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1st Medical Brigade History
The mission of the 1st Medical Brigade “Silver Knights” is to provide command and control, administrative assistance, and technical supervision of assigned and attached medical units, while providing combat health support to supported forces. Be ready to deploy medical support packages on short notice.
The 1st Medical Brigade is the oldest color-bearing medical unit and most diverse Medical Brigade in the United States Army today. It provides command and control to over 3,000 Soldiers located throughout six installations and at various deployment areas and is the largest, most diverse Medical Brigade in the Army. This deployable Brigade, under III Corps, supports the Soldiers and their Families. 1st Medical Brigade is currently serves command and control of four Combat Support Hospitals (CSH) and one Multifunctional Medical Battalion (MMB) stationed on five installations.
The 1st Medical Brigade was first organized in France in 1917 as the 1st Sanitary Train from units which had been deployed along the Mexican border. It was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, the first American unit committed to offensive Operations in World War I. The unit's organization day commemorates the Battle of Cantigny on 28 May 1918. During World War I, the unit evacuated and treated over 20,000 casualties, to include the first Americans wounded in action, the first wounded Germans captured by the Americans, and the first casualties resulting from a German gas attack against American troops. Conditions in France were rough, and medics of the 1st Sanitary Train often had to carry litter patients over 1,000 meters through trenches filled knee-deep with mud and water.
In 1919, the 1st Sanitary Train returned to the United States, and in 1921 was reorganized as the 1st Medical Regiment and stationed at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania where it served as the demonstration unit for the Medical Field Service School. In 1937, elements of the Regiment deployed to Kentucky, in support of disaster relief following a devastating flood. In 1939, the Regiment provided medical support for participants in the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.
In 1943, the Regimental headquarters was redesignated as the 1st Medical Group. In 1944, the Group entered the European Theater of Operations where it provided medical support to the Ninth U.S. Army. In 1945, following redeployment, the Group was inactivated at Fort Benning, Georgia.
In 1950, the Group was reactivated in Frankfurt, Germany and provided hospitalization, evacuation, dental, and veterinary services to allied personnel. In 1954, the group moved to Verdun, France, and was again inactivated in 1962.
In 1968, the Group’s latest activation occurred at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where it was attached to the Medical Field Service School with the mission of training newly activated medical units prior to deployment to the Republic of Vietnam. In 1975, the Group deployed to Guam to support Operation New Life, a large scale support project for Southeast Asian refugees.
In 1977, the Group moved to Fort Hood, Texas, where it has been proudly serving III Corps as the largest Medical Brigade in the Army.
In October of 1990, the HHD, 1st Medical Group deployed to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation DESERT SHIELD AND DESERT STORM. The 1st Medical Group was successful in their mission and dedicated to the service and support provided.
On 6 June 2000, the 1st Medical Group was redesignated the 1st Medical Brigade and was given Operational control over 9 separate units in 4 different states. Three of these were located at Fort Hood while the remaining units were located at Fort Carson, Colorado; Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Riley, Kansas; and Fort Polk Louisiana. The 1st Medical Brigade also supported the Darnell Army Community Hospital and was the chief proponent for sponsoring the Expert Field Medical Badge competition at Fort Hood.
In March of 2003, the 1st Medical Brigade, commanded by COL Charles (Chuck) Hightower and CSM Jefforn Butler, deployed to Kuwait and then onward to Tikrit, Iraq in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF). The brigade included more than 4,500 soldiers providing combat medical care in four combat support hospitals, three medical battalions, seven separate line companies and nearly 20 specialized detachments spread out from the south of Baghdad to Mosul, an area roughly equivalent to the state of Texas. The Brigade redeployed in September of 2003.
On 7 November 2005 the 1st Medical Brigade, under the command of COL James Rice and CSM Kevin Stuart, again deployed to Kuwait in support of OIF and redeployed on 4 October 2006.
On June 29, 2009 the 1st Medical Brigade conducted a transfer of authority ceremony at the Al Faw Palace, Camp Victory, Iraq in support of OIF and Operation NEW DAWN. The brigade, under the command of COL Robert Tenhet and CSM Kevin Stuart, transferred authority from the 44th Medical Command, Fort Bragg, N.C. They were the medical brigade, task force headquarters for Multi- National Corps – Iraq, which became U.S. Forces – Iraq at the beginning of 2010. The brigade provided command and control and directed health service-support Operations in theater. Over 12 months it provided all non-BCT level I, II, and III medical care level to all coalition forces. In addition, the unit will continue to enhance partnerships with Iraqi health care professionals throughout the Iraq Theater of Operations, in order to facilitate long-term sustainable Iraqi medical care delivery. During their tour of duty, the Silver Knights operated at the Victory Base Complex surrounding the Baghdad International Airport. The Silver Knights accounted for a 98 percent survival rate of trauma casualties that was aided by 85 percent of trauma patients being medically evacuated by air for surgery within one hour – which is known as the ‘Golden Hour.’ The brigade also conducted more than 1,200 general and orthopedic surgeries and admitted more than 2,470 patients to level-three medical treatment facilities. The 1st Medical Brigade returned to Fort Hood in May 2010.
In September of 2010 the 1st Medical Brigade was released from the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and doctrinally assigned directly to the III (US) Corps, Fort Hood as a Separate Brigade.
The 1st Medical Brigade unfurled its colors during a transfer of authority ceremony on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan on February 25, 2012. The brigade, under the command of COL Bruce W. McVeigh and CSM Michael J. Mullaney, transferred authority from the 44th Medical Brigade, Fort Bragg, N.C. During its nine-month deployment as Task Force 1st Medical - Afghanistan (TF MED-A) in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF) the brigade provided command and control and directed health service-support Operations to the Combined Joint Area of Operations – Afghanistan (CJOA-A). It reported 113,126 DNBIs, saw 73,449 patients that filled 17,796 beds; conducted 8,244 surgeries with 23,895 units of blood administered; evacuated 2,794 out of theater and over 5,000 intra-theater MEDEVACs; conducted 1,568 Tele-behavioral Health (TBH) encounters, 14,894 Behavioral Health (BH) evaluations with 1,285 admissions to concussion care centers, and a 97% return to duty rate; filled over 156,000 prescriptions; examined 5,607 military and contract working dogs; inspected over $540M of food supplies; conducted over 11,000 dental visits with 38,875 dental procedures; and finally, conducted 351 Environmental Occupational Health Site Assessments (OEHSA) resulting in the first time in nearly 12 years that 100% of all sites were completed. Several other highlights include: Development of the blood on aircraft program; Stand-up of a flex FST concept and Conventional Resuscitative Surgical Team (CRST) to better support combatant commanders in an increasingly expeditionary conflict; Theater TBH; And retrograding nearly $35M of medical and non-medical equipment. The completion of this deployment has been a landmark event in the history of the “Silver Knights”. It marked the unit’s fourth deployment in nine years of supporting combat operations and it’s first in support of OEF. The Headquarters redeployed on 4 November 2012.
Since the beginning of the Global War on Terror not a day has passed where a Soldier from the 1st Medical Brigade was not in harm’s way. The Brigade maintains one of the highest operational tempos for deployment and redeployment in the Army. The Brigade, while supporting operations in Afghanistan, simultaneously remains ready for missions stateside.