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2nd Armored Division
"Hell On Wheels"

Under the 10 division redesign from the Secretary of the Army, the 2nd Armored Division at Fort Hood cased its division colors and was reflagged as the 4th Infantry Division in December 1995. A few months prior to that ceremony, the 2nd Armored Division was tagged as the Army's EXFOR, so at the reflagging event, the new EXFOR flag was added to the division color guard.

The Second Armored Division was formed at Fort Benning, Georgia, on July 15, 1940, under the command of Maj. Gen. Charles L. Scott. Training of the new division was the responsibility of Col. George S. Patton, Jr. When Scott was appointed commander of the First Armored Corps in November 1940, Patton now a brigadier general and the most colorful of all the division's leaders, assumed command. Under his leadership the division continued training through 1941 and participated in general maneuvers in Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, and the Carolinas. While on these maneuvers Patton reportedly said the division would be "Hell on Wheels" when it met the enemy. The name stuck and became part of the division patch.

Elements of the Division first saw action in North Africa, landing at Casablanca, 8 November 1942, and later taking part in the fighting at Beja, Tunisia, but the Division as a whole did not enter combat until the invasion of Sicily, when it made an assault landing at Gela, 10 July 1943. The Division saw action at Butera, Campobello,-and Palermo. After the Sicilian campaign, the Division trained in England for the cross-Channel invasion, landed in Normandy D plus 3, 9 June 1944, and went into action in the vicinity of Carentan; ; the Division raced across France in July and August, drove through Belgium and attacked across the Albert Canal 13 September 1944, crossing the German border at Schimmert, 18 September to take up defensive positions near Geilenkirchen. On 3 October, the Division launched an attack on the Siegfried Line from Marienberg, broke through, crossed the Wurm River and seized Puffendorf 16 November and Barmen 28 November. The Division was holding positions on the Roer when it was ordered to help contain the German Ardennes offensive. The Division fought in eastern Belgium, blunting the German Fifth Panzer Army's penetration of American lines. The Division helped reduce the Bulge in January, fighting in the Ardennes forest in deep snow, and cleared the area from Houffalize to the Ourthe River of the enemy. After a rest in February, the Division drove on across the Rhine 27 March, and was the first American Division to reach the Elbe at Schonebeck on 11 April. It was halted on the Elbe, 20 April, on orders. In July the Division entered Berlin-the first American unit to enter the German capital city.

During World War II the division was recognized for distinguished service and bravery with 9,369 awards, including two medals of honor, twenty-three distinguished service crosses, and 2,302 silver stars, as well as nearly 6,000 purple hearts. In 238 battle days the Second Armored suffered 7,348 casualties, including 1,160 killed in action. The division returned to Camp Hood, Texas, in 1946 to retrain and rebuild.

Still based at Fort Hood, the Second Armored Division furnished thousands of trained replacements to units serving in the Korean War. In 1951 the Hell on Wheels division returned to Germany to serve for six years in support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, then returned to Fort Hood. The First Battalion, Fiftieth Infantry; Second Squadron, First Cavalry; First Battalion, Fourteenth Field Artillery; and First Battalion, Ninety-second Field Artillery fought in the war in Vietnam. The division sent brigades to participate in exercises in Germany from 1973 through 1979, and in 1987 the division was engaged in the largest deployment to Europe since World War II as a part of the Third Corps exercise "Reforger 87" to demonstrate the ability to deploy and fight in support of NATO.

On October 10, 1990, the division began to deploy more than 5,000 soldiers to Saudi Arabia. The 2nd Armored Division was next called to action for Operation Desert Shield/Storm. As coalition forces, the 1st (Tiger) Brigade of the 2nd Armored Division was attached to the I Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) under Marine LtG Walter Boomer along with the 1st and 2nd Marine Divisions. Their objective was Kuwait City. On February 24, 1991, the Second Armored entered Iraqi-held Kuwait. In 100 hours allied forces had taken back the emirate.

Desert Storm had temporarily interrupted the inactivation of the division begun in 1990. After Kuwait was liberated, the 1st Tiger Brigade returned to their home at Fort Hood Texas. Upon the division's return from Operation Desert Storm deactivation was continued, and the last unit became inactive on May 2, 1991, ending fifty-one years of continuous active duty. On May 23, 1991, the First "Tiger" Brigade was rededicated as the Third "Grey Wolf" Brigade of the First Cavalry Division, rejuvenating a Second Armored Division unit stationed at Fort Hood. Units like the 1st Tiger Brigade are now assigned to the 4th Infantry Division.

In December 1992 the Fifth Infantry Division was redesignated the Second Armored Division. The 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized) had become Fort Polk's major tenant in 1974, and hundreds of millions of dollars in construction made it one of the most modern installations in the Army. In 1993, the 5th Division (redesignated as the 2nd Armored Division) moved to Fort Hood, Texas, as a result of changing defense requirements. In December 1995 the the 2nd Armored Division was again redesignated as the Fourth Infantry Division (mechanized), stationed in Colorado. The units that comprised the 2nd Armored Division have been assigned to other units and the division disbanded.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:25:09 ZULU