History of the Second United States Cavalry
Part 7: 1898 to today, The Dragoons ride on.
More notes from the Second Cavalry Association
The War With Spain
The Spanish-American War in 1898 found the Regiment in Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico. They were assembled in Georgia as all Regular Army Units and several hundred thousand volunteers began to assemble in the southern United States. This was the first time that the entire Regiment had been together since the Civil War. They moved to Mobile, Alabama, in preparation for movement to Cuba. Troops A, C, D, and F boarded transports with their horses, and the remainder of the Regiment moved overland to Tampa, Florida, where the rest of the forces were being assembled. Due to a lack of transports, the remainder of the Regiment did not board ships, but instead gave up its wagons to assist the movement of Teddy Rooseveltís "Rough Riders" to the ships.
The four troops that arrived in Cuba found that they were the only horse-mounted cavalry available for the campaign. They worked primarily for General Shafter, the commander of troops in Cuba, doing a variety of jobs. Teddy Roosevelt observed that "the Second Cavalrymen are everywhere. All day long you see them. All night long you hear their clattering hooves."
The troops from the Second Cavalry fought at El Caney, San Juan Hill, Aquadores, and around Santiago Cuba. Troop B was committed to the Puerto Rican campaign in July and August. In 1899, the entire Regiment began pacification duty on Cuba and remained there for three years.
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The Early Twentieth Century
From 23 January to 18 July 1905, the Regiment broadened its experience by participating in the Cavite Campaign, Philippine Islands. On 14 February 1910, the Regiment fought in the battle of Tiradores Hill near Pindar on Mindanao. The Regiment followed this up with several clashes with the Moros: one at Mount Bagoak, Jolo, on 3 December 1911, and another near Mount Vrut, Jolo, 10-14 January 1912.
Back in the United States in June 1912, the Second Cavalry took the mission of enforcing the neutrality laws along the international boundary between the United States and Mexico. "I should consider myself fortunate to again have your splendid Regiment as part of my command," General Pershing wired Colonel West (the 15th Colonel of the Regiment) when the Second had left Jolo Island, Philippines, in 1912. The section of the international border between the United States and Mexico assigned to the Regiment gradually extended from El Paso to Presidio, Texas, a distance of 262 miles. This operation represented the first "border surveillance" and "border security" mission for the Regiment Ė a precursor of future missions later in the century.
The Regiment departed Fort Bliss, Texas, in December 1913 for Fort Ethan Allen, Vermont, for training and maneuvers. These field exercises, often in conjunction with the National Guard units of the northeastern states, were often under the personal direction of General Leonard Wood.
The year 1914 culminated with the Regimentís Horse Show Team representing the Army in the annual horse show at Madison Square Garden in New York. Representing the Army in national competition would be a task the Regiment excelled in for many years. The beautiful silver trophies awarded to the Regiment are still used to commemorate excellence within the Regiment. The Dragoon Lightning Trophy was originally awarded to the Regimental horse team in 1914. One of the award-winning team members was First Lieutenant George Brett, the son of Medal of Honor winner Lloyd Brett.
As the nation began to think about involvement with the European war, the Army recognized a need for a pool of trained leaders. General Wood led the drive to train business leaders and professionals for the future needs of the Army. The Second Cavalry established training camps in Plattsburg, New York, to train business leaders from New York City and Philadelphia in the rudiments of Army life. This was so successful that the Regiment established a second camp in Fort Ogelthorpe, Georgia, near the Civil War battlefield of Chickamauga. The Regiment, under the command of Joseph T. Dickman, the Seventeenth Colonel of the Regiment, trained over 13,000 of these men in five provisional regiments. This program of training a pool of leaders ready to respond during times of national emergency became the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). Dickman commanded the Third U.S. Infantry Division during the "Great War." His leadership at the second battle of the Marne River would forever mark the Third Infantry Division as "The Rock of the Marne."
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The First World War
World War I was another chapter of American history in which the Second Dragoons distinguished themselves. In April 1918, a scant three weeks after leaving the United States, the Second Cavalry found itself landed in France in the Toul sector. After being initially deployed to perform military police duties and to manage horse remount depots, the Regiment was the only American unit used as horse cavalry during the war. A provisional squadron formed by Troops B, D, F, and H was the last element of the Regiment ever to engage the enemy as mounted horse cavalry.
