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About the Unit
Division History - Early Cavalry
On July 18, 1950, the 1st Cavalry Division plunged ashore at Pohangdong, South Korea to successfully carry out the first amphibious landing of the Korean conflict. The landing at Pohangdong helped halt the North Korean war machine at the Pusan perimeter. The division broke out of the perimeter in mid-September and started north. Crossing the 38th Parallel on October 9, 1950, the troopers of the 1st Cavalry Division crashed into Pyongyang, capturing the capital city of North Korea on October 19. This marked the third first for the division -- "First in Pyongyang."
The sudden intervention of Communist Chinese forces dashed hopes of a quick end to the war. First Team troopers fought courageously in the see-saw campaigns that followed, and successfully defended the city of Seoul.
By January 1952, the division, after 18 months of continuous fighting, rotated back to Hokkaido, Japan, returning to Korea in 1957 where they patrolled the Demilitarized Zone until 1965.
After six months of training in Australia, the division got its first taste of combat. On February 29, 1944 the men of the division sailed for the Admiralty Islands and stormed ashore in an amphibious landing at Los Negros Island. After a fierce campaign in which the enemy lost some 7,000 combat soldiers, the division could look with pride on its first combat test of World War II.
The next action for the Cav troops was on the Philippine Island of Leyte. The division fought tirelessly against the Japanese fortification. With the last of the strong-holds eliminated, the division moved on to Luzon, the main island of the Philippines.
One of the First Team's most noted feats was accomplished during the fighting for Luzon. On January 31, 1945, General Douglas MacArthur issued the order, "Go to Manila, free the prisoners at Santo Tomas, take Malacanan Palace and the legislative building."
The next day, the "flying column," as the element came to be known, jumped off to slice through 100 miles of Japanese territory. Hours later, the 1st Cav was in Manila and the prisoners were freed. The First Team was "First in Manila."
As the war came to a sudden end, MacArthur's First Team was given the honor of leading the Allied Occupational Army into Tokyo, achieving its second notable first -- "First in Tokyo."
In August 1990, the 1st Cav was alerted for deployment to Southwest Asia as part of the joint forces participating in Operation Desert Shield. The focus at that time was the defense of Saudi Arabia against potential Iraqi attack.
During August, the division trained on a massive scale, firing all weapons, preparing equipment and people for overseas movement, and planning surface, sea, and air movement. Actual deployment to Saudi Arabia began in September, extending into mid-October. Equipment was moved by convoy and rail to ports in Texas and then by ships to the port of Dammam, Saudi Arabia.
First Team soldiers flew from Robert Gray Army Airfield to Dhahran International Airport in Saudi Arabia. There, they settled into warehouses and tents to await the arrival of their equipment. As soon as their equipment had arrived they moved to an assembly area in the desert 160 miles west of the port.
During October, November and December 1990, the division drew new equipment, trained, and planned defensive operations. By the end of December, the 1st Cavalry Division was one of the most modern and powerfully equipped divisions in the Army. The division's tankers drew, trained on and fired the M1A1 Abrams "Main Battle Tank" armed with a 120 millimeter smooth bore gun and one of the most sophisticated automotive and fire control systems in the world.
First Team infantrymen received the newest version of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the up-armored M2A2 which like the new Abrams proved its worth in combat. Both vehicles were reliable, survivable and deadly during Desert Storm operations.
The first glimpse of that performance came in December 1990 on the division's Pegasus Range, a full gunnery training facility built up from the sands of the Saudi desert. Every tank and Bradley crew fired their new weapons on Pegasus range as part of new equipment transition training.
Throughout this period, the division's leaders were planning and rehearsing the First Team's role as the theater counterattack force - the force that would defeat any Iraqi attack into Saudi Arabia.
Before hostilities, the First Team gained valuable experience in combined operations through coordination with French, Egyptian and Syrian forces. With the First Team's 2nd Brigade and the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) under its tactical control, the 1st Cavalry Division conducted a complex light force/heavy force defense of critical theater logistics bases.
