World War I

The First Expeditionary Division was constituted in May 1917 from Army units then in service on the Mexican border and at various Army posts throughout the United States. On June 8, 1917 it was officially organized in New York, New York. This date is the 1st Infantry Division’s official birthday. The first units sailed from New York and Hoboken, N.J., June 14, 1917. Throughout the remainder of the year, the rest of the Division followed, landing at St. Nazaire, France, and Liverpool, England. After a brief stay in rest camps, the troops in England proceeded to France, landing at Le Havre. The last unit arrived in St. Nazaire on Dec. 22. Upon arrival in France, the Division, less its artillery, was assembled in the First (Gondrecourt) training area, and the artillery was at Le Valdahon.

On the 4th of July, the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry, paraded through the streets of Paris to bolster the sagging French spirits. At Lafayette’s tomb, one of General Pershing’s staff uttered the famous words, “Lafayette, we are here!” Two days later, July 6, the First Expeditionary Division was redesignated the First Division. On the morning of Oct. 23, the first American shell of the war was sent screaming toward German lines by Battery C, 6th Field Artillery. Two days later, the 2nd Bn., 16th Inf., suffered the first American casualties of the war.

By April 1918, the Germans had pushed to within 40 miles of Paris. In reaction to this thrust, the Big Red One moved into the Picardy Sector to bolster the exhausted French First Army. To the Division’s front lay the small village of Cantigny, situated on the high ground overlooking a forested countryside. It was the 28th Infantry, who attacked the town, and within 45 minutes captured it along with 250 German soldiers, thus earning the special designation “Lions of Cantigny” for the regiment. The first American victory of the war was a First Division victory.

The First Division took Soissons in July 1918. The Soissons victory was costly – more than 7000 men were killed or wounded. The First Division then helped to clear the St. Mihiel salient by fighting continuously from Sept. 11-13, 1918. The last major World War I battle was fought in the Meuse-Argonne Forest. The Division advanced seven kilometers and defeated, in whole or part, eight German divisions. This action cost the 1st Division over 7600 casualties. In October 1918, the Big Red One patch as it is now known was officially approved for wear by members of the Division.

The war was over when the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. The Division was then located at Sedan, the farthest American penetration of the war. The Division was the first to cross the Rhine into occupied Germany where it remained until the peace treaty formally ending WW I was signed. It deployed back to the United States in August and September.
By the end of the war, the Division had suffered 22,668 casualties and boasted five Medal of Honor recipients. Its colors carry campaign streamers for: Montdidier-Noyon; Aisne-Marne; St. Mihiel; Meuse- Argonne; Lorraine1 917; Lorraine, 1918; Picardy,

World War II

On On August 1, 1942, the First Division was reorganized and redesignated as the 1st Infantry Division.

The 1st Infantry Division entered combat in World War II as part of “Operation Torch”, the invasion of North Africa, the first American campaign against the Axis powers. On Nov. 8, 1942, following training in the United Kingdom, men of the First Division landed on the coast of Algeria near Oran. The initial lessons of combat were harsh and many men were casualties in the campaign that followed and which stretched from Algiers into Tunisia. On May 9, 1943, the commander of the German “Afrika Korps” surrendered his force of 40,000 and North African operations for the Big Red One ended. The Division then moved on to take Sicily in “Operation Husky.” It stormed ashore at Gela, July 10, 1943, and quickly overpowered the Italian defenses. Soon after, the Division came face-to-face with 100 tanks of the Herman Goering Tank Division. With the help of naval gunfire, its own artillery and Canadian allies, the First Infantry Division fought its way over the island’s hills, driving the enemy back. The Fighting First advanced on to capture Troina and opened the Allied road to the straits of Messina. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, the Big Red One stormed ashore at Omaha Beach. Soon after H-Hour, the Division’s 16th Infantry Regiment was fighting for its life on a strip of beach near Coleville-sur-Mer that had been marked the “Easy Red” on battle maps. As the assault progressed, the beach became so congested with destroyed equipment, the dead and the wounded, that there was little room to land reinforcements. Col. George Taylor, commander of the 16th Infantry Regt., told his men, “Two kinds of people are staying on this beach! The dead and those who are going to die! Now, let’s get the hell out of here!” Slowly, spurred by the individual heroism of many individuals, the move inland got underway.

A German blockhouse above the beach became a command post named “Danger Forward.”

After the beachhead was secured, the Division moved through the Normandy Hedgerows. The Division liberated Liege, Belgium, and pushed to the German border, crossing through the fortified Siegfried line. The 1st Inf. Div. attacked the first major German city, Aachen, and after many days of bitter house-to house fighting, the German commander surrendered the city on Oct. 21, 1944.


“On Dec. 16, 24 enemy divisions, 10 of which were armored, launched a massive counterattack in the Ardennes sector, resulting in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge. The Big Red One held the critical shoulder of the “Bulge” at Bullingen, destroying hundreds of German tanks in the process.

On Jan. 15, 1945, the First Infantry attacked to eliminate the “Bulge.”  The 1st Division penetrated the Siegfried line for the second time Feb. 3. The Division continued its push into Germany, crossed the Rhine River March 16, and occupied the Remagen bridgehead. On Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945, the Division marched 150 miles to the east of Siegen. On April 8, the Division crossed the Weser River, then campaigned in the Harz Mountains. In May the Division started the liberation of Czechoslovakia. The war was over May 8, 1945.”

