121st Infantry Regiment (United States)

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121st Infantry Regiment
121InfRegCOA.jpg
Coat of arms
Active 1916 - 55
Country  United States
Allegiance  Georgia
Branch United States Army Georgia Army National Guard
Type Regiment
Role Infantry
Nickname(s) "Old Gray Bonnet"
Motto(s) Faciendum Est (It Shall Be Done)
Engagements World War I
World War II War in iraq
War in Afghanistan
Insignia
Distinctive unit insignia 121-48-DUI-right.svg
U.S. Infantry Regiments
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120th Infantry Regiment 122nd Infantry Regiment

The 121st Infantry Regiment was an infantry regiment of the Georgia National Guard that saw combat service in the First and Second World Wars. As a result of army-wide reorganization in the 1950s, the 121st Infantry ceased to exist as a tactical unit. Today, some units of the Georgia National Guard trace their lineage to the 121st Infantry.

History[edit]

The 121st Infantry Regiment was formed from the 2nd Georgia Infantry Regiment in 1916 and assigned to the 31st Division. During World War One, the 121st was assigned to the 61st Infantry Brigade of the 31st Division.[1] The units of the 31st Division, including the 121st Infantry, were broken up upon arrival at Brest and used to provide replacements for other units at the front lines in France. The regiment was demobilized on 14 January 1919 at Camp Gordon, Georgia.[2]

After unit changes that saw the unit retitled 1st Infantry, Georgia National Guard and 122nd Infantry Regiment, the 121st Infantry Regiment was formed again as a Georgia National Guard unit in Macon, Georgia, and federally recognized on 9 June 1924. At this time, the regiment was also assigned to the 30th Division. The regiment was activated in 1925 because of hurricane damage at Tybee Island, and was activated again in 1934 to confront striking textile workers in the Georgia towns of Griffin, Jackson, and Rome.[2] On 22 November 1941, the regiment was relieved of assignment to the 30th Division and assigned to the 8th Division (later retitled "8th Infantry Division"). The regiment was briefly organized as a motorized infantry regiment before reverting to traditional infantry organization prior to shipping overseas. The 121st Infantry subsequently saw combat with the 8th Infantry Division in the European Theater of Operations during 1944-45.

Jeep of the Head quarters of the 8th {Infantry Division} 121st Infantry Regiment at the Hurtgen Forrest Battle.

The regiment returned from World War II at the Boston port of entry on 11 July 1945 and then moved to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, where it was inactivated on 20 October 1945.[3] In September 1946, the 121st Infantry Regiment was assigned to the 48th Infantry Division, a national guard division headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. In 1955, this division became the 48th Armored Division and moved its headquarters to Macon, Georgia. As a result of this reorganization, the 121st Infantry Regiment ceased to exist as a tactical organization. Some elements of the 121st Infantry were transferred to the 162nd Tank Battalion in May 1956.[4][5] As the army adopted the Pentomic structure in the late 1950s, infantry regiments were broken up and the component battalions reassigned to brigade headquarters while still retaining the number of their former regiment in their titles. Thus, while the 121st Infantry has not existed as a separate tactical organization since the mid-1950s, some Georgia National Guard battalions, such as 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment are still affiliated with the regiment, but assigned to brigades such as the 48th Infantry Brigade for purposes of tactical organization.

Battalions of the former 121st Infantry were assigned to the 48th Armored Division from 1959 until 1968, the 30th Infantry Division from 1968 through 1973, and 48th Infantry Brigade from 30 November 1973 to present.[6]

Distinctive unit insignia[edit]

The regimental nickname "The Gray Bonnets" is derived from the title of a song, "Put on Your Old Gray Bonnets" adopted in 1928 as the official air, or marching song, of the regiment. The distinctive unit insignia of the regiment is an "Old Gray Bonnet" proper, and is one of the few DUIs in the U.S. Army designed to be manufactured and worn in pairs (left and right).

The insignia is a blue shield with a gray saltire cross and a prickly pear and fleur-de-lis and a Boar's Head with an oak branch in its mouth on top. The blue background represents the Infantry while the gray cross symbolizes the unit's Confederate Service. The cactus represents duty on the Mexican border, and the fleur-de-lis service in France during World War I. The Boar's Head with oak leaf is the crest of the Georgia Army National Guard.

The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for the 121st Regiment Infantry, Georgia National Guard on 27 June 1928. It was amended to permit manufacturing in pairs on 16 August 1928. It was redesignated for the 162d Tank Battalion, Georgia National Guard on 24 May 1956. The insignia was redesignated for the 121st Infantry, Georgia National Guard on 17 April 1961.

