1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment
In March 2008, the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment was inactivated along with the rest of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division. The 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division was reflagged as the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. The 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division was subsequently reorganized and redesignated as the 3rd Brigade Combat Team and reactivated at Fort Bliss, Texas. The 1st Battalion, 41st Infanty Regiment was subsequently reactivated as part of the reorganized brigade in July 2009.
Prior to the transformation of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1-41st Infantry's mission was to deploy, with or without equipment, build combat power, conduct military operations in support of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team (not to be confused with the modular brigade combat team), or other headquarters, and redeploys.
The 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment was first constituted on 20 June 1917 as Company A, 41st Infantry at Fort Snelling, Minnesota from soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment. On 9 July 1918, the Regiment was assigned to the 10th Division at Camp Funston, Kansas, commanded by General Leonard Wood. There the 41st Infantry as a whole prepared for deployment to Europe to fight in World War I. In October 1918, the Regiment sent an advance party to France to prepare for the deployment, however, the War ended in November 1918 and Regiment did not deploy. As part of the general demobilization following the war, the Regiment was inactivated on 22 September 1921 at Camp Meade, Maryland.
On 15 July 1940, the unit was reactivated as Company A, 41st Infantry (Armored) at Fort Benning, Georgia. The 41st Infantry Regiment constituted the organic infantry of the newly formed 2nd Armored Division. The association between the 41st Infantry and the 2nd Armored Division lasted throughout World War II and continued through Operation Desert Storm. During World War II, the Regiment was, in essence, a mechanized infantry regiment. The main combat vehicle was the half-track, mounting .30 and .50 caliber machine guns. Combined arms maneuver was central to all operations. The 41st Armored Infantry always worked closely with tanks. Its companies were habitually cross-attached within the Division to form regimental-sized combined arms task forces that, in turn, were organized into brigade-sized units, called Combined Commands, for specific missions.
From 1940 to 1942, the Regiment trained hard in preparation for combat as part of 2nd Armored Division. During most of this period, the Division was commanded by Major General George S. Patton. Both the 2nd Armored Division and the 41st Armored Infantry Regiment distinguished themselves in a series of large-scale, force-on-force maneuvers in Tennessee, Louisiana, and Carolina. Battle drills, marksmanship, and tough physical training were the hallmarks of the 41st Infantry.
On 1 January 1942, the unit was redesignated as Company A, 41st Armored Infantry. Also in 1942, Colonel Sidney R. Hinds, rose from Regimental S-3 to Regimental Commander. He led the Regiment through most of World War II. It was he who adopted the motto "We stand up straight, we shoot straight, we drive straight, and attempt to live straight." The word 'Stalwart' implied that the unit had the strength and stamina to withstand punishment in combat, without loss of heart, and that it had the ability to deal a knockout blow to any enemy.
In October 1942, the Regiment set sail from Newport News, Virginia as a part of Major General Patton's North African Invasion Force. The invasion of North Africa was known as Operation Torch. Participating in America's first amphibious landing of the war, the Regiment hit the beaches of Morocco, near Casablanca, in November 1942. In concert with the rest of 2nd Armored Division, the 41st Infantry quickly overpowered the sizable Vichy French Forces, loose allies with Nazi Germany, before they could organize an effective resistance. The key was rapid movement and massing of forces to such an extent that the Vichy French became convinced that they were completely outmatched. The 41st Infantry took part in perhaps the most difficult of all military operations, an amphibious landing on hostile soil, and had proven itself in combat.
Following a period of occupation duty in North Africa, the 41st Infantry participated as a part of 2nd Armored Division in the invasion of Sicily on 9 July 1943. Under command of then Lieutenant General George S. Patton and his Seventh US Army, US forces bypassed the enemy strong points and seized the whole western end of the island with lightning speed. The 41st Infantry was in the forefront of the advance, playing an instrumental role in the capture of Palermo.
Following this successful campaign, the 41st Infantry arrived at Tidworth Barracks, England in November 1943 to prepare for the D-Day Invasion. Although the barracks were a welcome change for the unit after nearly a year of combat, the Regimental Commander knew what was ahead and immediately instituted a demanding training program.
