Fort Stewart Community
24th Infantry Division Finds Home at Fort Stewart
In October 1974, Headquarters, 1st Brigade of the 24th Infantry Division was activated at Fort Stewart. This historic unit, which had seen active and arduous service in the Pacific during World War II and the Korean War, had been inactive since 1970. The 24th Infantry Division, or “Victory” Division, as it was known, would make Fort Stewart uniquely its own.
With the reactivation of the 24th Infantry Division, the post entered a new phase in its history. Facilities were upgraded and new permanent structures replaced many of the old wooden buildings from the days of Camp Stewart. On Oct. 1, 1980, the 24th Infantry Division was designated a mechanized division and assigned as the heavy infantry division of the newly organized Rapid Deployment Force. This designation was the fruition of that potential first realized by those who served at the post during the Cuban missile crisis. The 24th Infantry Division began intensive training over the expanse of piney woods and lowlands of the post and conducted live-fire exercises on many of the old Camp Stewart anti-aircraft ranges.
Additional deployment training and exercises took division units from the Georgia woodlands to the National Training Center in California, as well as to other areas of the world such as Egypt and Turkey. Their training was continuous. The mission of the Rapid Deployment Force was to be prepared to deploy to practically any point on the globe at a moment’s notice to deal with whatever threat might be discerned.
In August 1990, Iraq invaded and overran neighboring Kuwait and threatened to do the same to Saudi Arabia. The Savannah port worked around the clock to load and ship the division’s heavy equipment while aircraft shuttles from Hunter Field flew the division’s personnel to Saudi Arabia. Within a month, the entire division had been reassembled in Saudi Arabia to face the possible invasion of that country by Iraqi forces. Fort Stewart saw a growing influx of National Guard and reserve units that were being mobilized to support the operations in Saudi Arabia and to assume the tasks at the post, which had formerly been accomplished by division personnel.
In many ways, Fort Stewart appeared to be almost a ghost town, as never before had the entire division been deployed from the post at one time. Within eight months, the crisis in the Persian Gulf had concluded and the 24th Infantry Division triumphantly returned to its home in coastal Georgia. On April 25, 1996, the 3rd Infantry Division was activated at Fort Stewart. This began a new chapter in the history of Fort Stewart.