At the end of World War II, the Division had suffered 21,023 casualties and 43,743 men had served in its ranks. Its soldiers had won a total of 20,752 medals and awards, including 16 Congressional Medals of Honor. Over 100,000 prisoners had been taken.
Following the war, the First Division remained in Germany as occupation troops, until 1955, when the Division moved to Fort Riley, Kan.

Cold War

When compared to its magnificent combat record in WWI, WWII and Vietnam, the accomplishments of the Big Red One between those conflicts may seem unimportant. They are, however, very significant and well worthy of note in any 1st Infantry Division history. During these periods, the Division mastered an array of vital non-combat missions. Its troops supported operations in pursuit of international justice and were among the first to confront Soviet expansionism. Preparing for war on three continents, the Division deployed units to the “front line” of a low intensity conflict known as the Cold War. All the while maintaining its reputation as one of the world’s premier military organizations.

Following Allied victory in Europe, most army units returned home or deactivated. The 1st Infantry Division, however, remained in Europe as an Occupation Force. To showcase its finest, the army dispersed 1st Division troops throughout West Germany and Austria. Division Headquarters settled at Bad Tölz. Battalions of the 16th Infantry occupied Vienna, Salzburg, and Berlin. The 18th Infantry held Bremen and Frankfurt while the 26th Infantry moved into Ludwigsburg, Munich and Nuremberg. Division Artillery and other support elements participated fully in the occupation. The 3rd Battalion of the 26th Infantry, “Blue Spaders,” was chosen to secure the historic Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. Press photos of that era reveal flawless formations of Big Red One troops parading in former European capitals and guarding vanquished Third Reich leaders.

As it had in battle, the Division excelled in its conqueror/occupier role. Static duties, however, had a deteriorating effect on the division’s tactical capabilities. By the end of 1946, it was estimated that the Big Red One’s combat efficiency was only 20 percent. So dispersed were its troops that training and control by the division commander was impossible. In 1947, 1st Infantry Division began serving as a tactical reserve and quick reaction force in support of U.S. Constabulary operations. To that end, the division reassembled at Grafenwöhr and initiated a rigorous combat training program. A 1948 reorganization, consistent with the army’s new TO&E, added about 5,000 personnel to the Division. For a time the Big Red One found itself with two marching bands and outfits with exotic nomenclatures such as “7825th Station Complement Unit (Mobile),” and “7793rd Augmentation Detachment”-hardly the cutting edge. Nevertheless, the Division was preparing for combat operations.

By 1949, the threat of Communist aggression was undeniable. That year, NATO was established as free nations became serious about defending Western Europe. Communism’s aggressive nature became more apparent a year later when their forces invaded South Korea. As the U.S. rushed thousands of troops, including National Guard units, to Asia and Germany, the 1st Infantry Division stood as a vanguard of democracy in Europe. German politics evolved dramatically between VE Day and 1955. Except for Berlin, the occupation ceased. West Germany, with a new government in Bonn, was rearming under NATO. A Soviet threat remained, but with additional regular U.S. Army divisions, the situation stabilized.

After 13 years overseas the BRO came home. In 1955, Operation Gyroscope exchanged assignments of the 1st Infantry Division with the 10th Infantry Division at Ft. Riley. Following a triumphant welcome in New York City, troops wearing the Big Red One moved westward to and made their home on the Kansas plains. The Division was administratively challenged to reorganize under the Pentomic concept. Three infantry regiments in each division were eliminated as tactical units; replaced by five “battle groups” (smaller than regiments, larger than battalions; designed to move and fight on nuclear battlefields). To perpetuate the lineage of regiments, the “Combat Arms Regimental System” (CARS) was developed, linking each battle group to the history, honors, and customs of a parent regiment. When reorganization concluded by 1959, 1st Infantry Division incorporated 1st Battle Group, 5th Infantry; 2nd Battle Group, 8th Infantry; 2nd Battle Group, 12th Infantry; 1st Battle Group, 13th Infantry; and 1st Battle Group, 28th Infantry. Of these, only the 28th Infantry “Lions of Cantigny” had historic ties (from WWI) to the Big Red One.

Another challenge facing the division was turning civilians into soldiers. A reception center was established in Camp Whitside’s old hospital on the Ft. Riley complex. There, new army inductees were tested, inoculated, clothed, and indoctrinated, then assigned to 1st Infantry Division units where they underwent eight weeks of Basic Combat Training (BCT). Following BCT, many recruits remained at Ft. Riley to complete Advanced Individual Training (AIT) in combat arms. Thousands of hardened, highly trained, disciplined soldiers left to fill positions in combat ready units around the world, to be replaced at Ft. Riley by new cycles of trainees.

The division’s recruit training program was halted in August 1961. Berlin, Germany’s former capital had been a source of contention between Soviet and Western occupying powers for years. A full-blown crisis erupted that month when Communist troops walled off their Eastern Sector to keep refugees from fleeing to freedom. Soviet Premier Khrushchev pressured the West to abandon its Berlin positions, 110 miles inside Communist territory. America responded by reinforcing its Berlin garrison with troops from West Germany. U.S. Armed Forces were alerted. Leaves were canceled and enlistments extended. Thousands of reservists were activated. At Ft. Riley, 1st Infantry Division units ceased recruit training to prepare for combat. Trainees primed for transfer were retained. Recruits from Ft. Ord and Ft. Jackson, along with seasoned troops returning from overseas, rushed to Ft. Riley to flesh out the Division. “If you’re going to be one, be a Big Red One,” became Ft. Riley’s unofficial motto. Unit combat training was comprehensive and included weeks on end in the field. That autumn the division leased several hundred acres of Colorado forest for Army Training Tests. Individually, the Big Red One’s five battle groups, still armed with WWII era weapons, convoyed to the Rocky Mountains for weeks of maneuvers in sub-zero weather.

