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278th Armored Cavalry Regiment
"I Volunteer Sir!"

Tennessee has been known as "The Volunteer State" since 1780 when Colonel John Sevier called for "100 good men" - and 200 answered. The 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment is the only enhanced Armored Cavalry Regiment within the National Guard, and one of only two Armored Cavalry Regiments in the United States Army. It is headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, with units throughout the East and Middle Tennessee Area.

The three Cavalry Troops of each Squadron are each equipped with nine M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks, 13 M3A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and two 120mm Mortar carriers. The Howitzer Battery, is equipped with six of the 155mm M109 SP Howitzers. The Tank Company is equipped with 14 M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks. Rounding out this combat power are two more M3A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles for the Squadron Commander and his S-3.

An Armored Cavalry Regiment is organized for the specific purposes of reconnaissance, surveillance, and security. Depending on the factors of mission, enemy, terrain, troops available, time and weather, a Cavalry unit may be given one mission or several simultaneous missions. It must be organized, equipped, and trained for continuous combat operations in all types of terrain under all weather conditions. Cavalry's firepower, mobility and shock effect make it one of the Army's most flexible organizations.

Cavalry may be deployed to any part of the world to protect national interest and to ensure national security. Potential adversaries range from highly sophisticated forces, throughly modern mechanized forces, to lighter, less modern forces. On the battlefield, the Cavalry Commander will use the concept of maneuver to swiftly position his combat forces to attack enemy vulnerabilities, and exploit his weaknesses. High Maneuverability has historically made the Cavalry a decisive factor on the battlefield and ensures its importance as the "eyes and ears" of the United States Army.

As a part of the Tennessee Army National Guard, the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment serves a dual purpose. Under state command, the Regiment may be used to quell civil disturbances and to provide assistance and support during natural disasters. As a result, the Regiment must train to meet both Federal and State training requirements.

The history of the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment began before the American Revolution when local militia units formed throughout communities in East Tennessee. These units were organized to protect the early settlers in Tennessee from the Creek and Cherokee Indians who often raided settlements in East Tennessee. Once these militia units were formed, the Indian raids generally subsided and life on the Tennessee frontier settled down.

During the American Revolution, these militia units joined along the Nolichucky River in east Tennessee under the command of Colonel John Sevier to form a mounted Militia Company of east Tennesseans. They formed with other "Over the Mountain Men" and defeated a superior British force under the command of General Patrick Ferguson in the Battle of Kings Mountain, North Carolina. The battle, fought on October 7, 1780, destroyed the left wing of Cornwallis' army and effectively ended Loyalist ascendance in the Carolinas. The victory halted the British advance into North Carolina, forced Lord Cornwallis to retreat from Charlotte into South Carolina, and gave General Nathaniel Greene the opportunity to reorganize the American Army.

In 1796, Tennessee became the sixteenth state to join the union. Colonel John Sevier became the State's first governor. He organized the State's Militia into three brigades with the Third Brigade of the Militia in East Tennessee.

During the War of 1812 with Great Britain, Militia units from East Tennessee marched with General Andrew Jackson and fought engagements at Pensacola, Florida and defeated a superior English force on 8 January 1815 in New Orleans. East Tennessee Militia units also participated in the Indian Wars with General Andrew Jackson taking part in actions in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

In 1846, a call went out for 2800 Volunteers from the State of Tennessee to take part in the War with Mexico. 38,000 Tennesseans answered the call earning the Tennessee Militia the ever-lasting nickname of "Volunteers." From that heritage, the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment's motto "I Volunteer Sir" was derived. Because there were so many volunteers willing to fight, a special lottery was held to select those men who would be allowed to fight. Volunteer Militia units from East Tennessee took part in actions in Mexico.

During the Civil War, East Tennessee Volunteer Militia Regiments from the Third Brigade served in the Army of Virginia under General Robert E. Lee, and General Braxton Bragg's Confederate Army of Tennessee. Numerous Militia Units from East Tennessee also served in Major General William Starke Rosecrans' XIV Army Corps (Union Army of the Cumberland). East Tennessee soldiers in the Civil War literally fought brother against brother mainly in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. One unit, the 19th Tennessee Volunteer Infantry Regiment formed in Knoxville fought at Perryville, Kentucky, Stones River (Murfreesboro), Shiloh, Vicksburg, Corinth, Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain, Dalton, Big Shanty, Atlanta, Nashville, and Savannah.

