24th Infantry Regiment (United States)

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24th Infantry Regiment
24 Infantry Regiment Badge.png
Badge
Active 1869 – 1951; 1995 – present
Country  United States
Branch Army
Type Infantry
Garrison/HQ Fort Wainwright, Alaska
Nickname "Deuce Four" (special designation)[1]
Motto Semper Paratus (Always Prepared)
Engagements Indian Wars
War with Spain
Philippine Insurrection
Mexican Expedition
World War II
Korean War
Iraq Campaign
Insignia
Distinctive unit insignia 24 Infantry Regiment DUI.png
U.S. Infantry Regiments
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23rd Infantry Regiment 25th Infantry Regiment

The 24th Infantry Regiment was a unit of the United States Army, active from 1869 until 1951, and again from 1995 until 2006. The regiment is notable for having a colorfully checkered history, with a record of mostly meritorious service and valorous combat performance, marred by episodes such as the Houston Riot of 1917 and deficiencies in command leadership during the Korean War.

History[edit]

The 24th Infantry Regiment (one of the Buffalo Soldier regiments) was organized on November 1, 1869 from the 38th and 41st (Colored) Infantry Regiments.[2]:5 All the enlisted soldiers were black, either veterans of the U.S. Colored Troops or freedmen. From its activation to 1898, the 24th Infantry served throughout the Western United States. Its missions included garrisoning frontier posts, battling American Indians, protecting roadways against bandits, and guarding the border between the United States and Mexico.

Spanish-American War[edit]

The year 1898 saw the 24th Infantry deployed to Cuba as part of the U.S. Expeditionary Force in the Spanish-American War. Elements of the 24th participated in the storming of the Spanish fortress in the Battle of El Caney. At the climactic battle of San Juan Hill, supported by intensive fire from the Gatling Gun Detachment, units of the 24th Infantry, accompanied by elements of the 6th and 13th Infantry Regiments, assaulted and seized the Spanish-held blockhouse and trench system atop San Juan Hill.

Philippine-American War[edit]

The 24th U.S. Infantry at drill, Camp Walker, Philippine Islands 1902

In 1899 the regiment deployed to the Philippine Islands to help suppress a guerrilla movement in the Philippine-American War. The regiment returned to the Islands in 1905 and 1911. Though the 24th fought a number of battles in the Philippines, one of the most notable occurred on December 7, 1899, when nine soldiers from the regiment routed 100 guerrillas from their trenches.

Mexican Border[edit]

In 1916 the 24th Infantry guarded the U.S.-Mexico border to keep the Mexican Revolution from spilling onto U.S. soil. When it did, the 24th joined the "Punitive Expedition" under General Pershing and entered Mexico to fight Pancho Villa's forces. In 1919, rebels and troops of the Mexican government fought in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, which borders the U.S. city of El Paso, Texas. The 24th Infantry crossed over again to engage the rebels, ensuring that no violence erupted across the U.S. border.

Pre-World War I and the Houston Riot[edit]

During the nadir of American race relations and just months after America’s entry into World War I, the soldiers of this historic all-black unit had been dispatched to build military facilities in Harris County, where they met animosity from whites beyond the everyday insults of Jim Crow law. Here, the service of “arrogant, strutting representatives of black soldiery” was hated and feared.

When white police arrested a black infantryman who tried to prevent their detaining a drunk black woman, then beat up and shot at a black corporal sent to inquire after him, hostility boiled over.

The Houston Riot (1917) was a mutiny by 150 black soldiers of the Twenty-fourth United States Infantry, called the Camp Logan Riots. Sergeant Vida Henry of I Company, 3rd Battalion led about 150 black soldiers in a two-hour march on Houston because they had suffered racial discrimination in the city.

The soldiers were met by local policemen and a great crowd of Houston residents, who had armed themselves. When the soldiers killed Captain J.W. Mattes of the Illinois National Guard (after mistaking him for a local policeman), the battalion fell into disarray. Sgt. Henry shot himself, distraught over having killed another serviceman. In their two-hour march on the city, the battalion killed 15 armed whites, including four policemen, and seriously wounded 12 others, one of whom, a policeman, subsequently died. Four black soldiers were killed. Two were accidentally shot by their own men, one in camp and the other on San Felipe Street. The riot lasted one afternoon, and resulted in the deaths of four soldiers and 15 civilians. The rioters were tried at three courts-martial. Fourteen were executed, and 41 were given life sentences.

