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36th Brigade

The lineage and honors of the 36th Brigade can be traced back to the 36th Infantry Division, which was originally organized at Camp Bowie (Fort Worth), TX, on 18 July 1917, and which drew from units of the Texas and Oklahoma National Guard.

After taking part in operations in France during World War I, the unit was reorganized into 2 separate units, an "all Texas" division, while its Oklahoma units sub-components joined to form part of the 45th Infantry Division.

The Division was mobilized on 25 November 1940, and placed on active duty station at Camp Bowie, before transferring overseas to North Africa and Italy. In the process, the 36th became the first American combat division to land in Europe. Taking part in combat operations in Italy and Southern France, the unit had accumulated seven campaign streamers, taken part in two assault landings and had 14 of its members receive the Medal of Honor.

Upon its return home, the unit was reorganized as part of the Texas National Guard and was deactivated in 1968. With the inactivation of the 49th Armored Division, the 36th Brigade assumed the lineage and honors of the 36th Infantry Division.

Residents East Texas woke to a rumble that shook homes and rattled windows. The disturbance was not a roll of thunder but multiple sonic booms from the fallen space shuttle Columbia during its failed re-entry into the earth's atmosphere during the early morning on the first day of February, 2003. Texas responded immediately to the disaster when Gov. Rick Perry called several hundred National Guard service members to duty to assist the recovery effort under the operational name of "Big Thicket."

Large military troop-carrying vehicles filled with soldiers rolled out from various armories throughout East Texas and converged on the impacted counties along the Texas-Louisiana border to help in the massive joint recovery operation.

The Texas soldiers worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and other federal, state and local agencies during this emergency operation. Upon receiving their marching orders, members of the Guard quickly deployed to start searching the likely impact area that focused primarily on six East Texas counties, encompassing thousands of square miles along the shuttle flight path.

Col. Eddy M. Spurgin, task force commander of the 36th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 49th Armored Division, commended his soldiers for their diligence and motivation on a mission that he deemed noble and worthwhile. " I would like to let every Texan know that we are all citizen-soldiers, and that just a few days ago, we were all at our civilian jobs and going about our everyday business when we were called up to serve after the shuttle tragedy," Spurgin said. Some of the local soldiers who live in the area had been on duty since the first day of the catastrophe - helping local law enforcement officials secure shuttle material that descended from stratosphere only hours before.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:28:56 ZULU