Testing its new strength, in February and March 1962 the division sent a brigade (made up of 1/28th Inf, 1/4th Cav, and 2/33rd Arty) to Operation Bristlecome at Ft. Irwin, CA, providing “aggressor” opposition to the 32nd Infantry Division. The following spring BRO troopers received up-to-date M-14 rifles and M-60 machine guns. The division was considered ready for combat deployment and became an element of the Strategic Army Corps (STRAC). That summer two battle groups (1/13th & 1/28th) participated in Navy/Marine Corps Amphibious Assault Courses at Little Creek, VA. The Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962 drove the division to its highest level of alert. The 121st Signal Battalion deployed to forward positions in Florida, establishing communications for an assault on Cuba. The 1st Infantry Division and the world stood on the brink, and then stood down.

While the rest of the 1st Div prepared to invade Cuba, its 2nd Battle Group, 12th Infantry was already on the Cold War’s front line — Berlin. Operation Long Thrust deployed combat ready battle groups from America to West Germany for training and evaluation. Units scoring superior ATTs at Wildflecken advanced through Communist East Germany to augment the Berlin Brigade. Long Thrust Operations were more than training exercises. They launched BRO troops into what has been called “flash point of the world,” directly confronting hostile forces. Soldiers serving in Berlin during the crisis were awarded U.S. Armed Forces Expeditionary Medals along with WWII Army of Occupation Medals. After several months defending Free Berlin, 1st Div troops withdrew to Ft. Riley. Other Big Red One battle groups guarding West Berlin during that period were 1/13th, 1/28th “Black Lions” (present when President Kennedy delivered his memorable Cold War “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech) and 2/26th “Blue Spaders” (which had replaced 1/5th).

Late 1963 found 1st Infantry Division at Ft. Riley reorganizing under ROAD (Reorganization Objective Army Divisions). ROAD Divisions activated three “flexible response” Brigade Headquarters. Maneuver elements were assigned to each brigade depending upon its mission. Infantry battalions with historic ties to the 1st Div replaced battle groups. By early 1964, the Big Red One’s organic line units were the 1st and 2nd Battalions, 16th Infantry, 1st and 2nd Battalions, 18th Infantry; 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry; 1st and 2nd Battalions, 28th Infantry. These units had fought in WWI and/or WWII with the division and would do so in Vietnam. Spring 1964 found Big Red One personnel conducting counter-insurgency exercises in Ft. Leonard Wood’s thick forests. Rumors of combat deployment became more persistent. Later that year troops flew to Florida for jungle warfare training. The 1st and 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry joined the division in 1965 as it deployed to Southeast Asia.

Post World War II and Cold War
“The current 2nd Battle Group, 12th United States Infantry was brought together as a new unit for intensified Advanced Individual Training in the middle of September 1961, as a result of the crisis created in Berlin by construction of the infamous “Wall” which divided that city. Personnel assigned to the 12th Infantry at tis time had received only abbreviated courses of basic training, and cadre called in had in many cases been on civilian component duty or away from regular infantry units for a long period of time.
Orders were received by Colonel George Pinard, then the 12th Infantry’s Commanding Officer, that theBattleGroup would undergo training which would make the unit a combat ready force in the shortest possible time, with the first part of December as the target date for this readiness. It was going to be a true test for leadership and adjustment by all.
The sudden death of Colonel Pinard, resulting from a heart attack during a field training exercise in mid-October 1961, placed Lieutenant Colonel George P. Welch, the Deputy Battle Group Commander in charge of the 12th Infantry.
With the end of October came completion of AIT for the 12th Infantry and the beginning of Basic Unit Training with its attendant Army Training Tests. Climax of BUT came with the Battle Group making a 500 mile motor march to Tarryall, Colorado under command of Lt. Col. Welch for its ATT during the period 27 November to 10 December 1961.
On December 11th, 1961, with the successful completion of the training tests, the 12th Infantry went into Operational Readiness Training status. Continuous field training combined with unannounced alerts honed the Battle Group to a fine edge, as it joined the ranks of the other combat ready forces in the 1st Infantry Division.
1 February 1962 saw Colonel Thomas J. Cleary, Jr. take command of the 12th Infantry and prepare it for more ambitious tasks: Exercise “Red Arrow” and Long Thrust IV.
Results of Exercise “Red Arrow,” during the period 17-20 April 1962, showed the 12th Infantry as an outstanding unit of the 1st Infantry Division. Achievements during Red Arrow influenced the choosing of the 12th Infantry to initiate the 1st Divisions participation in the Long Thrust exercises.
Formed into a Task Force with addition of support units from the 7th Artillery, 9th Transportation Battalion, 1st Aviation Company and 701st Ordnance, the 12th Infantry was assigned Long Thrust IV, destined to depart for Germany in July 1962.
Flown from Forbes AFB in Topeka, Kansas, Task Force 2/12 arrived at Rhein-Main AFB near Frankfurt, Germany, to begin a highly successful series of maneuvers and missions during its forthcoming six-month stay in Germany.
After drawing equipment at a staging area in the woods near Karlshruhe, Germany, the Warriors proceeded on a tactical motor march to Wildflecken, where they terminated the initial phase of LongThrust IV in a rugged test of combat readiness by a swift moving attack against the seasoned troops of the 504th Airborne.
Quickly adjusting to the situation in Germany, the 12th Infantry settled down in Wildflecken and carried on with its mission of remaining combat ready. Intense field training, coupled with short-reaction-time alerts, showed the 12th Infantry as a unit which the 1st Division could be proud of. Esprit moved to higher levels than ever before, and the 12th Infantry became a truly cohesive unit, proud in garrison and tough in the field.


