Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-xiv

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Foreword

Paul H. Herbert

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pp. xv-xviii

For 100 years, the quintessential element of the US Army has been the combined arms division. First among the hundreds of divisions that have been organized, deployed, and deactivated in that time is the 1st Division, today’s 1st Infantry Division, the “Big Red One.” Nearly alone among the storied formations that have waged our country’s wars, the 1st Division has been on continuous active duty since its assembly on the docks of Hoboken, New Jersey, in June 1917. Its story is the story of the US Army and the American soldier—and in many ways the story of the United States—in the twentieth...

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Acknowledgments

James Scott Wheeler

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pp. xix-xxii

I owe thanks to the many people who helped make this book possible. First and foremost to my wife, Jane Ennis Wheeler, who worked diligently to help with the research and editing. The idea for the original project came from John Votaw, former director of the First Division Museum, and the idea for the book’s update came from Colonel (Ret.) Paul Herbert, current director of the museum. The editorial staff of the University Press of Kansas, led by Kelly Chrisman Jacques and Mike Briggs, did a wonderful job in getting the book into shape for publication, and Jon Howard did a superb job as copy...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-8

This is the history of the 1st Infantry Division, the quintessential organization of the US Army during the past century. The division saw action in all American wars since 1917, except the Korean, and performed magnificently in all of its service. Often the first unit of the army to deploy and to engage the enemy, the division has been characterized by an ability to learn systematically from experience and to distill this learning into techniques and methods to improve battlefield performance. Central to this learning has been the training of soldiers and the development of competent...

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1. Lafayette, We Are Here: Creation of the 1st Infantry Division

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pp. 9-31

The 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Expeditionary Division, stepped out smartly from the Caserne de Reuilly for its first parade in Paris, on 4 July 1917. After a stop at Les Invalides, the battalion marched through the heart of the French capital to the Picpus Cemetery. The khaki-clad soldiers did not march as smartly as General John J. Pershing, the American commander in France, might have hoped. Nonetheless, their appearance in the streets of Paris electrified the population, giving the warweary city and nation a badly needed sense of hope that American soldiers...

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2. Cantigny to Soissons

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pp. 32-58

The 1st Division completed its training none too soon. Events on all fronts had gone from bad to worse during 1917. It is difficult to imagine how the Allies could have avoided defeat had the United States not entered the war. Because the 1st Division was ready for offensive action in April 1918, it was able to play an important role, along with the rapidly expanding AEF, in stemming the advance of the German armies in France, and then, starting in July, helping to turn the tide as part of a series of Allied offensives that broke the back of the German army....

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3. Victory in Alsace-Lorraine: St. Mihiel and the Meuse Argonne

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pp. 59-90

The Allies’ defeat of the German army in July 1918 did not end the war. It did, however, firmly shift the initiative to the Western powers. On 8 August, the British launched an offensive east of Amiens, spearheaded by over 450 tanks and supported by 1,900 French and British airplanes. To the south of the British, the French attacked as well. The Allies surprised the German Second Army and captured 16,000 men and 200 guns in several hours. On 9 August, the French Third Army joined the offensive, capturing...

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4. Between the World Wars: The Twenty-Year Peace

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pp. 91-117

As the American First Army sorted out the intermingled soldiers of the 1st and 42nd Divisions south of Sedan, German representatives arrived in France to sign an armistice to end the fighting on the Western Front. The Germans agreed to a cessation of hostilities at 1100 hours on 11 November 1918. They promised to evacuate all occupied territory and to surrender most of their artillery, airplanes, and roughly half of their machine guns. The armistice did not, however, end the war between the Allies and the...

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5. Mobilization for War: The Expansion and Training of the Big Red One, 1939 to November 1942

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pp. 118-142

At 0753 hours on 7 December 1941, Japanese warplanes struck the US Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor. Within two hours, the attackers had destroyed or damaged 18 major warships and over 180 airplanes, killing 2,403 Americans.1 Seven days later, in a strategic miscalculation nearly as great as the German decision to implement unrestricted submarine warfare in 1917, Adolf Hitler declared war on the United States. All that was left for Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Congress to do was to recognize that a state of war...

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6. Tunisia: The Division Comes of Age

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pp. 143-171

The 1st Infantry Division performed well in Operation Torch, vindicating its training and demonstrating the high quality of its leaders. Fighting the Vichy French, however, was not the same as fighting the German Wehrmacht. For the next four months, the Big Red One was denied the chance to fight as a united division against the Axis forces. Instead, its units were committed piecemeal in Tunisia. Although Generals Allen and Roosevelt were two of the few proven American commanders in North Africa,...

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7. Offensive Operations: Gafsa to Victory in Africa

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pp. 172-212

Patton’s assumption of command brought badly needed focus and energy to American operations. His orders were clear and his intent to close with and destroy the enemy was evident. Patton believed in American soldiers and in the 1st Infantry Division. In subsequent operations, there would be no dribbling out of units, and ground taken would be held. Patton understood that a big part of his mission was to redeem the reputations of the American fighting man and of the US Army’s officer corps. To do this, Patton...

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8. The Invasion of Sicily

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pp. 213-241

While the 1st Infantry Division replenished its ranks and trained for amphibious operations, Allied forces prepared for the invasion of Sicily. Operation Husky, the code name given to the invasion of Sicily, was to be the first major Anglo-American offensive in Europe in World War II. The capture of Sicily would open the sea-lanes through the Mediterranean, thus saving an estimated 1.8 million tons of shipping per year, since ships no longer would have to take the long route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific...

