3rd Reconnaissance Group

3rd Reconnaissance Group


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3rd Reconnaissance Group (USAAF)

History - Books - Aircraft - Time Line - Commanders - Main Bases - Component Units - Assigned To

History

The 3rd Reconnaissance Group (USAAF) was a reconnaissance unit that served in the Mediterranean, supporting the campaigns in Tunisia, Sicily and mainland Italy.

The group was activated in the United States in June 1942 and after training moved to the Mediterranean via England (where it was based from September- to November) in November-December 1942. The group supported the campaign in Tunisia, and the invasions of Pantelleria, Sicily and Sardinia.

During the summer of 1943 the group was the only operational element of the Northwest African Photographic Reconnaissance Wing. The group was unusual in that it operated a mix of American, British, South African and French units. The USAAF provided the 5th, 12th, 15th and 23rd Reconnaissance Squadrons. The RAF provided No.682 Squadron and No.60 Squadron, SAAF and the French Groupe de Reconnaissance GR II/33. During the summer these seven squadrons flew over 1,100 sorties, mainly focusing on the two landings areas for the upcoming invasion of Italy, and in particular on the Salerno area.

The group supported the Allied campaign in Italy. It focused on the Anzio area early in 1944, then switched its attention to the South of France in advance of Operation Dragoon. The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for its performance on 28 August 1944 when its reconnaissance directly contributed to a rapid allied advance. After Operation Dragoon the group's focus returned to Italy, where it supported the remaining period of the campaign.

The group also carried out photographic mapping surveys of France and the Balkans. It was inactivated in Italy in September 1945.

Books

Pending

Aircraft

Lockheed F-4 Lightning and Lockheed F-5 Lightning

Timeline

9 June 1942Constituted as 3rd Photographic Group
20 June 1942Activated
Nov-Dec 1942To Mediterranean and Twelfth Air Force
May 1943Redesignated 3rd Photographic Reconnaissance and Mapping Group
Nov 1943Redesignated 3rd Photographic Group (Reconnaissance)
May 1945Redesignated 3rd Reconnaissance Group
12 September 1945Inactivated
6 March 1947Disbanded

Commanders (with date of appointment)

Capt George H Mc-Bride: 20 Jun 1942
Maj Harry T Eidson:25 Jun 1942
Maj Elliott Roosevelt: 11 Jul1942
Lt Col Furman H Limeburner: 13Aug 1942
Col Elliott Roosevelt: 30 Sep1942
Lt Col Frank L Dunn: c. Mar 1943
Lt Col James F Setchell: c. 4 Nov 1943
Maj Hal C Tunnell: 19 Jan 1944
MajThomas W Barfoot Jr: c. 29 May 1944
Col Duane L Kime: 17 Sep 1944
Lt ColOscar M Blomquist: 29 May 1945
Lt ColJames E Hill: 2 Aug-c. Sep 1945.

Main Bases

Colorado Springs, Colo: 20Jun-13 Aug 1942
Membury, England: 8Sep 1942
Steeple Morden, England: 26Oct-22 Nov 1942
La Senia, Algeria: 10Dec 1942
Algiers, Algeria: 25 Dec 1942
La Marsa, Tunisia: 13 Jun 1943
San Severo Italy: 8 Dec 1943
Pomigliano, Italy:4 Jan 1944
Nettuno, Italy: 16 Jun 1944
Viterbo, Italy: 26 Jun 1944
Corsica: c.14 Jul 1944
Rosia, Italy: c. Sep 1944
Florence,Italy: 17 Jan 1945
Pomigliano, Italy:26 Aug-12 Sep 1945.

