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III Corps History

III Corps, "Phantom," was organized on 30 March 1918, at Langres, France. It was activated on 16 May 1918, at Mussy-sur-Seine and participated in the Aisne-Marne, Champagne, Oise-Aisne, Lorraine, and Meuse-Argonne campaigns. Its World War I commanders included Major General John L. Hines. Following the end of the war, the Corps was demobilized at Neuwied, Germany, on 1 July 1919.

On 15 August 1927, III Corps was reconstituted in the Regular Army as XXII Army Corps, and was redesignated as III Army Corps on 13 October 1927.

The Corps was recalled to active duty on 18 December 1940 at the presidio of Monterey, California and remained to participate in the defense of the west coast following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In early 1942, the Corps moved to Fort McPherson, Georgia for training. After a short period, the Corps returned to Monterey and on 19 August 1942, was designated a separate corps. During the next 2 years, III Corps would train thousands of troops for combat, including 33 division-sized units, and participate in four corps-level maneuvers.

On 23 August 1944, the Corps departed California for Camp Miles Standish near Boston, and subsequently deployed for the European Theater of Operations on 5 September 1944. There it would earn the name "Phantom Corps" by hitting the enemy when and least expected. Upon arrival at Cherbourg, France, the Corps was assigned to the Ninth US Army and given the code name "CENTURY," which it retained throughout the war. Corps Headquarters was established at Carteret, in Normandy, and for 6 weeks, the Corps received and processed all the troops of the 12th Army Group arriving over the Normandy beaches during that period. The Corps also participated in the famed "Red Ball Express" by organizing 45 provisional truck companies to carry fuel and ammunition for the units pursuing the Germans across France.

The Corps was assigned to the Third US Army on 10 October 1944, and moved to Etain, near Verdun, just in time to participate in the fight for Metz and the Battle of the Bulge. III Corps' first combat came during the battle for Fort Jeanne d'Arc, the last of the great Metz forts, which fell on 13 December 1944. Later that same month, III Corps was moved north to assist in the relief of Bastogne. During the first 10 days of action, III Corps liberated more than 100 towns, including Bastogne. This operation was key in halting the German offensive and the eventual drive to the Rhine River.

During the first 4 months of 1945, III Corps moved quickly to the offensive. On 25 February 1945, units established a bridgehead over the Roer River, which, in turn, led to the capture of the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen, on the Rhine River, on 7 March 1945. On 24 March 1945, the Edersee Dam was captured intact and the Corps continued the attack to seize the Ruhr Pocket on 5 April 1945. In late April 1945, III Corps reformed and launched a drive through Bavaria towards Austria. On 2 May 1945, III Corps was ordered to halt at the Inn River on the Austrian border.

At the end of the war, III Corps had added campaign streamers for Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central Europe to its colors, had taken more than 226,102 prisoners, and had seized more than 4,500 square miles of German territory. The Corps had also participated in most of the critical actions from Normandy to the German-Austrian border. Its wartime commanders included Major General John Millikin and Major General James A. Van Fleet. After 13 months of occupation duty in Germany, the Corps returned to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and inactivated on 10 October 1946.

On 15 March 1951, during the height of the Korean War, III Corps was again called to active duty at Camp Roberts, California. In April 1954, III Corps moved to Fort Hood, Texas, where it participated in a number of important exercises, either as director headquarters or as a player unit. The main purpose of these operations was the testing of new doctrines, organizations, and equipment. On 5 May 1959, the Corps was again inactivated.

The Berlin crisis brought III Corps back to active duty for the fourth time on 1 September 1961. Units participated in an intensive training program and were operationally ready by December 1961. In February 1962, the Department of the Army designated III Corps as a unit of the US Strategic Army Corps and in September 1965, assigned III Corps to the US Strategic Army Forces.

During the Vietnam era, the Corps supervised the training and deployment of more than 137 units and detachments to Southeast Asia, including the I and II Field Force staffs. The Corps also trained more than 40,000 individual replacements for units in Vietnam. As the war in Southeast Asia ended, the Corps received many units and individual soldiers for reassignment or inactivation. It was also during this period that III Corps units participated in a number of key tests and evaluations that would help determine Army organization and equipment for the next 30 years.

In July 1973, III Corps became part of the newly established Forces Command (FORSCOM) and its training, testing, and evaluation mission began to grow. For the remainder of the decade, III Corps would take part in a number of Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) tests of organizations and tactical concepts, and play a key role in the fielding of new equipment. III Corps units would also participate in major exercises such as REFORGER (Return of Forces to Germany) and disaster relied operations in the United States and Central America.

III Corps played an increasingly important role in the 1980s. Corps units had been on the leading edge of the Army's modernization effort with the introduction of new organizations and equipment like the M1 Abrams tank, M2/M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, AH-64 Apache helicopter, Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), and Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE). III Corps' primary mission continued to focus on Europe and the training of forces for deployment. The Corps participated in numerous field and command post exercises such as Road Runner '87 that involved more than 10,000 soldiers in a 10-county, Central Texas area. In 1987, III Corps also conducted the largest deployment of forces to Germany since World War II. This demonstrated the Corps' ability to perform one of its primary wartime missions. III Corps also played an important part in the training and support of active and reserve component units. This support involved training guidance, resources, and the maintenance of relationships that extend to wartime affiliations.

After the events of 11 September 2001, III Corps was identified by FORSCOM as the primary provider of forces in support of Operation Noble Eagle and Homeland Security. As such, FORSCOM tasked III Corps to provide quick reaction forces (QRFs) and ready reaction forces (RRFs) to respond rapidly to a crisis within designated Federal Emergency Agency regions. Additionally, III Corps provided the majority of the FORSCOM requirements for forces in support of Joint Task Force Civil Support and Consequence Management (JTF-CS/JTF-CM). These forces were capable of responding anywhere in CONUS to a domestic chemical, biological, radiological, explosive (CBRNE) incident.

The III Corps was also the Corps Force Provider for SFOR 14-15 and KFOR 5A-5B rotations between 2003 and 2004. As such, III Corps was responsible for the complete and continuous support of the forces keeping the peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. The III Corps' responsibilities began 18-24 months before forces deployed and included all aspects associated with the sourcing, training, certification, validation, for these forces.

Approximately 160 soldiers from 2 13th Corps Support Command units, the 546th Area Support Medical Company and the 68th Engineer Company, returned to Fort Hood on 29 July 2003. The 546th Area Support Medical Company deployed on 14 February 2003 and the 68th Engineer Company deployed on 2 March 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:36:04 ZULU