2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment
On 1 October 1941, the 34th Armored Regiment was constituted at Fort Knox, Kentucky and assigned to the 5th Armored Division. The 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor was first constituted as Company B, 34th Armored Regiment.
When the United States entered World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, the 5th Armored Division moved to Camp Cooke, California to defend the west coast against a possible Japanese invasion. When the invasion did not materialize, the 5th Armored Division moved to Camp Irwin in the Mojave Desert to train in desert operations for possible deployment to North Africa to battle Field Marshal Rommel's Afrika Korps.
In 1942, after months of training, the 5th Armored Division moved to McMinnville, Tennessee and began training on river crossings in preparation for a European theater mission. Tankers that had been battling the dust and heat of the Mojave only weeks before now encountered mud and snow as their main adversary. In July 1943, the 5th Armored Division moved to Pine Camp, New York (which eventually became Fort Drum) to prepare for overseas movement.
On 20 September 1943, the 34th Armor Regiment was broken up. The 1st Battalion, 34th Armor was reorganized and redesignated as the 772nd Tank Battalion, and relieved from assignment to the 5th Armored Division The B Company, 1st Battalion, 34th Armor was reorganized and redesignated as B Company, 772nd Tank Battalion.
On 26 January 1945, the 772nd Tank Battalion loaded its Sherman and Stuart tanks on the troop ship Sea Robin and set sail for France. Arriving in the European Theater of Operations on 6 February 1945, the Battalion began moving east towards the front lines. On 24 March 1945, the Battalion was attached to the 44th Infantry Division. On 27 March 1945, the Battalion crossed the Rhine River and participated in the final push into Hitler's "Thousand Year Reich" leading the 44th Infantry Division's attack on Mannheim, Germany. Between 29 March 1945 and 30 April 1945, the Battalion moved rapidly across Germany destroying all resistance it encountered. By the end of the war the 772nd Tank Battalion had halted its move near the town of Tarrenz, Austria and began occupation duties until 26 June 1945. At the Roer River Dams, the 772nd Tank Battalion was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for its heroic assault on the enemy forces defending the dams and the Roer River.
Returning stateside, the 772nd Tank Battalion, including B Company, was inactivated at Camp Shelby, Mississippi on 14 November 1945. The Battalion was withdrawn on 16 January 1947 from the Regular Army, redesignated as the 306th Tank Battalion, and allotted to the Organized Reserves. Its Headquarters and Headquarters Company was activated 5 February 1947 at Seattle, Washington, with the remainder of Battalion, including B Company, being activated on 25 June 1947. The unit eventually moved to Fort Ord, California, becoming part of Sixth Army. The Organized Reserves were redesignated on 25 March 1948 as the Organized Reserve Corps, to which the unit remained assigned. The 306th Tank Battalion was reorganized and redesignated on 2 May 1949 as the 306th Heavy Tank Battalion. It was inactivated on 15 September 1950 at Seattle, Washington, before being disbanded entirely on 20 February 1952. The Organized Reserve Corps was redesignated on 9 July 1952 as the Army Reserve.
The 306th Heavy Tank Battalion was reconstituted on 27 March 1957 in the Regular Army. It was concurrently consolidated, reorganized, and redesignated along with 34th Tank Battalion; 10th Tank Battalion; Company D, 85th Reconnaissance Battalion; and Maintenance and Service Companies, 34th Armored Regiment, becoming the 34th Armor, a parent regiment under the Combat Arms Regimental System. Company B, 306th Heavy Tank Battalion was reconstituted in the Regular Army as Company B, 34th Armor.
On 1 October 1963, the B Company, 34th Armor was redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor and activated at Fort Irwin, California, with the rest of the Battalion subsequently constituted and activated. Once again the Battalion was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division.
On 3 August 1966, the 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor was alerted for movement to the Republic of South Vietnam. Arriving at Vung Tau on 10 September 1966, with their M48A3 Patton tanks, the 2-34th Armor began conducting limited operations with the 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate) and 1st Infantry Division. The Battalion was headquartered south east of Long Binh on Highway 1.
While supporting the 1st Infantry Division, elements of the 2-34th Armor conducted search and destroy operations in the II Field Force Area. The Vietnamese rainy season had turned the ground into a problem for the Tankers. Thirty-four of the Battalion's tanks became mired causing their mission to be in jeopardy. Major General William E. DePuy, the 1st Division Commander, monitoring the situation from a helicopter, contacted Lieutenant Colonel Stailey, the 2-34th Armor commander, and asked "How many Tanks do you have stuck, Tanker?" Lieutenant Colonel Stailey responded with his situation report of 34 tanks mired. Major General DePuy then challenged Lieutenant Colonel Stailey to a case of beer that he could not get all his tanks recovered by nightfall. With determination and hard work, the tankers met this challenge and were on the move again (and thirsty) before dark with all 34 vehicles recovered. So impressed by their performance, Major General DePuy nicknamed the battalion "Dreadnaught," meaning they could do the impossible and feared nothing. From that point on, 2-34th Armor would be known as the "Dreadnaughts" and also become a familiar call sign throughout Vietnam as its tank companies would be parceled out to other units until the Battalion's departure.
In October 1966, B Company, "Battlin' Bravo," was attached to 1-4th Cavalry of the 1st Infantry Division at Phu Loi, where it would remain until the invasion of Cambodia in 1970. A Company, the "Orphans," were detached to the 25th Infantry Division at Cu Chi. C Company, "Fighting Aces," was sent north to the I Corps Tactical Zone. A and C Companies participated in numerous operations in the III Corps area while still staying close to the Battalion Headquarters at Long Binh. The constant parceling out of its tank companies seldom left the Battalion with more than one company under its own control. At some points it controlled none of its organic companies.