Component Units

5th Reconnaissance Squadron: 1942-1945
12th Reconnaissance Squadron:1942-1945
13th Reconnaissance Squadron: 1942-1943
14th Reconnaissance Squadron: 1942-1943
15th Reconnaissance Squadron: 1942-1944
23rd Reconnaissance Squadron: 1944-1945

Assigned To

1943-44: 90th Reconnaissance Wing; Twelfth Air Force; Mediterranean Theatre


5th Photo Reconnaissance Group

5th Strategic Reconnaissance Group Unit History Resembling a college yearbook, unit histories were an unofficial – and often tongue-in-cheek – record of the unit’s time based in the UK. They include photo montages showing different aspects of base life. Often the servicemen in the photos are unnamed. The American Air Museum hopes that by adding unit histories to the website as individual pages, the men in the photos will be identified and associated to their person entries. Many included lists of personnel and a mailing address, providing a means for servicemen to keep in contact with each other after the war. These lists are now incredibly useful records of where US airmen in England in 1945 called their home.

Formed as the 5th Photographic Group in Jul 1942. Re-designated as the 5th Photographic Reconnaissance and Mapping Group in May 1943, then the 5th Photographic Reconnaissance Group in Aug 1943. Transferred to the Mediterranean theatre in Jul-Sep 1943. Assigned first to 12th Air force and then later (late 1944) to 15th Air force. Flew missions over Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the Balkans, using F-5 aircraft. Also flew some photographic missions at night with B-17's and B-25's. Photographed areas near Anzio prior to the Allied landings. Provided reconnaissance services for 15th Air force's campaign against the enemy's oil industry, aircraft production, and communications. Also assisted the advance of ground forces in northern Italy by supplying intelligence on enemy installations in the area. Re-named the 5th Reconnaissance Group in May 1945. Returned to the US in Oct of that year. Disbanded on 6 Mar 1947.


3rd Reconnaissance Group - History

Third Photo-Recon Holds Second Reunion

I have just returned from the Third PRS's second reunion held in Colorado Springs, August 18-22, 1993. and I am filled with the inclination to put down my experiences while I feel that they are fresh in my memory, so here goes: First - A Little Prologue

A little over a year ago I wrote a letter to the editor of the CBIVA Sound-off about Flight "C" of the First Photo Reconnaissance Squadron of which I was a member. When my letter was published, it caused several other fellows, who had also been members of our Flight "C", to write to me. My name was sent to Bob Davidson, Bill Walker and Jim Allen and I became a member of their roster of veterans of the 3rd PRS and learned of their planned first reunion of the squadron too late to participate. Jim Allen's Third Flyer requested responses from members of the "Lost Flight" which had been taken from the 3rd PRS and sent to China and I was one who did respond.

Nunzio Lazzaro, known to his crew and the others of Flight "C" as "Pappy," also responded and things built from there (and I hope will continue to build further). The second reunion was set to take place at Colorado Springs and my wife. Miss Ann, and I became determined to attend it and we did!

Flight "C" - The 3rd PRS's "Lost Flight"

"PAPPY LAZZARO" recalls that he, PAUL GREMMLER and ART HUMBY, all of whom were old time veterans of the 3rd PRS, and had been overseas together before, were called into Lt. Col. Patrick B. McCarthy's office and told that they were to be sent to China. Soon afterward, they were equipped with new F-13s and off they went to India and thence to China where they were based for their missions. Their assignments included flights to Manchuria, Korea, Japan, Formosa, and much of China. Mapping was their chief work, but they also drew assignments for target photography and sea searches. Among the outstanding incidents of Pappy's recollection were the foul weather flights with wing icing, engine and propeller problems, and emergency landings. These were the types of things that burn themselves into the memory, and everyone who has experienced them will carry them to the grave.

Although I have never chatted with Art Humby or Paul Gremmler about Flight "C". I did listen to Art Humby discussion of Flight "C" at the reunion banquet on Saturday evening. He cracked a lot of jokes that were unrelated to the subject and when he directly and seriously addressed it, he dwelled upon what must be the most outstanding part in his memory. That was his last mission when he and his crew were forced to abandon their F-13 and bail out over northeastern China and, under the noses of the Japanese military who occupied that part of China, were repatriated by Communist Chinese guerillas in their long walk out.

