40th Infantry (MECH) Division History

The Fighting Fortieth, The Sunburst Division


The 40th was organized at Camp Kearney, near San Diego, California, September 16, 1917.

The 40th was originally composed of National Guard organizations of the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.

What was the composition of the "SUNBURST" Division? It was the bone and sinew of the Great West, full of boldness, replete with a spirit of initiative and practicality. Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah! Each of these states, in territory about two-thirds the size of France, is set aloft on the great Rocky Mountain Plateau that tops the American Continent, or borders the broad pacific. These men of the 40th Division partook of the character of the country from which they came. They were of unsurpassed physique, hardy and enduring. They came from the ranches and the mines, from forests and the factory, from the vineyards and the marts of commerce. Every practical handicraft, every business, every learned profession was represented, and an analysis of its personnel would show the Division to contain all elements that to make up our highly intricate, modern civilization. And it is well that it is so, because modern warfare is simply the application of all means and force of civilization, in conflict of nations between nations.

Today, the 40th Division stands proud and continues to support our country with overseas deployment and in homeland defense with Operation Noble Eagle.


World War I

Activated: 18 July 1917 (National Guard Division from California, Nevada, and Utah). Overseas: 3 August 1918 and re-designated the 6th Depot Division; received, equipped, trained, and forwarded replacements. Commanders: Maj. Gen. F. S. Strong (25 August 1917), Brig. Gen. G. H. Cameron (18 September 1917), Brig. Gen. L. S. Lyon (19 November 1917), Brig. Gen. G. H. Cameron (23 November 1917), Brig. Gen. L. S. Lyon (6 December 1917), Maj. Gen. F. S. Strong (8 December 1917). Returned to U. S.: 30 June 1919.

World War II

Activated: 3 March 1941 (National Guard Division from California and Utah). Overseas: 23 August 1942. Campaigns: Bismarck Archipelago, Southern Philippines, Luzon. Distinguished Unit Citations: 3. Awards: MH-1 ; DSC-12 ; DSM-1 ; SS-245; LM-21; SM-30 ; BSM-1,036 ; AM-57. Commanders: Maj. Gen. Walter P. Story (March-September 1941), Maj. Gen. Ernest J. Dawley (September 1941-April 1942), Maj. Gen. Rapp Brush (April 1942-July 1945), Brig. Gen. Donald J. Myers (July 1945 to inactivation). Returned to U. S.: 7 April 1946. Inactivated: 7 April 1946 (See National Guard).

Combat Chronicle

The 40th Infantry Division's first oversea assignment was the defense of outer islands of Hawaii, where it arrived in September 1942. Training continued as defensive positions were improved and maintained. In July 1943 the Division was concentrated on Oahu, and relieved the 24th of the defense of the North Sector. Relieved of the North Sector in October 1943, the 40th entered upon a period of intensive amphibious and jungle training. On 20 December 1943, the first units left for Guadalcanal, and by mid-January 1944, movement was completed, and the Division prepared for its first combat assignment. On 24 April 1944, it left Guadalcanal for New Britain. The Regiments of the Division took positions at Talasea on the northern side of the island, at Arawe on the southern side, and at Gape Gloucester near the western end. Neutralization of the enemy was effected by patrols. No major battle was fought. Heavy rain and mud were constant problems. The 40th was relieved of missions on New Britain, 27 November, and began training for the Luzon landing. Sailing from Borgen Bay, 9 December 1944, the Division made an assault landing at Lingayen, Luzon, under command of XIV Corps, on 9 January 1945. Seizing Lingayen airfield, the Division occupied Bolinao Peninsula and San Miguel, and advanced toward Manila, running into heavy fighting in the Fort Stotsenburg area and the Bambam Hills. Snake Hill and Storm King Mountain were taken in February and the 40th was relieved, 2 March. Leaving Luzon, 15 March, 1945, to cut behind the Japanese, the Division landed on Panay Island on the 18th and knocked out Japanese resistance within 10 days, seizing airfields at Santa Barbara and Mandurriao. On 29 March, it landed at Pulupandan, Negros, advanced through Bacolod toward Talisay, which it secured by 2 April 1945. After mopping up on Negros Island, the Division returned to Panay in June and July 1945. In September 1945, the Division moved to Korea for occupation duty.


North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950. In September of that year, the 40th Infantry Division was mobilized and moved to Camp Cooke, California. After some initial training and reception of fillers, the division was shipped to Japan the following spring for advanced training. The division was committed across the Sea of Japan, landing at Inchon to relieve the 24th Infantry Division in January and February of 1952. The division saw much combat, particularly aggressive patrolling and night combat. Place names etched in veteran’s memories include the Kumhwa-Kumsong sector, Chorwon, the Punchbowl, Heartbreak Ridge, and Sandbag Castle. The 40th Infantry Division (US) was relieved from active Federal service on June 30, 1954, and reverted to state control. The next day the division was reorganized and re-designated the 40th Armored Division.

During its tour in Korea, division soldiers received many thousands of awards and decorations. The three soldiers awarded the Medal of Honor were Sergeant David B. Bleak, Medical Company 223rd Infantry; Corporal Gilbert G. Collier, Company F, 223rd Infantry (posthumous award); and Corporal Clifton T. Speicher, Company F, 223rd Infantry (posthumous award).


Our members of Battery F 144 (TA) Field Artillery made 40th Infantry Division history by being the first National Guard unit to deploy since the Vietnam War.

In Nov 1997 Battery F represented the state of California in Bosnia. During this deployment Battery F conducted Fire Finder Radar Operations, convoys and base security all with little to no armor, with the extremely high threat of mine strikes or ambushes. Most drivers exceeded 13,000 miles during the seven months in country. The dedication and professionalism of Battery F showed our active duty counterparts that the National Guard is able to contend and in cases exceed their own.

In November 2000, again, Battery F was called to duty for its expertise in the Kosovo region. Upon completion of this tour Battery F again showed the active duty that the California Guard is an essential asset.

During preparation for Afghanistan the Battery F legacy has left its mark in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The standards of this unit have raised the requirements for all future units mobilizing through Fort Sill. Upon arrival to Afghanistan Radar Operations virtually unknown and uncared for quickly became a very important resource. Battery F soldiers are a leading factor in the Base Defense Operations.

The 40th Infantry Division (Mech) is proud to have deployed our soldiers from F Battery to represent California and set the bar high in all three operations.


Nickname: Sunshine Division. Shoulder patch: A dark blue diamond on which, in yellow, is the sun with 12 rays; the patch is worn diagonally. Association: 40th Infantry Division Association, California National Guard, 700 Exposition Boulevard, Los Angeles 37, Calif. Publication: History 40th Infantry Division; by unit members; Army & Navy Publishing Co., Baton Rouge 1, La., 1947.

[Nota Bene: These combat chronicles, current as of October 1948, are reproduced from The Army Almanac: A Book of Facts Concerning the Army of the United States, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1950, pp. 510-592.]


The semi-sunburst was suggested as the unit's shoulder sleeve insignia, and represents the Division's home of Southern California. The demi fluer-de-lis symbolizes service in France during World War I. The outer rim of the sun rays refers to the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation award. The red arrowhead alludes to firepower of the Division and represents their assault landing at Luzon in World War II. The Torri gate. A symbol of the Far East, refers to the award of the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.


Approved by the Commanding General of the American Expeditionary Force November 1918, amended 17 March 1931.

On a blue square, 2 1/2 inches on a side: Yellow sun in splendor

The disk 13/16 inches in diameter

Twelve rays within a circle 1 7/8 inches in diameter

The square to be worn point up.

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