The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW


Army Reserve answers nation's call for 97 Years

By Col. Randy Pullen

ARLINGTON, Virginia (Army News Service, April 27, 2005) – On April 23, 1908, a new component of the U.S. Army came into being with the creation of the Medical Reserve Corps, the Army’s first federal reserve force.

Today, that reserve force -- which numbered about 360 medical professionals one year after its creation -- is known as the U.S. Army Reserve, a specialized, complementary and skill-rich force of some 205,000 citizen-warriors.

Throughout its near-century of existence, Army Reserve Soldiers have answered the nation’s call to serve during times of emergency, both in peace and in war.

Peacetime emergencies have included a variety of disaster relief and humanitarian operations at home and abroad. In 1997, for example, Army Reserve water purification units were sent to North Dakota to supply purified, potable water to flood victims; Army Reserve engineers in New Hampshire helped a town recover from a dam break; Army Reserve dentists provided much needed dental care on a Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona; and finally Army Reserve Soldiers in the Pacific assisted the victims of Typhoon Paka on Guam.

Two years later, thousands of Army Reserve Soldiers, along with thousands of Army National Guard Soldiers, took part in Exercise New Horizons 1999, the relief effort for Central America following the devastating Hurricane Mitch.

A different sort of peacetime emergency was the use of the Army Reserve in running one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s key New Deal programs, the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC, during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Between 1933 and 1939, more than 30,000 Organized Reserve Corps (as the Army Reserve was called at this time) Soldiers served in 2,700 CCC camps, using their training and organization skills in carrying out this program that provided jobs to unemployed young men across the country.

The skills used in the just-mentioned peacetime operations, as well as countless others; however, are the same sort that could be and have been used for battlefield applications, too. It is the emergency of war, both preparing to be ready for war and taking part in actual conflict, that lies at the heart of the Army Reserve and why it was created.

The first mobilization for the Army Reserve came in 1916 when it was called out due to the deteriorating situation between the United States and Mexico caused by the actions of the Mexican revolutionary, Francisco “Pancho” Villa, and the subsequent punitive expedition after Villa led by Brig. Gen. John J. Pershing. Army Reserve Soldiers joined their comrades of the Regular Army and National Guard along the southern border of the United States, preparing for the outbreak of a second war with Mexico. War was avoided but this first mobilization served as a great shakedown for America’s Army in the greater war that would come in 1917.

More than 160,000 Army Reserve Soldiers served on active duty during the First World War. The Reserve doughboys of the Great War served in every division of the American Expeditionary Force in France, whether those divisions were Regular Army, National Guard or National Army. Among their ranks was Col. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. of the 1st Infantry Division, Maj. Charles Whittlesey of “the Lost Battalion,” and Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, America’s Ace of Aces. Their example set the standard that Army Reserve men and women have followed ever since.

The era between the world wars was a difficult one for the Army. There were few incentives for service, active or reserve, other than dedication to duty and patriotism. In the Organized Reserve, which was primarily an organization of Reserve officers because few enlisted men served, there was no pay for unit drill and no retirement plan. With the national economy in tatters because of the Great Depression of the 1930s, training became even rarer. No year in that decade saw more than 30 percent of Reserve officers undergo annual training; in 1934, only 14 percent did so.

Despite these and other hardships, new officers continued to be commissioned into the Organized Reserve through ROTC and the Citizens’ Military Training Camps (CMTC). This provided summer training to volunteers at Army installations; young men who successfully completed four summers of CMTC training and a battery of correspondence courses could apply for Reserve commissions.

With the outbreak of war in Europe and especially with the fall of France in June 1940, the United States began rearming in earnest. The Nation began calling on its long-neglected Reserve as a key part in that rebuilding of its armed forces. There were some 2,700 Reserve officers serving on active duty in mid-1940; within a year, there were 57,000 serving on active duty. About 90 percent of the Army’s company grade officers in June 1941 were recently-mobilized Army Reserve officers.

The Reserve presence in World War II was considerable. In a typical Regular Army combat division during the peak war years, Reserve Soldiers occupied most of the mid-grade officer positions. By the end of the war, more than 200,000 Reserve Soldiers were on active duty, serving on every front. Roughly a quarter of all Army officers serving during the war were Army Reserve officers.

