7th Armored Division celebrates ‘great legacy’
FORT BENNING, Ga., (Sept. 28, 2016) — The 7th Armored Division association spent their 70th and final reunion visiting Fort Benning Sept. 21-24.
On the third day of their farewell reunion, the World War II veterans and their family members attended Rangers in Action at Victory Pond, had lunch at the Benning Club and visited the Armor Restoration shop on Sand Hill.
“It was all nice,” said retired Sgt. William Boles, the current 7th Armored Division Association president, about spending time at Fort Benning. “I’ve seen (Rangers in Action) before, but it was nice to see it again.”
Boles first came to Fort Benning in 1940.
“It has changed quite a lot,” he said.
Boles enlisted in the Army when he was only 16 years old. He explained that when he joined the Army he thought he was as smart as a college professor.
“I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was,” Boles said. “(The Army) helped me a lot. I think sometimes what would I have done if I had not gone into service. The Army disciplined me.”
During WW II, Boles fought in France and moved through the European theater.
“I got over my know-it-all attitude pretty quick,” Boles said, “I’ve seen a lot of the world now.”
Col. David Davidson, deputy commandant of the Armor School, presented the WW II veterans of the 7th Armored Division with a book about the armored division and a compilation of vignettes about the battles the 7th Armored Division fought in.
“I understand this is your last reunion,” Davidson said to the 7th Armored Division. “It saddens us because it is a great legacy that your organization brings and that all of you embody.”
Davidson explained that what the 7th Armored Division accomplished during WW II was no small feat.
“You fought your way across Europe and liberated a continent and won a world war in that unit,” said Davidson. “We can never adequately thank you for what you did.”
The 7th Armored Division trained in Louisiana, California and Fort Benning, and then boarded the Queen Mary in New York. They sailed to Europe on D-Day and trained at Tidworth Barracks in England before deploying to France two months after D-Day.
The 7th Armored Division fought through France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark. Fifty-four men died during training and 1,365 men died in combat.
“Your legacy is what we stand on,” Davidson said. “The exploits and what you did and what you accomplished is what we stand on and we are here because of the legacy that you provided.”