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"At the final stroke of twelve last night a fine old soldiermanpassed away. But in his place stepped up two lusty sons to take his place." These words in the October 1, 1941, edition of The Honolulu Advertisersignaled the conception of the US Army's brand new infantry division. T h e editorial continued: "The Hawaiian Division is no more. The proudorganization that was stationed at Schofield Barracks has been inactivated. In its placethis morning are two new streamlined infantry divisions—The Twenty-Fourth and theTwenty-Fifth. In the 27 years which have elapsed since their conception, the Army's two newdivisions were to see long and honorable service in three wars — service which would,indeed, reflect great honor on their predecessor. In time the 24th Infantry (Victory) Division, would find its way to theEuropean Theater of Operations, the Taromen were not to return to Hawaiian shores. But the25th Infantry Division was destined to make its name in the Pacific. And the name Tropic Lightning was not long in the making. On December 7, 1941, just 10 weeks after the division's births Japanesefighter-bombers roared through Hawaii's Kolekole Pass to bomb Pearl Harbor and strafeSchofield Barracks. Division soldiers responded quickly to this unexpected attack,becoming the first Americans to engage the enemy in World War II. To counter the threat of a follow-up invasion, the 25th's infantrymen wererapidly deployed to the beaches in defense of Honolulu and the Ewa Plains. For the next 11 months, the division trained intensively for a second crack at the enemy.The scene was to be Guadalcanal. Relieving the Marines at Guadalcanal in November 1942, division infantrymensoon found themselves engulfed in the same treacherous jungle warfare which was to becomeso painfully familiar to their Vietnam successors. In some of the bitterest World War IIfighting in the Pacific, the division aided in the seizure of Kokumbona and reduction ofthe Mount Austin Pocket. From there, division soldiers battled down the northern chain of Solomon Islands. Theisland of New Georgia fell to them on August 25, 1943, they cleared Arundel Island onSeptember 24 and finally on October 6 they took Kolombangara, with its vital Vila Airport. F o r their swiftness and daring during these campaigns, 25th Divisioncombat-hardened soldiers earned for their unit the nickname Tropic Lightning. From January to June 1945 division soldiers participated in the liberation ofthe Philippines, setting a record for Army divisions of 165 consecutive days in combat. As the World War came to a close, the Tropic Lightning Division buckled downto the job of occupying a defeated nation —the once mighty Empire of Japan. The responsibilities of processing thousands of homeless refugees was animmense burden. Indicative of the Tropic Lightning soldiers' devotion to this task was themanner in which the 27th Infantry Wolfhounds and 8th Artillery commenced support to theHoly Family Orphanage in Osaka, Japan, which has continued to this day. Since that November in 1949, over $400,000 has been donated to the orphanage, now known asthe "Osaka Home." Still garrisoned in Japan in 1950, the division was again ordered to combatas the North Korean "People's Army" stormed across the 38th Parallel, in anunprovoked attack of the Republic of Korea. While most Americans were trying to find Korea on the map, Tropic Lightningsoldiers, with other United Nations forces, raced to the defense of the port city of Pusanon Korea's southern tip. The Pusan Perimeter held in large part due to the heroics of 25thDivision infantrymen, and soon (September 1950) Lightning soldiers were back on theoffensive, doing their part to neutralize the 50,000 North Koreans trapped as a result ofthe Marine landings at Inchon. For their role at Pusan, Tropic Lightning soldiers earned their first KoreaPresidential Unit Citation. Battling seasoned North Korea and Chinese Communist soldiers and the harshextremes of Korean weather and terrain, division troops fought bravely and well from theYalu River in the north to the Han River in the south during the next two years. Even during brief respites from battle as IX Corps' reserve force, the 25thDivision proved itself worthy of its motto, "Ready to Strike — Anywhere,Anytime." In the words of one corps commander, "Today, the 25th Division is likea razor's edge." Back on the line to defend the South Korean capitol of Seoul, in May, 