WW I, The Great War
Despite some advance warning of the attack, the Allied line quickly fell apart. A British soldier later wrote:
"Nobody appears to have realized the great danger that was threatening, it being considered that the enemy's attempt would certainly fail and that whatever gas reached our line could be easily fanned away. No one felt in the slightest degree uneasy, and the terrible effect of the gas came to us as a great surprise. . ."
The after effects of this unique attack had far and wide implications. For the military, it required the definition and development of a new chemical defense technology which would alert and protect the front line personnel; and then later the civil population, from the partially undefined threat of chemical war. The following chapter describes the tactical evolution of the 68th Chemical Company to achieve a capability to meet the growing, omnipresent threat of the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) attack.
The next assignment for the 68th Smoke Generator Company was at Camp Sibert (near Gadeden), Alabama. The Company received additional training on the use of Mechanical Smoke Generators in anticipation of an overseas assignment to the Pacific Theater. In June 1945, the Company arrived at Okinawa via Seattle and Hawaii. With the diminished Japanese Air activity, the need for heavy concealment lessened and the smoke generation activity was no longer required. Their main assignments were guard and security missions. On 25 January 1946 the 68th Chemical Smoke Generator Company was inactivated.
In the redeployment of forces during the Chinese Communist Force Intervention, the Battalion was relieved from the X Corps and assigned to the 8th U.S. Army, Korea and attached to the 2nd Logistical Command with Headquarters in the Pusan area. On 14 January 1951, the 68th Chemical Smoke Generator Company was attached to 49th Fighter Bomber Wing at K-2 Airbase.
On 10 July, the battalion an the 68th Chemical Smoke Generator Company were relieved from assignment from the 8th U.S. Army, Korean and assigned to the 2nd Logistical Command. The principal mission was to furnishing concealment against medium and low level bombing and strafing in the Pusan areas in coordination with the 29th Antiaircraft Group. Platoons from the 68th Chemical Smoke Generator Company were furnished to combat units in the I, IX and X Corps areas.
On 19 December 1951, the battalion was reassigned to the 8th U.S. Army, Korea. In the new assignment the 68th Chemical Smoke Generator Company was deployed to "Spruce Tree Valley" and the Kajen-ni area, under operational control of the X Corps. In September 1952, elements of the 68th Chemical Smoke Generator Company were returned to the control of the battalion.
On 23 May 1952, a section of the 68th Chemical Smoke Generator was assigned the responsibility of the "Artillery Valley" mission. A continued problem of variable wind currents in the valley, necessitated the repositioning of generators in order to maintain an effective screen over the vital areas. On 10 September, the 68th Chemical Generator Company was relieved of its remote assignment in the X Corps and returned to the Pusan area.
In March 1953, the M-3 Smoke Generators arrived and a new training program was instituted. During 1953, Korean Nationals were trained and authorized to operate the smoke generation equipment so that the missions of the units could be expanded. As a result of this cross training, the 1st Chemical Smoke Generator Battalion (RKOA) was constituted in June.
During their assignment to the Korean War, the 68th Chemical Smoke Generator Company participated in nine campaigns and was awarded a Meritorious Unit Citation and two Korean Presidential Unit Citations. On 04 March 1954, the Unit was redesignated the 68th Chemical Company. Following their action in Korea, the 68th Chemical Company was transferred to Germany. In Germany the unit was engaged in establishing and carrying out training programs in readiness preparation. On 15 June 1959, the 68th Chemical Company was deactivated in Germany.
On 25 March 1963, the 68th Chemical Company was reactivated at Fort Hood, Texas. The Unit participated in various training and readiness exercises, but was never assigned an overseas mission.
This new equipment introduced to field commanders provides the first-ever
capability of detecting chemical agent vapor clouds at a distance utilizing
infra-red scanning technologies. Advance information of a chemical agent vapor
hazard will allow the commander to chose an alternate route or take
protective posture just prior to the contaminated area.
By the end of three months intensive training, the 1st Cavalry Division was one of the most modern and powerfully equipped divisions in the Army. The first glimpse of their capability came in December 1990 on the division's Pegasus Range which had been built up from the sands of the Saudi desert. Every tank and Bradley crew test fired their new weapons as part of the new equipment transition training. Throughout this period, leaders of the division 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.
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 500 kilometers to another assembly area near King Khalid Military City
(KKMC) in northern Saudi Arabia. This repositioning 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 picked up its
17,000 soldiers, which were 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. Meanwhile, the air war began and other Allied ground forces began
to reposition for the offense.
Returning to Fort Hood, the 68th Chemical Company continued the constant
effort of personnel and equipment readiness preparation. The 68th Chemical
Company participates annually in two exercises at the National Training Center
at Fort Irwin, California.
On 07 January 2003, the reality of the "Digital Battlefield" loomed on the horizon as elements of the 1st Cavalry Division, the 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 68th Chemical Company and supporting detachments (slice) of the 615th Aviation Support Battalion and 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment received orders to prepare for deployment to SouthWest Asia, under the control of US Central Command, Tampa, FL.
On 27 February, following deployment to Kuwait, the 6th Platoon, 68th Chemical Company was task organized to the 3rd Infantry Division. When the 3rd Infantry Division received orders to cross the Kuwaiti/Iraqi border on 19 March, the 6th Platoon, 68th Chemical Company was task organized to the 2nd Battalion, 69th Artillery, the first element of 3rd Infantry to cross the border. in the Task Force 2-69's attack to Objective Clay,
On 02 April, the 6th Platoon conducted the longest continuous smoke mission executed in a combat environment since 1942. The smoke cover contributed to to the Division's deception plan allowed two entire Brigade Combat teams to pass to the north across the Euphrates River on the attack to Baghdad. On 04 April, the 6th Platoon was with the first two Task Forces to enter Baghdad International Airport (BIAP), During the defense of BIAP, the Task Force 2-7 Tactical Operation Center and the 6th Platoon came under heavy direct and indirect fire. During this defence, the Platoon took no casualties throughout the day-long counterattack by the Special Republican Guard stationed outside the airport.
During the follow on force protection of BIAP, the 6th Platoon processed 31 Enemy Prisoners (EPW) of War into the division EPW holding cage. Subsequently, two combat patrols into the city of Baghdad providing a show of force, and identifying an enemy ammo cache.
On Friday, 06 June (Day-79 of the Iraq1 War), the 68th Chemical Company
returned to Ft. Hood, TX., greeted by a one round volley by six 75-millimeter
howitzers, After more than four months away from home near the front lines of
Iraq, more than 500 friends, family members and fellow soldiers, made the
welcome home ceremony of the 150 solders who make up the "Dragon Masters".
When the unit arrived, they marched into the Abrams field house, flanked by
a battalion formation of the 21st Field Artillery Regiment. Following brief
welcoming comments from Major General Joseph F.W. Peterson, the Company was
released to their waiting family members.
The actual writing on the Bronze Star Medal reads, "For Exceptional meritorious service while serving as platoon sergeant for 6/68 Mechanized Smoke Platoon during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Sergeant First Class Wesley led his platoon on the longest continuous smoke mission executed in a combat campaign since 1942. Sergeant First Class Wesley's service during Operation Iraqi Freedom reflects distinct credit upon himself, the Coalition Forces Land Component Command and the United States Army."
On 15 July 2005, the 68th Chemical Company, Artillery Command, was inactivated at Ft. Hood, TX. as part of task of reorganizing and realigning the manpower and equipment resources of the Division into the new Matrix of Modular Forces established by the Army.
The 68th Chemical Company stands ready to support the "First Team" in the defense of freedom and the security of peace.
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