68th Chemical Company
Historical Missions
"Let us rule the battle by means of the elements"

WW I, The Great War

Less than a year after the start of World War I, in the Spring of 1915, the Germans placed 1,600 large and 4,130 small gas cylinders containing a total of 168 tons of chlorine gas opposite the Allied lines at Ypres, Belgium. On 22 April, the Germans released the gas. It drifted with the wind across No-Man's Land and over the Allied lines. The Allied troops saw the vast cloud of greenish-yellow gas spring out of the ground and slowly move down wind towards them, the vapor clinging to the earth, seeking out every hole and hollow and filling the trenches and shell holes as it came. First wonder, then fear; then, as the first fringes of the cloud enveloped them and left them choking and agonized in the fight for breath--panic. Those who could move broke and ran, trying to outstrip the cloud which followed inexorably after them.

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.

World War II, Pacific Theater

Edgewood Arsenal R&D Center
On 16 May 1942, the 68th Chemical Company was constituted as the 68th Chemical Smoke Generator Company. The Unit was activated on 01 June, at Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland and was assigned for specialized training at Camp Haan, California. On 03 September 1942, following the completion of their training, the 68th Chemical Smoke Generation Company was transferred to the Camp Clayton, Canal Zone. Their initial assignment was secondary missions. At first it worked with Special Forces on a construction project code named "San Jose" an on 22 March 1943, it engaged in the construction of the facilities of the Post. Thereafter the company served as housekeeping troops for the Post Technical Unit. On 14 November 1944, the Company embarked for New Orleans.

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.

Korean War

The Pusan Perimeter
On 14 April 1949, the unit was reactivated at the Chemical Center, Edgewood, Maryland and attached to the 4th Chemical Smoke Generator Battalion and immediately was assigned to unit training. Three phases of training were emphasized, bivouacs, smoke missions and operations. On 15 April 1950, the Company went to Camp Mackall where it was attached to V Corps for Operation Swarmer. After undergoing additional training, and with the outbreak of war, the 68th Chemical Smoke Generator Company transferred to Korea, via Fort Lawton, Washington and Japan, arriving on 19 October 1950. Attached to the 4th Chemical Generation Battalion, its initial assignments included furnishing smoke operations and close support to the X Corps through the period to 21 December.

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.

Vietnam War

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.

Needs Data

On 24 June 1966, the Company was deactivated at Fort Hood, Texas. On 01 July 1977, the 68th Chemical Company was redesignated the 68th Chemical Company (NBC Defense) and reassigned to the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

M-21 Remote Sensor
In 1979, the 68th Chemical Company became the first to be equipped to conduct decontamination, point and then later; remote chemical sensing and reconnaissance in addition to its historical smoke concealment missions. In the expanded role of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) detection, the 68th Chemical Company utilized advanced technology to help carry out its mission. Prior equipments for chemical detection had to be in contact with the chemical agent in order to make a verification and generate a warning. The M-21 Alarm automatically scans to detect agent clouds. It is a passive infrared device that views the infrared energy much like your eye views visible light.

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.

NBC Reconnaissance System
Additional NBC capability was added to the 68th Chemical Company in preparation for the SouthEast Asian buildup. The Fox M-93A Reconnaissance System, a dedicated system of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) detection, warning, and sampling equipment, is integrated into a high-speed, high-mobility armored carrier capable of performing NBC reconnaissance on primary, secondary, or cross country routes throughout the battlefield. The M-93A can detect chemical contamination in its immediate environment through point detection and at a distance utilizing the M-21 Remote Sensing Chemical Agent Alarm. The M-93A automatically integrates contamination information from detectors with input from on-board navigation and meteorological systems and transmits digital NBC warning messages through the Maneuver Control System to warn follow-on forces. Two M-93A Reconnaissance systems, operated by a three-man crew, working as a team, guided by a global positioning system, precedes the movement of troops to locate and mark contaminated areas.

Persian Gulf War, Southwest Asia

Theater of Operations
In August 1990, the 1st Cavalry Division 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. The First Team soldiers flew from Robert Gray Army Airfield to Dhahran International Airport via Paris, France and Cairo, Egypt. As soon as their equipment arrived, they moved to the remote Assembly Area Horse (AA Horse) in the Saudi desert 160 miles west of the airport.

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.

Own the Night .... and the Day
The First Team began a calculated war of deception along the Saudi border. The goal was to lure Saddam Hussein into believing the main ground attack of the Allies would come up the Wadi al-Batin, a natural invasion route, causing him to reposition additional forces there.

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Stand Down After Cease Fire
1st Cavalry Division units setup defensive positions where the cease fire had stopped their attack and then expanded north to "Highway 8" clearing bunkers and looking for enemy equipment and soldiers. Captured Iraqi soldiers interviewed testified to the overwhelming, shattering effects of the "Steel Rain" of the Multiple Launched Rocket Systems. Within two weeks, the 1st Cavalry Division moved south into Saudi Arabia and the new assembly area (AA) Killeen. There on the plain of the Wadi al - Batin, the Cavalry began to prepare for redeployment home.

Today's Cavalry

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.

Vehicle Chemical Decontamination
A soldier of the 1st Decontamination Platoon, decontaminates a M-1 Abrams tank during one of the recent CALFAX operations. The M-12A1 Decontaminating Extension was developed by the 68th Chemical Company which allows for a more complete and effective heavy decontamination, especially along the upper parts of the vehicle surfaces which are venerable to troopers entering or leaving the vehicle through the upper hatches.


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.

SFC Albert Wesley At Ceremony
On 23 October, following a review of the battle actions in Iraq, Sergeant First Class Albert Wesley who is assigned to the 68th Chemical Company, 1st Cavalry Division was awarded the Bronze Star at the Headquarters Building.

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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Copyright © 1996, Cavalry Outpost Publications ® and Trooper Wm. H. Boudreau, "F" Troop, 8th Cavalry Regiment (1946 - 1947). All rights to this body of work are reserved and are not in the public domain, or as noted in the bibliography. Reproduction, or transfer by electronic means, of the History of the 1st Cavalry Division, the subordinate units or any internal element, is not permitted without prior authorization. Readers are encouraged to link to any of the pages of this Web site, provided that proper acknowledgment attributing to the source of the data is made. The information or content of the material contained herein is subject to change without notice.

Revised 02 Nov '12 SpellChecked