On 12 July 1965, the 2d Brigade of the Big Red One landed at Cam Ranh Bay and Vung Tau, making it the first element of an Infantry Division to arrive in Vietnam. As the rest of the Division arrived, it was separated into five base areas: Division Headquarters and the Support Command were at Di An; the 1st Brigade, at Phuoc Vinh; the 2nd Brigade at Bien Hoa; the 3rd Brigade at Lai Khe; and Division Artillery at Phu Loi. Initial combat operations were devoted to securing the immediate area of the base camps and establishing the 1st Infantry Division’s area of influence. By 1 November the entire division, under the command of MG Jonathan O. Seaman, was operational. Eleven days later, near Bau Bang on National Highway 13, the Big Red One fought its first major battle in Vietnam. Here, elements of three Divisional units overcame an estimated VC regiment. In the next big engagement, that of Ap Nha Mat, on 5 December, the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry, defeated the Viet Cong in the Michelin Rubber Plantation, northwest of the Division’s Lai Khe base camp. By the end of 1965 the Division had participated in three major operations: Hump, Bushmaster I and Bushmaster II.

In early 1966, the Division took part in Operations Marauder, Crimp II and Rolling Stone. On 15 March 1966 MG William E. DePuy became the Division commander. Under its new commander, the BIG RED-ONE moved to prevent a suspected enemy monsoon offensive. During Operation Birmingham, huge supplies of rice, salt and other essentials needed by the Viet Cong for their offensive were captured. MG DePuy also instituted several tactical innovations such as cloverleaf patrolling and a new style of defensive positions. In June and July the Division defeated large numbers of Viet Cong in 5 major battles on or adjacent to Highway 13, in the battles of Ap Tau O, Srok Dong and Minh Thanh Road. The 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry distinguished itself during this period. In September the 2nd Brigade headquarters was relocated to Phi Lois. From 5 through 25 November, the Division participated in Operation Attleboro. During the Battle of Ap Cha Do, the 1st Battalion 28th Infantry defeated numerous enemy.On 8 January 1967, the Division launched Operation Cedar Falls, a multi-division search and destroy mission in the infamous Iron Triangle, 30 miles north of Saigon. On 10 February, MG John H. Hay assumed command of the Big Red One. Next came Operation Junction City and 52 continuous days of pounding enemy forces in War Zone C. Units either organic to or under the operational control of the Big Red One accounted for numerous Viet Cong and North Vietnamese casualties. The biggest single battle victory achieved by the Division since its arrival in Vietnam took place at Ap Gu, and involved the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry in two days of heavy fighting, 31 March and 1 April. Operation Manhattan began on 23 April and uncovered one of the largest weapons and ammunition caches of the war. A Hoi Chanh (former Viet Cong) led the 2nd Battalion, 18th Infantry to the find, which included 350 weapons and 314,450 rounds of ammunition. On 29 September, the Division initiated Operation Shenandoah II, one of the most significant operations of the war. Within two weeks, Big Red One units fought two violent battles with the 271st VC Regiment. By the end of October, the focal point of the operation became Loc Ninh, a little village situated in a rubber plantation 40 miles north of Lai Khe. Here the VC were attempting to overrun the Special Forces/Civilian Irregular Defense Forces (CIDG) compound. The operation ended on 19 November.On 31 January 1968 during the Vietnamese celebration of the Lunar New Year (Tet), the Viet Cong launched a series of simultaneous ground and mortar attacks against most of South Vietnam’s major cities and allied military installations. In response to the attacks, the Division was summoned to help secure the sprawling Tan Son Nhut Air Base. By 13 February, units of the Big Red One had engaged and defeated numerous Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers. On 8 March MG Keith L. Ware became the 39th commanding general of the Division. Three days later, the Division entered into a multi-division operation called Quyet Thang (Resolve to Win. On 7 April 1968, the Division embarked on the largest operation of the Vietnam War: Operation Toan Thang (Certain Victory), which involved all allied troops throughout the III Corps Tactical Zone. One of the primary missions of this two-part operation was to stop the infiltration of the enemy into the Saigon area. During the early days of September, Loc Ninh again became the focal point of Big Red One operations. Hard fighting broke out on 11 September when a Special Forces compound was hit by a heavy barrage of mortar fire. In the next three days units of the Division and cavalrymen of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment engaged and defeated many North Vietnamese Army regulars. On 13 September, the Division Commander, MG Ware, was killed in action when his command helicopter was shot down by hostile fire. MG Orwin C. Talbott moved up from his position of Assistant Division Commander to assume command of the Division.During the first six months of 1969, the Division conducted extensive reconnaissance-in-force and ambush operations in the Iron Triangle and Trapezoid jungle areas as well as in the vicinity of An Loc. On 18 March, the Big Red One joined with the 25th Infantry and 1st Cavalry Divisions in a joint operation northwest of Lai Khe called Atlas Wedge. Meanwhile pacification operations were being conducted in such villages as Chanh Luu and An Dien. In late May and early June several elements of the Division were involved in the Battles of An Loc I and II. In June 5th ARVN Division and Big Red One soldiers constructed and opened the 90-kilometer road from Phuoc Vinh to Song Be – a milestone in the struggle for freedom in South Vietnam. During the latter part of the year, the Division’s participation in the “Dong Tien” (Progress Together) increased. This joint US and South Vietnamese military program was designed to enable the South Vietnamese Army to take on a more demanding part of the Vietnam conflict. Fire Support Bases were jointly manned; joint operations were conducted; patrols contained soldiers of both armies; tactical operations centers were jointly manned; training in each others tactics and techniques were conducted; and ARVN units were introduced to Big Red One support capabilities. These aggressive steps forward lead the way for other joint military partnerships in Vietnam. On 10 August 1969, MG A. E. Milloy assumed command of the Division. In August and September, elements of the Division were involved in several Battles along Thunder Road (National Highway 13) as enemy forces tried to disrupt convoys or attack Fire Support Bases. During October and November, Big Red One units discovered numerous enemy base camps and caches of weapons and supplies.On 12 January 1970 it was announced that the Big Red One colors would soon be returning to Ft Riley. The reason, as stated by the Division Commander, MG Milloy, was ” We have worked ourselves out of a job!” The Big Red One returned to Ft. Riley in April 1970. For nearly five years, the First Infantry Division soldiers battled against an aggressive enemy who made expert use of the dense jungles and inaccessible countryside. During this conflict, the First Infantry Division had mastered the use of helicopters as one of the best means of countering the jungle and the lack of roads; gained significant experience in resupply operations, medical evacuation and the tactics of the air mobile assault; instituted numerous other tactical innovations; and provided extensive civic action support to the South Vietnamese people. The Division suffered 20,770 casualties during this war. Eleven Big Red One soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor for their heroic actions. Eleven Campaign Streamers and two Decorations were added to the Big Red One colors.