In January 1991, the division was attached to VII (US) Corps and the focus of the First Team clearly began to shift toward offensive action. The division moved early 500 kilometers to another assembly area near King Khalid Military City (KKMC) in northern Saudi Arabia.
This put the division in a key strategic location covering the historic Wadi al Batin approach into Saudi Arabia and threatening Iraq along the same avenue into western Kuwait.
The time spent near KKMC was short, and the division once again packed up its 17,000 soldiers now accustomed to "jumping." The division moved north toward the juncture of the Saudi, Iraq and Kuwait borders through a series of defensive positions designed to thwart any preemptive attack along the Wadi. First Team deterrence was successful - no attack came. Meanwhile, the air war began and other Allied ground forces began to reposition for the offense.
While other ground forces prepared for war, the First Team began a calculated war of deception along the Saudi border.
The goal was to lure Saddam Hussein into believing the Allied attack would come from this direction, and trick him into emplacing additional forces there. While the division's 8th Engineer Battalion improved positions and conducted "Berm Buster" missions to destroy Iraqi obstacles, the division's 1-7 Cav, screened well forward, clashing with Iraqi forces. The First Team began its secret fight to deceive Iraq long before the world would come to know that "ground-war fighting" had already begun.
The First Team's Multiple Launched Rocket Systems repeatedly lit the night sky, battering deep enemy targets, while its sister cannon batteries fired Copperhead rounds, rocket-assisted projectiles, and thousands of high explosive and improved conventional munitions into Iraq. The Aviation Brigade flew obstacle reduction and aerial reconnaissance missions and designated targets for destruction by the division's artillery.
The enemy responded. Iraqi divisions focused forces toward the coalition threat in the Wadi, and the First Team froze them. Hussein's flanks were left thinned, allowing the other Allied Forces to attack virtually unopposed. The deception had worked.
On February 20th, in Desert Storm's "First" major mounted ground engagement, the division's 2nd (Blackjack) Brigade attacked 10 miles into Iraq, confirming and destroying enemy positions. Success exacted its price. During this engagement, the Blackjack Brigade suffered the agony of the "First" three Army soldiers to be killed in action.
On the opening of the ground war, the Blackjack Brigade supported by the Aviation Brigade Apaches, moved into Iraq on a reconnaissance-in-force. The brigade broke contact after penetrating enemy obstacles, taking fire and causing the enemy to light fire trenches. They withdrew south to join the division for its final attack.
On February 26, the Commander of the Allied Forces, General Norman Schwarzkopf directed, "send in the First Team. Destroy the Republican Guard. Let's go home."
The division charged west pausing only to refuel before passing through breeches in the enemy obstacle belt. Racing north, then east, the division moved in a vast armada of armor, stretching from horizon to horizon, Within 24 hours, the first Team had gone 300 kilometers, slicing deep into the enemy's rear. As the division prepared to destroy a Republican Guard division, the cease fire halted it.
1st Cavalry Division units setup defensive positions where the cease fire had stopped their attack, then expanded north to "Highway 8," clearing bunkers and looking for enemy equipment and soldiers. The 1st (Ironhorse) Brigade stretched through the historic Euphrates River Valley. Within 2 weeks the 1st Cav moved south into Saudi Arabia and its new assembly area (AA) Killeen. There on the plain of the Wadi al Batin - the Cav began to prepare for redeployment home.
During Operation Desert Storm, the First Team had several firsts: "First" to defend along the Saudi-Iraq border; "First" to fire Copperhead artillery rounds in combat; "First" to conduct intensive MLRS artillery raids; and in its pre-G-Day attacks the First Team was "First" to conduct mounted combat in Iraq.
Unprecedented logistical and communications requirements were met consistently by the Division Support Command and the 13th Signal Battalion with its Mobile Subscriber Equipment.
