Imagine the Coastal Empire without Fort Stewart. Camp Stewart helped train the troops for World War II, but nearly shut down 30 years ago. Enter the 24th Infantry Division and a commanding general who helped put both on the map.
At one time, Fort Stewart was said to be one of the worst Army bases around. The hospital was run down and living conditions were horrible, but that all soon changed.
"Most of the people that had lived there at Fort Stewart and in Hinesville, I should say, and surrounding towns were very suspect whether the Army was really going to stay there when the announcement was made that the 24th would be reactivated at Fort Stewart," said Lt. Gen. Donald Rosenblum (ret.).
Taking command at Fort Stewart 30 years ago, Lt. Gen. Rosenblum was faced with taking on 14,000 troops with no barracks and whole host of other problems. He managed to take an ill-equipped base, turn it around and turn out some of our country's finest soldiers.
"I told them you're the toughest division of the whole US Army, you have the worst living conditions, but you're the toughest and these guys believed me and it was a great division," Rosenblum told us. "We had the best reenlistment rate if you can believe that."
With a high reenlistment rate during a time when people were drafted into the Army, and with the mindset that Fort Stewart could be home to the Army's toughest division, the fate of the base did an about face and eventually became the home of the Third ID.
"We built the post, the Army believed that it was a great post. It was a great place to have a division and I still believe that they do."
The 24th ID deactivated when the The Third came to Fort Stewart from Germany in the mid '90s.