Activated in Hawaii back in 1941, the 25th infantry Division is known as Tropic Lightning. Their primary operations are within the Pacific and Asia region.
In today’s post, I am going to tell you about the various campaigns the 25th Infantry Division has been a part of and I will also tell you the decorations this division has attained.
World War II
In mid 1943, the 25th moved on to the Solomon Islands and New Georgia. They captured Vella Lavella. By the end of September, they had control of New Georgia and had also cleared Arundel Island.
The 25th then went to New Caledonia for added training for upcoming missions.
The training made this division live up to their name. The 25th was like lightning as they landed in the area of Luzon, Philippines. The 25th battled the Japanese through the plains and rice paddies. They then went into the mountains and battled fiercely. They captured many important points and afterwards, they spent occupation duty in Japan for 5 years.
Medal of Honor Awardees
Following are soldiers who were awarded the Medal of Honor during these campaigns:
- Sergeant William Fournier
- Tech 5 Lewis Hall
- Captain Charles Davis
- Tech 4 Laverne Parrish
- Sergeant Major Charles McGaha
- Staff Sergeant Raymond Cooley
Tropic Lightning also has this from World War II:
- The Philippine Presidential Unit Citation
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- Infantryman’s Creed: What You Should Know
- Army 11 MOS: Infantry Soldiers
- The 25th Infantry Division: 25 Cool Facts
- Somalia, We Are Back!
Tropic Lightning was a major “player” in Korea. They were one of the first divisions transferred to Korea when the North crossed the 38th Parallel. Their first mission which was successful was blocking any entrances to Pusan.
In October of 1950, the 25th broke out of Pusan and drove into North Korea. But Chinese forces pushed back. It was give and take until settling south of Osan.
In January of 1951, the 25th launched a new mission and by February, they had captured Kimpo Air Base and Inchon.
The 25th was instrumental in the creation of the Iron Triangle with Operations:
- and Piledriver
Last but not least, Tropic Lightning defended Seoul from a heavy Chinese attack and the 25th was one of the most decorated divisions during the Korean War.
Medal of Honor Awardees
- PFC William Thompson
- Sergeant William Jecelin
- Corporal John Collier
- Captain Reginald Desiderio
- Captain Lewis Millett
- Sergeant First Class Donald Moyer
- Sergeant Cornelius Charlton
- Private Billie Kanell
- 2nd Lieutenant Jerome Sudut
- Private Bryant Womack
- Corporal Benito Martinez
- Sergeant Donn Porter
- Private Ernest West
- Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for Masan – Chinju
- Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for Musan – Ni
It is difficult to remember as there were many Tropic Lightning soldiers who died in the jungles of Vietnam.
These soldiers fought bravely all throughout the Vietnam War and they participated in these campaigns:
- Counteroffensive, Phase II;
- Counteroffensive, Phase III;
- 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
Through all of this, there were many Medals of Honor.
Medal of Honor Awardees
- Specialist 4 Daniel Fernandez
- 1st Lieutenant Ronald Ray
- PFC John Baker
- Captain Robert Foley
- Captain Joseph Grant
- Sergeant Ted Belcher
- 1st Sergeant Maximo Yabes
- 1st Lieutenant Stephen Karopczyc
- 1st Lieutenant Ruppert Sargent
- Specialist 4 Kenneth Stumpf
- Sergeant Charles Fleek
- Captain Riley Pitts
- Specialist 4 Nicholas Cutinha
- Staff Sergeant Paul Lambers
- Staff Sergeant Marvin Young
- 1st Lieutenant John Warren Jr.
- 1st Lieutenant Stephen Doane
- Staff Sergeant Hammett Bowen Jr.
- Specialist 4 Danny Petersen
- 1st Lieutenant Russell Steindam
- Staff Sergeant Robert Hartsock
The 25th had various decorations for their service in Vietnam. They were:
- Meritorious Unit Commendation
- 2 Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palms
- and Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal
The Middle East And War On Terror
Tropic Lightning has played some parts in the Middle East. Here are some facts:
- Very few participated in Operation Desert Storm as they were in defense positions in Korea.
- 4 platoons deployed for the Gulf War.
- Some units deployed to Afghanistan in 2004 for combat operations.
- Members of the 25th were tasked with hunting down Al Qaeda and Taliban members in the mountains of Afghanistan.
- Units deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
- The 3rd Brigade Team from the 25th took control of one of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan.
- And just recently, it has been determined that approximately 1,500 soldiers from the 25th were headed to Afghanistan.
- 2007 Meritorious Unit Commendation
- 2008 – 2009 Meritorious Unit Commendation
- 2010 – 2011 Meritorious Unit Commendation
Known for moving swift and sure just like a bolt of lightning, the 25th Infantry Division deserves their nickname Tropic Lightning.
We would love to hear from current or former Tropic Lightning soldiers… Please tell us a story of your time in the division.
Thank you for your service.
You can leave your comments and questions below and please share this on social media. Thanks..
About The Author
Greg Boudonck is a full time freelance writer and the author of over 50 books. He served in the United States Army in the early 1980’s and enjoys writing about military subjects. You can see Greg’s books on Amazon by searching his name and you can also visit his website at Lancerlife.com.