Famous Military Units

Famous Marine Corps Unit: 1st Samoan Battalion

Famous Marine Corps Unit: 1st Samoan Battalion

World War II as a global event unfolded over more than a decade, impacting countries in different ways and at very different times.  Undoubtedly Americans identify the war’s start consistently with the Pearl Harbor attack and declaration of war by Japan on December 7, 1941, but the beginnings of the conflict date much earlier to 1931 with Japan’s invasion of Manchuria.  In recognition of their brutal ambitions and the escalating political activities in Europe the US became deeply immersed in war planning and preparations beginning early in the 1930s.  But, with an overwhelming isolationist stance gripping the US and a resulting lack of Federal funding those actions identified by the military as critical to national defense had to be deferred.  Only with tensions heightening around Japan and the outbreak of war in Europe during 1939 was President Roosevelt able to declare a limited national emergency, and in doing so, appropriate meager funding.  The 1st...

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Famous Army Unit: 761st Tank Battalion

Famous Army Unit: 761st Tank Battalion

Entry of the United States into World War II quickly revealed how woefully ill-prepared the armed forces were to contend with a major conflict.  Apart from the peacetime draft instituted in 1940 and lend-lease support to Great Britain few actions had been taken to address escalating global tensions.  Now racing to enlist, train, arm and deploy resources necessary across multiple theatres of war the Army and other branches of service were forced to again face long-held racial discrimination and related practices.  Responding to arguments raised by General McNair, Commander of Army Ground Forces, the US began to experiment with segregated combat units in 1941 and as one outcome, the 761st Tank Battalion was activated April 1, 1942. Rated Superior during training by Lt. General Lear, Commander Second Army, the unit fought with distinction across the European Theatre of Operations (ETO) as the first Black tank battalion to enter combat, eventually adopting the nickname...

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Famous Navy Unit: USS Liberty

Famous Navy Unit: USS Liberty

Three years before President Truman courageously recognized Israel's statehood, the first international leader to do so, the keel of a vessel named SS Simmons Victory was laid down in Portland, Oregon, designated as a Fleet Issue Ship assigned the duty of carrying munitions and general cargo at the end of WWII across the PTO. From the onset of troubles in Korea, the ship made nine Far East voyages in support. The History of USS Liberty By 1964 it had been converted to a Technical Research Ship and reclassified AGTR-5 of the US Navy, christened USS Liberty in honor of the ten states with settlements of that name. Its first log entry included this rhyme by Mustang Lt. Lester Morserf, Jr: "… With a spirit of Trust and "Get the Job Done."We each did tremble as her colors were raised,With pride for the symbol, we all have praised –And vow to add fame through duties done well,To its historic name – the Liberty Bell." USS Liberty served with the Atlantic Fleet on many seas and to many...

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Famous Coast Guard Unit: USCGC Tamaroa

Famous Coast Guard Unit: USCGC Tamaroa

The sky was red above Gloucester, MA, when fishermen on the swordboat Andrea Gail set out from their harbor with ominous flashes of lightning far away to the northwest that late autumn of 1991. At the 1 hour and 21-minute mark in the movie "The Perfect Storm," the first distress call to USCGC Tamaroa (portrayed by CGC Vigorous) is transmitted from USAF Pave Hawk "Jolly 110" assigned to the NYANG 106th Rescue Wing.  Sailing from her homeport at Newcastle, NH, Tamaroa had been coordinating air and sea operations looking for vessels caught in three violent Atlantic storms converging south of Nova Scotia when it was diverted. On a fourth HC-130 refueling sortie, 30 attempts to meet the drogue failed due to extreme turbulence of up to 100 knots; the Jolly 110 went dry and was forced to ditch. The Satori yacht passengers had been brought safely into a USCG rescue helicopter by then; at no time were they set aboard the Tamaroa. After five hours adrift in the tempest, seas sometimes reaching...

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Famous Army Unit: 100th Infantry Battalion

Famous Army Unit: 100th Infantry Battalion

With much of the world already at war, December 7, 1941 proved not only a day that would live in infamy but for most Americans, an event that would redefine their world. This impact was no more significant or immediate than for US citizens of Japanese ancestry and in particular second-generation Americans, or Nisei.  Since 1937 the Japanese invasion of China and atrocities inflicted on civilian populations sickened most of the world, punctuated by the undeclared attack on Pearl Harbor.  Unfairly stricken with the effects of these acts the Nisei refused to be victims of these events, but instead, set a course to undeniably prove both their competence and loyalty.  Driven by this quest, the 100th Infantry Battalion performed with distinction and rose to become the most highly decorated unit for its size in US military history. Remember Pearl Harbor On December 7th, many Americans of Japanese Ancestry lived in Hawaii and served in the 298th and 299th Infantry Regiments.  Following the...

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Famous Military Unit: American Forces Network (AFRTS)

Famous Military Unit: American Forces Network (AFRTS)

In 1984, the first commercially available DynaTAC audio-only cell phone cost just short of $4,000, with each call billed at 45 cents per minute. Forty years later, anyone in uniform accesses audio-visual news from thousands of sources using a personal cell phone throughout the world, wherever a signal and transmission tower can reach. Yet, for eighty years, the most reliable military broadcast remains the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS). AFN Was Founded in 1942 as the Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS) In 1942 the War Department established the ARMED FORCES RADIO SERVICE (AFRS), followed in 1954 by its first television detachment at Limestone AFB, Maine. American Forces Network global operations are now headquartered at Fort Meade, MD, and emanate from AFN BROADCAST/DEFENSE MEDIA CENTER in Riverside, CA. The modern network was founded in London and later moved to France. Always tying us together has been news from home whether we are assigned to a Tender at sea or an...