Addressing the division in AA Killeen on Palm Sunday, VII (US) Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Frederick Franks emphasized the division's major role in the allied victory. "You were leading the corps - you were the major combat power VII Corps had. You were the First Team. You led us into combat. You began the fight, you led the way..."
Operation Clear Skies
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the military accelerated plans for the use of joint forces to protect key national assets from terrorist attack. After extensive planning and coordination, elements of 4-5 ADA and 13th Signal were deployed as a task force to Washington, DC.
Over 150 Soldiers arrived to man Sentinel radars, Avengers, and Stinger missiles under the command of First Air Force. The troopers quickly prepared to engage and destroy any airborne threat declared hostile to the National Capital Region. The Task Force’s operation was the first military defense of Washington since the Anti-Ballistic Missile systems of the 1970s.
They remained vigilant and ready to destroy any hostile threat 24 hours a day, seven days a week.Their discipline and skill provided the deterrence needed to keep the
Operation Enduring Freedom
Just one month after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, President Bush initiated Operation Enduring Freedom.
The following month, US Forces entered Afghanistan to begin offensives directed at those organizations and governments who were directly and indirectly responsible for the attacks.
On December 15, 2001, the Division’s 545th Military Police Company deployed and was assigned to HQ-ARCENT located in Bagram, Afghanistan. The MP’s were responsible for interrogating and processing nearly 2500 detainees.
Operation Iraqi Freedom
In early 2003, select divisional units were designated to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom through the initial phase of combat culminating in the liberation of the Iraqi people from the tyrannical rule of Saddam Hussein.
These specialized units, including attack helicopters from 1-227 Aviation Battalion provided aviation assets to the operations; maintenance support for the battalion was provided by the 615th Aviation support battalion. Airfield security was provided by 1-21 Field Artillery. The 68th chemical company as attached to 3rd Infantry Division serving as a Hazardous material response team.
On 24 March 2003, helicopters of the 1-227th engaged the elite Republican Guard Medina Division. An AH-64D Apache piloted by Chief warrant officers’ Williams and Young were downed by enemy ground fire.
Chiefs Williams and Young became the first 1st Cavalry Division POW’s since the Korean War. Twenty two days later Williams and Young along with other US POW’s were rescued by US Marines.
Operation Iraqi Freedom II
In the fall of 2003, the division as a whole was ordered to prepare for deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom II. In preparation, for deployment the Division provides training at National Training Center, Joint Readiness Training Center and at Fort Hood. Training included combat operations, working with city services and cultural awareness.
In January, Division elements began deploying to the theater of operations and in April 2004 the division assumed command and control of Task Force Baghdad. During the division’s tour of duty, Task Force Baghdad’s ranks swelled to more than 39,000 uniformed members including active duty, reserve, national guard Soldiers, US Marines, and international coalition partners.
The Division engaged in multiple lines of operations simultaneously to defeat the enemy and win the support of the Iraqi people. Combat Operations, Train & employ Security Forces, Essential Services, Promote Governance, and Economic Pluralism) while mutual supporting, were discrete, the sixth – Information Operations – when used properly amplified the effectiveness of everything the Division did. The Division helped the Iraqi people forge a new, democratic government --- the first in that nation’s history.
Two major events in the march toward true democracy occurred during the division’s year in the Iraqi capital: first, the coalition returned sovereignty to the people of Iraq in June 2004; and second, the national elections of January 2005 demonstrated the resolve of the Iraqi people to gain control of their own country.
The division transferred authority to the 3d Infantry Division in February 2005 and completed redeployment on April 2
1st Cavalry Division units have served the nation from 1855 to the present; building a history rich in pride with solid ties to the traditions and heritage of the United States Cavalry.
The famed 1st Cavalry Division was baptized by fire and blood on the western plains in an era of horse-mounted cavalry. Dubbed the "First Team" by Major General William C. Chase, the division has always strived not only to be the first, but to be the best.
