The 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry, Airborne Infantry, Air Assault, Airmobile was activated at Fort Benning, Georgia, 1 July, 1965 along
with the rest of the 1st Air Cavalry Division. Our Battalion sailed to Vietnam in August and September of that year as part of the 1st
Air Cavalry Division, Airmobile.
Later, the "Jumping Mustangs" along with the rest of the 1st Airborne Brigade ceased to exist as an Airborne unit, continuing in
action as an Airmobile unit with the remainder of the Division. All personnel on jump status within the brigade continued in that
status and drew jump pay throughout their tour.
First mission for the Brigade was to become Airborne. All straight legs (non-airborne) in the Brigade were encouraged to
volunteer for Airborne training. Most of the men volunteered and a few of the younger sergeants as well as most of the 2nd and
1st Lieutenants. Special airborne classes were set up by the Jump School at Ft Benning for the three Infantry battalions of the
brigade (1/8, 2/8 and 1/12), artillery and the division slice of Division Support and Combat Support Units. The Brigade went through
training as a unit, the first time this had occurred since World War II, under supervision of its own officers.
Physical and disciplinary training was conducted by respective battalion commanders of the brigade, thus the Jump School was in
charge only of the airborne training. All troops were housed in their own respective billets.
During the airborne training, airborne company commanders and many of the staff were received from the respective advanced
courses: HQ and HQ Co: Capt Russell Ramsey, A Co: Capt Ted Danielsen, B Co: Capt Roy Martin, C Co: Capt William Smith, D Co:
Capt Vandoster Tabb, Bn Ex O: Major Guy Eberhardt, S-1: Capt Bill Mozey, S-2: Capt Charles Stone, S-3: Major John Herman, later
Ex O, Asst S-3: Capt Norman Propes, later S-3, S-4: Capt Gerrell Plummer (G. P. McLaughlin later), Asst S-4: CWO Samuel Rader, Bn
Surgeon: Capt Richard Odom, Chaplain: Capt Ralph Spears, Air Force LNO: Capt Charles Corey (Edward Holland initially), Artillery
LNO: Capt David Wilkie, Bn Comdr: Lt Col Kenneth D. Mertel.
Senior non-coms, to include most of the platoon sergeants, first sergeants and sergeant majors came from the 101st Airborne
Division: Cmd Sgt Major: CSM Herbert McCullah, HQ&HQ Co: 1st Sgt. William Tucker, A Co: 1st. Sgt. Robert Gonzales, B Co: 1st Sgt.
Ray Poynter, C Co: 1st. Sgt. Grady Trainer, D Co: 1st. Sgt. James R. Smith.
Intense training followed until we sailed for Vietnam, day and night, 16 hours a day, Saturday and Sunday. We had so little time and
so much to do. The new M-16 Rifle arrived along with long hours of rifle marksmanship training on the firing range.
Practice of air assault tactics with the HUEY Helicopter, patrols, day and night. Long hours of training of non-commissioned officer
and officers. We had to develop our own standard operating procedures at every level, including Bn. HQ.
8 July 1965 marked the first parachute jump for those paratroopers already qualified as jumpers. This was a brigade level jump
from C-130's, spilling out over the wet fields on the Alabama side of the Chattahoochee at 1845 hours. No injuries in this first
jump, with all participants becoming charter members of the 1st Airborne Infantry Brigade. Several other jumps were made by all
members of the brigade as the budding new paratroopers made each of their qualifying jumps. By the end of the month, the 1st
Brigade was & truly an Airborne Infantry Brigade, ready for whatever combat role would be required in Vietnam.