It seemed to me that neither Pappy nor Art were conscious of the presence of other crews of Flight "C" at the Chinese base we called A-l, but I can assure them that there were others. Pappy recalls that his crew was based at Chengtu and when I suggested that he was based at Hsinching or A-l, he seemed to reject the notion and insisted that it was Chengtu. His radio operator helped me explain to Pappy that Chengtu was the hub around which all the B-29 bases were built, but the one we used was near the village of Hsinching and was referred to as A-l. Pappy seemed to accept the fact, but reluctantly. We talked about Art Humby and the misfortune of his plane. Pappy's flight engineer was a substitute member of Humby's crew, and Pappy ended up with Humby's flight engineer. I told him that there was another substitute member on that flight and that it was the right gunner. His name was Tom Fall, and he had volunteered from my crew. As a result of their not returning, Humby's right gunner was assigned to our crew. His name was Emory A. Odom. His home town was Norfolk, VA. This I remember well, since my home town was Richmond, VA and Odom and I had Virginia in common.

The Pieces Come Together

What follows is my conclusion of what transpired with respect to the composition of the aircrews of Flight "C". If my memory has jumped the track with respect to any of it, I will appreciate being corrected:

The XX Bomber Command, based in India and using forward staging fields in China around Chengtu, requested very heavy long range photo-reconnaissance service to augment their attempts to gather the same type of information by using ordinary B-29s. The F-13 was created by retro-fitting new B-29s as photo-reconnaissance aircraft, and they were slowly becoming available to the 3rd PRS which was training at Smoky Hill A.A.F.B, near Salina, Kansas. They were destined to go to the Mariana Islands to support the B-29 bombers which were soon to commence operations from there. The request from India resulted in orders to the 3rd PRS to furnish a half dozen F-13s and crews for assignment to China to give support to the XX Bomber Command.

In the meantime, a B-29 bomber crew replacement training group was training crews at Clovis, New Mexico, and several bomber crews were diverted from their training at Clovis and were transferred to the 3rd PRS at Smoky Hill to become photo-reconnaissance crews. The bombardier was removed from each crew and a photo-navigator as well as a photographer were added, making a total of eleven crew members. The foregoing statement is not speculation. I was the pilot of one of the crews so transferred. I always thought of myself as the co-pilot but in the mighty B-29, crew organization was a bit different from the conventional. The real pilot was called the aircraft commander and the co-pilot was called the pilot. So much for my being pilot. We said goodbye to our bombardier, Lt. Clarence Rick, and met our new photo-navigator, 2nd Lt. Paul Yates, and the photographer, Sgt. Harpster.

Three of the several crews that were transferred from Clovis to Smoky Hill and the 3rd PRS had a distinct privilege bestowed upon them. They were to go to China. I shall refer to each of them by the name of their aircraft commander. They were: Capt. George Alfke, 1st Lt. Thomas Simpson (my AC), and Lt. Swick, whose first name I cannot recall, but whose pilot, 2nd Lt. Henry Haines, was my B.O.Q. roommate at Clovis.

I would guess that about three weeks after the crews of Lazzaro, Gremmler, and Humby had gone to China, the crews of Alfke, Simpson, and Swick followed them.

It must be remembered that the first three crews to arrive in China (Lazzaro, Gremmler, and Humby) were photo-reconnaissance veterans from prior overseas tours of the 3rd PRS. The three who followed were greenhorns, except Alfke who, I believe, had pulled a tour as a B-17 bomber pilot in England. We received our new F-13s at Herington, Kansas. I believe that Alfke's crew was the first to arrive in India. Our crew (Simpson's) was delayed at Natal, Brazil, for an engine replacement. It took about five days. The day before we left to cross the Atlantic Ocean, our navigator, 2nd Lt. Jack Bonelli had his appendix removed. We left him behind and were accompanied by an A.T.C. navigator to Piaradoba, India. He was replaced by 2nd Lt. Stocking who went with us to China and flew a mission or two with us until Jack Bonelli caught up with us. The reason Stocking was available to us was that his entire crew was lost on a mission for which he was not needed. My heart ached for him In his loss. Our crew was relocated from Pairadoba to Hsinching (A-l) about the 29th of December 1944. Just about January 1, Lt. Swick's crew took off from a base in India, known to us as "Dum Dum," to join us at A-l in China. Their plane crashed and burned shortly after becoming airborne and the crew perished.

