1st Battalion, 163rd Mechanized Infantry
The official reports emanating from General Douglas MacArthur's headquarters in the Southwest Pacific area and the War Department during World War II recognized the 163rd Infantry Regiment as being instrumental in three key Pacific campaigns: the Papuan Campaign (1943); the New Guinea Campaign (1944); and the Southern Philippine Campaign (1945). In each of these campaigns the 163rd had one or more major battle victories and successful subordinate operations.
In the Papuan Campaign, as an organization of the 41st Infantry Division, the 163rd Infantry joined with Australian veterans to win the Battle of Sanananda, the final bloody struggle of the Buna-Gona Operation, which was recorded as the first land defeat of Japanese forces during World War II. In the New Guinea Campaign, Montana's Regiment seized the key Aitape Airfield from Japanese forces with minor casualties and then stormed Wakde Island, under point-blank automatic fire, and defenses of the Toem Foreshore across from Wakde Island reducing and eliminating further Japanese resistance.
The 163rd provided reinforcements in the last great battle for New Guinea--the Battle of Biak Island, where they besieged and overran key terrain held by stubborn Japanese defenders called the Ibdi Pocket, a labyrinth of jagged coral ridges and thick jungle; and
The 163rd's final combat actions occurred in the Southern Philippine Campaign, where operations began with a hard-won victory in the major Battle of Zamboanga on Mindanao Island, and subsequently the Regiment mounted a combat operation to seize the critical Sulu Archipelago and fought and won the bloody Battle of Jolo; and
I the Regiment's final combat operation of World War II, the 3rd Battalion, 163rd Infantry Regiment was called upon to reinforce the United States 24th Infantry Division and greatly assisted in capturing the city of Calinan located in the abaca jungles of Mindanao; and
When World War II ended, the 163rd Infantry Regiment was training for the invasion of Japan and actually served as occupational forces from the end of hostilities to December 1945.
About 200 members of the Guard's 163rd Infantry Battalion from Billings to Missoula were called up at the end of July 2001 to help battle blazes have charred more than 300,000 acres statewide and burned 50 homes in the Bitterroot Valley. The local National Guard soldiers had just finished two weeks of annual training in the desert and been home only a couple of days when they got orders to report to duty in 48 hours. Most of them had never fought fires before, but after two days of training at Fort Harrison near Helena, they were sent to help with the Cave Gulch fire near Canyon Ferry. With that experience under their belts, they were sent to front-line duty on the Boulder fires south of Helena.
Soldiers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 163rd Mechanized Infantry, Montana Army National Guard returned to their drop point following a day of fighting the Cave Gulch Fire located near Canyon Ferry, Mont. on Aug. 2, 2000. More than 2,300 servicemembers from the Army, Marines, Air and Army Guard and Air Force Reserve were conducting firefighting and support operations for the Western wildfires in response to requests from the National Interagency Firefighting Center in Boise, Idaho, and as directed by the governors of several states.
In July 2001 a reinforced company of 154 Montana National Guard troops from the 1st Battalion of the 163rd Mechanized Infantry prepared for its six-month tour in Bosnia. The troops had been warned to pay attention to their training as peacekeeping forces were being steadily reduced.
Tm A/1-163 Infantry (Mech) deployed on 21 February 2002 as part of Task Force 1-151 Infantry to Bosnia for Operation Joint Forge (SFOR 11). The unit redeployed on 15 September 2002 and was demobilized at FT Dix, NJ.