11th US Cavalry
11th Armored Cavalry
Armored Cavalry Regiment traces its roots back to Fort Myer, Virginia. The 11th US
Cavalry was born on February 2, 1901 and was formed as a horse cavalry regiment.
When I served with the Regiment in Vietnam in 1968 its status was that of a light armored,
completely mobile reconnaissance force with a proud tradition.
Following its activation in 1901, the 11th Cavalry was deployed to the Philippines to
help put down the insurgent uprising that was ravaging the island. For four years
the Regiment fought with distinction and was awarded by the war department the "Samar
1902" battle streamer, the first of many that would ultimately be awarded to this
The Regiment's motto was
earned early on in its history. "Allons" (Let's Go) symbolizes the courage
and swiftness that the Regiment exemplified throughout its history. The Regiment
still retains this motto even today. For students of French, the more accurate
translation of "Let's Go" is - Allons`y
The Regiment had been back to the US from the Philippines for only the shortest of time
when it was again called upon to join the Army of Pacification in Cuba where the men of
the Blackhorse served with merit.
One of the
"Blackhorse's" most noteworthy campaigns was against the notorious Mexican
bandit, Pancho Villa. In 1919, the Regiment joined General John J. Pershing's
Punitive Expeditionary force against Villa and his bandits. Overcoming the desert
wasteland of Mexico, the Regiment won its second battle streamer, "Mexico
1916-1917." It was here that the Regiment made "The Last Mounted Cavalry
Charge In US History."
March to Parral
The Provisional Squadron
led by Major Robert L. Howze under special orders from Pershing marched southward on March
24, 1916 toward Parral. The New York World had this to say:
"Among many instances of achievement since the troops entered Mexico, one
to the lasting credit of the Regiment stands out among the rest - the time when 208 men of
the 11th Cavalry were cut loose from all communication on a desert march. On an
issue of five days rations, the column in twenty days marched 571 miles, only 100 miles
less than the distance from Paris to Berlin."
"The country through which they marched was a desert waste. It
afforded no fodder and only at long intervals was there water for the horses. There
were no roads, at best only untraveled trails. During the entire march they were
beyond reach of relief. they fought several engagements and suffered only one
fatality. It is doubted if there are cavalrymen in the armies of Europe capable of
equaling this feat."
Organization Day for the
11th Armored Cavalry is based upon an action which happened May 5, 1916, when six troops
under Major Howze made forced night march on Ojo Azules when at daylight, they surprised
one of Villa's bands. Forty-two of the Villistas were killed without one American
casualty. The 11th Cavalry was re-deployed to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia on February
The Regiment did not see
service overseas in World War I. In the years leading up to World War II the 11th
Cavalry was based at Presidio of Monterey in California. It was here during this
period that the Regiment converted from horse to armor. It also converted its title
to: the 11th Tank Battalion, 10th Armored Division.
In France, Belgium and
Germany the Battalion won five battle streamers for campaigns in: Normandy, Northern
France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe. Two other representatives of
the 11th Cavalry, the 11th Armored Group and the 11th Cavalry Group also saw combat in
Europe. The 11th Cavalry Group were awarded three battle streamers for Normandy,
Rhineland and Ardennes-Alsace. The 11th Armored Group distinguished itself at the
Battle of the Bulge when it controlled the entire sector once held by the 102nd Division.
From 1948 until 1951
elements of the 11th Cavalry Regiment were disbanded. With the onset of the Korean
conflict, these elements were reactivated to teach armor tactics. The days of the
Regiments home stay were short-lived with in 1957 the unit was sent to Germany as part of
the NATO forces.
The Cold War
Border patrol was now the
mission of the Regiment. In an area known as the "Iron Triangle" that was
formed by the Bavarian towns of Straubling, Landshut and Regensburg the Regiment set up
operations to patrol the boarder between West Germany and Czechoslovakia. For seven
years the Regiment protected the border from communist aggression. In August, 1964
the Regiment was called home.
Home now for the Regiment
was Fort Meade, Maryland where the "Blackhorse" engaged in operational training
and support activities like participation in the Presidential Inauguration and support for
ROTC summer training.