Incidentally, the first jump in the Airborne Brigade was made from a HUEY D Model by the Brigade Commander, Colonel Elvey
Roberts (later three stars); Lt Colonel Robert Shoemaker (later four stars), Commander of the 1st of the 12th Airborne, Airmobile
Battalion (later four stars) and Lt Colonel Kenneth D. Mertel, Commander of the 1st of the 8th Airborne Airmobile, Air Assault
Lots of physical training including running in the July and August Georgia sun and heat, culminated in the five-mile run, promised
in the beginning as a battalion goal. We all made it, the JUMPING MUSTANG Guidon flying high, only a few stragglers struggled on
in. The Chaplain, Surgeon, Air Force Liaison Officer and Artillery Liaison Officer all completed the run.
Orders to dye our underwear green, also handkerchiefs and anything white. Columbus, Georgia and all the wives and girl friends
went to work to help us. We became Army Green overnight.
Then fond farewells to families and friends as we boarded buses for the drive to Savannah, Georgia to embark!
The 1st Airborne Brigade sailed for the most part on the USNS Geiger from Savannah, Georgia on 20 August 1965. Up anchor at
1745 hours, down the Savannah River to the Atlantic Ocean, then around through the Panama Canal, with stops in Hawaii and
Guam, finally debarking in Qui Nhon, Vietnam 30 days later.
In Honolulu, Hawaii for a few hours. All were permitted to go ashore for a few hours in the early afternoon, back aboard by 2400
hours. All "Sky Troopers" went ashore in Fire Teams under the control of their NCO. All had a good time and all returned without
incident, signifying the strong NCO leadership in the Battalion and the bonding and spirit and morale that made sure no one
wanted to let our unit down. I was most proud of all of our fine troops.
At Guam we went ashore for a few hours, running in a Battalion column of Companies, shorts and boots, passed many ships,
decks filled with observing sailors, none of who dared to make a cat call. Down to the beach where Capt Bill Mozey, the Adjutant
had collared a van load of ice-cold beer. What a glorious time in the sun and ocean, a few beers, relaxing before continuing our
journey. Only casualty, one young trooper who dove into the ocean and hit a chunk of corral with his head. A bit of blood, but
nothing lasting. Then running back to our ship to get rid of the effects of the beer.
The Brigade engaged in maximum weapons training, including firing off the ship's fantail, constant and continuous physical
conditioning and squad and platoon level skull sessions. Constant double timing in place for 30 minutes or more every day on the
deck. Some said we double-timed clear across the vast Pacific. Thus upon arrival in Vietnam, the paratroopers were ready for
killing communist or whatever the mission might be.
The troopers were ferried by helicopter from ship-side to An Khe to join the rest of the division at the Division Base. First
missions were defending the base, and securing the area from any prowling Viet Cong or regular troops of the North Vietnamese
Numerous air assaults and skirmishes occurred over the next few weeks as we improved our combat ability and professionalism.
Our first major engagement for the Brigade and the 1st Air Cavalry Division, Airmobile, was the Ia Drang Valley Campaign, 23
October 1965 to 26 November 1965 where the first Presidential Unit Citation was earned in the initial use of Airmobile Warfare to
destroy the major portions of two or more regular North Vietnamese Army Division and drive them from the II Corps Tactical Zone.
All elements of the 1st Airborne Infantry Brigade participated in this action, with A Company, commanded by Captain Ted
Danielsen, 1st of the 8th, making the first combat night air assault in the history of Airmobile Warfare.
In November and December of 1965, we participated in a series of Search and Destroy missions clearing the area East of An Khe
to Qui Nhon, an area previously a safe haven for both Viet Cong and regular North Vietnamese Army units. This was a most
important mission, for the 1st Air Cavalry Division Base at An Khe was primarily supplied overland via Highway 19. In addition the
same highway was cleared to Pleiku, thru Mang Yang Pass, to the West of the Division Base, the scene of the destruction of
French Mobile Group 100 in earlier years. The Jumping Mustangs initially opened this pass in a series of combat operations.