The cold, wet English weather did not make training pleasant, but both the soldiers and their leaders knew that rugged, demanding training would save lives in combat. Training began at the individual and squad level. Soldiers received instruction on rifle marksmanship, knowing that shooting straight and rapidly would be essential in future battles. Colonel Hinds also emphasized first aid in his training plan. He had learned from the tough fighting in North Africa and Sicily that soldiers had to have the ability to assist one another in an effort to maintain the infantry's most important weapon, the rifleman.
At Imber Range, the 41st Infantry perfected its ability to fight as a member of a combined arms team. Working together with the 66th Armored Regiment, they learned how to fight mounted for longer periods before dismounting their half-tracks. In Sicily, the infantry had frequently dismounted when they first met resistance. In England, they learned the value of keeping up with the momentum of the attack by staying with the tanks.
In mid-April 1944, all leaves and passes were cancelled. Final preparation for combat began. Ammunition, weapons, and individual equipment were inspected several times. The 41st Infantry conducted practice landing operations. Numerous terrain board exercises and map problems trained the leaders for the difficult missions that lay ahead for the first week of June 1944. The 41st Infantry would cross Omaha Beach in Normandy as a part of the greatest armada in history, Operation Overload.
Following the initial D-Day beach landings on 6 June 1944, the 2nd Armored Division was brought ashore on 9 June 1944 to provide the punch for a breakout from the beachhead. The Regiment's first major combat action came on 28-29 July 1944, when several enemy columns simultaneously attacked. The enemy was repelled with heavy losses in savage hand-to-hand combat, grenade, and bayonet fighting. One enemy column of 94 vehicles was completely destroyed. In this engagement, as in many others, the outcome rested on the brave deeds of a few good men who rose to the occasion. Foremost among these was Sergeant Hulon B. Whittington, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions. Sergeant Whittington, completely disregarding intense enemy action, mounted a tank and by shouting through the turret, directed it to fire point blank at the leading Mark V German tank. The destruction of this vehicle blocked all movement of the remaining enemy column consisting of over 100 vehicles of a Panzer unit. It was also during this period that the 41st Infantry won its first Presidential Unit Citation, not only for blunting the strong German counterattacks, but for spearheading the opposing enemy forces. The continuity of the defense was destroyed. This critical breakthrough set the stage for the rapid advance across France.
The Regiment won its second Presidential Unit Citation by repelling another strong enemy counterattack on 20 July 1944, consisting of approximately 600 men and 10 tanks. One hundred thirty-nine enemy troops were killed during the battle that sealed off the Germans on the Cherbourg Peninsula and continued the advance of the 2nd Armored Division.
Following the breakout from the Normandy hedgerow country, the 41st Infantry spearheaded the advance of XIX Corps, First US Army, across France and Belgium in August and September 1944. Finally, the 41st Infantry reached the German Border.
Here the Germans planned to offer a more determined resistance. Along its border, the Germans had constructed the "Westwall," popularly known as the "Siegfried line." This was a network of mutually supporting pillboxes, trench systems, obstacles, gun employments and dug in tanks arranged in a depth of about 20 kilometers. Its purpose was to slow the Allied advance, wear down the attacking forces, and make the enemy vulnerable to counterattack by highly mobile mechanized forces. 2nd Armored Division was ordered to push through the line between the Wurm and Roer Rivers. Elements of the 41st Infantry led the way for virtually every one of the 2nd Armored Division's task forces during this campaign. The attack began on 1 October 1944.
2nd Armored Division attacked on a very narrow front of 5 kilometers. German resistance was strong, as they were fighting on their own soil. The 2nd Armored Division made steady but slow progress. The Germans counter-attacked continuously. Near the village of Puffendorf, the Germans launched the largest tank counter-attack up to that date on the western front. It was stopped in its tracks, but losses were high. From 17 to 28 November 1944, the 41st Infantry breached a 15 foot wide, 10 mile long anti-tank ditch and led the way for the final, dramatic 10 day attack to the Roer River. Infantry Maneuver and close combat were decisive factors during this attack. For its sacrifice, bravery and contribution in this stage of the campaign, the 41st Infantry received its third Presidential Unit Citation.