The addition of Alfke's and Simpson's crews to the three already there (Lazzaro, Gremmler, and Humby) meant that five crews were in place instead of the six that were intended.

Some weeks into January, 1944, the seventh F-13 crew to be dispatched to China arrived, commanded by 2nd Lt. Thomas D. Wilkerson, to replace the loss of Swick's crew. He brought a brand new F-13 which was expropriated from him by one of the veteran crews, and he was assigned their older airplane. So, in picking order. Tommy Wilkerson was at the bottom of the list.

Around that same time, Art Humby began his "Long Walk Back," which reduced back to five the number of crews in Flight "C".

To replace the loss of Humby's crew, the 3rd PRS sent an eighth crew to China which was commanded by Capt. Albert Coe, but they had no airplane. They were to fly their missions using one of the five F-13s that still survived, so when their turn came for a mission, Capt. Coe used any F-13 that was available and airworthy.

Captain Coe's was the final crew to be assigned to Flight "C". The Move from China to Guam When our operations were terminated, we were transferred to India, thence to Guam. Capt. Coe was a passenger on one of the five F-13s. The rest of his crew did not travel with us but, instead, went by sea to Guam. Consequently, it was several weeks before they rejoined us on Guam.

Upon arrival on Guam, we were "temporarily" billeted with the 3rd PRS until quarters for Flight "C" and parking areas for its aircraft could be prepared on Okinawa. That day never came. We were told that the heavy casualties being suffered by the invasion forces at Okinawa required that the area planned for us be used to accommodate hospital planes which ferried wounded from there to Hawaii and the USA. While on Guam, we saw many of those C-54 hospital planes land, refuel, and continue their journey.


History [ edit | edit source ]

Vietnam, 1967–1971 [ edit | edit source ]

3rd Force Reconnaissance Company was activated, trained, fought and deactivated during the Vietnam War. Activated in September 1965 as one of the first group of add on units to meet demands of operations in the Republic of South Vietnam, 3rd FORECON formed at Camp Lejeune, N.C. and satellite on 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company that was under strength due to the demands for trained Force Recon Marines assigned to 1st Force Reconnaissance Company in country. Facilities, cadre and equipment for training were provided by 2nd FORECON.

Volunteers were solicited from throughout the Marine Corps and the first four months were devoted to bringing 3rd FORECON up to strength in personnel. Beginning in January 1966 all operational personnel departed Camp Lejeune to train in the Caribbean and Panama.

Returning to North Carolina in March, final preparations were carried out to meet the projected deployment date in May 1966. The expected deployment of the entire 3rd FORECON did not occur, but a two-platoon detachment embarked on the USS Boxer, transited through the Suez Canal, and arrived in country in time to be introduced to combat in Operation Hastings as part of the Special Landing Force Alpha in early July 1966.

3rd FORECON (-) dropped to a not-combat-ready readiness status. Headquarters Marine Corps transferred several commissioned officers and numerous enlisted ([staff] non-commissioned officers) immediately after the Detachment departed.

In mid-June, 3rd FORECON (-) was alerted to deploy immediately. Due to the reduced personnel readiness status, HQMC changed the deployment plan and ordered that a Platoon be assigned to deploy with 1st Battalion, 26th Marines (1/26) that had been activated at Camp Pendleton. The remainder of 3rd FORECON was ordered to move to Camp Pendleton to refit.

At the conclusion of Hastings the Detachment was attached to 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion that had just arrived in Phu Bai from Da Nang, having been replaced by the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion that had just begun arriving with the 1st Marine Division. Shortly, they were joined by the Platoon that had come in country with 1/26.

They patrolled in Thua Tin Province, until early January, 1967, when a task-organized "Special Purpose group" carried out a prisoner rescue attempt. The remainder were sent to Khe Sahn where they developed the intelligence of a large enemy buildup, that was the prelude to the hill fights that occurred in April 1967.