General Pershingís words were again realized half a world away when, with 31 dragoon troopers Headquarters Troop as his escort, he landed first in England and then at Chaumont, France. The commander of Pershingís headquarters element was Captain George S. Patton, Jr.
The Second Dragoons fought in the Aisne-Marne offensive from 18 July to 6 August 1918, where the American First and Second Divisions penetrated the western flank of the German Marne salient at Soissons. Detachments from the Regiment also took part in the Oisne-Aisne offensive from 18 August to 11 September. The greatest commendations the Regiment received in the war came for its part in the reduction of Saint Mihiel Salient. From 12 to 16 September, Troops A, B, C, D, F, G, and H fought magnificently under Lieutenant Colonel D.P.M. Hazzardís command.
At this time in the war, General Pershing massed six divisions on an 18-mile front. The First Division jumped off, bypassing Mont Sec (which the French had assaulted in vain for years), and reached the German line of Heudocort-Nosard. From there, the Second Cavalry passed through the forest of La Belle Oziere, Nosard, and Vigneulles, and scouted the open country as far as the Heudicort Creue, and Vignuelles. They would eventually advance all the way to Saint Maurice, Woel, and Jonville to pursue the enemy.
The final Allied offensive, the Meuse-Argonne campaign lasted from 26 September to 11 November 1918. The Second Cavalry was attached to the American 35th Division, playing an important role as the left flank element of eight divisions and later as the main effort between the Meuse River and the Argonne Forest. The plan of the American First Army was to bypass the strong points of Montfaucon and Romagne on both sides. Then the forces would seize the high ground at Barricort with a converging effort that was designed to shatter all German positions before Sedan.
The 35th Division spearheaded the assault on the left with an engagement in which the troops of the Second Cavalry fought bravely during a six-day battle between 26 September and 2 October 1918. The battle started at Vauquois and wound through Bois de Rossigy, Quvrage D'Aden, Cheepy, Charpentry, Baulny, Bois de Montre Beau, and Exermont. The men from the Regiment were commended for "...accomplishing their tasks with fearlessness, courage, and disregard for danger and hardship." Three rainbow colored campaign streamers were added to the Regimental standard during World War I.
With the Germans driven across the Meuse at Sedan, the stage was set for the Armistice on 11 November. The Second Cavalry remained with the Army of Occupation in Germany at Koblenz until August 1919.
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The Inter-War Years
After its service in the Army of Occupation, the Regiment returned to the United States for duty at Fort Riley, Kansas. There it remained from 1919 to 1939, performing peacetime duties as a school training regiment. This Cavalry School prospered under the guidance of a host of visionary men destined to be general officers in World War II. The list includes such revered names as Patton, Truscott, Keyes, and Mattox, among many others.
At Fort Riley the Regiment experimented with the first armored cars, and in 1936, as more money became available for maneuvers, it participated in the first armored and cavalry maneuvers. In 1936 the Second Cavalry celebrated its first centennial, marking 100 years of devoted service to the nation. In 1938, two armored regiments, the 1st and the 13th, and an augmentation of artillery and light airplanes joined the Regiment for maneuvers. Then, as now, the Regiment was leading the Army in the development of a combined arms organization and tactics.
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World War II
The invasion of Poland by the blitzing German panzers in 1939 accelerated the movement to mechanize American forces and led to the first extensive mechanized maneuvers in 1940. By 1941, the Second Cavalry was participating in similar large-scale maneuvers in Louisiana. The headquarters for the Louisiana Maneuvers were in the Bentley Hotel in Alexandria, Louisiana. In January 1942, the Second Cavalry served a period on border duty at Tucson, Arizona.
Since the emphasis in the Army was shifting to armor, the Regiment, still a horse outfit, returned to Camp Funston, Fort Riley Kansas for refitting. It was there on 15 May 1942 that it was redesignated and refitted to form the Second Armored Regiment of the Ninth Armored Division. It was this outfit that spawned specific armored units composed initially of men and equipment from the Second Cavalry. These units, the Second Tank Battalion, the 19th Tank Battalion and the 776th Tank Battalion, would distinguish themselves in combat through the European and Pacific Theaters of Operation.
