7th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment
The mission of the 7-17 Cavalry is to, on orders, deploy worldwide and conduct reconnaissance and security operations to locate and identify enemy forces, then destroy via organic, combined, and/or joint fires, and/or conduct battle handover to follow-on forces in support of ongoing contingency operations and the global war on terror. As of 2008 the 7th Squadron, 17th Cavalry was composed of a Headquarters and Headquarters Troop (Stetson); three Air Cavalry Troops, A Troop (Shadow), B Troop (Blackjack), C Troop (Crazy Horse); an Aviation Maintenance Troop, D Troop (Work Horse); and Forward Support Troop, E Troop (Iron Horse).
The 17th Cavalry Regiment was first organized under the provisions of the National Defense Act of 1916 at Ft Bliss, Texas on 30 June 1916 and constituted on 1 July 1916. General Pershing had taken his columns into Mexico only a short time earlier and the need for Cavalry troops was pressing. Seven hundred ninety-one veterans from the 1st, 3rd, 6th, 8th and 14th Regiments were transferred as the nucleus of the new regiment.
In honor of the Cavalry Regiments that contributed officers, men and experience to the formation of the 17th Cavalry Regiment, the regimental shield integrated much from the coats of arm of those units. Orange is taken from the 1st Cavalry, as the official color that has historically represented dragoons. The color green was taken from the 3rd Cavalry, whose uniforms contained green facings in honor of their first engagement at Vera Cruz and its contribution throughout the campaign of 1847 to the capture of Mexico City. The 17th Cavalry Regiment chose the unicorn, which represents knightly virtues, from the 6th Cavalry Regiment and, in the rampant position, is a symbol of fighting aggressiveness, speed and agility. The demi-horse, in honor of Cavalry mounts, was taken from the shield of the 8th Cavalry Regiment. The diagonal line, being the traditional military symbol of Cavalry, came from the 14th Cavalry.
In March 1918, the 17th Regiment was teamed with the 1st and 15th Regiments and integrated into the newly formed 15th Cavalry Division as the 3d Brigade. The Division had three brigades of three Regiments each, totaling nine of the crack Cavalry regiments of the Army. This was the only Cavalry Division in the Army at the time and no explanation for designating it the 15th has been found. The 15th Cavalry Division was not deployed to Europe during World War I. Instead, the only action during the time period came in response to a Mexican attack at Nogales in Arizona in August 1918. The 1-17th Cavalry deployed with the rest of the Regiment prepared to follow, but the action ended and the 1-17th returned to its base on 3 September 1918.
On 5 April 1919 the 17th Cavalry sailed from San Francisco, crossing on the USAT Sherman to Honolulu, where the Regiment arrived on 13 April 1919 and immediately proceeded to Schofield Barracks. The demobilization of the National Guard of Hawaii followed the end of World War I. As a result, the 17th Cavalry was the only mobile line organization in the Hawaiian Department. The Regiment, strengthened by various recruit contingents who joined during the summer of 1919, furnished the garrison at Ft Shafter and Schofield Barracks until the fall of 1920, when the arrival of additional troops relieved the Cavalry of some of their duties.
The eight new Cavalry Regiments added in 1917 had been redesignated as Artillery, and further reorganization in 1921 resulted in the number of Cavalry Regiments being pared from seventeen to fourteen by inactivation of the 15th, 16th, and 17th. Reasons cited for the reduction included lack of funds, reduced personnel authorization, and musings that "the mounted combat of large bodies of Cavalry is probably a thing of the past." The new Regimental organization was designed to reduce overhead, increase firepower, and retain mobility. Many famous old Cavalry units were dangerously near being lost to the Army because of these organizational changes, but the policy of retaining surplus units on the rolls of the Army in an inactive status was established, permitting units to be preserved for future use rather than being disbanded or redesignated.
Ordered to Monterey by General Orders Number 17 and 35 the Regiment left Schofield Barracks by truck for Honolulu on 16 September 1921 and embarked on the USAT Buford for Presidio at Monterey, California the same day. The officers and enlisted men were transferred to the 11th Cavalry the next day, and the Regiment was placed on the inactive list by General Orders Number 32 and 33. Historically, the 11th Cavalry went on to have a much respected lineage from campaigns in Europe during WWII and particularly in Vietnam. The Blackhorse Regiment's fine record was undoubtedly enhanced through its accession of troopers from the 17th Cavalry Regiment.
Subsequently the active Squadrons of 17th Cavalry Regiment that remained included: 1st Squadron, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, 2nd Squadron, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, 3rd Squadron, Fort Drum, New York, 6th Squadron, Fort Wainwright, Alaska and 7th Squadron, Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
The 7th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment came back into existance originally organized as G Troop, 17th Cavalry Regiment, and the 7th Squadron of the 17th Cavalry was formally reactivated on 25 November 1966, and equipped and trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky. At the same time, the Squadron adopted the nickname "The Ruthless Riders."
The Ruthless Riders deployed to Vietnam 28 October 1967 as a separate Air Cavalry Squadron of the 1st Aviation Brigade. The Squadron, part of the 17th Combat Aviation Group, established its base camp at Camp Enari, near Pleiku.
The Squadron mission was to provide combat reconnaissance and security for the 4th Infantry Division and other allied units in Western II Corps. Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, A Troop, B Troop, C Troop and D Troop were combat operational by November and based out of Camp Enari.
In late November, C Troop relocated to Chu Lai and was attached to the 14th Combat Aviation Battalion to provide combat reconnaissance and security for the Americal Division. On 9 January 1968 the first aircrew was Killed in Action. On 1 April 1968, C/7-17 Cavalry was redesignated F Troop, 8th Cavalry. On 1 May 1968, a new C/7-17 Cavalry was reactivated at Fort Campbell from the assets of C Troop (Air), 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry, and joined the squadron in Vietnam on 1 July 1968. Assets that remained in Vietnam were H Troop (Air), 17th Cavalry (B/7-17 Cavalry); H Troop (Air), 10th Cavalry (C/7-17 Cavalry); and K Troop, 17th Cavalry (D/7-17 Cavalry).
The Squadron was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation and four Valorous Unit Awards. The Squadron saw post-war service with 1st Cavalry Division (TRICAP) and 6th Air Cavalry Combat Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas, as an attack helicopter squadron. The 7th Squadron 17th Cavalry Regiment was inactivated 16 July 1986 as a result of Army 86 reorganization.
The Soldiers of 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment transitioned to Fort Campbell, KY in early spring 2006 and were reflagged as 7th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment on 10 April 2006 being officially re-activated as part of the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky on 16 June 2006.
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