HISTORY OF THE 20th INFANTRY
The 20th Infantry was organized by direction of President Abraham Lincoln on 14 May, 1861 and confirmed by Act of Congress on 29 July, 1861 as the 2nd Battalion of the 11th Infantry. During the Civil War, The Unit fought under General Sykes’ Division of Regulars in some of the bloodiest battles of the conflict. In the Second Battle of Bull Run the Regiment charged Stonewall Jackson’s Brigade with fixed bayonets to cover the retreat of the Union Army.
The 2nd Battalion 11th Infantry was then reorganized and renamed the as the 20th Infantry regiments under the Command of Colonel Frederick Steele on the 21 September 1866. Following the war, after two years of duty as Provost Guard in Richmond and Baton Rouge. Colonel Sykes, after commanding the regiment for over 12 years, died at Fort Brown, Texas in February 1880. From the long association of the 20th Infantry with this great leader of the Civil War, the regiment came to be known as “Sykes Regulars,” which name still is attached to it.
In March of 1868 Lieutenant Colonel George Sykes, Brevet Major General, was attached to the regiment and assumed command as it Colonel in August, after the death of Colonel Steele. The regiment was chosen from the ranks of all his former units by General Sykes for his own command, and subsequently served in the Indian wars of the American Western Expansion era. Company I formed a part of the command of Colonel Custer for exploring the Black Hills Country. The regiment remained here until 1877. At the Battle of Little Big Horn, one of the members of the 20th Infantry, LT. J. J. Crittendon, died at Custer’s Last Stand.
On June 14, 1898, the 20th Infantry sailed from Tampa, Florida for the Island of Cuba and the Spanish American War. Major General Shafter, commander of troops in Cuba wrote, “ The outlook from Sevilla was one that might well have appalled the stoutest heart. Behind ran a narrow road, made well-nigh impassable by rains, while to the front you looked upon high foothills, covered with dense tropical growth, which could only be traversed by bridle paths terminating within range of the enemy’s guns. Nothing daunted you responded eagerly to the order to close upon the for, and attacking at Caney and San Juan, drove him form work to work, until he refuge within his last and strongest entrenchments immediately surrounding the city.” Major William S. McCasky was the Regimental Commander, had praised his troops they where cool under fire and their action was that of veterans.
The Regiment went from Cuba to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and in December 1899, “Sykes’ Regulars” received orders to proceed to the Philippine Islands. Arriving in Manila in February of 1899, “Sykes’Regulars” fought the rebels who comprised the Agunaldo Insurrection for three years. The 20th Infantry served two more Philippine tours of duty prior to 1912.
“Sykes’ Regulars” responded to the San Francisco Earthquake in 1906 when the 20th Infantry was stationed in Monterey, California. An urgent call for aid was sent to Colonel Marion P. Maus, then commanding the 20thInfantry. The following are excepts form the report of the Direct Commander and Major General Creely: “The work of sanitation was exceptionally disagreeable. Many dead animals, human bodies and refuse, all in a decomposed condition, littered the area. Added to this the 20th Infantry was obliged to occupy points, where walls of building were tottering, where fires still raged, and in streets filled with debris. The troops subsisted for ten days on the rations carried on their persons from Monterey. They were courteous in deportment and considerate of the people, besides being faithful in their military duties. Verbal reports have been made of frequent cases in which enlisted men of the Regular Army, whose names are unknown, contributed greatly to giving some comfort to the homeless people, making personal sacrifices and furnishing supplies for persons to who they were unknown”.
During World War I from 1911 until 1917 the regiment remained mostly in the Far West where it served as border patrol until assigned to Camp Funston, Kansas, in June of 1918. Here the Regiment trained with the 10th Division in preparation for service in Europe. The advance party was already in Europe when the war ended. Then from the end of Word War I until reactivation of the 6th Division in 1939, “Sykes’ Regulars” saw duty at posts all over the United States. During this period, the Mexican Revolution of 1929 created a need for more troops on the border, and the 20th Infantry fulfilled this need. Afterwards, the Regiment remained in garrison until the beginning of World War II.
During World War II, as part of the 6th Division, the 20th Infantry was engaged in bitter jungle and mountain fighting throughout the campaigns of New Guinea and again the Philippines, their fourth assignment there.
“Sykes’ Regulars” arrived at Maffin Bay New Guinea, on 11 June 1944. They fought through taking and holding Lone Tree Hill until final resistance was completely destroyed in December of the year. They inflicted punishing looses on the Japanese, destroying their supplies and causing many casualties.
In January they were on their way to a new zone of combat on Luzon Island. General MacArthur had said that he would return, and Sykes’ Regulars went with him to liberate the same people they had policed forty years earlier. On 9 January 1945, the Regulars hit Blue Beach in Lingayen Gulf on Luzon. Before them were 250,000 well equipped and well fed enemy troops, and the strongest collection of armor in the entire Pacific Theater. The Japanese had three years to make the position impregnable Sykes’ Regulars took the beaches, took Purple Heart Valley, the bloodiest 6,000 yards in the world.
They then consolidated, regrouped and moved out to the Island of Munoz. The 20th Infantry Regiment, along with other members of the 6th Division, was the most heavily engaged unit in the United States Army, facing the last groups of organized resistance in the Pacific War, when the cease fire was ordered on 15 August 1945. The “Sykes’ Regulars” had 219 days of continuous combat.
In November 1945 the 20th found itself on occupation duty in Korea, where it remained until its inactivation in January 1949.