In June 1943, the Regiment was renamed the Second Cavalry Group, Mechanized. Colonel Charles Hancock Reed became the 31st Colonel of the Regiment. In December the Regiment was again reorganized, its elements being Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, Second Cavalry Group, Mechanized, and the Second (now First Squadron) and 42nd (now Second Squadron) Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadrons, Mechanized.
Elements of the Regiment landed in Normandy in July 1944 and immediately distinguished themselves as part of General Patton 's Third Army. The Regiment performed such daring reconnaissance missions that it became known to the German High Command as the "Ghosts of Patton's Army," seemingly materializing at different points behind the German lines.
On 17 September 1944, German Army Group "G" was preparing to make a major armored effort against the Nancy salient to stabilize the line along the forts of Belfort, Epinal, Nancy, and Metz. Prominent armored units among the enemy Army Group included the 2nd and 11th Panzer Divisions, and elements of the 16th Panzer Division, the 130th Panzer Lehr Division, and the 111th Panzer Brigade. This armored force, though under strength, was still a formidable enemy. Holding the point of the Nancy salient was the Second Cavalry. What the first scouts reported as "six Tiger tanks with infantry support" became a major clash that sent the Regiment reeling. It became apparent that the Regiment was bearing the brunt of the 5th Panzer Army's attack.
As a result of the accurate and timely reporting of the Regiment and the valuable time gained by its vigorous delaying action, the German attack ground to a halt far short of its objective. The key city of Luneville remained secure and under the control of the Second Cavalry Regiment. The Germans suffered irreparable damage in the battle and were unable to mount another offensive until the Ardennes campaign three months later.
While Pattonís Third Army was poised to continue offensive operations to the east into Germany, Hitlerís war machine had secretly assembled a large force for what would become Germanyís last counter-offensive in the West. The Germans massed 25 divisions in a thinly manned, "quiet sector" along the Ardennes region of Belgium and Luxembourg. Before daylight on 16 December 1944, the Germans attacked along a 60-mile front. The American units in this sector were either full of inexperienced soldiers or depleted from earlier combat. All were stretched thin.
The German offensive gained ground quickly and a "bulge" within the American lines formed. This characteristic gave the combat its name, "The Battle of the Bulge". Though cut off and surrounded, many small units continued to fight. These pockets of resistance seriously disrupted the German timetable and bought precious time for the American and British forces to reinforce the area to stop the penetration. Many of these actions were conducted by the Second and 19th Armored Battalions of the Ninth Armored Division, which trace their lineage to the Second Cavalry. The Second Armored Cavalry Regiment (Second Tank Battalion), cited, would earn the Presidential Unit Citation for their heroic efforts in the early part of the battle. The Fourth Infantry Division holding the southern shoulder of the bulge, bent but did not break. This would be key to the successful operations of the Third Army as they moved to relieve the beleaguered forces in the bulge and the surrounded town of Bastogne.
The Third Army was oriented east as they prepared to move north to hit the penetration and drive through to Bastogne to relieve the 101st Airborne Division. After breaking contact with the enemy, the Regiment screened the movement of the Third Army as General Patton made good on his promise to have his army redirected and in the new battle within 48 hours. This rapid shift and change of direction of attack from the east to the north was one of the most noteworthy instances during the war of the successful employment of the principle of maneuver. The Second Cavalry Group moved into positions along the southern shoulder of the Bulge, relieving those elements of the Fourth Infantry Division holding onto this key terrain. Elements of the Third Army drove through the German formations to reach the encircled forces at Bastogne. The 37th Tank Battalion, lead by Lieutenant Colonel Creighton Abrams, officially relieved the 101st on 26 December 1944. Abrams later became the 38th Colonel of the Regiment.
Colonel Reed led the Regiment in the deepest American penetration of the war, all the way into Czechoslovakia. Under Colonel Reed's leadership, the Second Dragoons rescued the world famous Lippizaner stallions in a daring raid through German lines to an area that was to be the Soviet Zone of Occupation. Colonel Reed defied Soviet threats and herded the Lippizaners safely back to Germany. In 1960, Walt Disney Productions released a full-length (though historically flawed) motion picture entitled "The Miracle of the White Stallions" that captured the drama of these events.
