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First Tank


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1st 72d Armor Battalion

The 72d Armor Battalion traces its lineage from its from its activation as Company A, 5th Armored Regiment and later the 717th Tank Battalion, 16th Armored Division. The 717th participated in the Rhineland and Central European campaign,

mostly notable in support of the 79th Infantry Division. Reorganized twice in the post war years of 1948, the battalion was the known as Company A, 717th Heavy Tank Battalion and was stationed in the vast Mohave Desert in a small post known as Camp Irwin, California.

On 15 October 1948, the battalion began its long association with the Warriors of the 2d Infantry Division, when it was designated as Company A, 72d Heavy Tank Battalion in Fort Lewis, Washington. On 25 June 1950, the United States again faced aggression as the North Korean Army invaded south across the 38th parallel. The men of the 72d Armor answered the call to arms and on 2 August, 1950, under the command of LTC Clark Webber, boarded the United States Navy Transport, The General William Mitchell, with a destination of Pusan, Korea. Equipped with the M4A3 E8 (Easy Eight) Sherman, the 72d Heavy Tank Battalion quickly earned the reputation as tenacious fighters. They adapted quickly to a terrain that was foolishly termed "untankable". On 1 September, 1950, MSG Slarrow destroyed the first Korean T-34. On the same day the indomitable spirit of the battalion was embodied in the actions of MSG Ernest Kouma, who earned the Medal of Honor for his actions against the enemy in the vacinity of Angok, Korea.

The 72d supported many units during the course of the conflict. I, IX, and X Corps and notably the 27th British Brigade when Company A supported the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry near the village of Kapyong. This decisive victory earned First Tankers the Presidential Unit Citation. In all, the 72d earned three Presidential Unit Citations for actions at Hongchon, Yongsan, and Kapyong. To this day, these battles are symbolized by the three blue roundals of the unit crest. The battalion earned two ROK Presidential Unit Citations for actions along the Naktong River line. At the war’s end, the battalion colors proudly displayed over seventeen battle and campaign streamers.

In 1958, the battalion was inactivated at ceremonies at Camp Irwin, California. On 1 March 1963, the battalion was reactivated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion 72d Armor and was stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia. On 1 July 1965, the battalion once again joined the 2d Infantry Division in the Land of the Morning Calm where they maneuvered over once bloodied and familiar terrain and became a key element in the defense against North Korean aggression.

Today the soldiers of 1st Battalion 72d Armor are highly trained and ready to accomplish their wartime mission. The battalion stands vigilant and proud, ready to met the challenges of the future.


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Copyright 1995 [Smith Enterprises]. All rights reserved.
Revised: January 12, 1999.