World War II[edit]

At the start of World War II, the 24th Infantry was stationed at Fort Benning as School Troops for the Infantry School. They participated in the Carolina Maneuvers of October – December 1941. During World War II, the 24th Infantry fought in the South Pacific Theatre as a separate regiment. Deploying on April 4, 1942 from the San Francisco Port of Embarkation, the regiment arrived in the New Hebrides Islands on May 4, 1942. The 24th moved to Guadalcanal on August 28, 1943, and was assigned to the US XIV Corps. 1st Battalion deployed to Bougainville, attached to the 37th Infantry Division, from March to May 1944 for perimeter defense duty. The regiment departed Guadalcanal on December 8, 1944, and landed on Saipan and Tinian on December 19, 1944 for Garrison Duty that included mopping up the remaining Japanese forces that had yet to surrender. The regiment was assigned to the Pacific Ocean Area Command on March 15, 1945, and then to the Central Pacific Base Command on May 15, 1945, and to the Western pacific Base Command on June 22, 1945.

The regiment departed Saipan and Tinian on July 9, 1945, and arrived on the Kerama Islands off Okinawa on July 29, 1945. At the end of the war, the 24th took the surrender of forces on the island of Aka-shima, the first formal surrender of a Japanese Imperial Army garrison. The regiment remained on Okinawa through 1946.

Korean War[edit]

From the end of World War II through 1947, the 24th occupied Okinawa, Japan, after which it relocated to Gifu, Japan. On February 1, 1947, the regiment reorganized as a permanent regiment of the 25th Infantry Division. Despite the desegregation of the U.S. armed forces in 1948 by Executive Order 9981, the 24th Infantry remained predominantly African–American, with an officer corps of both African and European Americans. In late June 1950, soon after North Korea invaded South Korea, the 24th deployed to Korea to assist in the Korean War.

The 24th Infantry fought throughout the entire Korean peninsula, from the defense of the "Pusan Perimeter" to its breakout and the pursuit of communist forces well into North Korea, to the Chinese counteroffensives, and finally to U.N. counteroffensives that stabilized near the current Demilitarized Zone. The regiment received the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for its defense of the Pusan Perimeter. The regiment also had two posthumous Medal of Honor recipients, Cornelius H. Charlton and William Thompson.[3]

The cases of Lieutenant Leon Gilbert, court martialed for refusing an order from the 24th's commanding officer (who was white), and of some other members of the 24th, helped bring greater attention to problems of segregation and discrimination within the U.S. military.

The landing at Inchon by U.S. and ROK forces on September 15 finally compelled the North Koreans to withdraw from the Pusan Perimeter. The 24th Infantry was divided into Task Forces Blair and Corley (named for their commanders), and they, along with several from other commands, began pursuing the enemy on September 27.

24th Infantry moves up to the firing line.

The 25th Division remained in South Korea until ordered north in late November to participate in the Chongchon operation. Later in November, overwhelming assaults by Chinese troops forced the U.S. Eighth Army to withdraw. On November 29, the Chinese 40th Army flanked the 24th Infantry's line north of the Chongchon River in North Korea, forcing the neighboring 9th Regiment of the 2nd Division to withdraw.

On November 30, the 3/24th was at Kunu-ri, on the division's open right flank, with Chinese troops behind it. With the help of air support, the battalion extricated itself, losing one soldier killed, 30 wounded and 109 missing. Overall, the 24th Infantry lost one-fifth of its officers and one-third of its enlisted men in the withdrawal across the Chongchon. Colonel Corley blamed the disarray of the 3rd Battalion on its commander, Lt. Col. Melvin E. Blair, whom he summarily relieved.

The Eighth Army's withdrawal did not cease until the force was well below the 39th parallel north. But by early March 1951, the American and ROK troops were again ready for a full-scale offensive.

On March 6, the 25th Division advanced across the Han River. The 1/24th did well, moving over difficult terrain against an entrenched enemy. The 3rd Battalion initially also performed well, executing a hastily devised river crossing and advancing through rough country against well dug-in Chinese troops, far from the 1st Battalion. While climbing up steep terrain, however, the 1/24th reportedly collapsed under Chinese fire and withdrew in disorder. When the division commander learned of that action, his confidence in the 24th plummeted. Many soldiers of the 24th ran away from the fight, tossing their weapons and equipment aside. A derisive poem throughout the U.S. Army stated: When them Chinese mortars begins to thud, the Old Deuce-Four begin to bug.[2]:216

Although the 24th performed well in the attack north of the Han and the subsequent general withdrawal of the Eighth Army after the Chinese spring offensive of 1951, its reputation was somewhat tarnished. But it performed well in the Army's drive back north in May and June 1951.

In August, the regiment's new commander, Colonel Thomas D. Gillis, prodded by the division commander, closely examined the 24th's record in Korea. Determining that leadership had been the problem, he relieved a number of officers. After the change in command, Company F conducted a valiant bayonet and grenade charge on September 15. But, the positive performance of Company F was ignored by higher commands and the news media.[2]:269 By October 1, 1951, the 24th was dissolved.

Modern legacy[edit]

The Deuce Four Skull was put on buildings in Iraq where enemies were killed.