As significant as this raid has become to all the horse lovers of the world, the real reason for the raid may have been to capture key intelligence from a senior officer of the German intelligence service. Concurrently, a force from the Second Dragoons moved to a POW camp near by to rescue American and Allied prisoners. Not only was the rescue of the Lippizaners a success, but the Regiment also secured the surrender of the 11th Panzer Division. This ended the wartime relationship between the 11th Panzers and the Second Dragoons and began the peacetime relationship that continues to this day.
On 8 May 1945, Germany surrendered. The Second Cavalry had driven well into Czechoslovakia when orders came to occupy a restraining line. The objective had been the capture of Prague, but for political reasons the Soviets were to capture the city. The Russians also had orders to take Pilsen, which was already in American hands. Even though the Soviets knew the American disposition, they were determined to continue their march on Pilsen. On 11 May 1945, Soviet Major General Fomenich of the 35th Tank Brigade told Colonel Reed to move the Second Cavalry aside -- his forces were moving forward. Colonel Reed, then under orders to hold his present line, told the Soviet commander, "If you go forward, remember, our guns are still loaded." Fomenich gave no response. That night, the Regiment received a message from Corps to begin movement back to the U.S. zone, and the Second Cavalry eventually left Czechoslovakia on 14 May without incident. Colonel Reed exemplified the cavalrymanís will and determination in this prelude to the Cold War.
Not only did the Regiment participate in the European Theater, but elements of the Regiment, designated as the 776th Amphibious Tank Battalion, also took part in amphibious operations throughout the Pacific. These elements earned a Philippine Presidential Citation and battle streamers in Leyte and the Ryukyus campaigns for island-hopping and jungle warfare efforts. This unit, an amphibious reconnaissance force equipped with 75mm pack howitzers, mounted on amphibious tracked vehicles (AMTRACís) often spearheaded the landings of the Seventh Infantry Division. Once ashore, their guns were used for close artillery support to the vanguard elements of the division.
In all, the Regiment earned five brown campaign streamers for actions in Europe and two yellow streamers for battles in the islands of the Pacific. The Presidential Unit Citation for Bastogne is represented by a blue embroidered streamer.
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The Constabulary Period
When the war ended, the Second Cavalry became part of the Army of Occupation in Europe. In May 1946, the Regiment was redesignated the Second Constabulary Regiment, undergoing special training and reorganization. Their mission was to "win the peace" in Europe and maintain control over the U.S. zone of occupation within Germany. Under a common occupation policy developed principally in conferences at Yalta and Potsdam in 1945, the Allied Powers assumed joint sovereign authority over Germany. American, British, Soviet and French forces occupied separate zones.
The Regiment was still under the command of Colonel Reed and worked for the Third Army under General George S. Patton, who was the Military Governor of Bavaria. The Regiment provided security force and performed police functions as they assisted with the round-up of war criminals and weapons caches. It also maintained order within the displaced persons camps and the area of southern Germany. The Regimentís contribution to winning the peace in Germany was not only significant, but foreshadowed future missions now referred to as "Peace Support Operations."
One of the most interesting changes to the Regimentís Table of Organization and Equipment was the re-introduction of the horse. This modification was due to the fact that even the venerable jeep could not patrol through some of the areas due to the battle damage and rubble. During a review of troops before General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Colonel Reed proudly passed in review with the Regiment handsomely mounted. "Ike" expressed displeasure at the horses, stating that he thought that he had gotten rid of all the horses in the Army. The various commanders, including Colonel Reed, had to report to the general and explain the change to the authorized equipment list of the Constabulary. The mission of the Constabulary remained into the early 1950ís, though the name of the Regiment changed to the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in 1948.
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The Cold War
The Cold War officially started in 1945, though the Troopers of the Constabulary period no doubt hoped for peace following the horrors of war. There is no definitive moment for the onset of the Cold War, though by 1949 the chilling evidence of a growing world menace was obvious to world leaders. Winston Churchill had declared that "an Iron Curtain" had descended on the countries of Eastern Europe. During the Constabulary period many of the indicators of future conflict already existed.