When the Big Red One returned to Ft Riley in the spring of 1970, it became a mechanized division composed of 6 mechanized infantry and 4 armored battalions. Since its missions included a commitment to NATO, the Division’s 3 rd Brigade was stationed in Germany and became known as 1st Infantry Division (Forward). Late in 1970, this NATO commitment was tested when the Ft Riley-based elements of the Division were airlifted to Germany, recovered their prepositioned equipment, linked up with the 3 rd Brigade and took part in a major NATO field training exercise that was to become known as REFORGER. Over the course of the next two decades, this massive demonstration of the capability of the Big Red One to meet its commitment would be repeated many times. Training during these years often took place at the national Training Center at Ft Irwin, California. This training and the arid, desert-like environment at Ft Irwin proved to be invaluable when the Big Red One was next called to prepare for combat.

Desert Storm

On Aug. 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. This act precipitated U.S. military involvement in the Persian Gulf. The 1st Inf. Div. was put on alert for deployment on Nov. 8, 1990. The division deployed over 12,000 soldiers and 7,000 pieces of equipment to Saudi Arabia over the next two months.

At 2:00 a.m., January 17, 1991, Operation Desert Storm commenced with air raids and artillery barrages on Iraqi targets. The Division continued to rehearse its mission to penetrate Iraqi defenses and destroy the Republican Guard in its zone.

On the morning of Feb. 24, 1991, under Maj. Gen. Thomas G. Rhame, the Big Red One spearheaded the armored attack into Iraq, by creating the all-important breach in Iraqi defenses that enabled VII Corps units to smash into Iraq. The Division broke through the enemy defensive lines, decimated the Iraqi 26th Inf. Div. by and took over 2,500 prisoners. After the breachhead was secured, the British 1st Armored Division was allowed to advance and pass through the Big Red One. This kept up the momentum of the coalition force’s attack. The Division then followed and drove to the east deep into enemy territory.

Continuing its attack, the Division collided with the Tawalakana Division Republican Guard and the 37th Brigade of the 12th Iraqi Tank Division. On the night of Feb. 26, 1991, the Division battled with enemy forces and destroyed both units. Enemy losses included more than 40 tanks and 40 infantry fighting vehicles. The Division exploited its success and continued its pursuit of the demoralized Iraqi forces.

Following the Battle of Norfolk, the Division raced ahead to cut of the Iraqi lines off retreat from Kuwait City. Division elements destroyed scores of enemy vehicles and took thousands of prisoners as they advanced.

By 8 p.m., 27 Feb., the 1st Squadron, 4th U.S. Cavalry had seized the main highway leading north out of Kuwait, barring the Iraqis’ escape. By the next morning, the rest of the Division had taken up positions along the highway and fully secured it.

At 8 a.m., Feb. 28, 1991, the war was over when a cease-fire was called. The Big Red One had fought through 260 kilometers of enemy-held territory in 100 hours, destroying 550 enemy tanks, 480 armored, personnel carriers and taking 11,400 prisoners. Eighteen of the Division’s soldiers were killed in the war. The Division earned three campaign streamers for its colors: Defense of Saudi Arabia, Liberation and Defense of Kuwait and Cease Fire.

On Mar. 3, 1991, negotiations were held between coalition forces and Iraqi leaders to cement the cease-fire agreements. The Division secured the site of the agreements at Safwan airfield. Following this, the Division prepared for its return to the United States. On May 10, 1991, the Division unfurled its colors at Fort Riley, Kan., signifying its return home.


In early 1996, as part of a reorganization of the US Army, the headquarters of the 1st Infantry Division was deactivated at Ft Riley and reactivated at Würzburg, Germany. The 2nd, 3rd, Aviation, and Engineer Brigades were now stationed in Germany, along with the Division Artillery and Support elements. The 1st Brigade and its support elements remained stationed at Ft Riley, Kansas.