Most of them were in the grades of first lieutenant through lieutenant colonel, but a number progressed to general officer rank. These included Lt. Gen. James H. Doolittle, who led the first air attack against Japan in April 1942 (for which he received the Medal of Honor and a promotion from lieutenant colonel to brigadier general); Maj. Gen. William J. Donovan, a World War I Medal of Honor recipient who headed the Office of Strategic Services, known as OSS, the World War II predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency; and Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. The World War I hero returned to duty and was promoted to brigadier general. After combat in North Africa and Sicily, Roosevelt led the 4th Infantry Division ashore on Utah Beach on D-Day, the first general officer to come ashore on a Normandy beach. For his leadership and courage on June 6, 1944, he received the Medal of Honor.

Five years after the end of World War II, Army Reserve men and women (Women were authorized to join the Organized Reserve in 1948.) were called to duty again, this time for war in Korea. More than 200,000 Reserve Soldiers were eventually were called to active duty, some as individuals, others with the 971 Reserve units that were mobilized. Fourteen Reserve battalions and 40 separate companies actually went to Korea, and seven Reserve Soldiers, men like Cpl. Hiroshi Miyamura, received the Medal of Honor for their combat heroism.

In the 1960s, the Army Reserve stood ready to answer the Nation’s call during the Berlin Crisis, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War. Only Vietnam resulted in an armed conflict and because of decisions made by the administration of President Lyndon Johnson, only a small Reserve mobilization was authorized in 1968, resulting in a call-up of 42 Army Reserve units with fewer than 5,000 Army Reserve Soldiers.

Army Reserve Soldiers actively participated in Operation Just Cause, the United States’ intervention in Panama in 1989, with military police and civil affairs support.

The biggest deployment of Army Reserve Soldiers overseas since the Korean War took place in 1990-1991 with Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM. More than 63,000 Soldiers from 647 units were activated to accomplish both continental U.S. and overseas missions. Thousands of Individual Ready Reserve Soldiers, Individual Mobilization Augmentees and 1,000 retirees volunteered or were ordered to active duty as well. In all, almost 84,000 Army Reserve soldiers answered their country’s call.

In 1993, Army Reserve Soldiers participated in Operation Restore Hope, the Somalia relief expedition. More than 100 Army Reserve volunteers were brought on active duty to staff the 711th Adjutant General Company (Provisional) (Postal); the unit immediately deployed to Somalia to provide postal support to U.S. Forces there. Army Reserve civil affairs and public affairs soldiers also served in Somalia until U.S. Forces departed there in March 1994.

Since 1995, thousands of Army Reserve Soldiers have served in the Balkans to conduct peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and later in Kosovo, as well as to support those operations there from Hungary, Germany, and Italy. The Kosovo conflict also resulted in a stateside mission in 1999 when refugees from Kosovo arrived at the Fort Dix Army Reserve Installation in New Jersey. There, Army Reserve Soldiers led and were part of the Operation Provide Refuge Joint Task Force, alongside their active Army comrades, giving relief and assistance to more than 4,000 ethnic Albanians.

On September 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and a field in Pennsylvania. Thousands of Americans were killed.

The men and women of the Army Reserve were on the front lines of the first war of the 21st century from its outset, with a number of Reserve Soldiers among the killed at the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. Army Reserve units and individual Soldiers responded to the attack immediately and carried out a host of missions to support rescue and recovery operations and to secure federal facilities nation-wide.

Less than a month after the attack on America, America struck back at the base of the attackers in Afghanistan. Within a few months, Afghanistan’s repressive Taliban regime, which had supported and given sanctuary to the al Qaeda terrorists who had launched the 9-11 attacks against America, had been driven from power and, along with the foreign terrorists, were in hiding in the rugged south and east of Afghanistan. Army Reserve Soldiers contributed significantly to this victory.

Army Reserve public affairs soldiers went into the mountains of eastern Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) on Operation Anaconda. Army Reserve engineers improved facilities at Kandahar while medical citizen-soldiers treated casualties at Bagram air base. Army Reserve civil affairs soldiers operated throughout Afghanistan to help the Afghan people recover from decades of war.

On March 20, 2003, Operation Iraqi Freedom began, with Army Reserve soldiers in action right from the beginning and fighting their way to Baghdad alongside their comrades-in-arms from the other U.S. Armed Forces and coalition allies. When Baghdad fell on April 9, 2003, the Army Reserve was there. Although major combat operations in Iraq were declared to be over on May 1, 2003, combat did not cease. A difficult guerilla campaign continued, one waged by loyalists of Saddam Hussein’s regime, Iraqi insurgents and foreign fighters. More American casualties were suffered following the end of major combat operations than were lost in the period before May 1.