As the political situation in the Soviet Zone of Occupation began to change, the border surveillance mission for the Regiment began a new period. The Regiment was making the transition to the Cold War. Initially the Regiment operated from the cities of Freising and Augsburg, and in 1951 the Regiment established its headquarters in Nuremberg.
In 1955, the Regiment was ordered to Fort Meade, Maryland, under a "gyroscope" rotational plan with the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment. It "gyroscoped" back to Germany in 1958, reestablishing Regimental headquarters in Nuremberg at Merrell Barracks. The gyroscope program was cancelled and the Second Armored Cavalry Regiment would remain in Germany for the next 33 years, covering the entire duration of the Cold War.
The Regimentís mission was to train for war and conduct border surveillance. The Regimental headquarters were established at Merrill Barracks in the city of Nuremberg. The squadrons were located throughout southern Germany, with First
Squadron operating out of Bindlach, Second Squadron in Amberg, and Third in Bamberg. The Regimentís aviation elements operated out of Fuecht airfield and eventually became the Fourth Squadron. The Regimental Support Squadron and the Command and Control Squadron operated from Nuremberg as well.
The Regiment conducted gunnery training at Grafenwoehr, maneuver training at Hohenfels, later the Combat Maneuver Training Center, and participated in numerous REFORGERís (Return of Forces to Germany) exercises. The troops were constantly rehearsed to perform their portion of the NATO war plan. During its time in Germany, the Second Armored Cavalry Regiment saw improvements in equipment and facilities, as the Army bounced back from the cuts of the post-Vietnam era. Throughout this era the Regiment was considered one of the most elite units of the entire Army and the best trained of the 300,000 soldiers stationed in Europe.
During the Cold War era the Second Armored Cavalry Regiment was responsible for surveillance of 731 kilometers along the Iron Curtain. Its sector included 375 kilometers of the border separating West and East Germany, as well as the entire 356 kilometers of the West German-Czechoslovakian border. From a distance, the border area appeared deceptively peaceful and scenic. Close inspection, however, revealed a massive and deadly barrier system. A series of metal mesh fences topped with barbed wire and equipped with sensitive warning devices, guard towers with interlocking fields of observation, and concrete walls similar to those found in Berlin presented a formidable barrier to freedom. Only a few legal-crossing points existed and these were heavily guarded and fortified. The East German and Czech border commands consisted of hand-picked individuals who were considered politically reliable and were well-trained in marksmanship and surveillance skills. The low number of successful escapes from East Germany, normally about 25 a year in the Second Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR) sector, testified to the deadly efficiency of the barrier system.
To conduct continuous border surveillance in sector, the Regiment operated six border camps in addition to the home garrisons of the squadrons. Camp Harris located in the town of Coberg, Kingsley Barracks in Hof, Camp Gates in Brand, Camp Pitman in Weiden, Camp Reed in Rutz, and Camp May in Regen. From the border camps, Second ACR units patrolled their sectors by vehicle and on foot. Helicopters from the Fourth Squadron assisted from the air. At each border camp, a reaction force was kept on standby around the clock and could clear the camp within 15 minutes of the alert horn sounding. Finally the Regiment worked closely with the German border agencies, the BGS (Bundesgrenzshutz) and BBP (Bavarian Border Patrol), and the ZOLL (Customs Police), sharing intelligence information and conducting joint patrols. The mission of the Regiment demanded the constant vigilance and dedication of all the soldiers stationed along the Iron Curtain.
In November 1989, Second ACR witnessed the opening of the Iron Curtain. Regular border patrols were discontinued on 1 March 1990, ending the Cold War phase of the Regimentís history. The Cold War era represents the longest single mission in the history of the Regiment, lasting 25% of the unitís entire lifetime.
Families played an important role in the life of the Regiment while in Germany. Volunteer and family support groups provided aid and sponsored family activities for the entire unit. The Regiment and its squadrons also held family days and open houses so that both its family members and the German populace could understand the soldiers' jobs and the mission of the Regiment. To assist in this effort and to help the Regimental commander pass his policies and messages directly to the soldiers, the Regiment published its own monthly newspaper, The Dragoon, from 1976 to 1991.
