Division History

4th Infantry Division - Our Proud Heritage

On November 17, 1917, the same year that America entered World War I, the 4th Division was formed at Camp Greene, North Carolina to begin its long tradition of service to our country.  Filled with draftees, the Fourth Division, whose insignia had been adopted by its first commanding general, Major General George H. Cameron, became known as the “Ivy” division.  Its insignia consisted of four green ivy leaves on a khaki background.  The Division also derived its numerical designation from the Roman numeral IV (4 and IV mean the same thing); hence the nickname, “Ivy” division. The division’s motto is “Steadfast and Loyal”.

In April 1918, the Ivy Division embarked en route to fight in France.  By the time the “Great War” ended some months hence, the Ivy Division would serve with distinction.  They were the only American combat force to serve with both the French and the British in their respective sectors, as well as with all Corps in the American sector.

When the war ended on November 11, 1918, the Ivy Division had earned five battle streamers.  Over 2,000 officers and men had been killed in action, total casualties were almost 14,000.

As war clouds engulfed Europe, the 4th Division was reactivated on June 1, 1940 at Fort Benning, Georgia. Selected as an experimental unit, the 4th Motorized Division began a three-year, wide-open experiment.  From August 1940 through August 1943, the division participated in the Louisiana Maneuvers, then moved to the newly opened Camp Gordon, Georgia where they participated in the Carolina Maneuvers, and finally moved to Fort Dix, New Jersey where they scrapped the motorized experiment and were re-designated the 4th Infantry Division.  A move in September 1943 to Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida gave the division realistic amphibious training in preparation for the assault on fortress Europe.

Chosen as the spearhead amphibious division of the D-Day landing on the Normandy coast of France, the men of the 4th Infantry Division stormed ashore at H-Hour (0630 hours) on a stretch of the French coast named - for this operation and forever after - Utah Beach.  It was for his actions that day that Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., Assistant Division Commander, earned the first Medal of Honor of the division.

After their successful D-day landing, the men of the Ivy division fought through the hedgerows of the Cotentin Peninsula en route to taking the critically important port of Cherbourg on June 25, 1944.  The division was in continuous action during the period of June 6 to June 28 when the last resistance around Cherbourg was eliminated.  During this period, the 4th Infantry Division sustained over 5,450 casualties and had over 800 men killed.

With hardly a pause to catch their breath, the Ivymen continued to attack through the hedgerow country and, along with the 2nd Armored Division, spearheaded the breakthrough at St. Lo on July 25, 1944.  Exploiting the break in the German lines, the division continued the attack across France.  On August 25, 1944 they, along with the French 2nd Armored Division, were the troops who earned the distinction of liberating Parisfrom four years of Nazi rule.  Passing through the wildly applauding Parisians, the Ivymen left the victory parade to outfits following in their wake and continued to pursue the Germans.

On September 11, 1944, a patrol from the 4th Infantry Division became the first Allied ground force to enter Germany.  Fighting in the Siegfried Line followed.  Mid November found the division in the bloodiest battle of its history.  The most grueling battle in Europe was fought in the Hurtgen Forest.  Fighting in the cold rain and snow and in a forest of pine and fir trees 150 feet in height, the Ivymen slugged it out yard-by-yard and day-by-day against determined German artillery and infantry resistance.  By early December, the division had fought through what had become a twisted mass of shrapnel-torn stumps and broken trees and had accomplished its mission.  Casualties in the Hurtgen often exceeded 150 percent of the original strength of a rifle company.

With the Hurtgen Forest behind them, the division moved into a defensive position in Luxembourg and was soon engaged in the Battle of the Bulge.  General George S. Patton wrote to Major General Raymond Barton of the 4th Infantry Division: “Your fight in the Hurtgen Forest was an epic of stark infantry combat; but, in my opinion, your most recent fight – from the 16th to the 26th of December – when, with a depleted and tired division, you halted the left shoulder of the German thrust into the American lines and saved the City of Luxembourg, and the tremendous supply establishments and road nets in that vicinity, is the most outstanding accomplishment of yourself and your division.”