During this same time frame, A Company, 1st of the 8th was selected as the typical rifle company in Vietnam for filming of the
famous ABC Television Production, "I am a Soldier", one hour in length, a most pro Army and pro Vietnam movie film. Aired in
March of 1966 in the U.S., this film focused much attention on the Airborne Brigade, and especially the 1st of the 8th. This film
became a training film for the US Army, widely used by units going to Vietnam. It also covered the first and only training jump of
the brigade in Pleiku, when a series of training jumps were conducted by most elements of the brigade. While not conducted as
an airborne air assault, they were used to position units for a series of search and destroy missions.
In January of 1966, it was widely believed by the US media, that the 1st Air Cavalry would make an attack into Cambodia, long used
as a safe haven for supply points, hospitals, training areas and headquarters of major elements of the North Vietnamese Regular
Army. The Brigade was inundated by reporters and photographers. The 1st of the 8th was overwhelmed with over 30 media
people, four or five in each assault rifle company. Although the media and the troops were ready for the air assault into Cambodia,
which might have ended the war early on, this was not to be, due to timidity on the part of US political leaders and fear of further
Russian and Chinese involvement. The attack into Cambodia would not take place until 1970, when the 1st Air Cavalry Division,
Airmobile, led the assault into Cambodia capturing tens of thousands of tons of vital weapons, ammunition and other supplies that
had been brought in from China and Russia via the long haul by elephants, pack bicycles and trucks over past years.
We continued a series of search and destroy and clearing operations in the area along the South China Sea Coast. It was here
that we had our first Medal of Honor winner (second for the Division in Vietnam) by David Dolby of B Company, commanded by
Captain Roy Martin. In this same action, Captain Martin won a Distinguished Service Cross and his successor a few weeks later,
Captain Jerry Plummer won a Silver Star. These were examples of the many demonstrations of heroism in combat shown by SKY
TROOPERS of the JUMPING MUSTANGS, 1st Airborne Brigade and the 1st Air Cavalry Division.
Although no longer on airborne status later on in 1966, the Brigade continued to lead the way in the many other famous battles in
which SKY SOLDIERS of the 1st Air Cavalry Division, Airmobile, led the way in conducting the new concepts of highly successful
We SKY TROOPERS of our great unit were truly JUMPING MUSTANGS, whether we jumped with a parachute or without one, into
the tall jungle grass from a hovering helicopter. We were also the first unit to use the trooper ladder from a hovering Chinook
(CH-47) in combat, both up and down, as well as the first unit to use the rappel method in a combat air assault, down dangling 100
foot ropes, into the jungle growth.
On the humor side, our greatest scroungers were in the S-4 Section. CWO Sam Rader, the best. A captured VC flag could be
traded to Navy and Air Force types for beer, building materials, other things we could not normally received. It was rumored that
the S-4 Section was manufacturing VC flags on the side with the help of some local Vietnamese, dirtying them up a bit, them using
for trades. VC weapons were worth their weight in gold, for the same reason.
Bill Mozey was the great letter writer and scrounger. He wrote every commercial company in the US and Canada for items they
manufactured that had the word "Mustang" in it as well as many other companies. We were inundated by the flow of goodies.
Finally, a four star general wrote Bill and said, "Please lay off the letters", we cannot keep up with the flow of mail to the Jumping
Mustangs. We were also adopted by the City of Chicago and on Christmas 1965, every trooper received 7-10 packages of goodies.
We were truly a great battalion with a great group of dedicated WARRIORS. It was my high privilege and honor to serve as the first
commander of the JUMPING MUSTANGS.