Reunited, what was left of the three platoons, returned to Phu Bai to await the arrival of the 3rd FORECON (-). Having been brought up to strength and operational readiness, 3rd FORECON was reunited on May 27, 1966, just in time for the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) offensive to seize Quang Tri Province. The logistics element arrive at the "Ramp" at Dong Ha just in time for the opening salvos of the NVA artillery attacks that would continue daily until late Autumn.

The operational element experienced a mortar attack in Phu Bai at the same time resulting in several shrapnel wounds, only one of which, required evacuation. The new arrivals were integrated with combat veterans and the entire eighteen teams conducted a zone reconnaissance in the Cobi Than Tan Valley east of Quey City before displacing to Dong Ha.

Upon arrival at Dong Ha in early May the Commanding Officer assumed command of 3rd Recon Battalion (Forward), which had reconnaissance responsibility for all of Quang Tri Province except the Khe Sahn Tactical Area of Operations (TAOR). 3rd FORECON patrolled the area north of Highway nine to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), while a recon company from 3rd Recon Battalion was targeted south of Highway Nine to the Thua Tin border. Occasional circumstances caused deviation from that concept, but, for the most part, those deviations were rare. 3rd FORECON continued that operational commitment until the 3rd Marine Division left country in November 1969.

CORRECTION:3rd Recon Battalion ran many patrols north of Hwy 9 including into the DMZ! We were never limited to south of Hwy 9 before or after I was in Dong Ha with Charlie Company, 3rd Recon Battalion. I was on patrols north of Khe Sahn, east and west of Con Thien and everywhere in between. This was in 1967 and 1968.

3rd FORECON was placed under command of the III Marine Amphibious Force (III MAF) and operated in general support of III MAF until deactivated in mid-1970.


3rd Special Forces Group

The 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) has a long and storied history serving the Nation during peacetime and war. Stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., the 3rd SFG (A) is the lead Special Forces Group on operations in central-Asia. Special Forces Soldiers are renowned for their ability to deploy in small teams, operate independently, and conduct their mission in austere environments. Whatever situation may arise, be assured the men of the Special Forces stand ready to answer the Nation's call to duty - De Oppresso Liber.

Special Forces units perform seven doctrinal missions: Unconventional Warfare, Foreign Internal Defense, Special Reconnaissance, Direct Action, Combating Terrorism, Counter-proliferation, and Information Operations. These missions make Special Forces unique in the U.S. military, because they are employed throughout the three stages of the operational continuum: peacetime, conflict and war.

Its area of operations (AO) is now Africa (excluding the Horn) and the Caribbean basin. The 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) was reactivated at Fort Bragg, NC on 29 June 1990. In the mid-1990s the Third Special Forces Group had as its responsibility all of the Caribbean and all of the western part of the continent of Africa. The reactivation of Fort Bragg's 3rd Special Forces Group brought the number of Special Forces groups to five on active-duty status. Each group has three battalions, a group support company and a headquarters company.

The companies have six Operational Detachment Alphas, or A-teams, assigned to them. The ODA is the heart and soul of SF operations. US special forces are training African military forces to respond within 30 days when such regional humanitarian disasters strike. The goal of the African Crisis Response Initiative is to create effective, rapidly deployable units that can operate together in a humanitarian or peacekeeping operation.


3rd Reconnaissance Group

The 3rd Reconnaissance Group is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with Twelfth Air Force, based at Pomigliano, Italy. It was inactivated on September 12, 1945.

"Provided photographic intelligence that assisted the campaigns for Tunisia, Pantelleria, Sardinia, and Sicily. Reconnoitered airdromes, roads, marshalling yards, and harbors both before and after the Allied landings at Salerno. Covered the Anzio area early in 1944 and continued to support Fifth Army in its drive through Italy by determining troop movements, gun positions, and terrain. Flew reconnaissance missions in connection with the Invasion of Southern France in August 1944. Received a DUC for a mission on 28 August 1944 when the group provided photographic intelligence that assisted the rapid advance of Allied ground forces. Also mapped areas in France and the Balkans." [1]


3rd Reconnaissance Group - History

3rd Force Reconnaissance Company was activated, trained, fought and deactivated during the Vietnam War. Activated in September 1965 as one of the first group of add on units to meet demands of operations in the Republic of South Vietnam, 3rd FORECON formed at Camp Lejeune, N.C. and satellite on 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company that was under strength due to the demands for trained Force Recon Marines assigned to 1st Force Reconnaissance Company in country. Facilities, cadre and equipment for training were provided by 2nd FORECON.