The Balkans – Bosnia

In March 1993, the U.S. arranged an end to the war between Muslim and Croat forces in the former Yugoslav province of Bosnia, although Serb forces continued to fight. Following a Serb attack against Gorazde, NATO launched the first of many air strikes against Serbian rebels. At the same time, a U.S. delegation mediated peace talks between Serb and Bosnian forces, and a truce was signed on Jan. 1, 1995. War continued during the spring of 1995, when the Croat army attempted to retake territory held by Serbs since the beginning of the conflict. After seven months of sporadic fighting, peace talks began in November between leaders from each ethnic group at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. On Dec. 14, 1995, the Dayton Peace Accord was signed in Paris by presidents Franjo Tudjman (Croatia), Aliji Izethbegovic (Bosnia), and Slobodon Milosevic (Serbia).

1st Infantry Division units were the first U.S. troops to move into the war-torn country and played a key role in Bosnia. The 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment was attached to 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division during Operation Joint Endeavor, from October 1995 to October 1996. On Jan. 3, 1996, the squadron crossed the Sava River, and led the 2nd Brigade Combat Team into Bosnia. In October 1996, after a yearlong deployment, the squadron was replaced by other 1st Infantry Division. The 1st Infantry Division assumed authority for command and control of Task Force Eagle (US Bosnia Forces) in a transfer of authority ceremony on Eagle Base on Nov. 10, 1996. The Division’s initial mission was to provide a covering force for the 1st Armored Division units returning to Germany, and then to continue to implement the military aspects of the General Framework Agreement for Peace.The Division continued to support the Dayton Peace Accord through the transition from the Implementation Force (IFOR) to the Stabilization Force (SFOR), in December 1996. The Big Red One operated, together with National Guard and Reserve soldiers, members of the Navy, Air Force and Marines, and soldiers from 12 allied nations, in the area known as Multi-National Division North.On Oct. 22, 1997, the 1st Armored Division again assumed command of Multi-National Division North and Task Force Eagle.

The Balkans – Kosovo

Task Force Falcon was formed Feb. 5, 1999, when the 1st Infantry Division was notified of a possible deployment to conduct peace support operations in Kosovo. The Task Force, after conducting a command post exercise and a mission rehearsal exercise during February and March, was declared mission-ready. It then deployed a command and control element forward to Camp Able Sentry, Macedonia. Following the signing of the Military Technical Agreement on June 9, 1999, Task Force Falcon deployed Big Red One forces from central Germany in the largest combined air-rail-sea-road movement since Operation Desert Storm. Task Force Falcon advance elements entered Kosovo on June 12, 1999, as part of Operation Joint Guardian, a NATO-led peacekeeping force. The Task Force Falcon headquarters was operational at the future Camp Bondsteel on June 16, 1999.

Forces from the U.S. and Greece composed the Initial Entry Force, with their headquarters built around the assault command post from the 1st Infantry Division and the Big Red One’s Schweinfurt-based 2nd Brigade Combat Team. Operating under the command and control of Joint Task Force Noble Anvil and the Operational Control of KFOR, the Initial Entry Force consisted of forces from the 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment from Fort Bragg, N.C; the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Lejune, N.C.; the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment from Schweinfurt Germany, Echo Troop, 4th Cavalry Regiment, also from Schweinfurt, Germany; and the 501st Mechanized Infantry Battalion from Greece. Task Force 12, built around the 12thAviation Group from Wiesbaden, Germany, and the 16th Corps Support Group from Hanau, Germany supported operations from Camp Able Sentry.

As the Serbian military and internal security forces redeployed out of Kosovo in accordance with the Military Technical Agreement, Task Force Falcon soldiers, airmen and marines monitored their withdrawal and ensured compliance with the agreement. Withdrawal was complete on June 20, and the focus of operations shifted to enforce the undertaking of demilitarization and transformation of the Kosovo Liberation Army, which was signed on June 21. Additional forces arrived from Germany, principally elements of the Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team from Schweinfurt, including the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor, the 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery, the 9th Engineer Battalion, and the 299th Forward Support Battalion. Other major units were the 94th Engineer Battalion from Vilseck, Germany and the 18th Air Assault Battalion from Poland. On July 10, the 1st Bn, 26th Inf. Regt. conducted a relief in place to allow the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit to re-deploy. Throughout the next week, both the 1st Bn., 77th Armor and the 18th Air Assault Battalion relieved the 2nd Bn., 505th Parachute Inf. Regt. of portions of its sector. The 13th Russian Tactical Group relieved the 1 Bn., 26th Inf. Regt. of portions of its sector on July 28 and the 2nd Bn., 1st Avn. from Katterbach, Germany, relieved Task Force 12 on Aug. 2.

In September, Task Force 1st Bn.-77th Armor conducted a relief in place with Task Force 1st Bn. 26th Infantry and assumed responsibility for the Opstina of Novo Brdo and the northern half of the Gnjilane Opstina. This enabled Task Force 1st Bn. 26th Inf. to concentrate their force in the southern half of the Opstina.

