The 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment History

The 503rd Parachute Regimental Combat Team began with the constitution of the battalion on 14 March 1941. 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry inherited the lineage of Company A, 503rd Parachute Infantry Battalion until official activation was conducted on 21 August 1941 at Ft. Benning, GA. The unit began the building its first chapter in history at FT. Bragg, North Carolina on 02 March 1942. Upon completion of its initial organization and training the regiment left embarked from the port of entry in San Francisco aboard the MS Poelau Laut and was on its way to the Pacific Theater of operations.

The 503rd Regiment jumped into the Markham Valley, New Guinea, on 05 September 1943 as part of Operation Alamo, this operation was the first successful Airborne Combat Jump in the Pacific. On 3 July 1944, the 1st made their second combat jump on the island of Noemfoor, in support of Operation Table Tennis, off the coast of Dutch, New Guinea. The construction of airfields on Noemfoor helped in supporting the advancement of Allied troops from New Guinea to the Philippines. SGT Ray E. Eubanks was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions on Noemfoor. The 503rd Combat Team continued their push to secure islands in theater and on 13 September, 1944 conducted an amphibious landing onto the Island of Mindoro.

16 February, 1945, will remain the historical corner stone of the 503rd Regimental Combat Team, as they jumped onto the Island of Corregidor. The weather did not hold out though, as the 1st Battalion was forced to make an amphibious landing the following day. It had taken the Japanese five months to subdue the “Battling Bastards of Bataan”, who defended the island back in 1942. The Regiment was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for its actions. Private Lloyd G. McCarter was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions. This battle is where the “ROCK FORCE” got its nickname.

In March 1945, the 503rd Regimental Combat Team was called upon the help the 40th Infantry Division fighting on the Island of Negros, in the Central Philippines. They inserted by landing craft and fought for five months to secure the Island.

24 December 1945, started a transition period for the 1st Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment. They were deactivated at Camp Ansa, California.

The Battalion was redesignated as Company A, 503rd Airborne Infantry an element of the 11th Airborne Division and allotted to the regular Army on 01 February, 1951.

On 02 March 1951, company A, 503rd Airborne Infantry was activated at Ft. Campbell, KY. Company A, 503rd Airborne Infantry, was reorganized and redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Airborne Battle Group, 503rd Infantry on 01 March 1957. It remained assigned to the 11th Airborne Division.

01 July 1958 saw Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Airborne Battle Group, 503rd Infantry, being relieved from assignment to the 11th Airborne Division and being assigned to the 24th Infantry Division. This was not final, because several months later, on 07 January 1959, the unit was relieved from assignment to the 24th Infantry Division and assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division.

On March 23, 1963, Headquarters and Headquarter Company, 1st Airborne Battle Group, 503rd Infantry was reorganized and redesignated as the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry, relieved from assignment to the 82nd Airborne Division, and assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

In May 1965, the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry deployed with the 173rd Airborne Brigade to Vietnam as one of the first major combat units to serve in the Republic of South Vietnam.

During the six years in Vietnam, the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry had participated in over 12 major operations and several other campaigns. The most notable of these operations were Operation Hump from 5-9 November 1965, Operation Silver City from 9-22 March 1966, and Operation Macarthur from 1 November to 14 December 1967.

Operation Hump occurred from 5 November to 9 November 1965 in War Zone “D”. The 1st Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry encountered a large enemy force. Moving on line, the Battalion found itself locked in battle with a main line of the Q-761 NVA Regiment (approximately 1200 Soldiers). The VC left their trenches and charged into a furious barrage of fire from the Battalion. They were mauled by the Battalion leaving 403 NVA Soldiers killed on the battlefield. The 1st Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry lost 48 Soldiers that day. SPC Lawrence Joel, a medic with Headquarters Company received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions.

The 173rd Airborne Brigade (SEP), including elements of the 1st Royal Australian Regiment, conducted a heliborne assault near the Song Be River in War Zone “D” to initiate Operation Silver City on 9 March 1966. The 1st Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry was called to reinforce the 2nd Battalion. After four hours of intense fighting, even as close as hand to hand combat, the VC were all but annihilated. SPC Alfred V. Rascon, a medic with Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions on this day.

Operation Macarthur took place between 01 November 1967 to 14 December 1967 in Dak To. On Veterans Day, two companies from the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry, made up Task Force Black, were ambushed by the NVA 66th Regiment. American losses from the ambush were 20 killed, 154 wounded and 2 missing. PFC Barnes was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions.

The 1st Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry, with the rest of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, left Vietnam in 1971, and had the distinction of being one of the first to arrive and one of the last units to leave the Republic of Vietnam.

Thus begun the second transition period for the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry. On 14 January 1972, the battalion was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division. The Battalion called Ft. Campbell home for the next 12 years. It was inactivated at Ft. Campbell and relieved from assignment to the 101st Airborne Division.

19 December 1986 saw the reactivation of the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry as it was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea. There it would patrol the DMZ till 1991. (The 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry would carry the designation of being Air Assault while assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division).

In July 2004, the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry deployed to Ramadi, Iraq in the Al Anbar Province, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Upon its return to the United States in August 2005, it was reassigned to Ft. Carson, Colorado. In October 2005, the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry was deactivated and was redesignated 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Division at Ft. Carson Colorado. 23 May 2006, saw the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry reactivated in Vicenza, Italy, and assigned once again to the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

On 09 May 2007, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry deployed as Task Force Eagle to Eastern Paktika Province, Afghanistan for 15 months in support of Operation Enduring Freedom VIII and IX. Upon deployment Task Force Eagle was detached from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team and attached to Task Force Fury, 4th BCT of the 82nd Airborne Division, who was replaced in March of 2008 by Task Force Currahee, 4th BCT of the 101st Airborne Division. During its deployment Task Force Eagle lost twelve Soldiers. Task Force Eagle redeployed to Vicenza, Italy in July 2008.

PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION (ARMY) Streamer embroidered CORREGIDOR
PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION (ARMY) Streamer embroidered BIEN HOA
PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION (ARMY) Streamer embroidered PHUOC VINH
PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION (ARMY) Streamer embroidered DAK TO
PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION (NAVY) Streamer embroidered VIETNAM 1966
MERITORIOUS UNIT COMMENDATION (ARMY) Streamer embroidered VIETNAM 1965-1967

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