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76th Infantry Brigade

The Indiana Army National Guard's 76th Infantry Brigade is headquartered in Indianapolis. The Indiana Army National Guard, numbering some 12,000 men and women, is composed of units, weapons, supplies, and equipment stationed in local armories throughout every part of the state. They entail combat, combat support, and combat service support units of the 38th Infantry Division (Mechanized), the 76th Infantry Brigade (Separate), and the 81st Troop Command.

Under a plan approved by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, in December 2000 the Army announced which active and reserve forces will see service in Bosnia and Kosovo through May 2005. Under the plan, units from the active Army and reserve forces will support the Stabilization Force mission, known as SFOR, in Bosnia or the Kosovo Force, known as KFOR, for six-month periods. SFOR 11 (April 2002 - Oct. 2002) consists of the 116th Cavalry Brigade (enhanced separate brigade), Idaho Army National Guard; 76th Infantry Brigade (enhanced separate brigade), Indiana Army National Guard. Units from the 34th Infantry Division, Minnesota Army National Guard, will also support SFOR 11.

The legacy of the 76th Infantry Division is carried on by the 76th Separate Infantry Brigade of the Indiana National Guard. During World War I the division was activated in August 1917, was overseas by August 1918, and was inactivated in May 1919.

The 76th Infantry Division insignia is an escutcheon which has a red field and a blue chief, separated by an olive drab line; a three-pronged white device is superimposed on the blue chief. The white device was a medieval English heraldic symbol meaning "first son". In World War I the 76th was the first division of the National Army to be drawn from civilian ranks through the draft, hence the insignia and the description, "the first sons of the nation." The combined colors of the field, the device, and the chief are the national colors. "Onaway" is the alert cry of the Chippewa Indians, in whose hunting grounds the 76th Division trained.

During World War II the Onaway Division, formerly called "Liberty Bell Division", was activated on 15 June 1942. The 76th Infantry Division arrived in England, 20 December 1944, where it received additional training. It landed at Le Havre, France, 12 January 1945, and proceeded to the Limesy concentration area. The Division moved to Beine east of Reims and then to Champlon, Belgium, 23 January, to prepare for combat.

Relieving the 87th Division in defensive positions along the Sauer and Moselle Rivers in the vicinity of Echternach, Luxembourg, 25 January, the 76th sent out patrols and crossed the Sauer, 7 February, and breached the Siegfried Line in a heavy assault. The advance continued across the Prum and Nims Rivers, 25-27 February. Katzenkopf fortress and Irrel fell on the 28th and the attack pushed on toward Trier, reaching the Moselle, 3 March. Driving across the Kyll River, the Division took Hosten, 3 March, Speicher on the 5th and Karl on the 10th; swung south and cleared the area north of the Moselle, crossing the river, 18 March, near Mulheim. Moving to the Rhine, the 76th took over defenses from Boppard to St. Goar and crossed the Rhine at Boppard, 27 March. It drove east and took Kamberg in a houseto-house struggle, 29 March. A new attack was launched 4 April and the Werra River was reached the next day. The attack continued in conjunction with the 6th Armored Division; Langensalza fell and the Gera River was crossed, 11 April. Zeitz was captured after a violent struggle, 14-15 April, and the 76th reached the Mulde River on the 16th, going into defensive positions to hold a bridgehead across the Mulde near Chemnitz until VE-day.

On the 1st of March 1963, the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 1st Brigade of the 38th Infantry Division was born. Less than 20 months later it was renamed the 76th Infantry Brigade known as the Blue Devil Brigade. Since the creation of the 76th Brigade at Indianapolis on 1 November 1965, the unit has moved to Columbus, to Camp Atterbury and to Bedford with units located throughout southern Indiana.

Out of the ashes of the Blue Devil Brigade, the Nighthawk Brigade was formed. The 76th Infantry Brigade (Separate) was formed on 1 September 1994 at Indianapolis, IN this time with units located throughout the state of Indiana. The Nighthawk Brigade was selected to be one of the 15 Enhanced Brigades with a charter to achieve and maintain a higher state of readiness than previously expected of National Guard Brigades. Accepting this mission with an unmatched fervor, the unit relied heavily on the existing Infantry Regiments. The lineage of each combat regiment still in Indiana can be found within the brigade.

The willingness to accomplish any task or mission can be found in the unit's motto. All the commander must do is "Point the Way". Because a Nighthawk is after all: An offensive nocturnal raptor. Territorial. Prefer open woodlands. Will occupy forest, desert, mountain, swamp. Nocturnal. Adapts camouflage, cover, concealment to surroundings. Defends in preparation for attack. Nocturnal. Keen sight, smell, and ear. Powerful, sharp, curved talons to seize and hold terrain or prey. Nocturnal. Moves in small groups with deep reconnaissance and security flank and rear. By stealth on foot or flight. Constantly, silently communicates, synchronizing the kill. Nocturnal. Vast, wheeling flocks. Heavily armed avoiding close combat 'til decisive place and time. Massing overwhelming power to attack and destroy. Nocturnal. Deadly. Nighthawk.

On April 6, 2004 elements of the 76th Infantry were ordered to mobilize for deployment, possibly to Afghanistan. 300 soldiers from the 113th Support Battalion, and an unidentified number of soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 151st Infantry Regiment, the 38th Military Police Company, and the 1438th Transportation Company. These unit begin deploying in July 2004.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:31:50 ZULU