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Famous Marine Corps Unit: 2nd Marine Raider Battalion

Famous Marine Corps Unit: 2nd Marine Raider Battalion

With America thrust into World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt became interested in creating an American equivalent to the British Commandos; elite, highly mobile, hard-hitting forces, and the Marine Corps was the natural place for this organization. The debate over the creation of these elite units came to a climax when the new commander of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Chester Nimitz, requested a "commando unit" for raids against lightly defended Japanese-held islands. Created by an order from President Roosevelt, the Marine Commandant, Major General Thomas Holcomb, selected the term "Raider" and created two battalions. The 1st Raider Battalion was activated on February 16, 1942, under the command of Lt. Col. Merritt Edson, followed immediately by the 2nd Raider Battalion on February 19, under the command of Lt. Col. Evans F. Carlson. However, much of the Marine establishment was unaccepting of the change and, in combination...

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Famous Navy Unit: HA(L)-3 Seawolves

Famous Navy Unit: HA(L)-3 Seawolves

Steeped in the political turmoil of an unpopular war and faced with unfamiliar terrain, embedded enemy supply practices, and tactics keying on stealth, by 1965, the US faced new and novel threats from Viet Cong forces with no ready recourse. Striving for any means to achieve supremacy, the Army turned to tried-and-true tactics while seeking a breakthrough military strategy. The answer, formation of the all-volunteer Navy Helicopter Attack (Light) Squadron 3 (HA(L)-3), quickly renowned by their call sign "Seawolf." Utilizing hand-me-down equipment acquired from the Army and newly trained personnel, HA(L)-3 would go on to become the most highly decorated squadron in naval aviation history. During the squadron's five-year tenure, the Seawolves flew more than 120,000 missions with two-hundred wounded and forty-four KIA, earning the following commendations and landmark recognition. But just how was such unprecedented success possible in the face of antiquated equipment and the absence of...

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Famous Navy Unit: Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11

Famous Navy Unit: Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11

The Naval Mobile Construction Battalions are perhaps one of the most misunderstood military units across the armed forces. More commonly known as Seabees, these units are a reasonably new phenomenon with only eighty years of shared history. And surprisingly, this force has been redesignated multiple times to embrace the spirit of their mission and contend with political maneuvering among US Naval and Marine infrastructure. Moreover, as a support organization, the Seabees are typically not front-page news despite a multi-faceted mission commitment, including clandestine assignments and ongoing combat readiness, the very underpinning of their existence. Before WWII, civilian contractors were used for construction purposes in the Pacific, but under international law, civilians were prohibited from defending themselves in the event of hostile action. To resolve this, Rear Admiral Ben Moreell pursued authorization in December 1941 to create a specialized support unit for US Navy and...

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Famous Army Unit: 563rd Transportation Company

Famous Army Unit: 563rd Transportation Company

The complexion of war has changed significantly through millennia of human conflict and continues to evolve with new technologies and lessons learned on the battlefield. But despite this changing environment, one constant does exist: effective logistics and supply chain integrity can change the tide of battle and determine outcomes. Until World War II, a historical reliance on fixed fortifications led to straightforward solutions for combat support; however, the global scale of conflict and new, unbridled mobility forever changed the face of military logistics. In fact, much of the war's best-known strategies were directed solely at disrupting enemy supply chains (Battle of the Atlantic, Operation Drumbeat, Battle of the Bulge, Island Hopping, and more). Surprisingly, by 1966 military logistics and combat supply tactics had not significantly advanced apart from the introduction of helicopters to the battlefield. So as the Vietnam War escalated, UN forces confronted novel threats...

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Famous Marine Corps Unit: MACV-SOG

Famous Marine Corps Unit: MACV-SOG

Steeped in secrecy and shaped by global Cold War tensions, the Vietnam War was, by all standards of measure, the most clandestine military campaign in US history. After World War II, democratic and communist nations were spoiling for a fight, testing one another, and positioning themselves to gain geographic and political advantage. However, with an indecisive outcome in Korea and escalating international anxiety, further activities became highly secretive on both sides, including CIA involvement in Vietnam beginning in 1953. Leading to covert 1961 combat operations in North Vietnam code-named Operation 34A, these highly classified and largely unsuccessful attacks reflected other events of that time, e.g., the Bay of Pigs (April 1961) and the Cuban Missile Crisis (October 1962). These CIA missions, comprised of air and naval infiltration, led to significant loss of life. To increase the chances of success, the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam- Studies and Observations Group...

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Famous Army Air Force Unit – 336th Fighter Squadron

Famous Army Air Force Unit – 336th Fighter Squadron

The annals of Air Force history are rich with the performance and accomplishments of individual units, but often reflect specific battles, a conflict, or other such moments in time. Due to ever-changing budgets, technology, restructuring, and more, tenure alone is a barrier to the creation of longstanding unit heritage and tradition. Nonetheless, select organizations can trace a significant lineage with associated individual and group exploits. Perhaps not well known to other than their sister units, the 336th Fighter Squadron is one such organization, serving with distinction for eighty years while continually reinventing themselves to embrace advancing fighter aircraft and technology. History of the 336th Fighter Squadron The earliest roots of the 336th Fighter Squadron track to World War II prior to entry of the United States, then known as 133rd Eagle Squadron. The unit was constituted in August 1941 (Coltishall, England) as the third of three British fighter squadrons manned by...

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