HONOR AND COURAGE, DRIVE ON ALL THE WAY
KENNETH D. MERTEL,
Colonel, Airborne Infantry
US Army, Retired, 27 November 1999
A detailed history of the first year in Vietnam by the JUMPING MUSTANGS, is contained in the book, "Year of the Horse, Vietnam"
by Colonel Kenneth D. Mertel, 4th printing, hard back with photos, Schiffer Publishing Company, 1996. Also available on line with
Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
See CRAZY HORSE Link under each of B Company and C Company, 1965-66 for an account of the classic battle in 1966. (written
Following the latter part of this HISTORY PAGE is a short history of our great unit from the Indian Days of our western frontier to
the desert in SW Asia.
top of page
|Continuing History of the 1/8 Cav
1965: Reorganized as 1st and 2nd Bn's Abn, 8th Cav and sent to Vietnam as part of the 1st Abn Bde, 1st Cav Div, Airmobile
1 Jul 1965: Reorganized as an Abn Bn in the newly reorganized 1st Cav Div, Airmobile, at Ft Benning, GA, commanded by Lt Col
Kenneth D. Mertel
29 Jul 1965: 1st Cav Div, Airmobile ordered to Vietnam.
18 Aug 1965: Advance Party (18 Sky Troopers) departed Travis Air Force Base, CA by air for Vietnam
20 Aug 1965: Bn main body departed Savannah, GA on the USNS Geiger for Vietnam
21 Sep 1965: Bn main body arrived at Qui Nhon, moved by helicopter to 1st Cav Div Base, North of An Khe, Binh Dinh province.
28 Sep 1965: Bn executed relief of elements of Task Force 1st Abn Bde, 101st Abn Div on the Picket Line. Platoon and Company
size Air Assault Operations were conducted beyond the Picket Line, the first Air Assaults in combat for the Jumping Mustangs
2-12 Oct 1965: Bn occupied a portion of the Div Inner Perimeter.
4 Oct: Co C was attached to secure an Artillery Task Force (AMOS) vic Phu Cat. Relieved of this mission on 11 Oct.
11 Oct: Co A tasked to secure 3rd Fwd Spt installations in Binh Dinh
13-18 Oct 1965: Bn (-) occupied a portion of the Div Picket Line. Co and Bn size Air Assaults conducted outside the Picket Line.
13 Oct: Co A returns to Bn control
19-20 Oct 1965: Bn occupied a portion of the Div Inner Perimeter. General William Westmoreland visited Jumping Mustangs
21-27 Oct 1965: Bn conducted Search and Clear Operations in Binh Dinh prior to occupation by a Reg. of the ROK (Korean) Capital
24-26 Oct: Co B destroyed 150 VC huts and captured 8.5 tons of rice.
27 Oct: Co C was attached to secure Artillery Task Force AMOS
28 Oct 1965: Bn (-) alerted to move to Pleiku. Mission canceled.
30 Oct-2 Nov 1965: Bn (-) secured An Khe Pass
2-7 Nov 1965: Bn (-) conducted offensive operations in Plei Me, Duc Co and Ia Drang Valley, South of Pleiku.
3-4 Nov: Co A conducted the first night Air Assault in Airmobile History, into a landing zone held by North Vietnamese Regular Army
units, to reinforce the 1/9 Cav, estimated 10 enemy KIA
9-21 Nov 1965: Bn (-) secured and cleared Hwy 19 from An Khe, West to Pleiku; occupied portions of the Div Picket Line. Co C
returned to Bn control
21-28 Nov 1965: Bn conducted offensive operations in the Ia Drang Valley
30 Nov 1965: Bn occupied portions of the Div Inner Perimeter and the An Khe Air Field
8 Dec 1965: Bn occupied Div Inner Perimeter, Picket Line and Air Field
9-15 Dec 1965: Bn conducted offensive operations South of An Khe. Elements of Co C and Recon Plat used Rappelling Techniques
in Air Assaults into thick jungle areas. All units use Trooper Ladder Techniques from CH 47's. First unit to use Rappelling and
Trooper Ladder Air Assaults in combat in the Division.
17-20 Dec 1965: Bn conducted offensive operations vicinity Thuan Hahn. 25 enemy KIA (body count), 100 estimated WIA.
