History of the 78th “Lightning Division”

The 78th Infantry Division was activated on August 23, 1917 at Camp Dix, New Jersey. It consisted of four Infantry Regiments – the 309th, 310th, 311th and 312th and three Artillery Regiments – the 307th, 308th and 309th. Twenty thousand soldiers made up the original division.

In France, during the summer and fall of 1918, it was the “point of the wedge” of the final offensive which knocked out Germany. The 78th was in three major campaigns during World War I – Meuse-Argonne, St. Mihiel, and Lorraine. Demobilization at the end of World War I took place in June 1919.

In World War II, the 78th Division was reactivated at Camp Butner, North Carolina on August 15, 1942. After two years as a Training Division, the 78th embarked for the European Theatre. There, in combat in Belgium, France and Germany our men brought even more honor to an already proud name. The Siegfried Line, the Roer and Rhine rivers, the Cologne plain, the Remagen bridgehead, the Ruhr pocket – all lay along the road to Berlin, where after six months of occupation duty, the Division was officially deactivated in May of 1946.

The World War II Honor Roll lists: One Medal of Honor Winner: Nine Distinguished Services Crosses; 599 Silver Star Medals; 3,909 Bronze Star Medals and 5,454 Purple Hearts. 1,368 Officers and Enlisted men paid the supreme sacrifice.

In November 1946, the 78th Infantry Division was reactivated at Newark, New Jersey and in May 1959 it was reorganized as a Training Division.

The 78th Division again responded to the nation’s call in 1990 and 1991 during Desert Shield/Desert Storm when the Lightnings 920th Transportation Company (Medium, Petroleum) was deployed to Southwest Asia and provided vital fuel for the Thunder of Desert Storm troops and machines in their victorious campaign. The 1018th Reception Battalion, the 2nd Brigade OSUT Headquarters, and the 1st and 3rd Battalion of the 310th Regiment as well as the 1st Brigade 3rd Battalion, 309th Regiment with a composite detachment from the 78th Training Support Brigade, provided assistance in necessary Training Base Expansion at Fort Dix. The 348th MP Detachment conducted protective service missions for key national leaders throughout the world during the mobilization period. Coupled with the 78th’s many individual fillers and volunteers for other mobilized units, the 78th Division proud tradition of service was once again illustrated.

In 1992, the Division transformed into an Exercise Division under the Army’s “Bold Shift” initiative. The new mission is to conduct small unit collective training (Lanes) and computerized battle simulation exercises for client units in the First Army East area.

One of five Exercise Divisions in the United States, the 78th Division is headquartered at Edison, New Jersey with subordinate units located in New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York.

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