Following months of deliberate planning and detailed rehearsals, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team from the Big Red One, conducted relief in place operations and assumed responsibility for the Multi National Brigade – East area of responsibility on December 12. The transition saw Task Force 1 Bn., 63rd, Armor replace Task Force 1st Bn., 77th, Armor and Task Force 2nd Bn., 2nd Infantry fell in on what was Task Force 1st Bn., 26th Infantry’s sector in southern Gnjilane. During this same period, Task Force 1st Bn., 1st Aviation relieved Task Force 2nd Bn., 1st Aviation, 1st Bn. 6th, Field Artillery Battalion replaced 1 Bn. 7th FA, and the 201st FSB replaced the 299th FSB. Also on Dec. 12, as part of the transfer of authority ceremony, Brig. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, Assistant Division Commander (Maneuver), 1st Infantry Division assumed command of Multi National Brigade – East from Brig. Gen. Craig Peterson, Assistant Division Commander (Support), 1st Infantry Division. In June 2000, the Big Red One’s Task Force Falcon responsibilities ended and the Division redeployed to Germany.

Iraq and Afghanistan (Global War on Terrorism)

The story of the Big Red One’s participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom is actually many stories because many of the elements of the Division were, and continue to be deployed with different roles missions and under differing command structures.

This story begins in early 2003, when a force of some 2000 1st Infantry Division troops was deployed to Turkey to command and control Army Forces Turkey (ARFOR-T). Their mission was to receive and move the 4th Infantry Division across Turkey and into Northern Iraq. Units from the Big Red One included HHC, 1st ID; 1-4 Cavalry; 1-26 Inf; 1-6 FA; 2-1 Avn; HHC, Engineer Brigade; 9th Eng Bn; DISCOM; 701st MSB; 601st Avn Spt Bn; 4-3 Air Defense Artillery; 101st MI Bn; 121st Sig Bn; and the 12th Chem Co. Many other support units from Europe were also assigned. The Big Red One opened three seaports of debarkation, two airports of debarkation, three command posts and numerous convoy support centers along the 500-mile route from the Turkish coast to the Iraqi border. Six ships were downloaded and some 1200 vehicles, trailers and containers were moved to Mardin, Turkey. When the Turkish Parliament voted to deny US ground forces access to Turkey, ARFOR-T received a change of mission and began a deliberate deployment to collapse the line of communication it had built. The ships were then reloaded and the Big Red One returned to Germany.In April 2003, TF 1-63 AR, consisting of 1-63 AR, Co B 2-2 Inf and the 201st Fwd Spt Bn was deployed from Germany to Iraq and attached to the 173rd Airborne Brigade as its heavy force. The Task Force returned to Germany one year later.In September 2003, the 1st Brigade Combat Team from Ft Riley was deployed to Iraq where they were initially assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division and later to the 1st Marine Division. Units in the combat team included 1-16 Inf; 1-34 AR; 1-5 FA; Trp D, 4th Cav; 1st Engr Bn; 101st Fwd Spt Bn; Btry C, 4-3 ADA; and the 331st Sig Co. Two Marine battalions, 2-4 and 3-11 Marines were attached to the combat team. The 1st BCT was headquartered in Ar Ramadi and participated in many operations in the Sunni Triangle. It also formed and trained the 60th Iraqi National Guard Brigade and sponsored more than 23.8 million dollars in civil projects in Al Anbar Province. The 1st BCT closed back in Ft. Riley in late September 2004. 1st BCT casualties during this deployment were 62 KIA and 530 WIA. Subsequently, the Army approved the Valorous Unit Award for the Army elements of the 1st Brigade Combat Team.  In addition to the units listed above, the 248th Eng Co
and Troop B, 1-9 Cavalry from the 1 st Cavalry Division are included as eligible units in the citation .

In the spring of 2004, the 1st Infantry Division (Mech) (-) from Germany deployed to Iraq as Task Force Danger. Organic elements of the Division included the 2nd, 3rd, 4th (Avn) and Engineer Brigades, DISCOM and Divarty; 1-18 Inf, 1-26 Inf, 2-2 Inf, 2-63 Ar, 1-77 Ar, 1-4 Cav, 1-1 Avn, 2-1 Avn, 9 Engr, 82 Engr, 1-6 FA, 1-7 FA, 1-33 FA, Troops F and G 4th Cav, 4-3 ADA, 101st MI, 121st Sig, 1st MP, 1st ID Band, 12th Chem, 201 FSB, 299 FSB, 601 ASB and 701 MSB. Also assigned to TF Danger were the 30th Brigade Combat Team, Based in North Carolina and the 2nd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division from Hawaii, and the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry, NYARNG, as well as many other support units. The Division returned to Germany in February/March 2005.  Task Force Danger assigned and attached casualties during this period were 123 KIA and 807 WIA .

In early 2005, the 2nd Bn, 34th Armor (Dreadnaughts), part of the 1 st Brigade from Ft. Riley deployed to Iraq. They were assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, which in turn was assigned to the 42nd Infantry Division, NYARNG. They returned to Ft Riley in Jan 2006.  Their casualties were 2 killed and 30 wounded.In late March of 2006, Co A, 1 st Bn, 16 th Inf deployed on a security mission to the Horn of Africa. Working for CJTF Horn of Africa it performed force protection missions for humanitarian assistance programs, civil affairs missions and military-to-military training programs in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and other countries in East Africa. It returned to Ft. Riley in March of 2007.The 2nd Brigade Combat Team from Schweinfurt, Germany consisting of the 1-18 Inf; 1-26 Inf; 1-77 Armor; 1-7 FA; Trp E, 4th Cav; 9 Eng Bn; 299th FSB; A/121 Sig Bn; C/101 MI Bn; and 2Plt/1st MP Co deployed to Iraq in Aug/Sep 2006. During its tour, units from other divisions were attached. It returned to Germany 15 months later in the fall of 2007. 103 soldiers in assigned and attached units were killed during this deployment.
In September of 2006, the 1 st Brigade deployed the 1st Engr Bn, its subordinate units renamed as the 72nd Engineer Company, 111 Engineer Company (Sapper) and 41 st Engineer Company and seven convoy security companies (B and C, 1-16 Inf; B and C, 1-34 Ar; D-4th Cav; and B and D, 1-5 FA) to Iraq. All returned to Ft Riley in the fall of 2007. Casualties among all units were 4 killed.