21 Dec-4 Jan 1966: Bn on R & R at Bien Ho Lake, Pleiku. Chief of Staff of the Army came to dinner Christmas Day, with Co B. Co B
secured 3rd Bde 25th Inf Div Base Camp
5-12 Jan 1966: Bn conducted Search and Destroy operations along Cambodian Border, in Operation MATADOR. Troop Ladder used
extensively with great success throughout operation.
13 Jan-17 Feb 1966: Bn secured Hwy 19 from Mang Yang Pass to An Khe. Division Reserve. Extensive patrolling.
8 Feb: Co B engaged NVA Plat, 1 enemy KIA (body count), 1 KIA (est), 7 WIA (est).
18 Feb-6 Mar 1966: Bn participated in Operation MASHER-WHITE WING in Bong Son area, conducting Search and Destroy Missions.
25 enemy KIA (body count), 23 KIA (est), 47 WIA (est), and 40 individual weapons captured
7-12 Mar-1966: Bn in Division Reserve, preparing for further missions
13-20 Mar 1966: Bn conducted offensive operations in Bong Son area in Operations TARZAN and JIM BOWIE. Change of leadership
as LTC Barney Broughton assumes command, LTC Mertel moves to Brigade as Deputy Commander.
CAMPAIGN STREAMERS AND DECORATIONS 1/8 CAVALRY INDIAN WARS
WORLD WAR II
Archipelago (with arrow head Leyete Luzon)
First UN Offensive
CCF Spring Offensive
UN Summer-Fall Offensive
Second Korean Winter
Korea, Summer-Fall Offensive 1952
Third Korean Winter
Vietnam Defensive Campaign
Vietnam Counter Offensive
Vietnam Counter Offensive II
Vietnam Counter Offensive III
Tet Counter Offensive
Vietnam Counter Offensive IV
Vietnam Counter Offensive V
Vietnam Counter Offensive VI
Tet 69 Counter Offensive
Streamer, Distinguished Unit Citation, LUZON
Streamer, Distinguished Unit Citation, MANUS ISLAND
Streamer, Distinguished Unit Citation, TAEGU
Streamer, Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, (17 October 1944 - 4 July 1945)
Streamer, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, WAEGWAN-TAEGU
Streamer, Republic of Korea, Presidential Unit Citation, KOREA
Streamer, Chryssoun Aristion Andrias (Bravery Gold Medal of Greece KOREA)
Streamer, Presidential Unit Citation, PLEIKU
Streamer, Presidential Unit Citation, TRUNG LUONG
EIGHTH CAVALRY MILESTONES
Constituted 28 July 1866 as Eighth Cavalry
Organized 21 Sep 1866 at Angel Island, California
Assigned to 15th Cavalry Division, Dec 1917-May 1918
Assigned to 1st Cavalry Division at Ft Bliss, Texas, 15 Sep 1921
Dismounted Feb 1943 and reorganized 4 Dec 1943, partly under Cavalry and partly under Infantry tables of organization
Reorganized as Infantry, 20 Jul 1945, but retained Cavalry designation
Reorganized 25 Mar 1949 with Troops redesigned as Companies
Reorganized 15 Oct 1957 to conform to the Combat Arms System
Reorganized and redesignated on 1 Sep 1963 as 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry
Division transferred 1 Jul 1965 to Fort Benning, Georgia, and reorganized under the Air Mobile Concept
Division Transferred 5 May 1971 to Ft Hood, Texas and reorganized as an Armored Division under the Triple-Capability (TRICAP)
Division reorganized 21 Feb 1975, an Armored Division, Ft Hood, Texas
Division ordered to South West Asia on 7 Aug 1990 for DESERT STORM
Division returned to Fort Hood, Texas, May 1991
Division elements including 1st Battalion, 8th Cav, ordered to Kuwait on 22 Aug 1995
Division elements including 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry ordered to Bosnia on 17 Apr 1998
Division returns to Ft Hood, Texas 18 Oct 1999
IN THE BEGINNING
The History of the 8th United States Cavalry Regiment is inextricably interwoven with the development and expansion of the
United States. From the demands of the arduous Indian Campaigns to the distant jungles of Vietnam and the desert of SW Asia,
the 8th Cavalry has provided inspirational leadership to vanquish the enemy and provide a haven for peaceful habitation and a
secure way of life. The 8th Cavalry Regiment has given valiant and dedicated service to the American Southwest, Mexico, Cuba,
Philippines, Mexico (prior to World War I), the Southwest Pacific and Europe in World War II; occupation duty in Japan was
followed by combat in Korea.
