Each Cavalry Brigade was organized into a Headquarters and Headquarters Troop (101); two Cavalry Regiments (1,155 each); and a separate Machine Gun Squadron (392). Each Cavalry Regiment was organized into a Headquarters and Headquarters Troop (121); two Squadrons (428 each); a separate Supply Troop (127); and a Medical and Chaplain Detachment (51). Each Machine Gun Squadron was organized into a Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment (47); three Line Troops (110 each); and a Medical and Chaplain Detachment (15). Each Cavalry Squadron was organized into a Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment (35); and three Line Troops (131 each).
The division's early history is largely a saga of rough riding, patrolling the Mexican border, and constant training. Operating on 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 1930's forced thousands of workers out of employment, the Division was asked to provide training for 62,500 people in the Civilian Conservation Corps. These workers constructed barracks for 20,000 anti-aircraft troops at Ft. Bliss, Texas in preparation for the Air Age.
In February 1943, the entire 1st Cavalry Division was alerted for an overseas assignment as a dismounted unit. An impatient 1st Cavalry Division was dismounted and they were processed for movement to the Southwest Pacific theater as foot solders. In mid June 1943, the last troops of the division departed Fort Bliss, Texas for Camp Stoneman, California and later on 03 July, boarded the "S.S. Monterey and the S.S. George Washington" for Australia and the Southwest Pacific.
On 26 July, three weeks later, the division arrived at Brisbane and began a
fifteen mile trip to their new temporary home, Camp Strathpine, Queensland,
Australia. The division received six months of intense combat jungle warfare
training at Camp Strathpine in the wilds of scenic Queensland and amphibious
training at nearby Moreton Bay. On 04 December 1943, the Headquarters was
reorganized and redesignated 1943 as Headquarters, 1st Cavalry Division,
(Special). In January 1944 the division was ordered to leave Australia and
sail to Oro Bay, New Guinea. After a period of staging in New Guinea, it was
time for the 1st Cavalry Division to receive their first baptism of fire.
On 29 February 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 Cavalry troopers 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 31 January 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 Cavalry Division was in Manila and the prisoners were freed. As the war came to a sudden end, MacArthur selected the First Team for the honor of leading the Allied Occupational Army into Tokyo. During the occupation of Japan, on 25 March 1949, The Headquarters was reorganized and redesignated as Headquarters, 1st Cavalry Division (Infantry).
The ROKs had eight divisions, but only four deployed along the 38th parallel, and they only partially. Much worse, they had no air force, only 2.36 inch rocket launchers, no recoilless rifles, no heavy mortars, no medium artillery and no armor. The T34s, arguably the best tanks developed in WWII, advanced in a line-ahead formation. After scores of ROKs died under their treads, trying desperately to stop them with satchel charges and grenades, the tanks began moving through the survivors as though they were not there. At the same time, their infantry formations attacked in an inverted Y formation, sweeping around ROK opposition with the arms, encircling them, and finally crushing them.
The decision of the United States to send immediate aid to South Korea came two days after the fast moving North Korean Army broke through the Republic of Korea (ROK) defenses and sent tanks into the capital city of Seoul. In addition to the US Air Force, Navy and Marines, a 1,000 man battalion from the 24th Infantry Division, including many specialists and noncommissioned officers transferred from the 1st Cavalry Division arrived 30 June. More help was on the way. "A" Company of the 71st Heavy Tank Battalion, previously assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division, arrived in Korea early in July and was immediately attached to the 24th Infantry Division and experienced its first combat at Taejon.
On 06 July, General MacArthur called Major General Hobart Gay, Commanding General, 1st Cavalry Division and informed him to make plans for the 1st Cavalry Division to make an amphibious landing at Inchon. In a questionable state of readiness, the 1st Cavalry Division had been weakened by the earlier transfer of approximately 750 noncommissioned officers to the 24th and 25th Divisions to strengthen their combat capabilities in Korea.
In the early stages of establishing a defensive position of air cover, the Navy and Marine aircraft operated off carriers stationed in the Sea of Japan. However the Air Force operated at considerable disadvantage at this time, There were only two dirt airstrips in South Korea suitable for operational use by F-51 and C-47 type aircraft, K-2 at Taegu and K-3 P'ohang Airdrome (also referred to as the Pohang-dong or Yonil Air Base) at Yonil (N 35.99 E129.34), on the east coast of South Korea.
As part of an advanced party of the four US Army divisions committed to Korea, the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment was the first unit of the 1st Cavalry Division to be deployed. On 09 July, the 1st Battalion arrived on the east coast of South Korea with the mission to provide a security force for the Air Force at the Yonil Airfield, the main airport just six miles below Pohang-dong, and fire support for the ROK 23rd Regiment. As soon as it was known that the airfield was secure, the liaison and artillery observation aircraft (L4s and L5s), along with critical supporting maintenance personnel of the Air Section were self deployed from Ota, Japan and, after one refueling stop, relocated to Yonil Airfield, South Korea. Following the flight, all aircraft were given a sound maintenance check and they were prepared for a protracted period of combat operations of artillery observation, courier and mail transport and supply support.
