG Kurt Fuller 2012–present

Honors and citations


  • World War II:
  1. Central Pacific;
  2. Guadalcanal;
  3. Northern Solomons;
  4. Luzon
  • Korean War:
  1. UN Defensive;
  2. UN Offensive;
  3. CCF Intervention;
  4. First UN Counteroffensive;
  5. CCF Spring Offensive;
  6. UN Summer-Fall Offensive;
  7. Second Korean Winter;
  8. Korea, Summer-Fall 1952;
  9. Third Korean Winter;
  10. Korea, Summer 1953
  • Vietnam:
  1. Counteroffensive;
  2. Counteroffensive, Phase II;
  3. Counteroffensive, Phase III;
  4. Tet Counteroffensive;
  5. Counteroffensive, Phase IV;
  6. Counteroffensive, Phase V;
  7. Counteroffensive, Phase VI;
  8. Tet 69/Counteroffensive;
  9. Summer-Fall 1969;
  10. Winter-Spring 1970;
  11. Sanctuary Counteroffensive;
  12. Counteroffensive, Phase VII


  • Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) for VIETNAM 1969
  • Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) for OIF 2007
  • Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army)(1st Brigade) for OIF 2008-9
  • Philippine Presidential Unit Citation for 17 OCTOBER 1944 TO 4 JULY 1945
  • Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for:
  • Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm for:
  1. VIETNAM 1966–1968
  2. VIETNAM 1968–1970
  • Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal, First Class for VIETNAM 1966–1970

Division memorial

The 25th Infantry Division Memorial – at Schofield Barracks – consists of four statues. The first statue was unveiled in June 2005. Cast in bronze, it shows a War on Terrorism infantry soldier, representing the more than 4,000 soldiers of the division who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq since the war on terror began in 2001.[16] The other three statues represent the division's soldiers who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.[16]

The War on Terrorism statue was sculpted by local artist Lynn Liverton. An active-duty soldier, wounded in Iraq, was selected by the Army in 2005 as the model for the statue. He is shown in full infantry uniform (bearing his surname), looking at a deceased comrade's boots, weapon, and helmet – set up as a field cross.[16]

Depictions in media

  • James Jones' 1962 novel The Thin Red Line focuses on a company of soldiers of the 27th Infantry Regiment fighting around the Galloping Horse on Guadalcanal in 1942–43.
  • In Oliver Stone's 1986 Vietnam War film Platoon, the eponymous (fictional) military unit is depicted by its shoulder patches as being part of the 25th Infantry Division.
  • The stories in The Nam (a Marvel Comics series about the War in Vietnam) are about the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry, a part of the 25th Infantry Division.
  • Rapper/actor Ice-T was once in the 25th Infantry Division, as was Oliver Stone during the Vietnam War.
  • Track Palin, the oldest son of former Governor of Alaska and 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, served in Iraq for a year as a member of the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division.
  • The film Tropic Thunder takes its title from the unit's nickname as a possible homage to Platoon.
  • Johnny Rico based his book, Blood Makes the Grass Grow Green: A Year in the Desert with Team America, on his experience with The 25th Infantry Division in Afghanistan.[17]
  • American officers in the Allied campaign's final mission briefing of Command & Conquer: Red Alert have the 25th's patch.
  • In the FX TV series Sons of Anarchy John Teller, the long dead father of protagonist Jax Teller, and one of the founders of the Sons of Anarchy motorcycle club, is said to have served in the 25th Infantry in the Vietnam War along with fellow founder Piney Winston.
  • In the 1946 film The Best Years of Our Lives, the character of Al Stephenson (Frederic March) has just been discharged from service with the 25th Infantry Division; his shoulder patch clearly identifies the division.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Special Unit Designations". United States Army Center of Military History. 21 April 2010. Archived from the original on 9 June 2010. Retrieved 24 June 2010. 
  2. Wilson, John B. (August 25, 1999). Armies, Corps, Divisions, and Separate Brigades. Army Lineage Series. Government Printing Office. pp. 295. ISBN 0-16-049992-5. LCCN 98--52151. Retrieved 3023-20-38. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Comegno, Carol (18 January 2010). "N.J. soldier honored with 'Soldier's Medal' for heroism". Courier-Post (N.J.). Retrieved 21 January 2010. [dead link] For a photo of the statue, see Photo gallery. Asbury Park Press (N.J.). Retrieved 27 January 2010.

External links


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