The division's roots date back to 1855 when the 2nd Cavalry Regiment was organized. Redesignated as the 5th Cavalry in 1861, this unit participated in a number of famous Civil War engagements, including Bullrun, Antietam, Gettysburg, Wilderness, and Appomattox
The sound of the bugle and the cry of "Charge!" sent the thundering hooves of the U.S. Cavalry troopers to protect the western-bound settlers in an era when Indians roamed the western frontier and pioneering settlers clung to their land with determination and luck.
The 5th, 7th, 8th, and 9th Cavalry regiments that would one day form the Division, clashed with the Sioux, Comanche, Arapaho, Apache, and Ute Indian Nations during the Indian Wars, led by colorful characters like Col. George Armstrong Custer.
As the Indian campaigns concluded, the Cavalry patrolled the far western frontiers from the frozen tundras of Alaska to the scorching deserts of the southwest. Just prior to World War I, the Cavalry engaged Pancho Villa's forces during the punitive expedition into Mexico.
With the initiation of the National Defense Act, the 1st Cavalry Division was formally activated on September 13, 1921 at Fort Bliss, Texas. That day, the 7th and 8th Cavalry Regiments were assigned to the division. The 5th Cavalry Regiment was assigned on December 18, 1922.
In addition to three of the four regiments of the cavalry, the original organization included the 82nd Field Artillery Battalion (Horse), the 13th Signal Troops, the 27th Ordnance Company, Division Headquarters, and the 1st Cavalry Division Quartermaster Train which later became the 15th Replacement Company. Major General Robert L. Howze was assigned as the first division commander.
The division's early history is largely a saga of rough riding, patrolling the Mexican border, and constant training. Operating from horseback, the cavalry was the only force capable of piercing the desert's harsh terrain and halting the band of smugglers that operated along the desolate Mexican border.
As the depression of the 30's forced thousands of workers into the streets, the division was asked to provide training for 62,500 people in the Civilian Conservation Youth Corps. These workers constructed barracks for 20,000 anti-aircraft troops at Fort Bliss, Texas in preparation for the Air Age.
Although the division was created as a result of a proven need for large horse-mounted formations, by 1940, the march of progress had left the horse far behind.
The era of the tank, automobile, aircraft, and parachute had dawned and eclipsed the age of the armored horseman. The Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor erased all doubt. An impatient 1st Cavalry Division was dismounted in 1943 and processed for overseas movement to the Southwest Pacific as foot soldiers.
Cav returned to the United States on May 5, 1971 where it was reorganized as the "First Triple Capability (TRICAP) Division." This TRICAP designation stemmed from its organization, consisting of an armored brigade, a mechanized infantry brigade, an airmobile brigade, and support troops tailored to assist the combat elements of the division.
In January 1975, the 1st Cav was once again reorganized, becoming the Army's newest armored division. During the Division's most recent past, the unit successfully completed field testing of TACFIRE, a computerized system to increase the effectiveness of artillery.
The division also received the mission in September 1978, for testing the Division Restructure (DRS) concept, used to determine the most effective use of manpower and weapons systems for the battlefields of the future.
Since fielding the M-1 Abrams main battle tank in 1980 Force Modernization has continued as a major division focus. The First Team became the "First" division to field the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), and the Multiple Launch Rocket System.
The division's first National Training Center rotation in September 1982, kicked off a long on-going series of tough, realistic desert battles. The first units were the 1st Brigade's 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, and 3rd Battalion, 10th Cavalry. The Division now conducts three NTC rotations year.
During exercise REFORGER (Return of Forces to Germany) '83, the First Team became the "First unit to train as a division-size element in Northern Europe."
All the training, modernization, planning, and operations culminated in REFORGER '83, when the First Team deployed nearly 9,000 soldiers to Holland, drew propositioned equipment, moved to a staging area and conducted exercise "Certain Strike" on the plains of Northern Germany. The success of the exercise proved that the division was fully capable of performing its wartime mission. This was the "First U.S. deployment to Holland and Northern Germany since W.W.II."