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On 8 November 1990, the Second ACR was in the process of redefining its post-Cold War mission when it was alerted for deployment to Saudi Arabia. On 11 November, what had been VII Corps' initial instructions to "move no earlier than 20 November" became "begin movement tomorrow."
Leading the VII Corps deployment to Saudi Arabia, the Regiment occupied assembly areas deep in the Saudi desert by mid-December. There, intensive training and planning for the ground offensive took place for several months. The 210th Artillery Brigade, the AH 64 Apache helicopters of the 2-1 Aviation Battalion, the 82nd Engineer Battalion, and other assets were added to form the 8,500 strong "Dragoon Battle Group."
This battle group, which had worked together in Europe, continued to train and to provide security for the Corps through the commencement of hostilities. The Regiment, commanded by Colonel Leonard D. "Don" Holder, the 65th Colonel of the Regiment, was given the following mission: "At G-day, H-hour, 2nd ACR attacks through the western flank of the enemy defenses and conducts offensive cover operations in order to develop the situation for VII Corps." On 23 February artillery fire prepped the area and the Second Cavalry attacked, breaching the Iraqi-Saudi border berm and moving north into Iraq. It was the first time the Regiment had seen combat in over 45 years.
For the next 72 hours the Second Cavalry spearheaded the VII Corpsí attack as it advanced into southern Iraq. On 26 February the Regiment fought a series of fierce engagements with elements of four Iraqi divisions, three of them armored or mechanized. Best known is the "Battle of 73 Easting" in which G, E, and I Troops destroyed an entire armored brigade. By the end of its covering force mission, the Regiment had broken the defensive line of the Republican Guard's Tawakalna Division and led three heavy divisions into the fight. During the 100-hour war, the Regiment moved over 250 kilometers, captured over 2000 prisoners, and destroyed 159 enemy tanks and 260 other fighting vehicles. Its actions against the Iraqi divisions have become textbook examples of modern tank warfare. The Battle Group had limited its casualties to seven soldiers killed in action and nineteen wounded.
After the cease-fire, the Regiment moved into Kuwait, and then back into Iraq, occupying a position along the demarcation line south of the Euphrates River. From there, it monitored the border for compliance with the cease-fire and provided humanitarian aid to thousands of Iraqi refugees escaping the ravages of the conflict.
The Regiment was relieved on the demarcation line on 7 April and returned to Saudi Arabia for redeployment to the Federal Republic of Germany. The Regiment earned two more tan colored streamers for the Regimental standard and the red with blue streamer of the Valorous Unit Award for actions in Southwest Asia.
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Transition Back to the Continental United States
As part of the draw-down of forces in Europe after the Cold War, the Regiment relocated to Fort Lewis, Washington, in 1992. The unit was redesignated as the Second Armored Cavalry Regiment (Light) and tasked with developing a new organizational structure for a lethal, yet more rapidly deployable cavalry. The Regiment remains at the forefront of operational doctrine development.
In the summer of 1993 the Regiment moved again to its present home at Fort Polk, Louisiana. The Second Dragoons became the cavalry regiment for the XVIII Airborne Corps, serving as part of a rapid deployment force able to move quickly anywhere around the globe. In addition, the Regiment has played an important part in cultivating the war fighting skills of the Armyís light forces through its continual support of the Joint Readiness Training Center. By augmenting both opposing and friendly forces, the dragoons have helped to provide the light soldiers of todayís Army with the most realistic training they can receive.
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Deployment to Haiti
In January 1995, the Regiment was called upon to reinforce American foreign policy through the aptly named and highly successful United Nations mission "Operation Uphold Democracy." The Second Dragoons were an essential part of a multinational force that helped the Haitians reestablish democracy. The soldiers of the Regiment provided security for legislative and presidential elections and ensured the first democratic transition of power in that countryís history.
The Regiment rotated Headquarters Troop and all three of its maneuver squadrons to the fledgling democracy between January 1995 and March 1996, with the Support Squadron providing logistical support. While in Haiti, the troopers of the Second Dragoons operated in a variety of roles. They guarded humanitarian relief convoys filled with food for the Haitian people and served as the United Nations Quick Reaction Force (UNQRF). By assisting in the seizure of illegal weapons and conducting security patrols, the Regiment helped to restore civil order to the capital of Port-Au-Prince and throughout the Haitian countryside. They provided protection not only to the Haitian president, but also to the U.S. president and vice president on their state visits. In all of these missions, the Second Dragoons displayed the professionalism and dedication to duty that have characterized the Regiment since its inception.
