116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (United States) - History

History

The regiment was formed as part of the Virginia Militia. They were called into federal service during both World Wars, and for service in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq wars. The regiment traces its lineage back to the famed Confederate States of America Stonewall Brigade of the Army of Northern Virginia.

The regiment in its previous form as a Virginia unit was redesignated on 9 March 1922 as the 116th Infantry and assigned to the 29th Division (later redesignated as the 29th Infantry Division). Its headquarters was federally recognized 3 April 1922 at Staunton. Later the Location of Headquarters was changed 26 June 1933 to Lynchburg.

During the Second World War, the 116th took part in the Invasion of Normandy, by spearheading the assault on Omaha Beach, for the rest of the 29th Infantry Division. The regiment suffered 341 casualties, including soldiers from A Company, which lost 96% of their men within the first 10 minutes of landing on Omaha Beach. During a move from Les Moulins, the 2nd Battalion broke loose from the beach and fought their way to a farmhouse to become the first command post in France.

The 116th with the rest of its division, then advanced on St. Lo. Despite heavy casualties, and despite stiff resistance in the Bocage, the 116th reached St. Lo. And after fierce and bloody house to house fighting, what was left of the French town was finally captured from German defenders on July 18.

The regiment then took part in the capture of Brest, and by September had moved east to attack spots on the Siegfried Line. The 29th Infantry Division was the first unit to reach the Roer River, where it remained until February 23. The entire division crossed the Roer in effort to support assaults on the Ruhr Pocket. By April 19 the 116th reached the Elbe River, and just a few days later made contact with the Soviet forces moving in from the East.

On 1 November 2002, the 2nd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment was mobilized for deployment to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to take part in Operation Enduring Freedom. This marked the first mobilization of a battalion of the 29th Infantry Division since World War II. The unit provided security of the base and Camp Delta, the detainee operations camp.

On 1 March 2004, the 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment was mobilized for deployment to Afghanistan to take part in Operation Enduring Freedom. Members of the battalion reported to armories around Virginia and began arriving at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan on 15 July 2004. They were quickly engaged in operations. The battalion conducted combat operations in Ghazni and SECFOR operations at Bagram Airfield. Numerous slice elements were placed under the operational control of the battalion. The newly formed task force assumed the name of the beaches the regiment stormed more than 60 years prior – Normandy. During the deployment two 116th Infantry soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb, the first Virginia National Guard soldiers to die in combat since World War II. The battalion returned to the United States in July 2005.

In August 2006, the 1st Battalion mobilized in support of KFOR as part of the 29th Infantry Division to provide stability operations in the Serbian province of Kosovo with NATO. They become known as Task Force Red Dragon for the duration of their deployment.

In 2007, the Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 116th BCT of the Virginia Army National Guard replaced the 229th Engineer Battalion. The unit is headquartered in Fredericksburg, Virginia. "Troops Forward" is the unit's motto. The BSTB comprises an HHC with platoons of Infantry, Support (Medical, Food Service and Transportation), Chemical, Military Police, Supply, Mechanics, Cavalry, Logistics and Administration. There are 3 other Company's in the BSTB: an Engineering, Military Intelligence and Signal Company.

In May 2007, the Brigade Headquarters Company mobilized in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Headquarters Company was stationed on the International Zone and did not suffer any casualties.

U.S. Infantry Regiments
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In June 2007, the 2d Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment; the 3d Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment; and Company F, 429th Brigade Support Battalion were deployed to Iraq and Kuwait. Companies A, B, and C of the 3d Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment successfully conducted convoy security patrols throughout Iraq. HHC & Co D, 3–116th, 2–183rd CAV, and F/429th conducted security force missions in Kuwait and Southern Iraq for strategically vital assets; to include 2-183rd CAV Trops A and C, with HQ and Colorado Guard components completing several extended roadside and personal security, surveillance and mercy missions, and numerous combat patrols throughout Kuwait and Southern Iraq provinces and along oil pipelines outside Basrah. The Purple Heart was awarded during the deployment for taking shrapnel from sniper fire, and the Iraq Campaign Medal was issued for those members serving in the Iraq theater of operations.

In January 2010, the first battalion mobilized with the Louisiana National Guard's 256th IBCT to Iraq and conducted convoy security missions in southern Iraq. Known at TF Overlord, a tribute the unit's D-Day heritage, the unit includes the Headquarters Company from Lynchburg, VA; Company A from Bedford, VA; Company B from Lexington, VA; Company C from Christiansburg, VA; and Company D from Pulaski, VA. The battalion was commanded by LTC E. Scott Smith of Lynchburg, VA. The unit returned with no losses in September 2010.

In May 2011, the Brigade Headquarters Company (HHC) plus the UAV Platoon (B/116 BSTB) were mobilized in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Approximately 185 Soldiers were mobilized for this deployment. They served as the control element for Combined Team Zabul in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. During their deployment the HHC directed a mix of US Active Duty and National Guard units as well as Romanian units in continuing operations in Zabul Province. They were commanded by COL Blake Ortner and suffered no combat casualties during the deployment. The brigade HHC returned to the US and demobilized at the beginning of January 2012.

In June 2011, Task Force 183 (TF183) mobilized to support Operation New Dawn. This was the largest mobilization of the Virginia Army National Guard since WWII, consisting of 825 soldiers. TF183 comprised most of the 2d Squadron, 183d Cavalry Regiment plus elements of the 116th BSTB, 116th BSB, 1-116 Infantry and D Co 3-116 Infantry. TF183 returned to the US and demobilized in December 2011.

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