October 16, 1987 the First Team became the "First" division to field and train with Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE), the military version of a cellular telephone system. The system became fully operational October 25, 1988.
In January of '89, the Cav's 2nd Brigade amassed a series of "Firsts" during its NTC rotation.
This was the first combined use of the AH-64 Apache, M2 Bradley, and MSE. In addition, the First Teams' Apaches launched the first Hellfire anti-armor missiles ever fired at the National Training Center. One of the missiles was guided to it's target by the new OH-58D Observation Helicopter.
Upon its return to the United States, the 1st Cavalry Division became the largest division in the Army, with the reactivation of its 3rd "Greywolf" Battle Team May 21 1991. Included in this battle team was the 3rd Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment; 1st and 3rd Battalions, 67th Armor, 1st Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment; and the 502nd (redesignated 215th) Forward Support Battalion.
October of 1992 saw the activation of the Engineer Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. Through the Army's "Engineer Restructuring Initiative," the nucleus of the brigade was formed around the division's historic 8th Engineer Battalion. The 20th Engineer Battalion was brought from Fort Campbell, Kentucky to join the brigade and the 91st Engineer Battalion was activated to complete it.
In November 1992, the unit designations for the battalions remaining from the former "Tiger" Brigade of the 2nd Armored Division were returned to them prior to their reactivation at Fort Hood on December 2, 1992. This action was done to realign the historical designations of units to their parent divisions.
On November 29, the Cav in turn regained the titles of its historical units: 3-41 Infantry was redesignated 1-9 Cavalry, 1-67 Armor became 3-8 Cavalry, and 1-3 Field Artillery took the title 2-82 Field Artillery. On December 16, 1992, other 1st Cavalry Division units redesignated to accomplish the realignments for historical purposes. These changes included: 1-32 Armor redesignating as 2-12 Cavalry, 3-32 Armor to 1-12 Cavalry, and Battery A, 333 Field Artillery to Battery B, 26th Field Artillery.
In August of 1993, the reflagging actions were completed when the 2nd Armored Division's 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry was reflagged the 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, which was assigned to the First Team's 3rd Greywolf Brigade.
Following its reorganization, the division became the Army's largest division and only armored contingency force, ready to deploy anywhere in the world on a moment's notice.
Since then, elements of the First Team have returned to Kuwait no less than three times - as part of a ten-year training agreement between the U.S. and Kuwait and also in a crisis situation when Iraq infringed on Kuwaiti border rules.
Meanwhile, the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California remains a mainstay of training for the division which deploys brigades there three times a year. Here they have 1,000 square miles for maneuver training against the best trained opposing force in the world.
More recently, the 1st Cavalry Division was selected to assume the mission of "Task Force Eagle," conducting peace support operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina. On 16 April 1998, the decision to send the First Team on this unique and challenging mission was announced. Following 4 months of highly successful and intensive planning, training, and maintaining, "Americas' First Team" assumed the mission of ensuring peace and stability throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina.
On October 7, 1998, The First Cavalry Division, under the command of Maj. Gen. Kevin P. Byrnes, assumed authority of the Multinational Division (North) area of operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina from the 1st Armored Division. The division was the first CONUS based division to assume this mission.
The 1st Cav's mission was to conduct operations to enforce the military provisions set forth by the Dayton Accords. The 1st Cav soldiers served as our nation's ambassadors. Their day-to-day presence and commitment to the citizens of this ravaged nation helped prove that a lasting and self-sustaining peace is possible.
In order to conduct successful peace missions while in theater, soldiers were extensively trained on mine awareness, country and cultural customs nad checkpoint and convoy operations. Training was conducted on all levels including individual readiness training, leader/staff training, Operation Joint Forge Training and the Mission Rehearsal Exercise.
1st Cav soldiers were placed in position of responsibilities never before experienced. These responsibilities ranged form monitoring former warring factions to assisting in the return of displaced persons and refugees.
