1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment
The mission of the 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, "Silver Lions," is to maintain combat readiness to deploy, fight, and win in any theater of operation.
The 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment was first organized on 7 Jun, 1918 in the National Army in France as Company A, 327th Battalion, Tank Corps, an element of the American Expeditionary Forces. On 12 September 1918, the unit was redesignated as Company A, 345th Battalion, Tank Corps. During September 1918 Company A, 354th Battalion, Tank Corps participated in both St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne campaigns, receiving campaign streamers for both actions.
On 8 January 1921, the unit was again redesignated as the 1st Tank Company and allotted to the Regular Army. The 1st Tank Company was assigned on 1 April 1921 to the 1st Division.
The 1st Tank Company was relieved on 16 October 1939 from assignment to the 1st Division. It was consolidated on 1 January 1940 with Company A, 68th Infantry (first constituted on 1 October 1933 in the Regular Army) and the consolidated unit designated as Company A, 68th Infantry (Light Tanks). It was inactivated on 5 June 1940 at Fort Benning, Georgia.
The unit was redesignated on 15 July 1940 as Company A, 68th Armored Regiment, an element of the 2nd Armored Division. It was activated on 1 August 1940 at Fort Benning, Georgia. Early in December 1940, the 68th Armor participated in the first long road march of the 2nd Armored Division to Panama City, Florida, from Fort Benning, Georgia, a distance of 200 miles. Colonel James R.N. Weaver was Commander of the 68th Armored Regiment at the time. He later became a General and was credited with cutting down Japanese by the hundreds with his tanks in the early days of fighting in the Philippines. Company A, 68th Armored Regiment was inactivated on 8 January 1942 at Fort Benning, Georgia, and relieved from assignment to the 2nd Armored Division.
The unit was reactivated on 15 February 1942 at Fort Knox, Kentucky, as an element of the 6th Armored Division. It was reorganized and redesignated on 20 September 1943 as Company A, 773rd Tank Battalion, and relieved from assignment to the 6th Armored Division. It was reorganized and redesignated on 27 October 1943 as Company A, 773rd Amphibian Tank Battalion. The 773rd Amphibian Tank Battalion was order to the Pacific. The Battalion was equipped with the Landing Vehicles Tracked (Assault), and as the name implies they were used to make assault landings on the beaches of various enemy occupied islans, such as Saipan and Tinian.
The unit was reorganized and redesignated on 10 January 1944 as Company A, 773rd Amphibian Tractor Battalion. At 0812 on 15 June 1944, under heavy guns of the Fifth Fleet, the assault battalions crossed the Line of Departure with LVT's and started for the beaches just to the south of Charankano on the island of Saipan. Despite the massive air attacks and naval gunfire lobbing bombs and shells upon the Japanese defenses prior to the assault, the Japanese were ready and waiting. The landing was vigorously opposed. The defenders rained Artillery and Mortar fire on the beaches from weapons placed in well defiladed positions. Units of the 25th Marines (to which the 773rd Amphibian Tractor Battalion was attached) were receiving such heavy enfilade fire that they were pinned down on the beach. No words could convey the fury of the battle, but men of the 4th Marine Division who were there that day would remember the smoking wrecks of the LVT's, charred and blasted pillboxes, dead Japanese and American bodies, and the reek of high explosives in the air. Amidst the hell and bitter fighting, the men of the 4th Marine Division finally reached Marpi Point on the northern tip of the Island leaving no place for the Japanese to go. The Island was secured on 9 July 1944, concluding the battle for Saipan.
Soon thereafter the plans for the assault on Tinian were completed, and on 24 July 1944, the assault was launched. Again the LVT's of the 773rd Amphibian Tractor Battalion (Companies A and B) led the assault waves. The Preparatory bombardment delivered on Tinian prior to the landings exceeded in duration and deliberate destructiveness of any previous preparation of the Pacific War. The overwhelming preparatory fires, the surprise choice of narrow, rough, northern beaches, and a demonstration off Tinian Town had all combined to weaken and delude the Japanese so effectively that they were unable to offer strong resistance initially. However, when night fell, the Japanese launched fierce "Banzai" charges against the 4th Marine Division perimeter that left their dead piled up. Victory in the night battles had been complete. It was there that the 4th Marine Division and attached 773rd Amphibian Tractor Battalion with its tanks, broke the Japanese in the battle for Tinian.
For its part in the action on Saipan and Tinian, the 773rd Amphibian Tractor Battalion won the Presidential Unit Citation (Navy). The 773rd Amphibian Tractor Battalion fought in the Philippines and in the battle for Okinawa and Ryukus islands. It landed in Japan after the surrender and remained there until inactivated on 15 April 1946 at Uokohama.