As the German push was halted in the Bulge, the Ivy Division resumed the attack and continued the pursuit through the Siegfried Line - the same location it had crossed in September - and fought across Germany as the war ground on in the first four months of 1945.  When the war ended on May 8, 1945, the 4th Infantry Division had participated in all of the campaigns from the Normandy Beach through Germany.  Five more battle streamers were added to the 4th Infantry Division colors and personnel of the Division during this period wear the five campaign stars of Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes, and Central Europe.  The division suffered almost 22,000 battle casualties and over 34,000 total casualties, including over 5,000 who were killed or died of injuries, during their eleven months of fighting across Europe.  For 199 straight days, the 4th Infantry Division was in constant contact with the Germans.

On July 11, 1945, the Ivy Division returned to New York harbor and began preparing at Camp Butner, North Carolina, for the invasion of Japan.  Fortunately, the war ended before that was required.

The Cold War found the 4th Infantry Division again standing tall in defense of freedom.  While others fought the Communists in Korea, the Ivy Division returned to Germany in 1950 and for the next six years stood strong against the Communist threat to Western Europe.   After returning to the States in 1956, the division trained at Fort Lewis, Washington, for the next time they would be called into battle.  The next time was in Vietnam in the late summer of 1966, twenty-two years and two months after the Ivymen landed on Utah Beach.

In August 1966, led by the 2nd Brigade, the Ivy Division headquarters closed into the central highlands of Vietnam.  On September 25, 1966, the division began a combat assignment against the North Vietnamese that would not end until December 7, 1970.

Eleven additional battle streamers would be added to the 4th Infantry Division colors as the Ivy Soldiers fought in places such as the Ia Drang Valley, Plei Trap Valley, Fire Base Gold, Dak To, the Oasis, Kontum, Pleiku, Ben Het, An Khe, and Cambodia.  With the largest assigned area of operations of any division in Vietnam, the Ivy division was charged with screening the border of South Vietnam as the first line of defense against infiltration down the Ho Chi Minh trail through Laos and Cambodia, and, to preempt any offensive on the more populated lowlands.   Triple canopy jungles, extreme heat, and seasonal monsoons were constant challenges to the division as were the North Vietnamese Regulars and Viet Cong.  By the time the Ivy Division completed their assignment in Vietnamand returned to Fort Carson, Coloradoat the end of 1970, 2,497 Ivy Soldiers had been killed and 15,229 had been wounded.  Eleven Ivy division Soldiers earned the Medal of Honor during that period.

Resuming training and Cold War missions, the 4th Infantry Division remained stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado from 1970 through 1995.  During this period, the division was converted to a Mechanized organization and frequently sent units to Europe to continue the Cold War mission of standing against the Communist threat.  It was during their time in Fort Carson that the division assumed the nickname, “Ironhorse”.

In December 1995, the Ivy Division was moved to Fort Hood, Texas when the 2nd Armored Division was deactivated as part of the downsizing of the Army.  Combining five armor battalions of the 2nd Armored Division with four mechanized infantry battalions of the 4th Infantry Division, the Ivy Division again became the experimental division of the Army, as it had been in the early 1940’s.  Until completing the mission in October 2001, the Ivy men and women led the United States Army into the twenty-first century under the banner of Force XXI.  They developed and tested state-of-the-art digital communications equipment, night fighting gear, advanced weaponry, organization, and doctrine to prepare the United States Army for wars in the new century, in addition to being ready to deploy to any hot spot in the world.

That hot spot was to be the country of Iraq.  On 18 January 2003, the 4th Infantry Division, under the leadership of MG Raymond Odierno, was given the deployment order for movement to Iraqas part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In record time for a heavy armored Division, the 4th Infantry Division, augmented by artillery, engineer, and support troops from active duty, National Guard, and Army reserve units to make them ‘Task Force Ironhorse’, loaded their equipment onto 37 ships bound for Turkey.

The Turkish government refused to allow the Division to land as the northern force in the planned assault into Iraq. For two months the Ivy Soldiers awaited word on where they would be going. In March, word arrived that the division would be landing in Kuwait with immediate movement into Iraq. On 18 April, the Division entered combat north of Baghdad. Their initial assignments were the airfields at Taji and Balad, which were quickly secured, followed by moving into and establishing their headquarters in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s home town. Joined by other brigade sized units, including 173rd Airborne Brigade which  made the first ever combat jump from C-17 airplanes (March 25, 2003 into northern Iraq), the 4th Infantry Division became the command for Task Force Ironhorse, a force of over 32,000 Soldiers.