Between 12 and 14 July, the Division loaded on ships in the Yokohama area. However, at that time, the steady enemy successes south of the Han River had changed the objective of a landing in the rear of the enemy at Inchon to a landing on the east coast of Korea at Pohangdong, a fishing village sixty miles northeast of Pusan. The date of the landing was rescheduled to 18 July. The new mission of the Division was to reinforce the faltering 24th Division. From Pohangdong the 1st Cavalry Division could move promptly to the Taejon area to provide direct support to the 24th Division.
The organization of the 1st Cavalry Division deployment followed standard
amphibious practice. The landing force, commanded by Major General Hobart Gay,
consisted of the 1st and 2nd Battalions, 5th Cavalry, 2nd Battalion of the 7th
Cavalry, 1st and 2nd Battalions, 8th Cavalry Regiments, an artillery group of
four battalions, a combat engineer battalion, special troop units, along with
quartermaster support, administrative units and equipment. These were to be
moved to the Pohangdong area by a naval transport group designated as "Task
Force 90". The amphibious transport group consisted of the command flagship
USS Mount McKinley, the transport USS Cavalier; three cargo
ships - USS Oglethorp, USS Titania, USS Union, the landing ship tank
USS LST-611; fifteen LSTs assigned from the Japanese Shipping Control
Administration; two fleet tugs - the USS Cree and USS Lipan;
one salvage ship - the USS Conserver; six landing utility ships (LSU);
six minesweepers - the USS Pledge, USS Chatterer, USS Kile, USS Redhead,
USS Mockingbird, USS Osprey, and USS Partridge; a high speed
transport ship - the USS Diachenko; a gunfire support group of USS
Juneau, USS Coller, USS Higbee, USS James B. Kayes, and the Australian
Navy Destroyer HMAS Bataan; an underwater demolition team of UDT-3 and
units assigned for reconnaissance, control purposes at the objective,
administration of the beaches, and the like. Deep air support was the
responsibility of the Air Force, which by this time had a fighter squadron on
the Pohangdong air strip. Close air support at the objective would be provided
by the Seventh Fleet, which was coming up from Okinawa for the occasion.
On 18 July, although peaceful, the scene at Pohangdong was a busy one. From
the ships of the transport group at anchor in Yongil Man, troops and vehicles
were shuttled ashore. Nine of the LSTs disgorged their cargo along the jetty
wall and on the beaches of the Yongil Man Bay, along with the smaller landing
craft. Seven were ordered out to Kuryongpo around the point to unload
vehicles. Troop landing was begun at 0715 hours with vehicle and general cargo
unloading commencing at 0930 hours.
Lead elements of the 8th Cavalry Regiment landed soon after daylight in the early morning of 18 July, successfully carrying out the first amphibious landing of the Korean War. The 13th Signal Company quickly followed behind the last wave of the 8th Cavalry. The first troops of the 5th Cavalry Regiment came ashore at approximately 1630 hours. Only a small combat air patrol from the carrier Valley Forge was retained overhead to protect the ships and landing forces. All major ships had been emptied by midnight, while the LSTs had discharged all personnel, all vehicles, and more than half their bulk cargo. More than 10,000 troops and 2,000 vehicles, and almost 3,000 tons of cargo had been put ashore.
The North Koreans (NK) were 25 miles away when elements of the 1st Cavalry Division came ashore. At noon on 19 July, General Gay assumed command ashore and the 5th Cavalry started toward Taejon. In the afternoon, with unloading completed, ships of the Attack Force shifted to heavy weather anchorages as Helene, the first typhoon of the season, was reported heading for the Korea Strait. The next day, the 8th Cavalry followed and closed in on an assembly area east of Yongdong by evening, unaware that the strength of Typhoon Helene, which had swept the eastern coast of Korea, would prevent the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment and 82nd Field Artillery Battalion from landing until 22 July. By the end of 22 July, all regiments were deployed in battle positions, in itself a remarkable logistical achievement in the face of the heavy typhoon that had pounded the Korean coastline.
The landing at Pohang-dong 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 09 October 1950, the troopers of the 1st Cavalry Division crashed into Pyongyang, capturing the capital city of North Korea on 19 October. 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.
In 1957, the 1st Cavalry Division returned to Korea where they were given the mission of patrolled the Demilitarized Zone. On 01 July 1960, Headquarters Company was reorganized and redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Cavalry Division. In June 1965, the Headquarters and Headquarters Company accompanied the 1st Cavalry Division in the rotation back to the United States along with other units of the 1st Cavalry Division.
The Geneva Accords stated that the division was to be temporary, and that national elections in 1956 would reunite the country. But the United States did not want to see Vietnam turn into a communist state, so the US supported the creation of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, which provided defense for South Vietnam.
North Vietnam, then called the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, wanted a communist state, and South Vietnam, then called the Republic of Vietnam, wanted a non-communist state. In 1956, Ngo Dihn Diem, an anti-communist, won the presidential election in South Vietnam. But communist opposition in the south caused Diem numerous problems. And in 1959, southern communists decided to implement greater violence to try to oust Diem. This led to the formation of the National Liberation Front (NLF).