While inactive, the unit was redesignated on 24 December 1946 as Company A, 56th Amphibian Tractor Battalion and again on 18 April 1949 as Company A, 56th Amphibious Tank and Tractor Battalion. This unit was activated on 10 May 1949 at Fort Worden, Washington. In response to the crisis in Korea, the 56th Amphibious Tank and Tractor battalion landed at Inchon, Korea with the 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. With its Amphibious Tanks, Company A took part in the crossing of the Han River, near Seoul on 21 September 1950, and moved to Kimpo Airfield, routing the enemy forces. The 1st Marine Division and all attached units were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for this action: "For extraordinary heroism in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea, from 13 September to 11 October 1950." After the Korean Conflict, the 56th Amphibian Tank and Tractor Battalion was inactivated in Japan on 15 December 1954.
Company A, 56th Amphibious Tank and Tractor Battalion was redesignated on 1 July 1957 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Medium Tank Battalion, 68th Armor and assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division. It was activated at Fort Benning, Georgia, the same place where it first joined the 68th Armor, with its organic elements concurrently constituted and activated. Under the Pentomic force structure, the Battalion consisted of 5 companies. Being descended from A Company, 68th Armor, the unit became the first Medium Tank Battalion (Patton) of the 68th Armor Regiment.
On 24 April 1958, the 3rd Infantry Division arrived in Germany, with the 1st Battalion, 68th Armor going to Aschaffenburg. On 1 April 1963, in conjunction with adoption of the ROAD (Reorganization of Army Divisions) concept, the unit was relieved from assignment to the 3rd Infantry Division and joined the other active battalions of the 68th Armor being assigned to the in the 8th Infantry Division. 1-68th Armor arrived at Baumholder on 1 April 1963.
While stationed at Wildfecken, Germany, the Battalion began fielding the M1A1 Abrams MBT in the late 1980s, replacing its inventory of M60A3 tanks. The Battalion was inactivated on 15 March 1991 in Germany and relieved from assignment to the 8th Infantry Division.
The Battalion was assigned on 16 January 1996 to the 4th Infantry Division and activated at Fort Carson, Colorado. Only one brigade of 4th Infantry Division was located at Fort Carson. This necessitated a detached brigade combat team (not to be confused with the modular brigade combat team) at Fort Carson to support the 3rd Brigade. The Division Headquarters and the other 2 brigades in the 4th Infantry Division were located at Fort Hood, Texas.
The 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, was the only armor battalion located on Fort Carson, with 48 M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks, 32 armored personnel carriers, over 50 tactical wheeled vehicles, 5 tracked maintance/recovery vehicles, and over 600 personnel. The "Silver Lion" Battalion was a large self-reliant organization. 1-68th Armor had 4 company's, an Headquarters and Headquarters Company, and Companies A, B, and C. There were 14 M1A1 main battle tanks in each of the 3 line companies. The combined strength of the 14 M1A1's with all guns blazing made each company, theoretically, more powerful than a World War II era battleship. With 3 "Battleships" at its disposal, there was no mission that the "Silver Lions" could not handle. To Support the 3 line companies, there was Headquarters and Headquarters Company, which was the largest of the 4 companies with over 300 personnel. Located in HHC were Reconnaissance, Mortar, Maintance, Headquarters, Signal, Supply, Intelligence, Cooks, Chemical, Administration and Medical platoons for the Battalion.
Before the Force XXI force structure, 1-68th Armor had 5 Company's: HHC and A, B, C, and D Companies. On 13 April 2000, A Company was inactivated turning all 14 of its tanks to the Mississippi National Guard. D Company was inactivated on 14 April 2000 and reflagged as A Company, leaving the Battalion with only 4 companies instead of 5. As of late 2001, 1st Battalion, 68th Armor fielded the M1A1 Abrams main battle tank as its primary weapon.
The Battalion was relieved in 2004 from assignment to the 4th Infantry Division and assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. This reassignment was part of the transformation of the 4th Infantry Division to the US Army's new modular force structure.
As of 1 January 2006, the 1st Battalion, 68th Armored Regiment, an element of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division was participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom as part of the larger Task Force Band of Brothers, which was led by 101st Airborne Division commanding general, Major General Thomas Turner. The 3rd Brigade Combat Team's mission included training the Iraqi Security Forces, assisting in the rebuilding of the Diyala Province infrastructure, as well as continuing to root out the anti-Iraqi forces that inhabited the region.
The 4,000 troops in the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, which included 1-68th Armor, had 9 Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) spread across 1,500 square miles of Iraq north of Baghdad, from Samarra to Taji. The headquarters was at Logistics Support Area Anaconda, a logistics support area about 12 miles from FOB Eagle.
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