Volunteers were solicited from throughout the Marine Corps and the first four months were devoted to bringing 3rd FORECON up to strength in personnel. Beginning in January 1966 all operational personnel departed Camp Lejeune to train in the Caribbean and Panama.

Returning to North Carolina in March, final preparations were carried out to meet the projected deployment date in May 1966. The expected deployment of the entire 3rd FORECON did not occur, but a two-platoon detachment embarked on the USS Boxer, transited through the Suez Canal, and arrived in country in time to be introduced to combat in Operation Hastings as part of the Special Landing Force Alpha in early July 1966.

3rd FORECON (-) dropped to a not-combat-ready readiness status. Headquarters Marine Corps transferred several commissioned officers and numerous enlisted ([staff] non-commissioned officers) immediately after the Detachment departed.

In mid-June, 3rd FORECON (-) was alerted to deploy immediately. Due to the reduced personnel readiness status, HQMC changed the deployment plan and ordered that a Platoon be assigned to deploy with 1st Battalion, 26th Marines (1/26) that had been activated at Camp Pendleton. The remainder of 3rd FORECON was ordered to move to Camp Pendleton to refit.

At the conclusion of Hastings the Detachment was attached to 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion that had just arrived in Phu Bai from Da Nang, having been replaced by the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion that had just begun arriving with the 1st Marine Division. Shortly, they were joined by the Platoon that had come in country with 1/26.

They patrolled in Thua Tin Province, until early January, 1967, when a task-organized "Special Purpose group" carried out a prisoner rescue attempt. The remainder were sent to Khe Sahn where they developed the intelligence of a large enemy buildup, that was the prelude to the hill fights that occurred in April 1967.

Reunited, what was left of the three platoons, returned to Phu Bai to await the arrival of the 3rd FORECON (-). Having been brought up to strength and operational readiness, 3rd FORECON was reunited on May 27, 1966, just in time for the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) offensive to seize Quang Tri Province. The logistics element arrive at the "Ramp" at Dong Ha just in time for the opening salvos of the NVA artillery attacks that would continue daily until late Autumn.

The operational element experienced a mortar attack in Phu Bai at the same time resulting in several shrapnel wounds, only one of which, required evacuation. The new arrivals were integrated with combat veterans and the entire eighteen teams conducted a zone reconnaissance in the Cobi Than Tan Valley east of Quey City before displacing to Dong Ha.

Upon arrival at Dong Ha in early May the Commanding Officer assumed command of 3rd Recon Battalion (Forward), which had reconnaissance responsibility for all of Quang Tri Province except the Khe Sahn Tactical Area of Operations (TAOR). 3rd FORECON patrolled the area north of Highway nine to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), while a recon company from 3rd Recon Battalion was targeted south of Highway Nine to the Thua Tin border. Occasional circumstances caused deviation from that concept, but, for the most part, those deviations were rare. 3rd FORECON continued that operational commitment until the 3rd Marine Division left country in November 1969.

3rd FORECON was placed under command of the III Marine Amphibious Force (III MAF) and operated in general support of III MAF until deactivated in mid 1970.


Notable former members

    , Vietnam War, KIA, 12 July 1965. , Vietnam War, KIA, 16 February 1968. , Vietnam War, KIA, 5 March 1969. , Vietnam War, KIA, 24 August 1969.
  • Alpha Company – Vietnam War, Cpl Bryant C. Collins, LCpl Manuel A. Estrada, PFC Steven D. Lopez, Cpl Roger D. See, & Sgt James N. Tycz (KIA)
  • Bravo Company – Vietnam War, LCpl Robert C. Barnes, Cpl Charles W. Bryan (KIA), & Sgt Jose G. Lopez
  • Charlie Company – Vietnam War, Cpl Steven M. Lowery, & LCpl Norman W. Vancor
  • 3rd Force Company – Vietnam War, Cpl Harry J. Corsetti, Pvt James E. Honeycutt (KIA), & Cpl. Charles T. Sexton

