1st Battalion
16th Infantry Regiment
1st Infantry Division

 
 

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History

On 10 October 1965, the 1st Battalion 16th Infantry arrived in Viet Nam with the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division and was stationed initially at Bien Hoa. BUSHMASTER I was the first major operation that the battalion was involved in. Its mission was to clear a zone along Highway 13 between Lai Khe and Ben Cat in Phouc Vinh province. The unit conducted numerous air assaults during BUSHMASTER and earned a reputation for flexibility, mobility, and aggressiveness. This was followed closely by BUSH MASTER II and the battalion's mission changed to "search and destroy." Operations centered around the Michelin Rubber Plantation, an area with which the battalion would become intimately familiar over the next four years. In the first two months of operations, the battalion had killed or captured over 1600 NVA or VC soldiers.

In January 1967, the 1st Battalion participated in Operation CEDAR FALLS. This operation was a joint effort by the 1st and 25th Infantry Divisions, the 173rd Airborne Brigade and the 11th ACR to imposed severe casualties on VC units in Military Region 4, the "Iron Triangle." This was followed by Operations TUCSON in February, BILLINGS in June, and SHENANDOAH in October. The year 1968 was also an eventful one for the 1st Battalion. It accounted for over 300 enemy KIA or captured and thousands of weapons and several tons of equipment and food destroyed or captured. Additionally in October 1968, the battalion was reorganized as mechanized infantry and adopted the nickname "Iron Rangers."

The Battalion nickname of "Rangers" was adopted from the Regiment when the Germans mistakenly reported the 16th Infantry to be Ranger units in their dispatches to higher headquarters during the Normandy Campaign during World War I.

The Battalion nickname of "Rangers" was changed to "Iron Rangers" in Vietnam on 21 October, 1968 (not 1966 like reported on another web site) in honor of the Armored Personnel Carriers when the 5th Battalion (Mechanized), 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division was swapped with the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division.

In 1969, the "Iron Rangers" were involved the Vietnamization process, yet combat in and around areas like the Iron Triangle, Michelin Rubber Plantation, the Catcher's Mitt, Ben Cat and Lai Khe, and participation in Operations BEAR TRAP, FRIENDSHIP, KENTUCKY COUGAR, IRON DANGER, and TOAN THANG IV accounted for an additional 426 enemy soldiers killed or captured. Ambush patrols and the sealing off of villages characterized operations during the year.

The last four months in Viet Nam saw the battalion working closely with its ARVN counterparts as it concurrently prepared to redeploy to Fort Riley. Combat activity did not abate, however, as the "Iron Rangers" conducted 690 ambush patrols in January, and 803 in February. March 3, 1970 saw the cessation of combat activities in the Republic of Viet Nam for the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry. The battalion stood down and the personnel headed home. The battalion remained nominally active as the colors and records were shipped to Augsburg, Germany where it was reorganized at full strength as part of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division in April 1970. The battalion remained there until its participation in Desert Storm in 1991, after which it returned to Fort Riley, Kansas where it remains today, the only active element of the 16th Infantry Regiment.

The operations were typical of the aggressiveness, drive and competence shown by both battalions of the 16th Infantry during their tour of duty in the Republic of Vietnam. Today, as they have since the organization of the regiment over 135 years ago, the "Rangers" continue to be one of the finest units in the United States Army and stand ready to defend "Old Glory" when their nation calls.


The American Traveler
November 20, 1990 

First IDF has long, proud history 

The First Infantry Division (Forward), commonly referred to as the 1st IDF, has a long and proud history dating back to World War I.  It is part of a division with 73 years of continuous active service, the longest of any division currently in the United States Army. 

Formed on May 24, 1917, along with its parent unit and organized two weeks later on June 8, the 1st IDF’s original designation was Headquarters Troop, 1st Expeditionary Division.  When the division dropped the word “expeditionary” from its name on July 6, 1917, the troop designation was also changed. 