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9. Operation Overlord

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pp. 242-270

The 1st Infantry Division ended its mission in Sicily when the 18th Infantry Regimental Combat Team withdrew from active operations and rejoined the division. The soldiers were grateful to be out of the line and anticipated a period of rest. When they had time to think about their future there were no expectations that they would be going home. Instead, the training programs initiated by Major General Clarence Huebner made it clear to the troops that further combat awaited them. The next challenge...

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10. Crusade in Europe: The Drive to Germany

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pp. 271-304

Once the 1st Infantry Division had secured Caumont-l’Éventé, on 13 June, the division halted its advance because the British to the east had been stopped by the Germans’ determined defenses, and the 2nd Infantry Division to the west had been stopped short of St. Lô in the Bocage. For the next four weeks, the 18th and 26th Infantry Regiments, reinforced by the 745th Tank and the 635th Tank Destroyer Battalions, remained in defensive positions waiting for the neighboring forces to catch up....

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11. The Battles of the German Frontier

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pp. 305-333

VII Corps’ attempt to crash through the Westwall before the enemy could man the fortifications failed, necessitating a deliberate attack to penetrate the German defenses. Corps commander Joe Collins hoped that the penetration of the Siegfried Line east of Aachen would cause the Germans to evacuate the city, sparing the corps from a house-to-house fight. Therefore, he ordered the 1st Infantry Division to seize the hills south and east of Aachen to protect 3rd Armored Division’s flank as it attacked east...

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12. The Last Offensive against Germany: January to May 1945

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pp. 334-354

The Battle of the Bulge was the costliest American battle of World War II. It was also a strategic victory for the Allies and a disaster for the Germans. The Germans used most of their reserves and over half of their available armored vehicles, artillery, and aircraft in the offensive. Hitler gambled his last stakes on a victory in the west. He lost, permanently weakening the Wehrmacht on all fronts. In a real sense, the Nazi animal had come out of its lair to fight, enabling its enemies to destroy much of its...

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13. The Occupation of Germany and the Cold War

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pp. 355-381

On the morning of 7 May 1945, the 1st Infantry Division received a message: “The Supreme German High Command has signed surrender terms of all land, sea, and air forces to take effect at 0001, 9 May 1945. No more offensive action will be taken.”1 When the 26th Infantry requested permission to move a battalion into the next town to its front, the division operations officer refused permission and informed the regiment that “the CG does not want to jeopardize the life of another soldier.”2...

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14. The Vietnam War and the Big Red One: Deployment and First Battles

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pp. 382-416

The US Army’s official history describes the entry of the 1st Infantry Division and other large American tactical organizations into the Vietnam War in the following manner:

In early 1965 a Communist insurgency seemed close to toppling the South Vietnamese government. Refusing to accept the loss of its Asian ally, the United States committed combat units to the field of battle. In the spring and summer the first Army brigades arrived, establishing bridgeheads, and began to conduct operations. During the second half of 1965 divisions deployed, and in November...

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15. The Year of Decision? The 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam, 1967

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pp. 417-445

By Christmas 1966, US forces had been in-country for longer than a year and had defeated North Vietnamese attempts to destroy the South Vietnamese government. How the war could be ended in a way acceptable to the United States and its allies, however, remained unclear. General William Westmoreland believed that MACV would have sufficient combat power in the coming year to sustain offensive operations throughout the country. Offensives by American and allied forces would inflict heavy...

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16. Tet and the Light at the End of the Tunnel

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pp. 446-466

In a speech given on 19 December 1967, the army chief of staff, Harold K. Johnson, announced that the United States and its allies had made significant progress in the Vietnam War. According to Johnson, the enemy “is in trouble. Food and ammunition are critically short. . . . The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army units are being punished severely every time and place they attempt to confront or are found by the Free World Forces.”1

Johnson’s optimism reflected that of General Westmoreland, who believed the large-unit battles of 1967 had forced the Communists onto the defensive ...

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17. The Cold War to Desert Storm

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pp. 467-492

When the flag of the Big Red One was unfurled at Fort Riley, Kansas, in March 1970, the division opened a new era in its service to its nation. For the next twenty-nine years, the 1st Infantry Division (M) was an important part of the strategic reserve of the US Army in the Cold War struggle with the Soviet Union. The division headquarters, Division Artillery, and two maneuver brigades remained at Fort Riley throughout this period, prepared on short notice to reinforce American forces in Central Europe or to respond to crises around the globe. The third maneuver brigade...

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18. New Mission: Peacekeeping in the Balkans

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pp. 493-530

Following its return to Fort Riley after the 1991 Gulf War, the 1st Infantry Division maintained its combat capabilities and readiness during a period of declining budgets and significant reductions in the army’s strength. The victory in Kuwait did not bring peace to the world. American forces were committed to action in places such as northern Iraq, Somalia, and Haiti. In the words of the official history, these deployments “reflected changing philosophies with respect to armed intervention on the part of...

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19. Global Mission: The War on Terror

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pp. 531-561

In January 2000, the 1st Infantry Division remained in Germany as part of the US Army, Europe (USAREUR), with the 1st Brigade stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. The division continued to support NATO stability operations in the Balkans and to train for high-intensity combat in the European region.

The division’s operations tempo remained high as units rotated through Kosovo. The 3rd Brigade Combat Team took over KFOR 1B in January...

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Conclusion: The Long War Continues

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pp. 562-572

This narrative of the US 1st Infantry Division reflects its profound impact on US military history during the modern era. However, in 2017—the centennial year of the Big Red One—facts on the ground cannot confirm or portend meaningful “victory” for the United States armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, or the defeat of radical Islamists beyond the homeland in Africa, the Middle East, and Southwest Asia. The US Army has endured sixteen years of combat, with no end in sight.1 During this long war...

Notes

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pp. 573-636

Index

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pp. 637-682

Back Cover

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