The 8th Cavalry, its traditions established in these past conflicts, rose to the challenge of the conflict in Vietnam, its most severe
and longest test, which it has passed with flying colors. Its officers and men have courageously performed their duties in order to
free Vietnam and SW Asia from the tyranny of foreign oppression and to establish a democratic way of life. The abbreviated
history which follows is designed to provide an insight into the development and activities of the 8th Cavalry Regiment since its
activation on 17 Nov 1866. Although only the bare essentials are covered, the elements of "Honor and Courage" are readily
apparent throughout the regiment's long and faithful service. As past members of this outstanding regiment, this heritage is
yours. Your accomplishments in Vietnam have now become the regiment's history. Wear the "JUMPING MUSTANG " proudly as a
symbol of courage and devotion to duty. By doing so, you will set an enviable example which others will seek to follow.
THE BATTLES OF THE AMERICAN WEST
The 8th Cavalry, which was organized at Camp Reynolds, Angel Island, California on 17 November 1866, soon became a vital part
of the effort to pacify the American West from Arizona and California to the Dakotas and Montana. Troop B, the predecessor of our
own Company B, was organized with an initial enlistment of 85 officers and men. At the Presidio of San Francisco on 23 October
1866, 2d Lt S. A. Porter, 14th Infantry was assigned as its first commander. Of particular interest is the fact that among the first
field officers assigned to the 8th Cavalry, Colonel John I. Gregg, commander, and LTC Thomas C. Devin, Executive Officer, held
the rank of Major General and Brigadier General, respectively in the Civil War. Colonel Gregg held command of the Regiment until
Also, from the time the regiment was formed until the end of the Vietnam War, it has been engaged in either combat or the
performance of some type of security mission. Utilizing the inherent mobility of the Cavalry, the regiments began the task of
pacifying the land against them warring tribes of the Apache and Comanche's in the Southwest and the Sioux in the Dakotas. Small
skirmished were the rule and the number of men in a troop rarely exceeded seventy. Actions were carried out on a small scale
with ten to twenty men led by a company grade officer or senior non-commissioned officer in command. The troop was rarely
deployed as a unit. With the regimental headquarters first located in Arizona, twelve line troops operated within an area of five
states. Later the headquarters was transferred to Fort Meade, South Dakota, when the center of operations had shifted to the
The work of protecting isolated farm settlements and small towns of the frontier was difficult at best. But the 8th Regiment
became know for its quick striking forays in many different locations across the western part of the U. S. As the campaign
streamers indicate, the unit fought in Arizona, then Oregon, back to Texas and up to the Dakotas-all in a space of ten years. A
more detailed sketch of these actions indicates the mobility and hardiness of these early troopers as they fought an enemy both
elusive and courageous. The Comanches and Apaches were cavalrymen who excelled in ambush and surprise tactics. With the
center of operations in 1875-1888 being in Texas, the Regiment distinguished itself in overcoming the Indian tribes of the
Southwest. During this period of time, other events such as non-appropriation of funds in 1875 for the military and mishandling of
Indian affairs by the Department of the Interior, made the Regiments task a more difficult one. In 1876, following the successful
completion of activities in the Southwest, the 8th Regiment was sent to relieve elements of the 7th Cavalry operations in Montana
and South Dakota. This transfer was made in three months covering 2,000 miles Troops H traveled 2,613 miles from Texas to
Montana, thus making one of the longest marches in the history of the United States Army. Participating in action along with the
6th, 7th and 9th Cavalry, it was a detachment of the 8th Cavalry which killed Sitting Bull near Fort Union, Montana.