The 24th Infantry was re-instituted in 1995 and assigned to the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division in Fort Lewis, Washington. The regiment served in the Iraq War from 2004 to 2005, and was decorated for its service. In 2006, during a re-organization of the Army, the regiment was re-flagged; however, the 1st Battalion was not included, and so it alone retains the regimental designation and carries on its legacy. It is now part of the 1st Brigade Combat Team (Stryker), 25th Infantry Division at Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

Operation Iraqi Freedom[edit]

The 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment was assigned to the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division "Lightning" (a Stryker brigade), and served in Iraq from October 2004 to October 2005. The battalion came home with 5 Silver Stars, 31 Bronze Stars, and 181 Purple Hearts and played a crucial role in the Battle of Mosul (2004). During that battle, the battalion saw some of the heaviest, sustained fighting of the insurgency to date. The unit was also awarded with the Valorous Unit Award as being part of the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (SBCT).

The unit reflagged as the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment and moved to Vilseck, Germany. The 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment replaced the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment of the now decommissioned 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team as of December 14, 2006,

In 2008-2009, 1-24 Infantry deployed to the Diyala Province, Iraq to FOB Warhorse and later to FOB Grizzly. In contrast to their previous deployment involving the Battle of Mosul, 1-24 sustained very few casualties, none of which came from sustained engagement with enemy forces. For their reconstruction and humanitarian efforts during this tour, the unit was awarded the Meritorious Unit Citation along with sister units in the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division "Lightning".

Operation Enduring Freedom[edit]

The 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment deployed again under 1/25 SBCT to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2011-2012. The battalioin assumed responsibility for the Zabul Province, with assistance from Romanian units along Highway 1. The battalion HQ was primarily stationed at FOB Lagman in Zabul Province with companies co-located and dispersed north and south. 1-24 Infantry found themselves in a direct combat role again, losing several soldiers to Taliban attacks throughout their yearlong deployment, including an "insider attack" in Qalat on 8 January, 2012.

Heraldry[edit]

Regimental badge[edit]

  • Description:
  1. On a blue field a block house of masonry with tower, walls in color of grey stone, roofs yellow.
  2. On a yellow scroll, the words "SAN JUAN" in blue.
  3. All encircled by a yellow band bearing the motto in blue "SEMPER PARATUS" (Always Prepared).
  • Symbolism: The design commemorates the gallant service of the regiment in the Santiago campaign of 1898.
  • Background:
  1. The badge was approved on 1920-03-27.
  2. The badge is used as the crest on the organizational colors. The breast of the eagle on the colors is feathered.

Distinctive unit insignia[edit]

  • Description:
  1. A gold color metal and enamel device 1 14 inches (3.2 cm) in width overall consisting of a blue disc bearing a white blockhouse with tower masoned and roofed gold below a gold scroll inscribed "SAN JUAN" in blue letters.
  2. Attached below the disc a gold scroll turned blue and inscribed "SEMPER PARATUS" in blue letters.
  • Symbolism:
  1. Blue is the color associated with Infantry.
  2. The house with tower depicts a blockhouse at San Juan Santiago de Cuba and commemorates the 1898 campaign service of the regiment.
  • Background:
  1. The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for the 24th Infantry on 1923-01-21.
  2. It was amended to correct the motto on 1923-03-21.
  3. Amended to add the authorization for wear of the DUI on 1923-05-07.
  4. Amended to add to the authorization for wear of the DUI on 1925-09-21.
  5. On 1925-10-23 it was amended to change the appearance of the DUI.
  6. The insignia was cancelled and a new insignia authorized on 1927-05-17.

Lineage[edit]

Honors[edit]

Campaign participation credit[edit]

  • Indian Wars:
  1. Comanches
  • Spanish-American War:
  1. Santiago
  • Philippine-American War:
  1. San Isidro;
  2. Luzon 1900
  • World War II:
  1. Northern Solomons;
  2. Western Pacific
  • Korean War:
  1. UN Defensive;
  2. UN Offensive;
  3. CCF Intervention;
  4. First UN Counteroffensive;
  5. CCF Spring Offensive;
  6. UN Summer-Fall Offensive

Decorations[edit]

  1. Korean Presidential Unit Citation for MASAN-CHINJU.
  2. Valorous Unit Award for Battle of Mosul.
  3. Meritorious Unit Citation for service during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2008-2009 in the Diyala Province.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Special Unit Designations". United States Army Center of Military History. April 21, 2010. Archived from the original on June 9, 2010. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c William T. Bowers; George L. MacGarrigle; William M. Hammond (May 1997). Black Soldier, White Army: The 24th Infantry Regiment in Korea. DIANE Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7881-3990-1. Retrieved August 4, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Two Black Medal of Honor recipients honored with renovated park in the South Bronx". Metal of Honor News. September 6, 2011. Retrieved July 13, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Lineage And Honors Information 24th Infantry Regiment (Deuce Four)". U.S. Army Center of Military History. November 20, 2007. Retrieved August 4, 2012. 

 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Army Center of Military History document "24th Infantry Lineage and Honors".

External links[edit]