The Third Brigade of the Tennessee Militia was absorbed into the National Guard of the United States on March 25, 1887 as the Third Tennessee Infantry Regiment with Headquarters in Knoxville. 1st Battalion was located in Knoxville, 2d Battalion was located in Chattanooga. In the spring of 1898, the 1st and 2d Battalions were consolidated to form the 6th Infantry Regiment. On 18 - 20 May 1898, the 6th Infantry was re-designated as the Third Tennessee Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

The Third Tennessee was mustered into Federal service 18 - 20 May 1898 at Camp Dewy, Nashville for the War with Spain. The Third Tennessee was deployed to Tampa, Florida and later returned and mustered out of Federal service at Anniston, Alabama on 31 Janaury1899. It was reorganized in Knoxville in the Tennessee National Guard as the 6th Infantry Regiment.

Five years later, the 6th Infantry Regiment was re-designated once again as the Third Infantry Regiment in 1903.

On July 3rd, 1916, the Third Infantry Regiment was mustered into Federal Service at Nashville and deployed to Eagle Pass, Texas to take part in the Army's pursuit of the Mexican Bandit Francisco (Pancho) Villa along the Mexican and US Border. They returned home and were mustered out of Federal service on March 14, 1917.

Four months after returning from Texas, on July 24, 1917, the Third Infantry Regiment was mustered into Federal Service and assigned as an element of the 30th Division. The 30th Division had been called into Federal service on July 25, 1917, seven days after designation as a division. On August 3, the War Department ordered concentration and organization at Camp Sevier, Greenville, South Carolina. On August 5, 1917 the Third Tennessee Infantry Regiment was "drafted" into Federal service. Concentration continued throughout August 1917.

The 30th Division (The Old Hickory Division named after President Andrew Jackson of Tennessee) was reorganized in accordance with the Tables of Organization of August 8, 1917. On September 12, 1917 Infantry Brigades were organized in the 30th Division. The 59th Infantry Brigade was composed of the Third Tennessee and the First South Carolina Regiments of Infantry, and detachments of the First North Carolina and Second South Carolina Regiments of Infantry, and the Tennessee Cavalry. The 60th Infantry Brigade included, the Second and Third North Carolina Regiments of Infantry, and detachments of the First North Carolina, and Second Tennessee Regiments of Infantry and of North Carolina Cavalry. On September 14, 1917 the Third Tennessee Infantry Regiment was reorganized and re-designated as the 117th Infantry Regiment assigned to the 30th Division.

The 30th Division underwent a term of systematic training from September 17 until April 30, 1918. During October 1917, selective service men from Camps Gordon, Jackson and Pike completed the Regiment and filled out the rest of the Division.

Following, World War II during which the 117th took part in the Normandy Breakout, Operation Cobra (the breakout from St. Lo), operations in Northern France, Belgium and Holland and the Battle of the Bulge the 1st Battalion of the 117th Infantry Regiment, (Cleveland, Tennessee) was withdrawn, expanded, and re-designated on July 31, 1946 as the 278th Armored Infantry Battalion. A new 1st Battalion, 117th Infantry was constituted in West Tennessee. The 2d Battalion (Kingsport, Tennessee) was withdrawn, converted, and re-designated as the 168th MP Battalion. A new 2d Battalion, 117th was constituted in West Tennessee. The 278th Armored Infantry Battalion was Federally recognized on September 1, 1947 in eastern Tennessee with Headquarters at Cleveland with the lineage of the 117th Infantry Regiment.

On 18 March 1947 the 278th Armored Infantry Battalion was expanded to become the 278th Regimental Combat Team with Headquarters in Athens, Tennessee.

278th Regimental Combat Team (RCT) was ordered into active Federal service on September 1, 1950 at home stations and moved to Fort Devens, Massachusetts. Individual soldiers from the 278th RCT were sent to 7th US Army in Korea as replacements. The 1st Battalion remained in Fort Devens as a training battalion, 2d Battalion was sent to Iceland for garrison duty.

Released from Federal service on September 8th, 1954 and reverted to state control.

On 27 October 1954, Federal recognition concurrently was withdrawn from the 287th Infantry RCT and was broken up to become elements of the 30th Armored Division.

On March 1, 1959, the 117th and 170th Armored Infantry Battalions consolidated with the 278th Armored Infantry Battalion, 330th Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion and 176th Tank Battalion and reorganized and re-designated as the 117th Infantry Regiment. The 117th Infantry Regiment was formed under the Combat Arms Regimental System to consist of the 1st, 2d, 3d, and 4th Battalions, elements of the 30th Armored Division.

Reorganized on November 1, 1973 to consist of the 2d and 3d Battalions, 117th Infantry elements of the 278th Infantry Brigade, 4th Battalion an element of the 30th Armored Brigade.