By the end of the 1880's, the West had been pacified and the mission accomplished by the 8th Regiments contributed significantly
to the overall success of the U. S. Army in its operation in the West.
SPANISH AMERICAN WAR
The Regimental Headquarters remained at Fort Meade, South Dakota until 1898 when the U. S. went to war with Spain. The 8th
Regiment was assembled in Alabama and sailed to Cuba November 1898 for four years of occupation duty. In 1907, the regiments
returned to Fort Riley, Kansas and Jefferson Barracks, Missouri and remained there until it was ordered to overseas duty in 1908,
this time to the Philippines. Following two years of missions against the native insurgents, the regiment returned to the U. S. with
garrisons in Nebraska, Wyoming and Arizona. In 1910, the regiment returned to the Philippines for its second tour in the Islands
where it was active in fighting the Moros and in extensive patrolling missions throughout the Islands.
In 1915, the 8th Cavalry returned to the U. S. and was assigned the mission of patrolling the Mexican U. S. Border in order to
protect ranchers and settlers from raids conducted by bandits. As the frequencies of these raids increased, it became necessary
to move the Regimental Headquarters to the Big Bend Country of Texas. The 8th Cavalry never crossed the Mexican border in
force. However, one of its members, 1LT George Patton, serving as aide-de-camp to General Pershing, was involved in an
incident with enemy forces. On a force mission with a small detachment, 1LT Patton deployed his seven men to cover a ranch
house of one of Poncho Villa's colonels. Three horsemen galloped from the house and in an exchange of shots, Lt Patton killed all
three with his pistol, including the colonel.
WORLD WAR II
The 8th Cavalry became a part of the 1st Cavalry Division on 13 September 1921, and has remained with the division to this
present day. When World War II broke out, the 8th Cavalry, as part of the division, was again assigned the mission of patrolling the
Mexican Border. At this time, the division was composed of two brigades, consisting of two regiments and support troops. The 1st
Brigade consisted of the 5th and 12th Cavalry Regiments, which the 2nd Brigade contained the 7th and 8th Regiments. In late
1942, the 1st Cavalry Division became a dismounted unit. All horses and horse-mounted equipment were put aside and the
troopers dismounted to fight on foot.
In July 1943, the 8th Cav embarked for Australia. Six months of intensive training followed at Camp Strathpine, including
amphibious assault operations. The regiment was finally committed at Salamia Beach on Los Negros Island. Following this
operation, the 8th Cavalry assaulted the beach on Manus Island on 15 March 1944 and captured Lorengau airstrip. For
outstanding achievement, Co A was awarded the Distinguished Unit Streamer. The 8th Cavalry continued fighting on the island
until the Admiralty Campaign was concluded in October 1944. In the same month, the 8th Cavalry was selected as part of the
division reserve in the invasion of Leyte, Philippines. After a determine attack resulting in the capture of the Samur Island, the
main task of the 8th Cavalry was to patrol and carry out flank protection. The regiment landed on Luzon in late January 1945. The
division commander received the order from General MacArthur to "go to Manila". On the first of February, the Second Squadron
moved out and two days later, after blasting road blocks, forging rivers and driving a deep wedge in enemy lines, the squadron
was the first battalion sized unit to reach Manila. The Second Squadron, 8th Cavalry, received a Presidential Unit Citation for this
action. The 8th Cavalry continued to pursue the remnants of the Japanese Army until the eventual surrender of the Japanese
Army to General MacArthur in August 1945. The 8th Cavalry had again led the way in the bitter fighting in the Islands and showed
great courage and determination in routing the stubborn and unyielding enemy forces. With the Japanese surrender, the 8th
Cavalry Regiment was ordered to Japan to accompany General MacArthur to Tokyo. The next five years was spent in training and
in occupation duty.