With the conflict in Vietnam escalating, the Blackhorse Regiment was alerted for
assignment to Southeast Asia on March 11, 1966. The Regiment began specialized
training for combat in a counterinsurgency environment. Modifications were made to
the organization and equipment (MTOE) with emphasis on the use of modified M-113 Armored
Personnel Carriers (APGs). Two M-60 machineguns with protective gun shield were
mounted at the rear of the vehicle and a gun shield was added around the .50-cal
machinegun located at the commander's hatch. This lethal combination produced a
deadly M-113 that was swiftly maneuverable and armor protected. Its nickname was
ACAV (Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicle).
The Regiment's modifications emphasized the use of ACAVs instead of the main battle
tanks and the M-114s that were found in reconnaissance platoons. The tank companies,
with there M-48A3 main battle tanks, remained the same in each squadron.
The Blackhorse Regiment arrived in Vung Tau, South Vietnam on September 7, 1966 and was
commanded by Col. William W. Cobb. "Operation Hickory" (Oct. 7, 1966 to
Oct. 15,1966) produced the first enemy casualties inflicted by the 3rd Squadron and
elements of the 919th Engineer Company in the vicinity of Phu Hoa.
Blackhorse Base Camp
the code name for the establishment of Blackhorse Base Camp - the new home of the 11th
Armored Cavalry Regiment in Vietnam. Blackhorse Base Camp was located approximately
6 kilometers south of the village of Xuan Loc on Route 2 and approximately 2 kilometers
southeast of the village of Long Goia. Saigon lie approximately 35 kilometers to the
west along Rt. 1. The operation began on Oct. 20 and concluded on Nov. 3, 1966.
Stanton's Vietnam Order Of Battle lists the following locations for the 11th
Armored Cavalry Regiment's Headquarters in Vietnam:
||Sept. 66 - Nov. 66
||Dec. 66 - Feb. 67
||March 67 - Jan. 69
||March 69 - Sept. 69
||Oct. 69 - June 70
||July 70 - March 71
"Operation Cedar Falls"
From January until May
18, 1967 the Regiment conducted three major search and destroy operations. These
operations would later be known as reconnaissance in force (RIF) operations. The
first of these operations commence on Jan. 8, 1967 and was known as "Operation Cedar
Falls". It continued until Jan. 24, 1967. The 1st and 2nd Squadrons
operated in the infamous "Iron Triangle" region near Ben Cat employing search
and destroy tactics, screening and blocking, and security in attacks on successive
"Operation Junction City"
City" I and II involved the 1st and 3rd Squadrons. It began on Feb. 18, 1967
and ran through April 15, 1967. This operation took these squadrons to the
headquarters of the Central Office South Vietnam (COSVN) believed to be located in Bihn
Duong Province with the objective of destroying this important headquarters. This
joint mission conducted with the 1st Australian Task Force secured lines of communication
and fire support bases (FSB). Extensive RIF operations were conducted as well.
Commencing on April 23,
1967 the third operation titled "Operation Manhattan" was a thrust into the Long
Nguyen Secret Zone by the 1st and 2nd Squadrons. This zone was a long suspected
regional headquarter of the Viet Cong. 60 tunnel complexes were uncovered.
1884 fortifications were destroyed. 621 tons of rice was evacuated during these
operations. The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment was building a solid reputation for
carrying out effective reconnaissance in force operations. "Operation
Manhattan" ended on May 11, 1967.
Beginning on April 1967
and running through March 21, 1968, the Regiment was tasked to secure and pacify Long
Khanh Province. This year long mission was called "Operation
Kittyhawk". It achieved three objectives: Viet Cong (VC) were kept from
interfering with travel on the main roads, Vietnamese were provided medical treatment in
programs like MEDCAP and DENCAP and finally, RIF operations were employed to keep the VC
off balance, making it impossible for them to mount offensive operations.
From the summer of 1967
until the winter the Regiment was led by Col. Roy W. Farley. "Operation
Emporia I & II was a road clearing operation with limited RIF missions by the 1st and
3rd Squadrons in Long Khanh Province. "Operation Valdosta I & II was a
regimental size operation. Its purpose was to provide security at polling places
during elections and to maintain reaction forces to counter VC agitation. So
successful was this operation that 84.7 % of eligible voters cast ballots in Long Khanh
Province in the first general election and 78 % in the second.
"Operation Quicksilver" involved the 1st and 2nd Squadrons of the 11th
Armored Cavalry. Its purpose was to secure routes that moved logistical personnel of
the 101st Airborne Division between Bihn Long and Tay Ninh Provinces. Cordon, search
and RIF missions were also performed.