During the Korean Conflict, “Sykes’ Regulars” were reactivated at Fort Ord, California on October 1950 in order to train young men of the Infantry, prior to their baptism of fire in Korea. The 20th Infantry continued to perform this vital training until it was reorganized in the United States Army Caribbean on 26 May 1956.
On 15 November 1957 the unit was reorganized and redesigned the 1st Battle Group, 20th Infantry at Fort Kobbe, Canal Zone, Panama. “Sykes’ Regulars” were given the demanding mission of guarding the vital Panama Canal. Concurrently the “Sykes’ Regulars” maintained and operated the United States Army Jungle Warfare Training Center, the only Army school specifically designed to teach the special techniques of jungle operations. During its tour of Panama the unit also assisted in the difficult task of surveying the Pan American Highway through the jungles of Central America. The unit was inactivated on 8 August 1962.
The 1st Battalion 20th Infantry was reactivated on July 1, 1966 at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and assigned to the 11th Infantry Brigade, Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Edwin D. Beers, the unit undertook the tremendous task associated with the activation and subsequent training of an Infantry Battalion.
The main body of the 1st Battalion 20th Light Infantry Battalion shipped out with the 11th Light Infantry Brigade to Republic of Vietnam aboard the USS Gordon and USS Weigel. The 11th Light Infantry Brigade debarked at Oui Nhon on 19 and 22 December 1967. The 11th Light Infantry Brigade shipped out with the following units: 3rd Battalion 1st Infantry, 4th Battalion 3rd Infantry, 1st Battalion 20th Infantry, 6th Battalion 11th Artillery and 6th Support Battalion. The 4th Battalion 21st Infantry remained in Hawaii to finish their training and will join the rest of the Brigade in April 1968. The 11th Light Infantry Brigade and had joined the Americal Division in Vietnam working in the, I Corp Area of Operation, the northern most Area of Operation in Vietnam.
The 1st Battalion 20th Light Infantry took part in the following Operations Show Low, Wheeler/Wallowa (the longest running operation of the Vietnam War), Norfolk Victory, Champaign Grove, Logan Field, Vernon Lake II, Iron Mountain (Phases I II III), and Finney Hill. The Battalion conducted combat action against NVA and Main force units as they worked with ARVN Forces in the Pacification Program in their Area of Operation. By end of July 1969 the Pacification Program began to show success and these successes continued while the “Sykes’ Regulars” continued to search and engage NVA forces in the Mountains. The “Sykes’ Regulars” ended their Combat Mission in Vietnam in October 4, 1971 and was deactivated in Fort Lewis.
E Company, (Long-Range Patrol) 20th Infantry where reactivated on 25 September 1967 in Vietnam, where it inactivated on 1 February 1969. In 1967 after training had missions with the I Field Force, Vietnam. The Company has thus far performed missions with 1st Brigade, 101 Airborne Division, 4th Infantry Division and B Company, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) it has extensively tested Long-Range techniques in a variety of situations. It once again was reactivated on 30 June 1971 in Vietnam and it was inactivated there on 16 August 1972. (Not part of the 1st Battalion 20th Light Infantry Battalion.)
Redesignated on 16 August 1986 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry and assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division, it activated in Korea (its organic elements were concurrently constituted and activated).
The Battalion was relieved on 16 August 1986 from assignment to the 2nd Infantry Division and reassigned to the 25th Infantry Division. It was relieved on 16 September 2000 from assignment to the 25th Infantry Division and assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division.
The Arrowhead Brigade is the first of the six planned Stryker brigades. Based in Fort Lewis, Washington, the 3rd Brigade 2nd Infantry Division became part of a new Army initiative to establish a unit that could bridge the operation gap between slow-to-deploy heavy forces and under-powered light forces into a Mechanized Light Infantry Battalion. With more than 3,600 soldiers and 300 vehicles, the brigade is capable of conducting a wide range of military operations in various settings.
The Brigade deployed to Iraq with eight battalions, the 1st Battalion 23rd Infantry Regiment, 5th Battalion 20th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion 3rd Infantry Regiment, 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Battalion 37th Field Artillery Regiment, 296th Brigade Support Battalion and the 276th Engineer Battalion. Also organic to the 3rd Brigade is the 18th Engineer Company, Headquarters and Headquarter Company, 209th Military Intelligence Company, 334th Signal Company, Company C, 52 Infantry Regiment, 1060th Tactical Psyops Detachment and 1290th Tactical Psyops Detachment. Infantrymen from the 5th Battalion 20th Infantry Regiment, where the first soldiers of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division to enter combat in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. On December 15, 2003 the Battalion then rolled through the City of Samarra at intervals throughout the day.
Soldiers of Charlie Company, 5th Battalion 20th Infantry took part in Operation Sykes Hammer and patrolled the streets of Tal Afar, August 2004. They worked with the Iraq National Guard in executing Cordon and Search Operations in the neighborhoods of Tal Afar, which was successful in detained personnel, weapons and propaganda materials.
In one year, the Brigade operated in a larger area than what they had expected prior to coming to Iraq. They where called on to support major operations when violence heated up in Al Kut, Tal Afar and Najaf. In each of these cases, a battalion of Stryker soldiers packed up and moved within 24 to 72 hours, reacting quickly and accomplishing the mission decisively.
Details Of 5-20 History)
“Sykes’ Regulars” have in the past and will continue in the future to live up to their motto:
TANT QUE JE PUIS:
“ TO THE LIMIT OF OUR ABILITY”
Articles and histories used where by Roger D. Harms, Richard K. Lipsett, William P. Honjiyo, Conn J.Orville and Blair Larson.
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