2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment[edit]

2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment
121InfRegCOA.jpg
121st Infantry Regiment coat of arms
Active 1810 – present
Country United States
Allegiance State of Georgia
Branch Army National Guard
Type Regiment
Role Light infantry
Size Battalion
Part of 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team
Garrison/HQ Forsyth, Georgia
Nickname(s) Warriors
Engagements Seminole War, Mexican-American War, Civil War (Confederate Service), World War I, World War II, Iraq Campaign, Afghanistan Campaign
Decorations Meritorious Unit Commendation, Presidential Unit Citation
Commanders
Current
commander
LTC Andrew Heymann
Command Sergeant Major CSM Brett Paul
Insignia
121st Infantry distinctive unit insignia 121-48-DUI-right.svg

The 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment is a light infantry battalion of the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT), Georgia Army National Guard. The Battalion is one of the oldest units in the U.S. Army, tracing its lineage to Georgia state militia units formed between 1810 and 1825. The Battalion provides the 48th Brigade with mounted and dismounted maneuver assets to destroy enemy formations in close combat. Prior to 2007, the unit was designated as a heavy mechanized formation and equipped with M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles.

Pre-World War I[edit]

The earliest units associated with the 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry were the Albany Guards and Barnesville Blues of the Georgia State Militia. These units, formed in 1810 along with the Baldwin Blues and Floyd Rifles, were the first organized infantry militia units in the state. In 1825, the Macon Volunteers also organized. Detachments of these infantry units served in the Seminole War and the Mexican War. During the American Civil War, the regiment was organized as the 4th Regiment Georgia Volunteers, 3rd Georgia Battalion, and finally the 37th Georgia Regiment. Units fought in most major battles of the war, including Malvern Hill, Sharpsburg, Spottsylvania, the Battle of Gettysburg, Second Manassas, Richmond, Seven Pines, Mechanicsville, Cold Harbor, the Wilderness Campaign, and Appomattox.

During the post-Reconstruction period several other regional units were added to the rolls, and by 1891 the regiment had organized into two battalions under the banner of the Second Georgia Infantry Regiment. In 1898, the Barnesville Blues fought as Company F, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Georgia Infantry Regiment during the Spanish-American War. During the Militia Act reorganization of the army in 1916, the 2nd Georgia became the 121st Infantry Regiment of the 31st "Dixie" Division.

World War I and Inter-war Years[edit]

With war looming in Europe, 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry was federalized to patrol the border with Mexico. In 1916 and 1917, elements rotated between the southern border, Georgia and Florida. The prickly pear on the left of the Distinctive Unit Insignia alludes to this mission.

In September 1918, the entire regiment was ordered to duty in World War I. They arrived in France in October, and before the regiment disembarked, tragedy struck. Longtime commander COL J. A. Thomas, the man responsible for the regimental title "The Old Gray Bonnets", died aboard ship. The news didn't get any better for the tight knit unit once ashore as most of the unit was broken up into small replacement groups and immediately sent to the front. However, F Company of 2nd Battalion, along with B and C Companies of the 1st Battalion had travelled to Europe separately and were assigned intact to the 151st Machine Gun Battalion of the 42nd (Rainbow) Division. Elements of the regiment were to participate in six separate campaigns during their brief service in the war, garnering several individual citations of valor. This service is represented by the fleur-de-leis in the left side of the unit's DUI.

Upon return from France, the units were reorganized several times. In 1925, while at summer encampment at Tybee Island, GA, a hurricane struck. The National Guard camp was completely flooded and had to be rebuilt by men of the battalion. In 1934, labor unrest struck the textile mills of Georgia and 2nd Battalion was again called up, this time for state duty. Once state troops became involved in the labor troubles, they quickly died down with little violence.

In 1938, with war threatening Europe again, the massive Mississippi Maneuvers were conducted by the U.S. Army at Camp Shelby, MS. 2nd Battalion was one of the units involved. In 1940, as war seemed more inevitable, the Army developed an even larger exercise, the Louisiana maneuvers. Upon completion of that assignment, the entire regiment was federalized on 16 September 1940 at Ft. Jackson, SC and assigned to the 30th Division.

World War II[edit]

The 2–121 Infantry saw extensive activity leading up to World War II and extensive action during WWII.

From 1990[edit]

The Battalion was federalized for Desert Storm as part of the 48th Infantry Brigade on 30 November 1990. It arrived at Fort Stewart on or around 3 December 1990. After certifying at the National Training Center as combat-ready, the whole brigade was demobilised between 27 March and 10 April 1991.[7]

The Battalion then deployed to Bosnia and Herzegovina for Stabilization Force (SFOR) Rotation 9 to provide support operations for Task Force Eagle (United States contingent to United Nations Operations in support of Dayton Peace Accord). The SFOR9 rotation was scheduled from April to October 2001.