During the year long deployment from March 2003 to April 2004, the Division and other Task Force Ironhorse units, carried out aggressive offensive operations designed to hunt down the last holdouts of the old regime. At the same time, the Division had the massive job of rebuilding the infrastructure of the many villages within their Area of Operations and reestablishing a governmental structure. In Operation Red Dawn, conducted on 13 December 2003, in 4th Infantry Division, in coordination with a special operations unit, captured Saddam Hussein, the former president of Iraq. His capture has been described by the news media as the number one news story of 2003.

On 18 June 2004, soon after their return to the US, MG James D. Thurman (Left) assumed command of the 4th Infantry Division.  The division went through a massive reorganization, forming combined arms battalions consisting of Infantry, Armor, and Engineer companies, with support units also assigned in each unit. All the equipment that had been returned from Iraq began the long process of rebuild and upgrade. The Division also stood up a 4th Brigade Combat Team, bringing the total strength of the division to slightly over 20,000 personnel. The end goal was to have the Division postured so it could return to Iraq in the fall of 2005, which they did.  

The Division returned to Iraq starting in the fall of 2005, this time to Baghdad where MG Thurman now led Multi-National Division – Baghdad (MND-B), with the 4th Infantry Division as the command component. With attached units, MND-B numbered over 30,000 personnel and was responsible for the largest population area of Iraq, including the always volatile city of Baghdad.

This deployment saw a rise in the sectarian violence which was beginning to plague the new government. Accomplishments during this critical year were many. A new government was elected and installed. Iraqi security forces were beginning to take a larger role in the security of their own country. Infrastructure improvements continued so that larger sections of the population were afforded clean water and improved electrical service. Oil production was back to its pre-war levels and improvements were made to schools and medical facilities. In December 2006, the Division again returned to its home at Forts Hood and Carson.

Within a month of their return to the US, on January 19, 2007, MG Jeffrey Hammond assumed command of the 4th Infantry Division and began the task of resetting the equipment, retraining the personnel, and preparing for a return to Iraqin late 2007.

On December 19, 2007, the 4ID again assumed command of Multi-National Division – Baghdad with a fifteen month mission to exploit the gains made during the “surge” in 2007. The mission was defined as clear, control, retain, and transition. In a Christmas letter, MG Hammond explained the challenge for the next fifteen months as, “to continue to build upon the momentum built by Soldiers of Multi-National Division – Baghdad. To do this we must, first and foremost, in partnership with the Iraqi Security Forces, continue to protect the Iraqi people, aggressively hunt the enemy down, and build upon the partnerships with the Iraqi people, their security services and the local and provincial governments…”

On Easter Sunday, March 23, 2008, all hell broke loose in Baghdad. After experiencing attack rates which had been reduced by 63% between September 2007 and February 2008, the attacks during the last few days of March brought the attack level back up to what had been experienced when the surge was still taking hold in the fall of 2007. Mortar and rocket attacks, launched primarily from Sadr City, rained down on the International Zone. IED, small arms, and indirect fire attacks were launched against MND-B and Iraqi Security Forces bases, convoys, and patrols at a level which had not been seen since early in 2007. Through April into mid May, MND-B forces built a wall separating the southern portion of Sadr City from the volatile northern section and systematically cleaned out the aggressor forces, bringing a new level of calm to the entire city of Baghdad by early summer as the uprising of the JAM militia was stopped.

Through the summer, fall and winter, work continued to transition the lead from Coalition to Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and the 4ID and MND-B prepared to turn over the lead to the ISF on 1 January 2009. That was accomplished on schedule with the ISF taking lead as the New Year came in. On 31 January 2009, successful provincial elections were conducted, without a significant enemy attack on election day. A few weeks later, the 4ID once again returned to FortHood, ending their third deployment to Iraq since 2003.  

In the three deployments to Iraq, 84 4ID/Task Force Ironhorse Soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice in 2003-2004, 235 4ID/Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers lost their lives in 2005-2006, and 113 4ID/Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers were killed in 2007-2009.

July 2009 MG David Perkins took command to become the 56th Commanding General of the 4th Infantry Division. With this change of command, even more significant events happened as the 4ID completed 14 years calling Fort Hood, TX home and returned to Fort Carson, CO, where they had served from late 1970 through late 1995. Immediately, the division’s brigades started preparing for their next return to combat.