The NLF was a group of communists and non-communists who opposed diem and sought his ouster. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy sent a group to South Vietnam to determine what actions the US needed to take to assist them. When the group returned, they proffered recommendations in what became known as the "December 1961 White Paper" that indicated a need for an increased military presence; but many of the advisors of Kennedy wanted a complete pullout from the country.
In the end, Kennedy compromised and decided to increase the number of military advisors, but with the objective of not to engage in a massive military buildup. But in 1963, the government of Diem quickly began to unravel. The downfall began when Diem's brother accused Buddhist monks of harboring communists -- his brother then began raiding Buddhist pagodas in an attempt to find these communists
The Buddhist monks immediately began protesting in the streets, and in Saigon
on 05 October, 1963, one monk died by self-immolation. This incident caused
international outrage and Diem was soon overthrown and killed. On 02 August,
1964, North Vietnam attacked an American ship in the Gulf of Tonkin that
resulted in congress enacted the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which granted the
president broad war powers.
Lyndon B. Johnson was the president at the time, and the Gulf of Tonkin
incident and the resultant resolution marked the beginning of the major
military build up of America in the Vietnam War. In 1965, massive bombing
missions by the US in North Vietnam, known as Operation ROLLING THUNDER,
quickly escalated the conflict.
Within 90 days of becoming the first airmobile division of the Army, 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 airmobile operations beginning 29 October 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 action of the 1st Cavalry in Vietnam. 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 21 January, 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 Cavalry went on the move and by 01 February, 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 in Cambodia," hitting what was previously a Communist sanctuary. Troopers deprived the enemy of much needed supplies and ammunition, scattering the enemy forces.
The efforts of the 1st Cavalry Division were not limited to direct enemy engagements but also, using the experiences gained during the occupation of Japan and Korea, encompassed the essential rebuilding of the war torn country of South Vietnam. As a result of its' gallant performance, the regiment was awarded two presidential Unit Citations and the Valorous Unit Citation.
Although 26 March 1971 officially marked the end of duties in Vietnam for the 1st Cavalry Division, President Nixon's program of "Vietnamization" required the continued presence of a strong U.S. fighting force. The 2nd Battalion of the 5th Regiment, 1st Battalion of the 7th Regiment, 2nd Battalion of the 8th Regiment and 1st Battalion of the 12th Regiment along with specialized support units as "F" Troop, 9th Cavalry and Delta Company, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion helped establish the 3rd Brigade headquarters at Bien Hoa. Its primary mission was to interdict enemy infiltration and supply routes in War Zone D.
On 05 May 1971, the colors of the 1st Cavalry Division, minus those of the 3rd Brigade, were moved from Vietnam to Ft. Hood, Texas. Using the assets of the 1st Armored Division, the 1st Cavalry Division was reorganized, reassigned to III Corps and received an experimental designation of the Triple-Capability (TRICAP) Division. Its mission, under the direction of Modern Army Selected Systems Test, Evaluation and Review (MASSTER) was to carry on a close identification with and test forward looking combined armor, air cavalry and airmobile concepts. The Division consisted of the 1st Armored Brigade, the 2nd Air Cavalry Combat Brigade (ACCB) the 4th Airmobile Infantry Brigade. Division Artillery provided the fire support and Support Command provided normal troop support and service elements.
The main body of the 1st Cavalry Division, at Fort Hood, under the direction of MASSTER, a testing agency created in 1969 to oversee the development of surveillance, target acquisition an night observation equipment, continued to test future concepts of mobility and flexibility on the battlefield. The tests continued for three and a half years were very demanding. When all TRICAP testing was completed, the mission of airmobile anti-armor warfare was transferred to the 6th Cavalry Brigade (Air Combat) collocated at Fort Hood, Texas and on 21 February 1975, the 1st Cavalry Division was reorganized and redesignated to become the newest Armored Division in the Army.
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 (MLRS).
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 Return of Forces to Germany (REFORGER) in 1983, 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 1983, when the First Team deployed nearly 9,000 soldiers to Holland, drew prepositioned 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.
On 16 September, an Air Force C5A Galaxy, carrying the advanced headquarters staff, left Ft. Hood Robert Gray Army Airfield. In the final drama, soldiers assembled for manifest roll call. The moment came; busses pulled up, planes were loaded and the time for memories had begun. 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 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 MlAl 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 placing additional forces there. While the division's 8th Engineer
Battalion improved positions and conducted "Berm Buster" missions to destroy
Iraqi obstacles, the 1-7 Cavalry, 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 20 February, in Desert Storm's "First" major mounted ground engagement, the 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.
In the early afternoon of "G-DAY", 24 February 1991, the Division initiated
Operation QUICK STRIKE. The 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery, reinforced by
"A" Battery, 21st Field Artillery MLRS, laid down heavy fire in support of the
2nd "Blackjack" Brigade's "feint" attack up the Wadi al Batin. Following the
artillery barrage, the Blackjack Brigade conducted Operation DEEP STRIKE.
Blackjack moved out at approximately 1700 hours in a move north in a limited
attack to fix the focus of the enemy on the Wadi. Meanwhile, far to the west,
the VII Corps and the XVIII Airborne had already began a deep strike into