The Headquarters Troop’s lineage and honors reveal a distinguished campaign record during World War I.  After being the vanguard of America’s war effort, the First Division remained in Europe for occupation duty in Germany.  The last elements of the division returned to the United States in December, 1919. 

On February 13, 1921, Headquarters Troop was reorganized and predestinated as Headquarters and Military Police Company, retaining this name until 1942.  By that time, the United States had become involved in World War II and was preparing to send troops to the European theater.  On May 15, the First Division was designated the First Infantry Division: the Headquarters and Military Police Company simultaneously became Headquarters Company, 1st Infantry Division. 

The 1st Inf. Div. was sent to England in August 1942 and, in November of that year, participated in the first American ground offensive of the war against Germany.  “Operation Torch,” the invasion of North Africa, began a series of campaigns which would take the division to Sicily, the invasion of France at Normandy on June 6th of 1944, through northern France and throughout Germany.  The division’s march ended at Elbogen, near Cheb, Czechoslovakia on May 8, 1945, when peace was declared. 

The division remained in Germany first for occupation duty, and then as part of the NATO deterrent until 1955, when it was reassigned to Fort Riley, Kansas. 

Headquarters Company, 1st Infantry Division was disbanded on April 20, 1960 but was reactivated on January 2,nd, 1964 as part of the Reorganized Army Division (ROAD) program.  The unit’s new designation with the division was Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC), 3rd Brigade, nicknamed the “Iron Brigade.” 

During the early 1960’s there was a growing danger that South Vietnam would fall to communist aggression.  The United States sent military advisors there to assist the South Vietnamese Army, but as the danger of a communist victory grew, American ground troops were committed.  The second brigade of the division, the first American Army infantry unit to be sent to Vietnam, arrived at Cam Ranh Bay on July 12, 1965.  By November 1st the remainder of the division had arrived and was ready for combat operations.  The 1st Infantry Division compiled an impressive campaign record in Vietnam during more than four years of service there. 

The 3rd Brigade’s units included the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry, the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry, the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry and the 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry. 

The division was withdrawn from Vietnam on April 15, 1970, redesignated the 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized), and assumed the mission of the 24 Infantry Divison. 

The 24th Infantry Division had been stationed in Germany with two brigades located in Ausburg and with its 3rd Brigade garrisoned in Munich.  In 1968, as part of a program to reduce American troop strength in Europe, the 1st and 2nd Brigades were withdrawn and reassigned to Fort Riley, while the 3rd Bridage was moved to Augsburg. 

Since the 3rd Brigade ws stationed alone in Germany, the 1st Infantry Division (Forward) headquarters under the command of a brigadier general, was established above the brigade headquarters.  The brigade remained in Sheridan Kaserne until 1972 when it was alerted that it would move to the Stuttgart-Ulm area to follow Army Security Agency assets tobe consolidated in Augsburg.  By September 1972, the move had been completed.  The division (forward) headquarters and the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry were relocated to Cooke Barracks in Goeppingen.  The 1st Support Battalion (Provisional), which had been activated in 1971 to perform functions similar to a division support command, also moved to Goeppingen. 

The 1st Batt., 16th Infantry was relocated to Panzer Kaserne in Boeblingen, along with Troop C, 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment.  In September 1972, the 4th Battalion, 73 Armor was activated there and the 3rd Brigade headquarters was also located in Boeblingen to provide command support to the units stationed on the compound. 

The 2nd Battalion, 33rd Field Artillery, the 5th Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery (an Honest John missile unit) and Company D, 1st Engineer Battalion went to Wiley Barracks in Neu Ulm.  Only the 3rd Battalion, 63rd Armor remained in Augsburg. 

The 1st Infantry Division (Forward) has experienced several inactivations, redesignations, and relocations since 1972.  In 1974, the 1st Support Battalion (Provisional) was inactivated, but it was reactivated three years later. On May 21, 1974 the 5th Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery was inactivated at Neu Ulm.  In Augsburg, the 3rd Battalion, 63rd Armor was reassigned to the 3rd Infantry Division on July 1, 1977.  Between December 1982 and February 1983, Company D, 1st Engineer Battalion was relieved of attachment to the 2nd Battalion, 33rd Field Artillery and moved to Boeblingen.  It remained a separate company until August 1984 when it was attached to 2-37 Armor.  Later, the engineer company was attached to the 1-16 Infantry. 