In December 1944, the German Army launched a powerful counter-attack in the Ardennes through Belgium and created a "bulge" in the American lines. The 2nd Armored Division moved rapidly to reach the area of the furthest German advance. Here, near Celles, Belgium the 41st Infantry led the attack as 2nd Armored Division broke the nose of the entire German offensive. No German forces advanced westward. The 2nd Armored Division then shifted to the east and attacked with the 41st leading the way. The 41st Infantry entered Houffalize, Belgium on 16 January 1945 and linked up with the elements of Patton's Third US Army. For its gallant efforts in this attack to "break the spine of the bulge," the 41st was awarded its fourth Presidential Unit Citation.
Soon thereafter, the war ended. On 4 July 1945, the 41st Infantry moved to occupy the American zone in Berlin. On 27 January 1946, the 41st Infantry sailed for the US from Calais, France.
The next years would serve as a transition period for the 41st as they were reorganized. The unit was reorganized on 25 March 1946 and became Company A, 41st Armored Infantry Battalion, still an element of 2nd Armored Division. From 10 July 1951 to 19 December 1957, it was still an element of 2nd Armored Division, stationed in the Federal Republic of Germany.
On 1 July 1957, Company A, 41st Armored Infantry Battalion became Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Armored Rifle Battalion, 41st Infantry. The battalion was then transferred to Fort Hood, Texas. Finally on 1 July 1963, the unit was reorganized and redesignated as the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry.
On 22 March 1983, the Battalion was issued its first M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles. After a long summer of training, the Battalion conducted an ARTEP in December 1983. In November 1984, the Battalion received movement orders to rotate to the 2nd Armored Division (Forward) in early summer 1986 as the Army's first COHORT rotational battalion. Upon arriving at Garlstedt, Germany the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry proved its combat readiness by leading the way in numerous field exercises.
After a long period of peace, violence again came upon the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry when Saddam Hussein invaded the tiny nation of Kuwait. The 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry was called upon to deploy to Southwest Asia to prepare for the liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi hands. On 15 February 1991, Task Force 1-41st Infantry began firing on the enemy. For 6 hours the task force engaged a brigade sized element. A tenacious and determined enemy occupied extremely well prepared and heavily fortified bunkers. Task force elements dismounted and engaged the Iraqis in numerous short range fire fights while methodically clearing the extensive bunker complex. By morning, the Task Force had systematically reduced the entrenched enemy position in zone. During the entire campaign, Task Force 1-41st Infantry traveled over 200 kilometers in 72 hours and destroyed 65 armored vehicles and 10 artillery pieces, while capturing 300 prisoners. For these heroic actions, Task Force 1-41st Infantry was awarded the Valorous Unit Award.
After Operation Desert Storm, another period of transition was in store for the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry. On 15 June 1992, the Battalion was inactivated. It was reactivated on 16 December 1992 at Fort Polk, Louisiana and then inactivated again on 15 December 1995 at Fort Hood, Texas. At that time it was relieved from assignment to the 2nd Armored Division. Finally, it was assigned 16 February 1996 to the 1st Armored Division. It was activated at Fort Riley, Kansas as the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry on 29 March 1996, along with Battery C, 1-4th Air Defense Artillery, for garrison operations only.
In August 2004, the newly-arrived Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, out of Ft. Riley, Kansas and attached to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, conducted a right-seat ride with the troopers of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. A right-seat ride gave incoming units a chance to see what the current units were doing. The right-seat ride lasted 2 days, beginning 2 August 2044, and was carried out around Camp Cuervo in northeastern Baghdad, where 2-8th Cavalry was located. During the right-seat ride, the 1-41st Infantry Soldiers took the extra seats in the 2-8th Cavalry trooper's vehicles and tagged along for the ride, standing back to study how certain things were done at some points and getting their feet wet to help at others.
In March 2008, the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry was inactivated along with the rest of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division. It was reflagged as an element of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. The 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division was reorganized and redesiganted as the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, as part of the transformation to the US Army's modular force structure. As part of the 2005 BRAC law, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team had moved from Fort Riley to Fort Bliss, Texas, where it was subsequently reactivated. The 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry was reorganized and redesiganted as the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment and reactivated at Fort Bliss in July 2009, as part of the reorganized 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division.
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