2d Cavalry Group (Mecz) in WW 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 Calvary 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 and 42nd 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 Patton’s Third Army was poised to continue offensive operations to the east into Germany, Hitler’s war machine had secretly assembled a large force of kids and school teachers (Malitia) for what would become Germany’s 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 Tank Battalion 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, led by Lieutenant Colonel Creighton Abrams, officially relieved the 101st on 26 December 1944. Abrams later became the 38th Colonel of the [2d Armored Cavalry] 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 Lipizzaner 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 Lipizzaners 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 nearby to rescue American and Allied prisoners. Not only was the rescue of the Lipizzaners 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 cavalryman’s 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 (AMTRAC’s) 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.


Force Recon: Mission and History

The mission of Force RECON is to conduct amphibious reconnaissance, deep ground reconnaissance, surveillance, battle-space shaping and limited scale raids in support of the Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), other Marine air-ground task forces or a joint force.

U.S. Marine reconnaissance units are tasked with providing the commander of a larger force of Marines with information about his operational area. Their missions usually focus on specific information requirements, which, due to their changing or unique nature, cannot be obtained by means other than putting a man on the ground to observe and report. Recon Marines are, by nature, capable of independent action in support of the larger unit's mission.

The history of Recon Marines begins in World War II, when two units were formed: the Raider Battalion, which was created in January 1942 with the intention of providing the Marines a light-force raid unit much like the British Royal Marine Commandos, and the "Observation Group" of the 1st Marine Division, comprised of two officers and 20 enlisted men. The latter was expanded to 98 Marines in 1943, renamed the Amphibious Recon Company and served on the island of Apamama in the Pacific, where their success in aiding the invasion led to another expansion to 20 officers, 270 enlisted and 13 Navy doctors. The Observation Group participated in landings for the rest of the war, including Tinian Island, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

The need for recon became prominent once again in the Korean War, where the Amphibious Recon Company was called upon to make landings in Northern Korea and report back their findings, and carry out raids against tunnels and rail lines, with some of these missions taking place as much as 40 miles inside enemy territory. Recon members also operated closely with U.S. Navy underwater demolition teams during some of their missions. In March 1951, the force was expanded and named the 1st Amphibious Recon Platoon, and it continued to serve after the end of the war. In 1957, the 1st Company of "Force" Recon Marines was formed, and the 2nd Company Force Recon was formed in June 1958. In 2006, as part of the reorganization under MARSOC, both companies were deactivated, and force reconnaissance currently is carried out by the 1st and 2nd Reconnaissance Battalions, under the 1st and 2nd Marine Divisions, respectively.

The 1st Reconnaissance Battalion was reactivated in June 2000, but the battalion originally was activated in March 1937. It was primarily a scout/sniper unit. In April 1944, a two-company amphibious reconnaissance battalion was formed with the mission of conducting beach reconnaissance and hydrographic survey. Today, the battalion performs a wide variety of tactical and special operations in support of the division.

The Recon Creed

Realizing it is my choice and my choice alone

to be a Reconnaissance Marine,

I accept all challenges involved with this profession.

Forever shall I strive to maintain the tremendous reputation

of those who went before me.

Exceeding beyond the limitations

set down by others shall be my goal.

Sacrificing personal comforts and dedicating myself

to the completion of the reconnaissance mission shall be my life.

Physical fitness, mental attitude, and high ethics --

The title of Recon Marine is my honor.

Conquering all obstacles, both large and small,

To quit, to surrender, to give up is to fail.

To be a Recon Marine is to surpass failure

To overcome, to adapt and to do whatever it takes

On the battlefield, as in all areas of life,

I shall stand tall above the competition.

Through professional pride, integrity, and teamwork,

for all Marines to emulate.

Never shall I forget the principles

I accepted to become a Recon Marine.

Honor, Perseverance, Spirit and Heart.

A Recon Marine can speak without saying a word

and achieve what others can only imagine.