On 25 June 1950, the North Koreans moved across the 38th parallel and attacked South Korea. With little or no resistance, they
pushed forward. Eighteen days after the invasion, the 8th Cavalry was again called upon to help restore peace to an overseas
nation allied with the U. S. Sailing from Japan, the regiment made an amphibious assault landing behind enemy lines. Although the
landing was unopposed, it was not long before the regiment engaged in a bitter struggle with the North Korean forces. During
these engagements, the Third Battalion, 7th Infantry, was assigned to the 8th Cavalry as its organic third battalion.
The UN began a coordinated series of attacks, which led to a general offensive culminating in the allied troops reaching the Yalu
River. The river was also the border separating Manchuria from Korea. In September of 1950, the 8th Cavalry was in Pyongyang,
the capital of North Korea. At this stage the war appeared to be won, but with Red Chinese Intervention and the UN Forces spread
thinly over the land, the expected peace did not materialize. The corps commander, in anticipation of this Communist threat,
detached the 8th Cavalry from the 1st Cavalry Division and ordered it to take up defensive positions northwest of the North
Korean capital. On the night of 1 November 1950, the Communist Chinese struck, penetrating Companies B and C, then turning
and cutting the supply lines between the 5th and 8th Cavalry. Before the regiment could be withdrawn, another Chinese attack
cut through the 8th Cavalry and surrounded the 3rd Battalion. Repeated attempts to break out of the encirclement failed and the
few survivors of the encounter broke through and escaped in small groups or singly. At the end of the engagement, the regiment
was at forty-five percent strength. Despite this staggering blow, the unit was able to regroup and withdraw in orderly fashion.
Rebounding from this grievous loss, the regiment began to probe northward in early 1951. Taking part in a UN offensive the 8th
Regiment continued to advance until July 1951. Late that year in December, the regiment was relieved and the 1st Cavalry
Division was sent to Japan.
The 8th Regiment in Korea had again shown the fighting spirit which had been its trademark in the past and which was necessary
in this conflict to drive back and defeat a determined and numerically superior enemy. Despite the weather and overwhelming
odds, the 8th Cavalry had continued to fight on. It is indeed a credit to these troopers that they were able to rebound from the
face of defeat and continue to give generous assistance to the allied effort.
HISTORY OF THE VIETNAM WAR IS SHOWN UNDER COMPANY HOME PAGES FOR THE YEARS INDICATED.
History of the current activities of the 1st of the 8th, active duty at Fort Hood, and their history since VIET NAM, is at the link
It will open in a new page, close it to return here.
I added this link about Sgt. Joe Musial under the History page. He was assigned to D & E Cos. in 1966 thru 1970. I knew him
personally and can vouch for the accuracy of this article.
LTC Frank R. Vavrek
Sergeant Joe "ROCK" Musial
|The Core of the Battalion were 11th Air Assault members and developed most of our airmobile procedures while based in Fort
Benning, GA. The training was intense, dangerous and effective.
History of the 1st Bn (ABN) 8th Cavalry (1965-1966)
AIRBORNE INFANTRY, AIR ASSAULT, AIRMOBILE
1ST AIRBORNE INFANTRY BRIGADE 1ST AIR CAVALRY DIVISION, AIRMOBILE (1965-1966)
|Jumping Mustangs - Honor and Courage
|History is being compiled and will be posted as sections are completed.
SEE LINK TO CRAZY HORSE ON B and C Co, 65-66 for the classic Infantry Battle in 1966.
Prepared Feb. 25, 2000
All members are encouraged to prepare and submit articles which depict their Vietnam
experiences to the webmaster.
|The following link will open in a new
window. Close it to return here.
Operation Henry Clay Airborne