Fargo" ran from Dec. 21, 1967 until Jan 21, 1968. This regimental size
operation conducted RIFs in Bihn Long and Tay Ninh Provinces and opened Route 13 to
military traffic for the very first time.
The Tet Offensive
The early part of 1968
was marked by the most ambitious and embolden offensive attack coordinated by the VC and
NVA in the history of the war. It was know as "The Tet Offensive" designed
to coincide with the Vietnamese New Year known as Tet.
This operation began on
Jan. 31, 1968. Word was received by the II Field Force HQs to immediately re-deploy
to the Long Binh/Bien Hoa area to relieve installations threatened by the TET
Offensive. At 1400 hours (2:00 PM) the 1st Squadron was called to move from their
position south of the Michelin Rubber Plantation to the II Field Force Headquarters.
The 2nd Squadron moved from north of the plantation to III Corps POW Compound were enemy
soldiers were sure to attempt to liberate the camp. The 3rd Squadron moved from An
Loc to III Corps Army, Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) Headquarters. It took only 14
hours and 80 miles to arrive in position after first being alerted.
"Operation Alcorn Cove"
The security operation in
the Long Bihn/Bien Hoa area and the area around Blackhorse Base Camp by the 1st and 2nd
Squadrons is continue under "Operation Alcorn Cove" which began on March 22,
1968. This joint mission with the 18th and 25th ARVN Infantry Divisions was a two
fold operation of security and RIFs. "Operation Toan Thang was an extension of
"Alcorn Cove". That joint operation involved the 1st and 25th Infantry
"Workhorse" The 3rd Squadron
K Troop was part of the
3rd Squadron and known as "Killing K Troop". The nickname for the 3rd
Squadron was fittingly called "Workhorse". Shortly after its arrival in
Vietnam, the 3rd Squadron engaged the Viet Cong for the first time. So devastating
was the 3rd Squadron's infliction of casualties against the enemy the it was awarded a
Meritorious Unit Citation for this period.
The Tet Offensive of 1968 gave the squadron a chance to fight the enemy's troop
formations in open combat. In Bien Hoa the 3rd Squadron drove the enemy forces from
the area near III Corp s Headquarters. Its action was crucial in smashing the
While in Vietnam and up
until the time I left Vietnam in 1969 the Blackhorse Regiment had been in almost constant
enemy contact as it reclaimed many enemy held strongholds. The Regiment operated in
areas from the Mao Tao Secret Zone in southeast Long Khanh Province to Loc Ninh in
northern Bihn Long Province close to the Cambodian border.
When I left the Blackhorse in April of 1969 the Regiment comprised three squadrons, an
Air Cavalry Troop, Regimental HQ and HQ Troop and assigned and attached units.
General Harold K. Johnson, then Army Chief of Staff said in August of 1967 that: "the
Blackhorse Regiment in Vietnam has successfully silenced those (critiques) who doubted the
effectiveness of armor in this counterinsurgency environment. The Regiment departed
Vietnam on March 7, 1972. It had earned 11 battle streamers.
The "Cold War" - Fulda, Germany
The next mission for the
Regiment would be found in Germany where it provided boarder security until the end of the
Cold War. On November 9, 1989, the East-West German wall fell. *The Regiments
17-year vigil along the Iron Curtain was over.
"Operation Desert Storm" - Kuwait
Elements of the Regiment
saw service in "Operation Desert Storm" in Kuwait.In August of 1990, Iraq
invaded Kuwait. 1st Platoon, E Troop, 2nd Squadron went to war with 3rd ACR. On 10 April
1991, the Regiment deployed an aviation task force to support the U.S. Kurdish relief
efforts in Turkey and Northern Iraq (Operation Provide Comfort). On 16 May 1991, the
Regiment deployed to Kuwait for Operation Positive Force to secure Kuwait as it struggled
to rebuild from the war. By October, Task Force Thunderhorses mission in Turkey was
over, and its remaining troopers returned to Fulda. As the need for U.S. forces in Europe
decreased, on March 15, 1994, in an emotional ceremony, the Blackhorse Regiment was
deactivated. A sad day in the annals of this proud force.
"Whenever Duty Calls . . . .
Our Nation To Be Free . . . .
