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1st Cavalry Division
"First Team"


Thought it traces its history back to 1855 and the 5th Cavalry, the 1st Cavalry Division, "First Team," was first formally constituted on 20 August 1921 in the Regular Army as Headquarters, 1st Cavalry Division. With the initiation of the National Defense Act, the 1st Cavalry Division was formally activated on 13 September 1921 at Fort Bliss, Texas. That day, the 7th and 8th Cavalry Regiments were assigned to the Division. The 5th Cavalry Regiment was assigned on 6 December 1922.

In addition to 3 of the 4 regiments of the cavalry, the original organization included the 82nd Field Artillery Battalion (Horse), the 13th Signal Troop, the 27th Ordnance Company, Division Headquarters, and the 1st Cavalry Division Quartermaster Train, which later became the 15th Replacement Company. Major General Robert L. Howze was assigned as the first division commander.

The 1st Cavalry Division's early history was largely a saga of rough riding, patrolling the Mexican border, and constant training. Operating from horseback, the cavalry was the only force capable of piercing the desert's harsh terrain and halting the band of smugglers that operated along the desolate Mexican border. As the depression of the 1930's forced thousands of workers into the streets, the Division was asked to provide training for 62,500 people in the Civilian Conservation Youth Corps. These workers constructed barracks for 20,000 anti-aircraft troops at Fort Bliss, Texas in preparation for the Air Age.

Although the 1st Cavalry Division was created as a result of a proven need for large horse-mounted formations, by 1940, the march of progress had left the horse far behind. The era of the tank, automobile, aircraft, and parachute had dawned and eclipsed the age of the armored horseman. The Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor erased all doubt. An impatient 1st Cavalry Division was dismounted in 1943 and processed for overseas movement to the Southwest Pacific as foot soldiers. This lead to the change in the unit's designation, with its headquarters being reorganized and redesignated on 4 December 1943 as Headquarters, 1st Cavalry Division, Special.

After 6 months of training in Australia, the Division got its first taste of combat. On 29 February 1944, the men of the Division sailed for the Admiralty Islands and stormed ashore in an amphibious landing at Los Negros Island. After a fierce campaign in which the enemy lost some 7,000 combat soldiers, the Division could look with pride on its first combat test of World War II.

The next action for the cavalry troopers was on the Philippine Island of Leyte. The Division fought tirelessly against the Japanese fortification. With the last of the strong-holds eliminated, the Division moved on to Luzon, the main island of the Philippines. One of the First Team's most noted feats was accomplished during the fighting for Luzon. On 31 January 1945, General Douglas MacArthur issued the order, "Go to Manila, free the prisoners at Santo Tomas, take Malacanan Palace and the legislative building." The next day, the "flying column," as the element came to be known, jumped off to slice through 100 miles of Japanese territory. Hours later, the 1st Cavalry was in Manila and the prisoners were freed. The First Team was "First in Manila."

As the war came to a sudden end, MacArthur's First Team was given the honor of leading the Allied Occupational Army into Tokyo, achieving its second notable first, "First in Tokyo." There in 1945 it units converted entirely to infantry organizations, with the Headquarters, 1st Cavalry Division being reorganized and redesignated on 25 March 1949 as Headquarters, 1st Cavalry Division (Infantry).

On 18 July 1950, the 1st Cavalry Division plunged ashore at Pohangdong, South Korea to successfully carry out the first amphibious landing of the Korean conflict. The landing at Pohangdong helped halt the North Korean war machine at the Pusan perimeter. The Division broke out of the perimeter in mid-September 1950 and started north. Crossing the 38th Parallel on 9 October 1950, the troopers of the 1st Cavalry Division crashed into Pyongyang, capturing the capital city of North Korea on 19 October 1950. This marked the third first for the Division, "First in Pyongyang."

The sudden intervention of Communist Chinese forces dashed hopes of a quick end to the war. First Team troopers fought courageously in the see-saw campaigns that followed, and successfully defended the city of Seoul. By January 1952, the 1st Cavalry Division, after 18 months of continuous fighting, rotated back to Hokkaido, Japan, returning to Korea in 1957 where they patrolled the Demilitarized Zone until 1965. Headquarters, 1st Cavalry Division (Infantry) was reorganized and redesignated on 1 July 1960 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Cavalry Division.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:22:13 ZULU