World War Two found each division with a reconnaissance platoon. The 82d Airborne Division was
no exception. The Division Reconnaissance Platoon fought in Holland, not by parachute, but by
glider. The platoon has been highly regarded and though led by lieutenants, had much responsibility.
It operated under the Division Headquarters and Headquarters Company. Their mission was to gather
intelligence in one form or another. Sometimes they attempted to draw fire to expose enemy positions.
Numerous enemy soldiers were captured by the platoon and returned through friendly lines for interrogation.
These EYES AND EARS were eventually strengthened following the war, reorganized and redesignated
the 82d Reconnaissance Company on December 15, 1947. On July 15, 1950 it was again redesignated
as the 82d Airborne Reconnaissance Company.
Divisional reorganizational changes were implemented following the Korean war because with the arrival of the atomic age, the traditional fighting unit of the Army was entirely too large. Smaller sized cavalry elements were approved for service as separate squadrons under the Combat Arms Regimental System (CARS). Under this system parent regiments were carefully selected. Except for the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 11th, and 14th Armored Cavalry Regiments (which retained their regimental structure), the 1st through the 17th Cavalry regiments were included.
SKY CAV (a term of the mid-1950's) combined both air and ground elements in the same unit. As early as 1957 the Army had accepted aviation as a third dimension to the Army battlefield. First to be authorized a unit of this type was the airborne division, its airborne reconnaissance troop of 1956 being authorized 12 helicopters--10 light cargo and 2 observation. In 1957, with the advent of CARS, Troop B, 17th Cavalry, was organized in the 101st Airborne Division and was soon followed by Troop A, 17th Cavalry, in the 82d Airborne Division.
Thus documents the marriage of the 17th Cavalry and the 82d Airborne Division. The 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron, 17th Cavalry was organized at Ft Bragg on May 25, 1964. LTC Carl H. Bell commanded a squadron that consisted of Troops A, B, and Headquarters. General Order Number 72, Third U.S. Army did not activate Troop C but did augment the squadron with an air cavalry section.
Authorized strength was 38 officers, 21 warrant officers, and 520 enlisted men. The lst Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron was filled with personnel from the former Troop A, 17th Cavalry. The air cavalry section had three H-13 helicopters and pilots. On August 15, 1964 LTC Gilbert J. Grout became the second commander of the lst Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron.
Throughout the mid-60's, the squadron performed its share of division ready force requirements, maintaining one platoon on alert at all times prepared for no-notice deployment. Troop B participated in the division's security of the Dominican Republic in 1964. Troop B again was called upon to deploy, in 1968; this time to Vietnam with 3rd Brigade as a ground cavalry asset.
LTC Joseph Lutz, commander in 1972, spearheaded the change to an air cavalry squadron. Troop A, 7th Squadron, 17th Cavalry returned from Vietnam in May and was activated as Troop D. The squadron's name was officially changed to 1st Squadron (Air), 17th Cavalry and included an organic air troop, which was Troop D. After serving two years as commander, LTC Lutz relinquished command to LTC Richard H. Marshall on June 14, 1972.
General Orders Number 18, dated January 18, 1973, HQ's 3d U.S. Army, Ft McPherson, GA reorganized the squadron into a unit with three air cavalry troops (B, C, D) one ground troop (A) and an HHT. The mid-70's was spent mostly training and adjusting the TO&E. Helicopter crews placed emphasis on learning more current tactics than experienced in Vietnam. Night flying techniques and proper communications procedures were also emphasized. During 1976 the squadron adopted the cyclic method of training in concert with the brigades. Mission/Intensified Training/and Support cycles became common terms. The problem of distance between the airfield, motor pool, barracks, and headquarters was a constant issue. One solution recommended moving the entire squadron to the airfield, Troop D was deactivated in 1977. The squadron replaced the AH-1G with the "S" model in September 1978; with great enthusiasm.
The 80’s marked a remarkable emphasis on the airborne air cavalry. Receipt of the newest of helicopter technology, AH-1S (ECAS), OH-58C. and UH-60, aircraft increased the capabilities of the squadron. Continuing to maintain itself at a high level of readiness, the Squadron(-) participated in Operation Urgent Fury with the 82d Airborne Division. The initial deployment on 27 October, 1983, consisted of Troop B (with Troop A augmentation) and the Squadron Headquarters. The squadron contributed to the successful liberation of Grenada, West Indies without loss of a cavalry life. Troop A (with Troop C augmentation) relieved Troop B on November 18th. Troop C remained in the rear throughout the ordeal and upon returning from training at Ft A. P. Hill, VA, immediately assumed mission status in anticipation of additional developments in other parts of the world. All squadron assets returned to Ft Bragg in late December. On March 5, 1984, a support group from Troop A self-deployed by UH-60 aircraft from Ft Bragg to Grenada to assume administrative operations in that nation's rebuilding efforts. Led by LTC Billy J. Miller, the Squadron Commander, the deployment was the first of its kind in Army Aviation.
In late December 1989, D Troop, 1-17 CAV deployed to Panama with TF WOLF as part of Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY.
In the summer of 1990 the 1st Squadron received the new OH-58D scout aircraft. In August 1990, the 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry was conducting a rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center when the 82D Airborne Division was deployed to Saudi Arabia in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Troop B and part of Troop A deployed with Task Force 1-82. The units were alerted on the 5th of August 1990 and deployed on the 8th. The Squadron returned from Ft. Chaffee and deployed with the Headquarters and Delta pilots and aircraft on the 12th of August. The remainder of the Squadron deployed in September. The Squadron was commanded by LTC Roger I. Anglin, the executive officer was MAJ Michael C. Flowers, and the S3 was MAJ Robert D. Richardson.
In 1993 the 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry upgraded their aircraft fleet to OH-58D(I)s and turned in the last AH-1F aircraft on 21 June 1993. The Aviation Resource Initiative (ARI) forced the squadron to a pure aircraft fleet and E Troop (UH-60) was deactivated and reflagged as the Squadron’s Maintenance Troop.
The train moves fast in the Cavalry. Being part of the 82d Airborne Division and its Rapid Deployment Force commitment ensures the squadron will continue to move FORWARD at a quickening pace.
The last Chief of Cavalry, Major General John K. Herr, in testimony before a Congressional committee in 1939 maintained that "While cavalry must fight in carrying out its mission of reconnaissance, pursuit and covering, it must also fight in cooperation with the other ground arms to further the accomplishment of the main mission." Ironically, one might assume that Major General Herr was making comments to a group of aviators during Aviation Branch implementation ceremonies.
This is a great arm, the cavalry. Though the history of the 17th Cavalry is relatively short,
it is recognized as an organization with a destiny. We are living history now!
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Last Updated 1 June 1997