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Deployment to Bosnia and Herzegovena
In April of 1997 the Regiment received a Warning Order to be prepared to deploy to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Following the first Mission Rehearsal Exercise held at the JRTC in June, the unit moved to Germany to begin integration with the First Armored Division. Meanwhile, all its equipment was shipped to the Intermediate Staging Base at Tazar, Hungary.
The Regimentís participation in Operation Joint Guard began when the Second and Third Squadrons moved across the Sava River into Bosnia in August 1997 to augment the First Infantry Division (Forward) in support of Bosnia-Herzegovina's first free municipal elections. The Regimentís air cavalry, the Fourth Squadron and the Regimental Support Squadron also moved into the country. The Regimentís separate companies Ė the 502d Military Intelligence Company, 84th Engineer Company, H-159th Aviation Maintenance company, and the Air Defense Battery Ė completed the Regimental troop list.
While the ground squadrons were in Bosnia, the Regimental headquarters deployed to Germany to train with the First Armored Division Headquarters in preparation for assuming command in Bosnia. During August and September, the Regiment was spread across five countries on two continents, and was under the direct command and control of three different general officer commands. This period included another first for any army unit during a 12-month period: The Regiment participated in major training exercises at all three of the Armyís Combat Training Centers: The National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) at Fort Polk, and the Combined Maneuver Training Center (CMTC) at Hohenfels, Germany. In October the remainder of the Regiment rode into theater, assuming responsibility for the American sector of Multinational Division (North), which stretched from the war-torn bridge at Brcko in the north to the shattered city of Srebrenica in the south.
The first major action of the Regiment in Bosnia was the seizing of Serbian radio-television towers to prevent the broadcast of inflammatory propaganda into the Republic of Srpska. Other significant operations that the Regiment conducted include: the restructuring of the Republic of Srpska Specialist Police; the creation of the first multiethnic police department, in the city of Brcko; security for the announcement of the Brcko Arbitration Decision (an effort to resolve the status of this Serb-dominated city within Bosnia); institution of common license plates and currency in Bosnia, and the opening of the Bosnian rail system. In conducting operations in sector, the Regiment executed an estimated 12,500 patrols and 480 weapon storage site inspections, supervised the removal of over 12,000 mines, and oversaw 350 training exercises for the Former Warring Factions.
The Regimentís redeployment to Fort Polk marked the end of its eighth operational overseas deployment in the service of our country. It returned home to reassume its mission as the armored cavalry regiment of the XVIII Airborne Corps and to await the call to service.
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Operation Iraqi Freedom
In Spring 2003, the United States acted to end the violent, despotic, cruel, and inhuman reign of terror in Iraq, which had threatened the peace of the entire Middle East region for many years. The Second Dragoons responded, Always Ready, to the mobilization call with typical alacrity and engaged for many months in helping this violence torn country and it's people work toward self government and peace.
The regiment returned to Germany in 2006 as the 2d Stryker Cavalry Regiment and since then has deployed to Iraq 2007-08, and Afghanistan 2010-11 and 2013-14, the last two as 2d Cavalry Regiment, the current designation. Different squadrons of the regiment are currently deployed in numerous eastern European countries on joint training missions with host country armies while the home base for the regiment is Rose Barracks, Vilseck, Germany.
From the swamps of Florida to the bayous of Fort Polk, from the badlands of the Midwest to the deserts of southwest Asia, from the northern plains of Europe to the cascades of western Washington, from the jungles of the Philippines to the island of Haiti, and from its service in the Civil War and the War with Mexico to its current mission as the cavalry regiment of Americaís contingency corps, the Second Dragoons have been on active service for more than a century and a half, making them the Armyís oldest regiment on continuous duty.
Although with its current organization and equipment, the Regiment may bear little resemblance to those first horse-mounted troopers, the spirit of the cavalry nevertheless lives on today. The Dragoons of the 21st century proudly sustain the legacy by following the orders of Captain May at Resaca de la Palma:
"Remember your Regiment and follow your officers."
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