In 1967, the Battalion began to participate in larger combined arms operations. Operation Junction City, which began in the early part of March 1967, saw 2-34th Armor conducting search and destroy operations as part of the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division Task Force. On 21 March 1967, 2-34th Armor (-) distinguished itself in combat near the village of Soui Tre. Fire Support Base Gold, established only 2 days prior, had come under attack from the 272nd Viet Cong Main Force Regiment consisting of over 1100 soldiers. In a 4 hour battle the Dreadnaughts helped turn an enemy victory into a defeat, and the unit received its second Presidential Unit Citation. C Company would stay with the Battalion for the remainder of 1967.
On 1 August 1967, 2-34th Armor was reassigned to the 25th Infantry Division. On the eve of the 1968 Tet Offensive, the Fighting Aces began a series of moves that would take it away from the Dreadnaught area of operations to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in I Corps, over 800 miles away. For the remainder of their time in Vietnam, the Fighting Aces would be attached to various units including the 101st Airborne Division, 1st Cavalry Division, 23rd Infantry Division (AMERICAL), 5th Infantry Division, and the 3rd Marine Division. C Company was attached to 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division and further attached to Task Force Oregon from 1 August 1967 to 20 August 1967, where it earned the Valorous Unit Award for being involved in fierce fighting against well fortified and prepared Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army positions in Quang Ngai Province. A Company would remain with the Battalion Headquarters and conducted operations with the 25th Infantry Division until the Cambodian incursion.
In May 1970, President Nixon ordered American units into the Cambodian sanctuaries in an attempt to destroy the communist supply lines and end the war. A, B, and D Companies participated as part of Task Force Shoemaker, 1st Cavalry Division. A Company was the first American ground unit into Cambodia. For their actions in the area known as the "Fishhook," the 2nd Battalion (-), 34th Armor received its first Valorous Unit Award. D Company was inactivated after World War II, but returned to life with 2-34th Armor in the middle of the Vietnam deployment to assist in the manning of the Battalion due to 2 companies being "loaned" out. D Company was the company of support personnel with medics, cooks, mechanics, and other support specialty Soldiers. This in effect allowed more men to be assigned to the remaining companies within the Battalion. In December 1970, 2-34th Armor returned stateside and was reassigned back to the 4th Infantry Division stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado.
Turning in their aging M48A3's for M60's, the Dreadnaughts participated in numerous REFORGER exercises, National Training Center rotations, and occasional humanitarian assistance missions as part of the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized). The Battalion remained a part of the 3rd Brigade until 16 August 1987.
On 16 August 1987, the 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor was assigned to the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized) at Fort Riley, Kansas. For the next 3 years the Battalion would continue to train for combat and their M60A3 tanks were replaced by the IPM1 in 1989.
On 2 September 1990, Iraq invaded its neighbor Kuwait and for the third time in the previous 45 years, the Dreadnaughts were on the move. The Battalion deployed to Southwest Asia on 1 January 1991 in support of Operation Desert Shield. Moving into tactical assembly areas, A and D Companies were attached to 5-16th Infantry and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, B and C Companies comprised Task Force 2-34th Armor.
The 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor participated in Operation Desert Saber from 24 to 28 February 1991. Organized as a balanced task force, the unit breached Iraqi border defenses and cleared the way for VII Corps and the United Kingdom's 1st Armored Division to enter Iraq. On the night of 26-27 February 1991 the task force attacked and destroyed 2 reinforced battalions of the Republican Guard's Tawakalna Division without a single friendly casualty. When the cease-fire went into effect, Task Force 2-34th Armor acted as part of General Schwartzkopf's guard force at Safwan, Iraq. The Dreadnaughts redeployed to Fort Riley on 8 May 1991. For their actions in Operation Desert Storm, the Battalion received its second Valorous Unit Award.
In April 2000, D company was inactivated as part of a broad Army reorganization. On 15 December 2004, D Company was reactivated in preparation for deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom III (OIF III) as the Rear Detachment company. In January 2005, the Battalion was attached to the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized), which was attached to the 42nd Infantry Division (New York National Guard). The Dreadnaughts deployed to Kuwait for Operation Iraq Freedom III and, in February 2005, completed a 420 mile overland tactical road march to its area of responsibility north of Baqubah, Iraq at Forward Operating Base Gabe.
From February to August 2005, the Bulldawgs (minus 3rd Platoon) were attached to 1-30th Infantry at Forward Operating Base Normandy. The Bulldawgs' 3rd Platoon was attached to B Company, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor, itself attached to 1-10th Field Artillery. From August 2005 to January 2006, Bulldawgs' 3rd Platoon was attached to A Company, 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery for the remaining deployment conducting operations out of Forward Operating Base Gabe. For a year the Battalion conducted full-spectrum operations in an area of responsibility equal in size to Rhode Island and set the conditions for 2 historic elections: the Constitutional Referendum and Parliamentary Election. The Dreadnaughts redeployed to Fort Riley in January 2006. On 27 April 2006, with the Dreadnaughts back at home, there was no need for a Rear Detachment company, and once again D Company was inactivated.
On 25 August 2006, the Dreadnaught's reorganized into an EMTOE training battalion and was given a new mission to train advisors deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan out of the newly constructed confines of the old troop area known as "Camp Funston." Already with Headquarters and Headquarters Company (Head Hunters), A Company (Orphans), B Company (Bulldawgs), and C Company (Fighting Aces) the Dreadnaughts had to reactivate D Company (Demons) and activate E Company (Easy), to reorganize the battalion into 6 Observer Controller companies. The Battalion was conducting Advisor training for Army, Navy and Air Force personnel as of 15 July 2009 in order to prepare them for duties as transition team members serving with Iraqi and Afghan security forces.
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