The Battalion mobilized as a component of the 48th Brigade Combat Team in 2004 for War on Terror combat operations. In May 2005 the unit began deploying to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and experienced some of the fiercest combat actions in the campaign. During the first half of the brigade's deployment to Iraq (Spring 2005 through Spring 2006), the 2–121st spent much of its time of the region of Baghdad while the sister units 1–108 Armor was in the Southwest region (triangle of death). The unit's focus shifted during the second half of the deployment to a theater security mission primarily consisting of convoy escort and civilian military operations. 2–121 suffered eight fatalities while deployed to Iraq. On 20 April 2006, at Ft. Stewart, members of the 2–121st returned home after a year of combat operations in Iraq.

As a part of the United States Army's ongoing transformation to a lighter, more modular force the 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry was re-designated as light infantry in 2007. The unit gave up its M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and became a dismounted force, with its anti-armor (Delta) company receiving up-armored HMMWVs.[8]

In December 2007, the Georgia National Guard's 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team was alerted that it would be deployed to Afghanistan in the summer of 2009 for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).[9] In January 2009, the 2–121st began training for the expected year-long deployment.[10] In the Spring of 2009, the unit returned to Camp Shelby, MS, the site of its World War II preparations nearly 70 years prior. The unit was subsequently deployed to Afghanistan in May.

While deployed in Afghanistan, the 2–121st participated in training the Afghan National Security Forces while conducting counter insurgency operations in the North, East, and Kabul Regional Command areas of operation. In April 2010 the unit redeployed from Afghanistan and demobilized at Fort Stewart, GA. The battalion suffered 2 fatalities while deployed to Afghanistan.

Current Organization[edit]

Headquarters and Headquarters Company (Huron), located in Forsyth, GA
A Company (Apache), located in Griffin, GA
B Company (Blackhawk), located in Newnan, GA
C Company (Comanche), located in Cordele, GA and Americus, GA
D Company (Dakota), located in Valdosta, GA
H Company (Hotel), 148th Brigade Support Battalion Forward Support Company, located in Albany, GA (attached)

Lineage and honors[edit]

Campaign streamers[edit]

Seminole Wars

Seminole (1835–1842)

Civil War

Peninsula (1862)
Fredricksburg (1863)
Gettysburg (1863)
Appomattox (1865)

World War I

Champagne-Marne (1918)
Aisne-Marne (1918)
St. Mihel (1918)
Meuse-Argonne (1918)
Lorraine (1918)
Champagne (1918)

World War II

Normandy (1944)
Northern France (1944)
Rhineland (1944–1945)
Ardennes-Alsace (1944–1945)
Central Europe (1945)

Global War on Terror

Iraq: (2005–2006)

Transition of Iraq
Iraqi Governance

Afghanistan: (2009–2010)

Consolidation II
Consolidation III

Unit decorations[edit]

French Croix de Guerre with Palm (France – 1944)
Presidential Unit Citation (Hurtgen Forest – 1945)
Meritorious Unit Citation (European Theater – 1945)
Luxembourg Croix de Guerre (Luxembourg – 1945)
Meritorious Unit Citation (Afghanistan – 2010)

See also[edit]

Notes and sources[edit]

  1. ^ Brief histories of divisions, U.S. Army, p. 39, Historical Branch, War Plans Division, June 1921
  2. ^ a b Steven E. Clay, U.S. Army Order of Battle 1919-1941, p. 415, Fort Leavenworth: Combat Studies Institute Press, 2010
  3. ^ Shelby L. Stanton, World War II Order of Battle, p. 291, New York: Galahad Books, 1991
  4. ^ The Institute of Heraldry
  5. ^ usmilitariaforum.com
  6. ^ Timothy Aumiller, United States Army Infantry, Armor/Cavalry, Artillery Battalions 1957-2011, p. 26, Orbat.com for Tiger Lily Publications, 2011
  7. ^ Thomas D. Dinackus, 'Order of Battle: Allied Ground Forces of Desert Storm,' chart 10-3 footnote 10.
  8. ^ 48th IBCT soldiers transform from heavy armor to light infantry at annual training [1]
  9. ^ "Five Guard brigades notified of 2009 deployments". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 22 November 2014. 
  10. ^ "A local unit trains at Fort McClellan before Afghanistan". My Web Pal. Retrieved 22 November 2014. 

External links[edit]