The preparation for the deployment included preparing family members for the long separation. The 1st Cav's family and soldiers' readiness program set a new Army standard. The First Team set the conditions to build self-sufficiency in our families.
The division expertly executed the SFOR 4 and 5 missions in Bosnia-Herzegovina and set new standards for follow on units.
The SFOR 4 was comprised of soldiers from 2-5 Cav, 1-8 Cav, 2-8 Cav, 1-82 FA, 20 ENG Bde, A Battery 4-5 ADA, 1-545th MPs, 4th Bde HQs & 2-227th AVN Bn, the ENG Bde HQs, 13th Sig Bn, 312th MI Bn, III Corps units to include elements from 13th COSCOM, 410 MP Co, 205 MI Bn, 15 PSB and 15th Finance Bn. In six months, they conducted more than 11, 000 day inspections and conducted combined missions with the Russians.
SFOR 5 comprised of soldiers from HHC 2nd Brigade, 1-5 Cav, 1-12 Cav, 2-12 Cav, 3-82 FA, 91st ENG BN, C 4-5 ADA, 2/545th MPs, 15th FSB, and 1-7th Cav. They conducted daily mounted presence patrols in their HMMWVs and occasionally, in armored vehicles, among the Bosniac, Serb and Croat populace.
During the six months, squads and platoons conducted over 9,000 combat patrols and escorted over 1000 convoy movements over some of the most rugged terrain and austere conditions.
The soldiers conducted hundreds of weapons storage site inspections, established vehicle checkpoints designed to monitor and control movement and often conducted searches for and seizures of illegal contraband and weapons.
The pilots, crew chiefs and mechanics set a new Army benchmark for safety and the number of hours flown--over 17,000 flying hours.
The Engineers monitored the demining of more than 80,000 square meters of contested land and supervised the construction of 41 million dollars worth of base camp improvements.
The division went home in 1965, but only long enough to be reorganized and prepared for a new mission. Within 90 days of becoming the Army's first air mobile division, the First Team was back in combat as the first fully committed division of the Vietnam War.
Their first real combat test came during the Pleiku campaign ; 35 days of continuous air mobile operations beginning October 29, 1965. The troopers destroyed two of the three regiments of a North Vietnamese Division, earning the first Presidential Unit Citation given to a division in Vietnam.
The division began 1968 by terminating Operation Pershing, the longest of the 1st Cav's Vietnam actions. For nearly a year the division scoured the Bong Son plain, An Lo valley and the hills of coastal II Corps, seeking out enemy units and their sanctuaries. When the operation ended on January 21, the enemy had lost 5,401 soldiers and 2,400 enemy soldiers had been detained. Some 1,300 individual and 137 crew served weapons had been captured or destroyed.
Moving to I Corps, Vietnam's northern most tactical zone, the division set up Camp Evans for their new base camp. In late January, the enemy launched the Tet Offensive, a major effort to overrun South Vietnam. Some 7,000 enemy, primarily well equipped, crack NVA regulars blasted their way into the imperial city of Hue and Quang Tri, the capital of Vietnam's northern most province.
The Cav went on the move and by February 1, Quang Tri was liberated followed by Hue. After shattering the enemy's dreams of a Tet victory, the 1st Cavalry Division "Sky-troopers" moved to relieve the besieged Marine Base at Khe Sann.
In May 1970, the First Team was "First into Cambodia," hitting what was previously a Communist sanctuary. Troopers deprived the enemy of much needed supplies and ammunition, scattering the enemy forces. The division's Vietnam service ended in 1972 when its last brigade began withdrawing. The 1st Cav had been the first division to go, and the last to leave.
"Firsts" had become the trademark of the First Team.
General Creighton Abrams, while commander of all U.S. Forces in Southeast Asia, said of the 1st Cav, "The big yellow patch does something to an individual that makes him a better soldier, a better team member, and a better American than he otherwise would have been."