I haven’t heard anyone sing the 7th Infantry Division song yet, but Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s newest command is starting to flesh out its place in the Puget Sound military community.
The newly reactivated 7th Infantry Division took leading roles in recent weeks at memorials to fallen soldiers and the deployment ceremony for the Afghanistan-bound 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. Those troops now belong to the 7th ID.
These gestures reveal that the 7th ID will be as integral to Lewis-McChord as units like the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C.
At Fort Bragg, the 82nd often is the dominant voice on soldier issues in its community even with higher-ranking outfits such as the XVIII Airborne Corps and U.S. Army Forces Command on its post.
The 82nd is the two-star command in charge of thousands of soldiers in a storied division. It speaks to training, combat and health for the soldiers in its charge. The higher commands at Bragg have their eyes on different missions beyond the post.
The 7th ID will fill a similar role in the South Sound, taking direct control of what I Corps commander Lt. Gen. Robert Brown calls the Army’s first “Stryker division” at Lewis-McChord.
Senior officers from the I Corps, the top Army command at Lewis-McChord, did not speak at either a memorial to three fallen Stryker soldiers this month or the 4th Brigade’s deployment ceremony.
Until the 7th ID opened shop Oct. 10, the I Corps oversaw ceremonies such as those. It’s now deferring to the two-star general in charge of the 7th ID, Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza.
As it stands, the 7th ID has a few qualities that would keep it at a lower profile than other famous Army divisions, such as the 82nd or the 101st Airborne Division in Kentucky.
For starters, the three Stryker brigades under the 7th ID technically are part of the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea even though they do not report to the 2nd. The 7th ID also is a non-deployable unit, meaning it won’t take on high-profile missions such as the 82nd Airborne’s recent assignment running the war in southern Afghanistan.
But the 7th ID will become a familiar name in the local military community. It’s now the post in charge of about 18,000 soldiers in Lewis-McChord’s often deployed Stryker, artillery and aviation brigades. This month’s public ceremonies on base show that the buck will stop with Lanza on questions of their readiness, performance and health.
Here’s Lanza from his division reactivation ceremony earlier this month:
“The people demand an expert, professional, disciplined and ready force. Under the watchful eye of their noncommissioned officer leadership, these soldiers have met these demands in the most austere environments. And to those that we ask much, we owe much. As leaders of the 7th Infantry Division, we must provide clear guidance, the tools and resources necessary for our soldiers to execute their tasks and a high degree of care that is befitting our dedicated warriors.”
And here are the lyrics to that 7th ID song in case it catches you by surprise at an Army event. So far, it’s tune hasn’t caught on.
Hold your bayonets high
For freedom’s light will never die
Shout for victory and
Sing a song that men are from
I am the bayonet
Place your trust in me
Hold your bayonets high
So freedom’s light will never die