The 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team completed a year long tour in Afghanistan that began in May 2009; the 3rd Brigade Combat Team has completed a deployment to southern Iraq, as an Advise and Assist Brigade, which began in March 2010; 1st Brigade Combat Team deployed to Afghanistan in late summer 2010; and 4ID HQ and DSTB deployed in October to Iraq, for the fourth time. The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, which returned from Iraq late in 2009, returned to combat duty in 2011.

From early 2003 through 2011, the 4ID focused on Iraq and played a key role in the successful completion of that war, including the capture of Saddam Hussein. Since 2009 we have had Brigade elements deployed to Afghanistan and that effort continues today.

MG Joseph Anderson became Division Commander on November 16, 2011. Fort Carson is now the home base and as 2012 begins the 4ID is resetting, refitting, and training to deploy  as required to serve our nation for their next operation in the Global War on Terror.

Maj. Gen. Paul LaCamera, assumed command of the 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, on March 14, 2013.

Since January 2013, three 4ID BCTs have deployed to Kuwait as the Army’s Mid-East Ready Reaction Brigade. From July 2013 to July 2014, 4ID HQ was deployed to Afghanistan.

Sergeant's Clinton L. Romesha and Ty Michael Carter received the nation's highest military award for extraordinary gallantry and selfless actions during the Battle of Kamdesh at Combat Outpost Keating, Afghanistan, on Oct. 3, 2009. Both were assigned to Bravo Troop, 3-61 Cavalry, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

Maj. Gen. Ryan F. Gonsalves assumed command of 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson May 14, 2015.

A Medal of Honor was presented posthumously on June 2nd 2015 to the family of WWI soldier Sergeant William Shemin for his heroic actions in 1918 when he put his own life in grave peril rescuing his comrades. He was assigned to Company G, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment (4th Infantry Division), and the only 4ID WWI Soldier to be awarded the national highest medal.

A third Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan was presented to Capt. Florent A. Groberg during a White House ceremony, November 12, 2015 for action on August 8, 2012 while providing a personal security detail in the city of Asadabad.

Over the past several years, 4ID BCTs have deployed to Kuwait, Afghanistan, Poland and Eastern Europe. Slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic, 4ID adapted quickly and continued to train, deploy, and help provide medical aid, including vaccinations, as called on in several US cities. Joint exercises in the Pacific theater of operations have been added to 4ID’s responsibilities in 2021 and as we move into 2022.

As they have done since the Division's birth in December 1917, The 4th Infantry Division Soldiers are 'Steadfast and Loyal' and 'Fit for Any Test' – they remain, 'The Mighty Fourth Division – America’s Best'.

Division Honors

Campaign participation credit

World War I:

St. Mihiel
Champagne 1918
Lorraine 1918

World War II:

Northern France
Central Europe

Cold War:

1947 – 1991

Vietnam War:

Counteroffensive, Phase II
Counteroffensive, Phase II
Tet Counteroffensive
Counteroffensive, Phase IV
Counteroffensive, Phase V
Counteroffensive, Phase VI
Tet 69/Counteroffensive
Summer-Fall 1969
Winter-Spring 1970
Sanctuary Counteroffensive
Counteroffensive, Phase VII

Operation Iraqi Freedom:

Liberation of Iraq – 2003
Transition of Iraq – 2003 - 2004
Iraqi Governance – 2004 - 2007
National Resolution – 2005 - 2007
Iraqi Surge - 2007 - 2008
Iraqi Sovereignty – 2009 – 2010
Operation New Dawn – 2010 – 2011

Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan):

Consolidation II – 2006 – 2009
Consolidation III – 2009 – 2011
Transition I – 2011 – 2014

Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) Iraq:

June 2014 - TBD

Operation Freedom's Sentinel (Afghanistan):

2015 – 30 August 2021

Operation Atlantic Resolve (Poland):

2018 – TBD

Division Decorations

Presidential Unit Citation (Army) for PLEIKU PROVINCE (1st Brigade Only)
Presidential Unit Citation (Army) for DAK TO DISTRICT (1st Brigade Only)
Belgian Fourragere 1940
Cited in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army for action in BELGIUM
Cited in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army for action in the ARDENNES
Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm for VIETNAM 1966–1969
Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm for VIETNAM 1969– 1970
Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal, First Class for VIETNAM 1966–1969
Army Superior Unit Award (Selected Units) for Force XXI Test and Evaluation (1995–1996)
Valorous Unit Award (1st Brigade Combat Team & Supporting units) for Operation Red Dawn, Iraq – 2003