The year 1983 witnessed several redesignations due to the changeover from Combat Arms Regimental System to the Army Regimental System.  Under this program, the 1-26th Infantry was inactivated at Cooke Barracks and, simultaneously, the 4th Battalion, 16th Infantry was activated on February 24th.  Four days later, the 4th Battalion, 37th Armor and the 2nd Battalion, 33rd Field Artillery was designated the 4th Battalion, 5th Field Artillery. 

These changes were made in order to match designations in the 1st Infantry
Division (M) at Fort Riley as part of the Army’s regimental plan. 

On October 20, 1983, the 1st Support Battalion (Provisional) was inactivated and replaced by the 299th Support Battalion.  The new unit was recognized by the Department of the Army as inheriting the lineage and honors of the 7th Support Battalion, which had served with distinction in Vietnam. 

(In the four years since Capt. Hanson wrote his history of the 1st IDF, additional changes in locations and unit designations have occurred.  The 3rd Brigade’s headquarters moved in the 1st IDF headquarters at Cooke Barracks.  In August of 1989, after 14 years, the designation “3rd Brigade” was used again. 

In November of 1987 Troop C, ¼ Cav became Troop A, ¼ Cav and, in 1988, 2-37 Armor was designated 3rd Battalion, 34th Armor.  Finally, in September of this year, Troop A, ¼ Cav was reassigned to the 1st ID(M) at Fort Riley.  The Brigade Scout Platoon, attached to the 3rd Battalion, 34th Armor, came into being after the cavalry troop departed.)


The American Traveler
November 20, 1990

'BRO' units to inactivate

by Maj. Lane M. Van DeStegg
On September 18th General Crosbie Saint the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Army in Europe announced the return to the Federal Republic of Germany of several installations. Among those scheduled to be returned between 1991 and 1998 is Wiley Barracks at Neu Ulm, the home of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery.

Two days later, Gen. Saint announced the inactivation of several battalions from both V Corps and VII Corps. As we all know, four of our battalions were among those mentioned. They are the 1st and 4th Battalions of the 16th Infantry Regiment; the 3rd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment; and the 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment, with its 25th Target Acquisition Battery. Along with the battalions was one of our separate companies; Company D of the 1st Engineer Battalion and Detachment 1 of the 101st Military Intelligence Battalion.

Since Gen. Saint's announcements, our focus has been on planning and executing the inactivations - not an easy process when you consider all the things that have to be accomplished. Everything from Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles to dogs and cats must be moved. Soldiers must be reassigned and buildings must be prepared for their next tenants, who are yet to be announced.

Gen. Saint's announcements raised thousands of questions, many of which could not be answered immediately.

One of the first questions asked was, "Why us?"

Fortunately, that one can be answered. Selected units were chosen based on several considerations, including combat strength of the units, which had to be measured against the required cutbacks resulting from the Conventional Arms Reductions talks, and against the budget cuts required by Congress.

Other considerations were the placement of units in Germany, and their impact on the local population and environment, and the units' probable use should they have to defend western Europe.

Once the required reductions were compared to possible needs, Department of the Army determined which units could logically be inactivated or moved.

Since the announcement, some inactivation dates have changed. 2nd Batt., 5th Field Artillery's date remains March 1st. 3rd Batt., 34th Armor's is now 21 Mar. 1st Batt., 16th Inf and Company D, 1st Eng. Batt. leave on April 1st and 4th Batt., 16th Inf. will leave May 1.

 

Contributors:
16th Infantry Regiment Association web site
The American Travler - (First Inf Div Forward Public Affairs Office)
Jason C. Webb

Curtis Hatterman

 
 

1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment
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