1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment
In 2007, the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment was inactivated and reflagged as the 2nd Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, which remained assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.
At the beginning of the 20th Century, the United States Army was sorely pressed to meet its overseas commitments in Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico. As a result, in 1901 Congress authorized 5 additional Regular Army Infantry regiments; the 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th and 30th Infantry. All 5 regiments subsequently served the Army well. The 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry traces its lineage back to when it was first organized on 25 December 1900 in the Regular Army at the Presidio of San Francisco, California, as Company A, 1st Provisional Battalion of Infantry. It was consolidated on 7 February 1901 with Company A, 26th Infantry (which was first constituted on 2 February 1901 in the Regular Army), and consolidated unit designated as Company A, 26th Infantry.
The 26th Infantry began its life overseas in the Philippines and spent its first 20 years of service on deployments to the Southwest Pacific, the Mexican and Indian frontier and in Europe. It earned its first battle streamer during the Philippine Insurrection within 2 years of its forming as a unit.
After returning to the same location for another tour of duty (a habit the 26th Infantry Regiment would keep for the entire century), the 26th Infantry Regiment fought off Mexican bandits and settled disputes in the Indian Territory until it was selected as one of only 4 Regular Army Infantry Regiments deemed fit for immediate combat to form the 1st American Expeditionary Division in June of 1917. This expeditionary division would later be redesignated the 1st Division (and subsequently the 1st Infantry Division) and thus began ths 26th Infantry Regiment's long association with the Big Red One.
As part of the first American soldiers to arrive in France, the 26th Infantry Regiment immediately left for the front. Along with its sister regiments of the 1st Division, it earned more campaign streamers than any other regiments during the First World War, but at a terrible cost. Over 900 members of the Regiment their lives in a 6-month period. At Soisson alone, the regimental commander, executive officer, 2 of 3 battalion commanders and regimental sergeant major were killed in action. Sixty-two officers were killed or wounded and out of 3100 men that started the attack, over 1500 had been killed or wounded. The battle was won and this turned the tide for the Allies at a crucial period during the summer of 1918. By war's end, the soldiers earned 7 battle streamers and 2 foreign awards. It was also during this conflict that the Regiment's name, the "Blue Spaders" came into usage. The name referred to the Regimental shield, which consisted of the Mohawk arrowhead. Colonel Hamilton A. Smith selected this to represent the regimental spirit of courage, resourceful daring and relentless pursuit of an enemy.
Following a brief occupation duty in Germany, the regiment returned to the United States and served as a part of a smaller peacetime Army until 1941. In the 1920s and 30s, the unit's permanent home station became Plattsburg Barracks, New York. These years would involve training exercises and maneuvers along with the normal routines of garrison duty.
In 1941, the regiment once again stood with its sister regiments and prepared for war in Europe. In World War II, the 26th Infantry led America's first-ever amphibious assault in North Africa, fought at the Kasserine Pass, assaulted Sicily, invaded Normandy, conquered the first German city of the war at Aachen, vaulted the Rhine and attacked all the way to Czechoslovakia by war's end. The 26th Infantry Regiment conducted 3 amphibious assaults, and earned 7 battle streamers, a Presidential Unit Citation, and 5 foreign awards.
Beginning another occupation of Germany, the "Blue Spaders" were given the honor of bearing the United States National Colors at the Allied Victory in Europe parade, and were selected to serve as America's guard of honor at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. Thus began a lengthy stay in Germany, first as conquerors and later as friends and Allies.
The unit was reorganized and redesignated on 15 February 1957 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battle Group, 26th Infantry, and remained assigned to the 1st Infantry Division with its organic elements concurrently constituted and activated. It was relieved on 14 April 1959 from assignment to the 1st Infantry Division and assigned to the 8th Infantry Division.
Serving as a battle group in Europe in the early 1960s, the unit was attached to various Divisions. It was relieved on 24 October 1962 from assignment to the 8th Infantry Division and assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division. It was relieved on 15 February 1963 from assignment to the 2nd Infantry Division and assigned to the 1st Infantry Division. It was then reorganized and redesignated on 13 January 1964 as the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry.
The Battalion rejoined the 1st Infantry Division shortly before receiving orders to deploy as a part of the Army's first divisional-sized unit in Vietnam in 1965. The "Blue Spaders" served longer in Vietnam with their "Big Red One" units than any other division. After 5 continuous years of combat the "Blue Spaders" received orders to return home in 1970 with 11 battle streamers, a Valorous Unit Award and 2 foreign awards for its colors.
At the conclusion of Vietnam, the Battalion returned to Germany as part of a forward-deployed brigade of the 1st Infantry Division. The unit was inactivated on 24 February 1983 in Germany and relieved from assignment to the 1st Infantry Division, when that Brigade returned to the United States.
The 26th Infantry was transfered to TRADOC on 3 April 1987, where the 26th Infantry's Regiments spent several years training recruits. The 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry was inactivated on 15 January 1996 at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and withdrawn from the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command.
On 16 February 1996, the Battalion rejoined the "Big Red One" in Germany only to send its soldiers to Bosnia as part of the first American forces to enter the Balkans from February to September 1996. The entire Battalion followed its initial deployment from October 1996 to April 1997. In March 1998, the "Blue Spaders" deployed again to the Balkans, this time to the Republic of Macedonia. Returning briefly in September 1998, the Battalion was the first unit alerted for deployment to Kosovo in June 1999. It returned in December 1999. During this period, the unit earned the Superior Unit Award streamer and the Defense of Kosovo streamer for the colors. Three of Task Force 1-26 Infantry's soldiers lost their lives in Kosovo.
In 2004 the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry deployed with other elements of the 1st Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Following that deployment the unit was redesignated on 1 October 2005 as the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment.
After serving another tour of duty in Iraq in 2007, the unit was relieved on 16 March 2008 from assignment to the 1st Infantry Division and assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. This was part of the transformation of the 2nd Brigade to the US Army's modular force structure. 3rd Brigade Combat Team had perviously converted in 2006 and the 2nd Battalion, 26th Infantry was concurrently inactivated and reflagged as the 1st battalion, 26th Infantry.
In June 2008 the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, including the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry, deployed to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. The unit remained deployed in that country into 2009.
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