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7th ID celebrates birthday

Week of centennial events kicks off with party in DuPont

Photo credit: 7th ID

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Wednesday, Dec. 6, the 7th Infantry Division of Joint Base Lewis-McChord celebrated its 100th birthday. After being founded in 1917, the division was reformatted and moved multiple times, eventually landing at JBLM.

The centennial celebration was put on by a volunteer, retired Maj. Gen. John Hemphill, along with sponsors America's Credit Union and the 7th Infantry Division Association. It took place on the division's actual birth date. The headquarters' celebration will be held Dec. 15.

Hemphill said there were 87 guests in attendance at McNamara's Pub and Eatery in DuPont, with drinks, dinner and speaking events for guests and presenters alike. The party was held from 4-6 p.m. and allowed those in attendance to celebrate and recognize the division's past 100 years of service, Hemphill said.

The festivities included a birthday cake that was jointly cut by association president Bill Kelly and the Texas association quartermaster, Dan McPharlan. In addition, Kelly spoke at the event, along with Col. Otto Liller, the deputy commander of the 7th ID.

The history of the division was an important part of the birthday party, Hemphill said. Speakers told various war tales, historic events and more, all honoring the 7th and its dedication to the United States.

The 7th ID was founded in Camp Wheeler, now located in Georgia, eight months after the start of World War I. At this time it sat under the Regular Army, from where the 7th ID would move from army to army.

Just one month later, its troops deployed to Europe to battle on back lines. The division then joined the Second Army in 1918 and was returned home in 1919. Two years later, in 1921, the division was inactivated from Camp Meade, Maryland, where it was downsized and disassembled. They were reactivated in Camp Ord, California, in 1940. The 7th ID played large roles in World War II, serving in Japan, and later, fighting in the Korean War.

After the Korean War's end, the division remained on the demilitarize zone (DMZ) in South Korea until it returned to Fort Lewis in 1971 where it was deactivated. Three years later, however, the 7th was reactivated in October 1974 at Fort Ord, California.

This history is an important part of the Army, Hemphill said, adding the necessity to share and celebrate what's been accomplished. Especially on the historic day of Dec. 6. In fact, he cited these reasons for planning and scheduling the event, as well as rounding up others to help sponsor and donate to the cause.

The 7th ID played likely its largest role in the Korean War, where Hemphill, a self-proclaimed "professional soldier," served his first years with the division. After joining ROTC in high school, he went on to have a 34-year career, retiring as a major general out of Fort Lewis. He has since worked as a volunteer to raise funds for statues in the JBLM area, among other Army-based activities.

Further celebrations for the 7th ID's centennial will be held by the division beginning Dec. 15. Visit to see a schedule. 

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