With A Thunderous Roar
We Will Ride Again . . . .
And so it would. On October 26, 1994 the 11th US Cavalry was once again activated
and stationed at the National Training Center at Ft. Erwin, California were it trains the
Army's combat units to "Be The Best That They Can Be". The 11th was not
entirely whole. It was missing the 3rd Squadron. It would later be in
September of 1995 that the Blackhorse would be made whole again with the activation of the
3rd Squadron as the Las Vegas National Guard. Troop E is now part of the
Montana Army National Guard. It use to be 2nd Cav 163 Armored Battalion.
The 11th Armored Cavalry
Regiment has had 62 Commanders of which includes Col. George S. Patton. He retired as Maj.
Patton was the 39th commander and my commander when I served with the Regiment in 1968 and
1969. He died June 27, 2004. He is noted for his Standing Order To Troopers of
the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment: "Find The Bastards, Then Pile On".
The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment
is currently based at the National Training Center at Ft. Erwin, California under the command of Mark
E. Calvert the 62nd Regimental Commander. During the winter of 2004/2005 the 1st
Squadron, 2nd Squadron and Regimental HHT were deployed to Iraq.
On November 5, 2006 D Troop, 1st of the 221st Cavalry, Nevada National Guard was
reflagged at K Troop, 1st of the 221st and is expected to join the 11th ACR.
100th Anniversary Reunion
Armored Cavalry's Veterans of Vietnam and Cambodia, along with the Blackhorse
Association, celebrated the centennial anniversary of the founding of the
Blackhorse with a reunion in Washington, DC - Ft. Myer, VA. in 2001. For more about
this event, visit Reunions of the 11th Armored
Cavalry's Veterans of Vietnam And Cambodia.
Gulf Crisis (
surprise Iraqi invasion of
on 2 August 1990 triggered the Gulf Crisis that gripped the world's attention.
was not deployed into the Gulf as a unit. The
first deployment of 200 troopers included aircrews, mechanics, truck drivers,
physician's assistants, intelligence analysts and others.
The scout platoons of Troop E and Troop K deployed as units.
In the brief, but violent ground campaign that routed Saddam Hussein's
Army, one group of Blackhorse scouts, the 1st Platoon
of Troop E distinguished themselves. While
fighting as part of the 3rd ACR,
led by 1st Lt. Tom Johnson and Staff Sergeant Richard Shelton, Troop E moved
over 325 Kilometers in less than 60 hours, finishing the war just south of the
Iraqi City of Basra. This one
platoon captured thirteen enemy prisoners and destroyed thirteen trucks, two
command bunkers, and the communications bunker.
None of the scouts of Troop E, nor any other Blackhorse trooper, suffered
The end of the actual hostilities in the Gulf
did not result in a return to normalcy. Far from it, the aftermath of Saddam
Hussein's defeat triggered an uprising of
's oppressed Kurdish minority. The Iraqi military bloody suppression of the Kurdish uprising
sent hundreds of thousands of Kurds fleeing into the mountainous wastes of
. The world watched in horrified
wonderment when the
took the lead in responding to this intolerable situation.
American and Allied military units were directed to deliver relief
supplies to the refugees.
The morning of 10 April 1991, V Corps directed
the Blackhorse to deploy an aviation task force to supervise the relief
. This was no different from the
"No-Notice" deployment to join General "Black Jack"
Pershing, in 1916 in
. The Regiment responded quickly
and deployed for Operation PROVIDE COMFORT.
Within 70 hours of receiving first warning orders, Task Force
Thunderhorse, under the command of Major John Mainwaring, launched from Fulda
and landed in Diyarbakir, on an austere and remote airfield in southeastern
Turkey. Fourth Squadron played a
leading role in PROVIDE COMFORT. Fourth
Squadron was the foundation from which massive allied helicopter fleets emerged:
flying hundreds of sorties, delivering supplies, flying Special Forces teams and
relief workers in and out of refugee camps, evacuating the sick and wounded, and
inserting the Allied forces to protect the Kurds from Iraqi interference.
In orders dated 16 May 1991, as part of the
Operation POSITIVE FORCE, the Joint Chiefs of Staff directed the 11th ACR
to deploy immediately to
in order to sustain a presence there.
