2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment
The mission of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, "Thunderhorse," is to, on order, deploy to a designated contingency area of operations, conduct reception, staging, onward movement, and integration. It would then, on order, conduct combat operations and redeploy upon mission accomplishment.
The 12th Cavalry Regiment was organized in 1901 at Fort Sam Houston for duty along the Mexican border. Initially assigned to the 2nd Cavalry Division, the Regiment joined the 1st Cavalry Division in 1933. Headquartered at Fort Ringgold, near Rio Grande City, the 12th Cavalry rode patrols along the southern border for almost 40 years under different headquarters. Late in 1940, the Regiment returned to Fort Bliss, Texas and trained for war as part of the 1st Cavalry Division's 2nd Brigade and participated in the historic Louisiana maneuvers.
The Regiment traded its horses for jeeps and amphibious assault vehicles in February of 1943, reorganizing partly under cavalry organizations and partly under infantry organizations. In mid-June 1943, the Division shipped out for Australia, where it trained in preparation for combat on the Pacific Rim. The Regiment saw its first combat on Los Negros Island in March of 1944.
The 12th Cavalry Regiment also participated in the invasion of the Philippines. Landing on Leyte on 20 October 1944, the Regiment was assigned the most difficult terrain in the central mountain ranges and faced fierce fighting. The fight was characterized by the bloody fight for Hill 2348 on 15 November 1944. After being cut off from their supply lines, the Regiment held off waves of suicide attacks. Finally on the night of 2 December 1944, the troopers counterattacked and took the hill. The First Team took Leyte killing 56,200 enemy soldiers while losing 241 of their own.
On 27 January 1945, the Regiment stormed ashore on Luzon. It took 6 months, but on 30 June 1945, the entire island was secured. Selected by MacArthur to be the first into Japan and converted fully to an infantry organization, the Regiment took on occupation duty near Yokohama until its inactivation in 1949.
Reactivated in 1957, the unit was redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Comapny, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment. It was deployed to Vietnam in 1965 and fought the 1st Cavalry Division's first engagement from 18 to 20 September 1965 as part of Operation Gibraltar. During the Tet Offensive, the Battalion played a critical role in the 3rd Brigade's successful mission to relieve Hue. The Battalion participated in the invasion of Cambodia and earned its sixteenth Campaign streamer for the Sanctuary Counteroffensive. On 26 March 1971, the Battalion stood down after 5 and a half years of daily combat in the jungles of Vietnam and returned to the United States for permanent duty for the first time since 1943. In mid-1972, the Battalion was inactivated and its personnel were reflagged as the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry, which had returned from Vietnam.
The Battalion was subsequently reactivated when the 1st Cavalry Division began evaluating the TRICAP (Triple Capability) division structure. After progressing from TRICAP to armor configurations in the 1970's as part transformation of the 1st Cavalry Division, the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry was inactivated upon arrival of the M1 Tank, at Fort Hood, Texas.
The Battalion was reactivated in 1986, with the mission of training Armor officers at Fort Knox, Kentucky. The Battalion's colors were later moved to the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas in December 1992. After that, the "Chargers" aggressively defended freedom and set high standards in training at places like the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California. In the summer of 1995, A Company was called out with Task Force 1-5th Cavalry on a contingency response to hostilities in the Persian Gulf. A year later, from September to December 1996, B and C Companies deployed with Task Force 1-5th Cavalry again, this time as a part of 3rd Brigade for Operation Desert Strike. Despite not being on an alert status, B and C Companies mustered, deployed, drew prepositioned equipment and occupied defensive battle positions in 96 hours. Meanwhile, with 2 companies plus their support slices deployed, the remainder of the Battalion turned in the battalion's 58 M1A1HC tanks to General Dynamics War Reserve.
In January 1997, the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry drew the new M1A2 tanks, making it the most lethal battalion in the world. The winds of sand blew again for the Chargers in June 1997. This time the entire task force deployed to Kuwait, drew prepositioned equipment, and initiated a rigorous 2 and a half month training cycle known as Intrinsic Action 97-02. The Chargers battled blowing sand, 130-plus degree temperatures, and 50 mile an hour winds, all while maintaining an above 90 percent operational readiness rate and a high quality of life for the soldiers.
In the fall of 1998, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division was organized into a Task Force, with 1-5th Cavalry and 1-12th Cavalry, to go to Bosnia as part of Stabilization Force 5 (SFOR5). To avoid complications arising from having 2 battalions of "Chargers," 2-12th Cavalry was took a new nickname: "Thunderhorse."
The Battalion redeployed back home to Fort Hood, Texas and trained up and deployed to the National Training Center in the spring of 2000. Upon returning from National Training Center the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry assumed duties as the Forces Command (FORSCOM) Defense Ready Brigade 1 (DRB1), and Individual Ready Company (IRC), where the troopers stood ready to deploy anywhere within 24 hours once called upon. In May 2001, 2-12th Cavalry was relieved from FORSCOM Defense Ready Brigade and started a rigorous train up for another deployment to the National Training Center.
The Battalion was conducting a Company Situational Training Exercise when America was attacked on 11 September 2001. The Battalion redeployed from the field and initiated preparations to fight a war against terrorism. The 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry was not called upon to fight against terrorism, but deployed to the National Training Center in the winter of 2001.
In the spring of 2002, the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry turned in their M1A2 tanks and drew the digital M1A2 SEP tank. Then the 2-12th Cavalry transformed into a Force XXI unit. This meant that D Company was inactivated, while the Battalion activated the B Company (Forward Support), and a reorganized Headquarters and Headquarters Company, transferring numerous amounts of equipment, assets, and personnel to B Company. This was a new challenge to the troopers, as they learned about Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2), a digitized battlefield tracker within their M1A2 SEP tanks, HMMWV, and APCs.
The troopers were shortly called upon to deploy with their new equipment in support of Operation Iraq Freedom. The troopers participated in Black Jack Lightning, a 2nd Brigade Combat Team ExEval validating the troopers were lethally prepared to go into a theater of war with their new equipment. The 1st Cavalry Division orders were subsequently rescinded and the troopers continually trained to remain a lethal force. Once more the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment deployed to the National Training Center and returned to Fort Hood, Texas only to store their digital M1A2 SEP tanks and to transform into a light armored fighting force in preparation for a deployment to the Iraqi theater of operation.
As part of the Army's transformation towards a modular force, the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry was inactivated and relieved from assignment to the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood on 8 July 2005. On 18 October 2005, the unit was reactivated assigned to the reorganized and redesignated 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Bliss, Texas. Previously, the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry had operated as an element of the Division's 2nd Brigade.
In 2008, the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division was inactivated at Fort Bliss, Texas. In March 2008, the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division was reflagged as the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, which was subsequently reactivated at Cooper Field, Fort Hood, Texas. The personnel of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Bliss were reflagged as the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division.