On 1 November 1973, the 278th Infantry Brigade was made a Separate Infantry Brigade

On 29 April 1977, the 278th (Separate) Infantry Brigade was reorganized and re-designated the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, a Separate Corps Maneuver Unit. Colonel Russell A. Newman was appointed as the 1st Colonel of the Regiment. (Regimental Troops Station History See ANNEX A)

1 May, 1977 Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2d Battalion, 117th Infantry (Mech), Athens, Tennessee is reorganized and redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment. (Athens Station History See ANNEX B)

Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 330th Transportation Battalion, Kingsport, was reorganized and redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment. (Kingsport Station History See ANNEX C)

On 30 September 1978, the 777th Maintenance Company (GS) a separate unit stationed in Knoxville was reorganized and redesignated as the Air Troop, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment. The unit was later moved from the Knoxville Armory to Alcoa, Tennessee. A year later, the 450th Assault Helicopter Company, stationed in Smyrna, Tennessee, was reorganized and redesignated as the Attack Helicopter Troop, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment. The State Area Command (STARC) attached Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 130th Aviation Battalion with the 1155th Transportation Company (AVIM) to the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment to act as command and control for the Regiment's separate Air Troop and Attack Helicopter Troop. (Regimental Troop's Station History See ANNEX A)

On 1 February 1980, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3d Battalion, 117th Infantry (Mech) Cookeville is reorganized and redesignated as the Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment. (Cookeville Station History See ANNEX D)

1174th Medium Truck Company (Separate) was reorganized and redesignated as the 190th Engineer Company, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment on 1 October 1980 in Pulaski with Detachment 1 in Waynesboro, Tennessee.

October 17,1986, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 130th Aviation Battalion, Air Troop, and the Attack Helicopter Troop are consolidated to form the 4th Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment. 4th Squadron is an Aviation Maneuver Squadron of the Regiment.

The largest movement of military equipment in the state since the Tennessee Maneuvers of World War II began on 26 April 2002 at Fort Campbell, KY. Tennessee's largest National Guard combat force, the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, undertook it's greatest training challenge on 01 June 2002 at the National Training Center (NTC) in Fort Irwin, California. But first the 5,000 plus members of the Regiment shipped everything from M-1 Abrams tanks and Blackhawk helicopters to individual helmets and computers to this remote training area in southern California. The National Training Center (NTC) is the premier training center for the United States Army. It is located in the heart of the Mohave Desert, and is the most realistic combat training scenario in the world. It's harsh environment and excellent opposing force soldiers test the endurance, knowledge, and resourcefulness of both active duty and reserve component forces. Tennessee's equipment constituted more than 585 rail cars being shipped from 5 different locations beginning on 26 April and continuing during the month of May.

The 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment received its mobilization orders on May 11, 2004 and began activating on June 7. The unit began heading to Iraq by November. For its deployment to Iraq, and as a result of it being task-organized for that mission, the 278th ACR was renamed the 278th Regimental Combat Team. More than 3,200 of the 278th RCT are Tennesseans, while soldiers from Wisconsin, Texas, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Vermont complete the Team. It is the largest single deployment of Tennessee National Guard troops since World War II.

The Tennessee Army National Guard's 278th Regimental Combat Team's Spc. Thomas Wilson had question for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on 08 December 2004 about why armor supplies for the unit's vehicles were so lacking. The 31-year-old, airplane mechanic said "Our soldiers have been fighting in Iraq for coming up on three years. A lot of us are getting ready to move north relatively soon. Our vehicles are not armored. We're digging pieces of rusted scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass that's already been shot up, dropped, busted, picking the best out of this scrap to put on our vehicles to take into combat. We do not have proper armament vehicles to carry with us north."

The soldier was prompted by a reporter for The Chattanooga Times Free Press -- Edward Lee Pitts -- according to Tom Griscom, the newspaper's publisher.

The theater had to take care of 830 total vehicles. So this shows you the calculus that was used. Up north in Iraq, they drew 119 up-armored humvees from what is called stay-behind equipment. That is equipment from a force that was already up there. The Army went ahead and applied 38 add-on armor kits to piece of equipment they deployed over on a ship. They also had down in Kuwait 214 stay- behind equipment pieces that were add-on armor kits. And then over here they had 459 pieces of equipment that were given level-three protection. And so when all together, that comes up with 830. Thus, at the time of Rumsfeld's town hall meeting, of 830 Humvees in the unit, all had been up-armored but 20, which were armored the next day.

By mid-December 2004 most members of the 278th RCT had arrived in their assigned areas of operation.

When it redeploys home, the unit will revert back to being the 278th ACR. The 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment's mobilizationt officially is scheduled for 545 days, according to military documents.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:24:47 ZULU