The 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from Ft. Riley deployed to Iraq in early 2007. Its assigned units were the 1-28 Inf; 2-16 Inf; 2-32 FA; 1-4 Cav; 4 th Brigade Special Troops Bn and 610th Base Spt Bn. It also had units attached to it and attached its units to and from other divisions. During the tour it worked for the 1 st Cav Div and 4 th Inf Div. It returned to Ft Riley in April 2008.


Starting in 2005 and extending into 2008 and beyond, the Big Red One “transformed”, i.e. underwent a massive reorganization that involved significant changes in its structure, units, missions and basing. After some 11 years in Germany, the bulk of the Division is again located at Ft. Riley, Kansas with one Brigade Combat Team now at Ft. Hood, Texas and eventually to be based at Ft. Knox, Kentucky and an air cavalry regiment located at Ft. Carson, Colorado. In this process, many famous units with long ties to the Division such as Division Artillery, Division Support Command and the Army’s oldest and most decorated engineer unit, the 1 st Engineer Battalion left the Division. Other old units returned. Units such as the Combat Aviation Brigade were renamed. The “transformed” Division’s maneuver elements will be four self-supporting Brigade Combat Teams and a Combat Aviation Brigade Combat Team. These include:

The 1st Brigade Combat Team is based at Ft. Riley and presently engaged in the vital mission of training and deploying Transition Teams to Iraq and Afghanistan. This training involves service members from across the Army, Air Force and Navy who are slated to become advisors to these countries. To date over 7000 service members have been trained and deployed. In Iraq the Transition Teams are assigned to a 1 st ID command and control element and then attached to various US and Iraqi units and Iraqi institutions. The advisory mission in Afghanistan is approximately the same, but the command and control arrangements differ. The brigade also has the mission of providing deployable security force companies.The 2nd Brigade Combat Team in Germany was reflagged as another unit in March of 2008. Later that month, the 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, stationed at Ft. Riley became the 2 nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1 st Infantry Division. Its units include 1-18 Inf; 1-63 AR; 1-7 FA; 5-4 Cav, 299 Spt Bn and the 2 nd Brigade Special Troops BnThe 3rd Brigade which had been deactivated in Germany was reactivated in April of 2007 at Ft. Hood, Texas as the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1 st Infantry Division. Its units included the 2-2 Inf, 2-26 Inf, 6-4 Cav, 1-6 FA, 201 Brigade Support Battalion and 3 rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion. In March of 2008, the 2-26 Inf became the 1-26 Inf. The rd Brigade Combat Team is slated to deploy to Afghanistan in late 2008.The 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team was activated at Ft. Riley. Its units are as named above. It is presently deployed in Iraq.
The 1st Infantry Division Combat Aviation Brigade was activated in July of 2006. Its units include 1-1 Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 2-1 General Support Aviation Battalion, 3-1 Air Assault Battalion, 601 st Aviation Support Battalion, all based at Ft. Riley and the 1-6 Cavalry Regiment, stationed at Ft. Carson, CO. It deployed to Iraq in the late summer 2007

On 1 Aug 2006, the headquarters of the 1st Infantry Division returned to the Division’s home at Ft Riley, Kansas. In November of 2007 a brand new division headquarters was dedicated. The headquarters is projected for modularization in summer/fall 2009 with deployment thereafter.

Iraq (Global War on Terrorism) (continued)

The 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from Fort Riley deployed to Iraq in early 2007 and returned in April 2008. During its 15-month deployment, 74 soldiers assigned and from attached units gave their lives. While in Iraq, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team soldiers conducted combat operations that resulted in the capture of more than 200 high-profile targets and reduced 20 enemy cells down to five. Soldiers from the 4th IBCT also completed more than 200 civil projects, including repairing sewer, water, medical and education facilities. Working with the Iraqi government in Rashid, the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team increased water accessibility by 90 percent.

The 3rd Brigade Combat Team deployed to eastern Afghanistan in June 2008, where the “Dukes” would record more than 1,000 firefights, 1,000 enemy KIAs, 500 bombs dropped, 26,000 rounds of artillery fired, and 400 Purple Hearts awarded.

In October 2008, the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat team deployed to Iraq again, this time to northwest Baghdad, where the “Dagger” brigade would oversee the moving of American forces out of the city and restricted to post, in accordance with the new Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government.

The Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, the first of its kind in the new modular division headquarters structure, deployed to United States Division — South to assume control of the ongoing U.S. operations in southern Iraq. The Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion unit replaced the 34th Infantry Division “Red Bulls”, and was relieved by the 36th Infantry Division “Arrowhead”.

In April 2010, the 1st Infantry Division Combat Aviation Brigade returned to Iraq, assuming the role of Enhanced CAB, taking responsibility for air control over all of Iraq.

The 1st Brigade of the 1st Division re-formed as a combat team and deployed in support of Operation New Dawn in November 2010.

The Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, assembled as Task Force Defender, deployed to Combined Joint Task Force -1, Regional Command-East to assume control of the ongoing U.S. operations in eastern Afghanistan. The DHHB’s activities were chronicled at http://www.rc-east.com.

The Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion uncased its colors at Fort Riley in March 2013.


First Division Monument, Washington, DC