25th ID wraps up Tropic Lightning Week with Division Review

| October 5, 2017 | 0 Comments

The oldest 25th ID veteran at the event, retired Master Sgt. Charles Arresta (center), and guest of honor for the event, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Leonard Letoto (right), troop the line during the 25th ID review ceremony. This year, the 25th ID celebrated its 76th birthday with a week of sports activities and observances, wrapping up the week with the division review at Weyand Field, Schofield Barracks, Oct. 5. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Tramel Garrett)

Staff Sgt. Keith Anderson
25th Infantry Division
Public Affairs

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Soldiers, veterans, families and community members wrapped up a week of events celebrating the 76th birthday of the “Tropic Lightning” division with a division review, Oct. 5, at Weyand Field.

The 76th birthday of the 25th Infantry Division, known as the “Tropic Lightning” division, commemorates the formation of the division Oct. 1, 1941, in Hawaii, and remembers the 63nd anniversary of the division’s return to Hawaii from the Korean Peninsula after 12 years of combat.

“Each year this event, Tropic Lightning Week, allows us to take a step back and celebrate the history of this storied division and its place in Hawaiian and U.S. Army history,” said Maj. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, commanding general, 25th ID.

“This division was born right here, on the 1st of October, 1941, and of the 10 divisions in the active duty Army, this is the only one that still lives where it was born,” said Cavoli. “This division is part of Hawaii, and this division will always be part of Hawaii.”

This year the 25th ID celebrated its 76th birthday with a week of sports activities and observances, wrapping up the week with a division review at Weyand Field, Schofield Barracks, Oct. 5, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Leonard Letoto, who served with the 27th Inf. Regiment, “Wolfhounds,” 25th ID, was the guest of honor. The 89-year-old father of 10 children, grandfather of 22 grandchildren, and great grandfather of eight great grandchildren, spoke with leaders before the Division Review about his love of his family, his native Hawaii and his love of the Wolfhounds.

“I haven’t been in a unit that impressed me like the Wolfhounds,” said Letoto. “None. You hear the cry ‘Ye Wolfhound.’ Well, they went into battle yelling ‘Ye Wolfhound.’ Crazy guys, but good Soldiers.”

In 1961, Letoto was one of five Tropic Lightning NCOs selected to go to Vietnam to serve as advisers to the Vietnamese Army. In January 1966, while serving as the first sergeant of Company A, 1st Battalion, 27th Inf. Regt., he deployed his company from Schofield Barracks to the Republic of Vietnam where he led his company through combat operations in the division’s area of operations around Cu Chi.

“My men were all trained when they went over there. They knew what the VC (Viet Cong) were going to do; they knew the tactics, because they learned it over here,” said Letoto. “When they tell me that we lost the war in Vietnam, I say no we didn’t lose the war; our people back home made us leave the place.”

The guest speaker for the division review, retired Gen. David A. Bramlett, former deputy commander in chief and chief of staff, U.S. Pacific Command, thanked the Tropic Lightning Soldiers on the field and those attending the Division Review for their service during a unique time.

“You are part, right now, of 183,000 Soldiers that are deployed in 140 countries, and you, in the 25th ID, have been, and will remain, a major part of that commitment,” said Bramlett. “You in the division serve in a unique period in our nation’s history. No other time in our history have those in uniform faced the demands you do. You see, in our history we’ve had total war, we’ve had limited war, we’ve had near wars, we have had small wars – we’ve never, until now, had continuous war. It’s a tremendous demand on this division and your buddies in other units.”

Bramlett took a moment to address the families of the 25th Infantry Division.

“Your families bear an extraordinary burden during this time,” said Bramlett. “Maintaining a household, while facing the uncertainties and challenges of extended absences because of training and the emotional trauma of combat deployments. This country owes your family, the families here and those they represent, a debt for that service. Most of our country has no idea what your families endure, but our country is blessed that you do, and we thank them.”

Jack Wiers, narrator for the event, read off the division history to attendees as Maj. Gen. Cavoli, retired Gen. Bramlett, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Letoto and the oldest 25th ID veteran, retired Master Sgt. Charles Arresta, and other dignitaries reviewed the formation of troops from Humvees.

Arresta served in the Wolfhounds during the occupation of Japan, and was there at the start of the relationship between the Wolfhounds and the Holy Family Home in 1949. He subsequently moved with the division to Korea in 1950, and fought with the 27th Regt. throughout the first years of the conflict.

“The 25th Inf. Div. has represented America throughout the world,” said Wiers. “From its birth, only weeks before Pearl Harbor, to its latest chapters in Iraq and Afghanistan, Tropic Lightning has fought and defeated the enemies of freedom and democracy. The enemies have changed through our history, but the result was always the same – victory for Tropic Lightning.”

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