At the height of Operation Iraqi Freedom, some 70,000 Army Reserve soldiers had been mobilized and were serving not only in Iraq and Kuwait but also in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, in Europe, in the Horn of Africa, and throughout the United States.

Today, operations continued in both Iraq and Afghanistan and the Army Reserve remained heavily committed in each area. In Afghanistan, Army Reserve soldiers have been decisively engaged in helping the emerging Afghan democracy develop and take its place alongside the family of nations.

Army Reserve Soldiers served as part of the coalition forces building a 70,000-man strong Afghan National Army and were helping the Afghans set up a modern defense establishment under the control of a democratically-elected civilian government. The successful Afghan presidential election in October 2004 testified to the progress being made in moving Afghanistan towards this goal.

In Iraq, Army Reserve soldiers continued to take part in battling Iraqi insurgents while laying the groundwork for Iraq’s security forces to take over this mission themselves. For the first time since the U.S. military began training Iraqi security forces, an Army Reserve unit took on that mission when the 98th Division (Institutional Training) deployed to Iraq in late 2004 to speed up the training of the new Iraqi Army.

Also in Iraq is one of the Army Reserve’s most unique and famed units. The Army Reserve’s only ground combat unit, the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry, arrived in March 2005 for a year-long tour of duty. It is assigned to Logistics Support Area Anaconda (about 50 miles north of Baghdad) as part of the 29th Separate Infantry Brigade, Hawaii Army National Guard. Base defense is a key mission at Anaconda but the 100th/442nd Soldiers also carry out neighborhood searches, monitor traffic-control points and conduct civic action projects for local Iraqi citizens in neighboring villages.

The Army Reserve soldiers of the 100th/442nd come from Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam and Saipan and are well aware of the record they have to uphold from the heritage they inherited from the original 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team of World War II, the most decorated U.S. Army units of their size in American history.

The area of operations for the 100th/442nd is a tough one. Of the 28 U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq in the first three weeks of April 2005, 10 were killed in either Baghdad or in Balad, where LSA Anaconda is. An Army Reserve Soldier from American Samoa was wounded with a broken leg and wrist April 20 when his vehicle hit a suspected land mine.

It was from Balad on April 9, 2004, that a convoy originated that resulted in the first Silver Star to be awarded to an Army Reserve Soldier in the War on Terrorism. On that date, members of the 724th Transportation Company, an Army Reserve unit from Bartonville, Ill., were ambushed by hundreds of Iraqi insurgents. Spec. Jeremy Church, driving the convoy commander’s vehicle, fired his weapon and administered immediate first aid to the seriously wounded 1st Lt. Matthew Brown while continuing to drive his Humvee through the four-mile kill zone. After getting Brown to medical treatment, Church returned to the battle. He rescued a number of his fellow Soldiers and civilian contractors, then helped load nine of them in a recovery vehicle. Finding the vehicle to be full, he volunteered to stay behind to cover its withdrawal. He held off the insurgents until a rescue team came back for him.

For his courage under fire, Church received the Silver Star, which was presented to him at Fort McCoy, Wis., by the Chief of the Army Reserve Feb. 27, 2005. The convoy commander, Brown, lost his left eye from his wounds. Two 724th Soldiers were killed in the ambush, and one, Sgt. Keith “Matt” Maupin, remains a prisoner after his capture during the convoy ambush.

In all, since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, more than 130,000 Army Reserve soldiers have been called to duty. By mid-April 2005, the number of Army Reserve soldiers killed in both Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom had grown to 72. Almost 560 have been wounded in action.

As operations continue in Iraq and Afghanistan and as new fronts open in the War against Terrorism, more casualties are to be expected. Pain and sorrow will still have to be borne by both Soldiers and their loved ones as the citizen-warriors of the Army Reserve do now and in the future what they have been doing so honorably and so well for almost a century – answering the nation’s call to serve.

“What hasn’t changed in our 97 years is the courage, commitment and sacrifice of our people who voluntarily accept the challenge of serving.”-- Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, Commanding General, U.S. Army Reserve, April 23, 2005

Join the mailing list