13 June 1991, only two weeks after the first
Blackhorse soldier had arrived in theatre, the Regiment assumed from 1st Brigade,
3d Armored Division the responsibility for defending
. The Regiment's new base camp was
a sprawling complex surrounded by an eight-foot high wall.
The three line squadrons took turns pulling
"Z Cycle", a designation that included responsibility for security.
Manning gates, towers, the Z Squadron kept a platoon-size Quick Reaction
Force (QRF) on alert around the clock, seven days a week.
The QRF deployed off the compound without notice at least twice daily, a
On the morning of 11 July a defective vehicle
heater triggered a motor pool fire in the north compound of Blackhorse Base
Camp. Despite valiant efforts to extinguish it, the blaze burned out of control
and began detonating ammunition stored in and around the Regiment's vehicle
fleet. The resulting shower of
shrapnel and unexploded ordnance forced the evacuation of the entire compound
and caused extensive damage.
Some fifty Blackhorse troopers suffered injuries
that day, a number that would have been far higher had it not been for numerous
individual acts of heroism and the Regiment's disciplined response to the
emergency. Miraculously, there were
Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Commander-in-Chief
of the United States Central Command, visited the Regiment.
He presented the Soldier's Medal for Heroism to three Blackhorse
Major Ricky Lynch
Staff Sergeant Charles Rogers
Private Eric Tomlinson
As the Regiment returned from the Gulf in
September 1991 it had to confront this period of change with an odd mixture of
uncertainty and unpredictability. The
"good guys" and "bad guys" could not be identified, as
before. In a world wracked by
religious and ethnic passion, economic rivalry, and the frustrated aspirations
of hundreds of millions of people, the prospects for lasting peace and harmony
seemed remote. Prudent nations and
wise soldiers would "keep their powder dry".
15 October 1993 - 15 March 1994,
It is always a time of great sorrow when a
Regiment with such distinction is ordered to furl its colors.
As the military was down sizing, the Regiment was inactivated, but not
16 October 1994
The Regiment now serves as the opposing force (OPFOR)
in exercises designed to train Army battalion and brigade task forces in
tactical and operational level skills under near-combat conditions. The Regiment
formerly publishes the "Red Thrust Star", a quarterly magazine to
disseminate accurate and current information regarding the doctrine,
organization, equipment, and tactics of all potential adversary military forces.
Most knowledgeable leaders and soldiers alike,
consider the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment the best-trained mechanized force in
the world. Continuing in the NTC
tradition of Lead, Train, Win, the Blackhorse stands ready to respond to any
mission to which it may be called.
famous writer Tom Clancy wrote a book entitled Executive Order, in which
he mentions the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment as being the premier regiment in the
Army and that they went into the Gulf region again to stop a dictator.
It was based on the training and experiences acquired at
IRAQI FREEDOM/WAR ON TERRIORISM
January 2005 – 17 March 2006
On 4 July 2004, the Regiment received deployment
orders for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Previously, in June 58th
Combat Engineers, Red Devils, was the first to deploy attached to 2nd
BDE, 10th Mountain Division in
. 2nd Squadron deployed in December 2004 to
, to conduct support and stability operations with the 155th
National Guard. 1st Squadron deployed in January 2005 to
. Over the course of the year they were attached to four different Brigade
Combat Teams conducting full spectrum operations in the
area of operations. The Regimental Headquarters deployed to
that same month and assumed duty as the division headquarters for Multi National
The Regimental Support Squadron was faced with the
dual mission of providing the Regimental Rear Command Post and continuing to
support the rotational training mission. 1/221 Cavalry, Nevada ARNG, was
activated and deployed to Fort Irwin in the fall of 2004, formed the core of
NTC’s premier Opposing Force. On two separate continents the Regiment
demonstrated cavalry panache and flexibility, performing its wartime mission
within a tradition of unmatched excellence that no other separate brigade has
been called on to perform.
The Regiment returns to
to reorganize as a deployable heavy brigade combat team while continuing to
serve in rotational support for the military at large.
Regiment on Wikipedia
Bugle Call Playing - Charge
Play and Download The Song - Allons (MIDI).
Honors of the 11th Armored Cavalry.
*In a letter dated March 6, 2007 Chris Harlow, a 919th Engr, 11th ACR vet
(5 68-5 69), writes that the mission continued on until 1993 as he was
there, "polygraphing troopers with w/TS."
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