1953,Tropic Lightning soldiers successfully repelled a fierce final assault by the enemy and indoing so, earned their second Korean Presidential Unit Citation . By the time the smoke of Korean battles had cleared, 14 Tropic Lightningsoldiers had earned their nation's highest military honor, the Medal of Honor. Following the July 27, 1953, armistice, the division was again tapped to performoccupation duties and was not to depart Korea for over a year — but this time, aftermore than 12 years absence the division was going home! The first 25th Infantry Division troops arrived in Honolulu on September 21,1954, aboard the troop ship USNS General Gordon. Bands, hula girls, and 25,000 orchidsdropped from helicopters, attested to the admiration of Hawaii's citizenry for theirbattle-seasoned heroes. Years of arduous training and realistic exercises followed as the divisionfilled its role as the Army's immediate strike force in the Pacific. Tropic Lightningsoldiers busied themselves by honing the "razor's edge." The peaceful years came and went! In early 1963 responding to a request from the US Military AssistanceCommand, Vietnam, the first contingent of 100 aerial door gunners was dispatched toSoutheast Asia from Hawaii to relieve overworked helicopter crew members, who had beenforced to do double duty. By the time the program ended in November 1965, more than 2,200men had participated. Besides supplying shotgunners to Vietnam, the Tropic Lightning Division sentCompany C, 65th Engineer Battalion, to Vietnam in August, 1965, to act as a mobile forceto assist in the buildup of facilities at Cam Ranh Bay. It was the only unit from thedivision in-country until late 1965. MACV sent out a request for additional combat units in December 1965 and onceagain the 25th Infantry Division responded, this time with its 4,000-man 3d Brigade.Operation Blue Light, the longest and largest airlift of cargo and personnel to a combatarea in military history, took the brigade from Hawaii's Hickam Air Force Base to theCentral highlands at Pleiku. The first Tropic Lightning soldiers arrived on December 31, 1965, and by themiddle of January, the 6,000-mile move of hundreds of tons of men and materiel wascompleted. Meanwhile, the division's 2nd Brigade had left Hawaii by sea. Arriving at theport of Vung Tau on January 15, 1966, the brigade moved by air, first to Bien Hoa and thenin a convoy of more than 600 vehicles, to the former Viet Cong haven of Cu Chi in HauNghia Province, 20 miles northwest of Saigon. In late March 1966, the command group, composed of the commanding general andhis staff, was airlifted to Cu Chi and the 1st Brigade followed on Exercise"Moonlight," arriving in-country by the end of April 1966. The divisiondeployment was complete. In jungles and tropic heat fighting a resourceful enemy who is barely distinguishable fromhis surroundings, the men with the Lightning patch once again set about the business ofdefending the Free World's frontiers. By mid July 1968, division soldiers had fought gallantly through 59operations — each one a campaign of its own bearing names like Makiki, Kamela, Kailuaand Makalapa, which vividly illustrate the division's Hawaiian ties; each one takingTropic Lightning soldiers to treacherous battlefields with funny names like Hobo, Boi Loi,Hoc Mon, Pleiku, Soui Cut, Cholon and Bao Trai. In these 59 operations, more than 17,000 Viet Cong and North Vietnamesesoldiers have been felled by the combat power of Tropic Lightning infantrymen, cavalrymen,and artillerymen. Nearly 900 more have been taken prisoner, and better than 4,600 havesurrendered to division troops under the Chieu Hoi Open Arms Program. In a new kind of war for the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people,division soldiers have shown a genuine compassion and understanding for the problemsconfronted by men and women who struggle to shake the enigma of war and to build abrighter tomorrow. An example of this compassion may be found in the more than 404,000Vietnamese who have received medical attention during division MEDCAPS. Lightning soldiershave also built houses, furnished food and clothing, secured polling places and taughtothers to help themselves . Another chapter in the saga of Tropic Lightning is being written. In ahundred years it will be history. But today, Southeast Asia has a friend, a fighter, adefender in the razor-sharp, Tropic Lightning 25th Infantry Division.

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