545th Military Police Company
"First Team's Finest"
The 545th Military Police Company, "Arctic Defenders," was constituted on 15 February 1939 in the Regular Army as the Military Police Platoon, Headquarters Troop, 1st Cavalry Division. On 4 July 1942, the unit was activated at Fort Bliss, Texas and deployed with the 1st Cavalry Division to the Pacific Theater during World War II. 1st Cavalry Division military policemen participated in campaigns in New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, Leyte, and Luzon. It was during this time that the "First Team's Finest" suffered its first combat losses.
The unit was recognized and redesignated as the 545th Military Police Company in March 1949 and shortly thereafter found itself again in the heat of battle, participating in 7 campaigns on the Korean Peninsula. In October 1957 the unit was inactivated. However, the need for the First Team's Finest was once again felt, and the unit was reactivated in Korea in September 1963.
With the reflagging of the 11th Air Assault Division (Test) as the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), peace for the soldiers of the 545th proved short lived. They found themselves once again facing the rigors of combat in the Republic of Vietnam. The 545th Military Police Company landed in Vietnam in 1965 and was arranged along the Vietnamese/Cambodian border. The Company earned a Presidential Unit Citation, a Valorous Unit Award, the Meritorious Unit Commendation with one oak leaf cluster, 3 Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry. In 1970 it was the first unit to win the Brigadier General J.P. Holland Award. The 545th Military Police Company truly earned the title as the United States Army's best military police company. By the time they redeployed from Southeast Asia in 1971, the 545th had participated in 13 campaigns.
The First Team's Finest settled at Fort Hood, Texas in 1971 and remained state-side for almost 2 decades. In September 1990, the 545th Military Police Company deployed with the 1st Cavalry Division to southwest Asia in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. While in southwest Asia the 545th Military Police Company received another Meritorious Unit Commendation, marking it as the most decorated military police company in the Army.
The 545th Military Police Company was inactivated on 15 October 2005 at Fort Hood, Texas, and relieved from assignment to the 1st Cavalry Division. This inactivation was part of the transformation of the 1st Cavalry Division to the US Army's modular force structure. As part of the transformation, assets previously held at division level, but habitually attached to the brigades during operations were made organic to those brigades. Military police platoons became organic components of the headquarters and headquarters companies of the new brigade-level special troops battalions.
The 545th Military Police Company was reactivated on 16 August 2008 at Fort Richardson, Alaska. There it was assigned to the 793rd Military Police Battalion, part of the 3rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, US Army Alaska. No longer in connection with the 1st Cavalry Division, the unit adopted the nickname Arctic Defenders to reflect its new assignment.
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