By Sergeant. Dr. Stout
3rd Infantry Division
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Jack Keane, right, then the commanding general of XVIII Airborne Corps, presents Maj. Gen. Joseph DeFrancisco, then commanding general of the newly renamed 3rd Infantry Division, the official colors of the unit at Fort Stewart, Ga., April 26, 1996. DeFrancisco became the first commander of 3rd ID on Fort Stewart after the unit spent most of the Cold War stationed in West Germany.
Marne Division celebrates 26 years in Georgia
The 3rd Infantry Division celebrates its 26th anniversary at Fort Stewart and Fighter Army Airfield this week, after serving for decades in the Cold War on the front lines of West Germany. . The colors were unfurled at the division’s current home in a ceremony at Cottrell Field at around 9 a.m. on April 26, 1996.
The last commander of the 24th Infantry Division, General Joseph DeFrancisco, wore the colors of the “Victory Division” for the last time on the occasion, ending his stay at Fort Stewart after being activated on the installed in 1975.
Moments later, General Jack Keane, the commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps, presented DeFrancisco with the colors of the 3rd ID, making him the first commander of the “Marne Division” at Fort Stewart. With this action, the 3rd ID also took over the role of armored force from the Victory Division’s XVIII Airborne Corps.
The 24th ID was inactivated and redesignated to become the 3rd ID as part of the reduction of the army to a ten division strength.
Dominic Pompelia, the ID’s 3rd Deputy Chief of Staff, was there that day as a major serving as the division’s artillery plans officer. He said that for the soldiers at Fort Stewart, not much has changed other than the change in the patch on their left shoulder. The equipment remained the same, except for the new stencil of the bumper numbers.
Pompelia said that at the time, many advocated changing the Army’s decision to inactivate the 24th ID because of its rich history and the many accolades achieved throughout its history. However, the 3rd ID was ready to continue its own legacy on American soil at Fort Stewart, Fort Benning and Hunter Army Airfield.
For the past 26 years, 3rd ID has continued to proudly serve in all theaters of operations and as a community support partner to Coastal Georgia and Columbus for 20 years.
“I was also proud of the transition as I had previously served in the 3rd ID in Germany. I was both proud to be a Dogface Soldier and a Victory Soldier,” Pompelia said.
Pompelia held several positions with the company, including as a battery commander with the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd ID in Germany between 1992 and 1995.
He described that while the Army’s decision to change the division’s flag was difficult for some local veterans at first, Georgia’s coastal community was just as welcoming to the 3rd ID as it had been to the soldiers. and the families of Victory Division. He also said the advantage of the 3rd ID’s arrival in the United States was the connection the division had to the Columbus area by expanding and having a brigade at Kelley Hill at Fort Benning.
“Both divisions were highly regarded due to their combat effectiveness,” he said. “Just as the 24th ID was respected for its role as an initial force in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the 3rd ID was seen as a similar success after its rotation in Operation Iraqi Freedom I and entering Baghdad. For many veterans I spoke to, it was considered deja vu because they considered the 3rd ID to be the first division in the Iraqi theater of operations, the same way they did for the 24th ID during Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
The 3rd ID was originally raised at Camp Greene, North Carolina on November 21, 1917. The Marne Division trained at Camp Greene and Fort Bliss, Texas before being shipped to France in April 1918. The division earned its nickname ‘Rock of the Marne’ during World War I when division commander Major-General Joseph Dickman declared ‘We Restrerons La’ to the French allies as units The flanks withdrew in the face of a massive German offensive on the Marne near Château-Thierry on July 15, 1918. The forces of the 3e DI nevertheless held the defence. The words Ambitious, now engraved on the crest of the 3rd Identification Unit, mean “We will stay here”.
Collar. (retirement). Peter Hoffman served as a Dogface Private in Germany and at Fort Stewart and continues to serve and support the Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield communities as Executive Director of the Coastal Georgia Military Affairs Coalition.
Incorporated in 1999 as Friends of Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, the organization reorganized as the Coastal Georgia Military Affairs Coalition in 2019 with a mission to improve the overall economic value of Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield and surrounding communities through a phased regional strategy. Partnership.
Hoffman said that after serving in the historic division in the early 1980s when it was stationed in West Germany, he was extremely happy to be reassigned to the division nearly 30 years later, this time in beautiful coastal Georgia.
“This area is very lucky to host the 3rd ID with its history dating back to World War I,” Hoffman said. “Third ID veterans and the community should be proud to see the division endure as a guardian of freedom, with one of its brigades currently deployed to Europe to once again show support for our allies. I guess that the old adage is true: the more things change, the more they stay the same, and this community remains as supportive of our division as when it arrived here 26 years ago.
Throughout the history of the 3rd ID, the unit has been filled with exceptional soldiers. No Army division has more Medal of Honor recipients than the 3rd ID with 61, including the famous Audie Murphy, the most decorated American soldier of World War II. With Fort Stewart as its headquarters, 3rd ID continues to make Army history as the division modernizes and trains for the future of expected large-scale combat and remains responsive to emergency missions, home and abroad.