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Army Reserve Marks First 100 Years

US Army | Apr 23, 2008

BY Retired Col. Randy Pullen

The U.S. Army Reserve marks its first century of service to the nation Wednesday with a re-enlistment of 100 Soldiers at 10 a.m. on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol, a wreath-laying ceremony at 2:15 p.m. at Arlington National Cemetery and a gala ball in the evening.

Army Reserve Soldiers have served wherever America sent its Army since April 23, 1908. It was on that date 100 years ago that Congress passed legislation that created the Medical Reserve Corps, the Army's first federal reserve force. From this pool of trained medical professionals, the secretary of War was able to order Reserve officers to active duty during time of emergency.

Army Reserve Soldiers served on the U.S.-Mexican border in 1916; in the trenches and forests of France in 1918; at Civilian Conservation Corps camps across the United States in the 1930s; on the worldwide combat fronts of World War II; the mountains of Korea in 1950.; the jungles of Vietnam in 1968; the Middle East in 1990 and 1991; and the Balkans in the late 1990s.

Army Reserve troops helped dig through the rubble at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon after 9-11. They have served in Afghanistan since late 2001and in Iraq since early 2003, and at the same time helped with disaster relief in Louisiana and Pakistan in 2005.

Early Years

Hundreds of thousands of American Citizen-Soldiers and Warrior-Citizens have served America since April 1908. In June of that year, the first 160 Reserve medical officers received their commissions. This number grew to about 360 by 1909, to 1,900 by 1916, and to 9,223 by 1917.

The concept of bringing civilian professionals into the Army in a disciplined and quickly-accessible manner soon expanded beyond the medical profession and beyond officers.

Following Mexican revolutionary Francisco "Pancho" Villa's 1916 raid into the United States and Brig. Gen. John J. Pershing's subsequent punitive expedition after him into Mexico, relations between Mexico and the United States deteriorated to the point where U.S. troops were sent to the United States' southern border in preparation for a potential war that fortunately did not take place. These troops included some 3,000 Army Reserve Soldiers, which was almost 70 percent of the entire Army Reserve. This was the Army Reserve's first mobilization.

World War I

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Forty Army Reserve Soldiers from around the country await re-enlistment at the U.S. Capitol during an April 6, 2006 ceremony. A total of 100 are scheduled to re-enlist Wednesday morning at the Capitol to mark the 100th anniversary of the Army Reserve.
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A much bigger mobilization occurred when the United States entered the First World War in 1917. Thanks to the framework established by the National Defense Act of 1916, the Army Reserve's contribution in World War I was substantially larger than for its Mexican mobilization. More than 170,000 Reserve Doughboys (about 80,000 enlisted Soldiers and almost 90,000 officers) served in every division of the American Expeditionary Force in France.

They included President Theodore Roosevelt's son, Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt Jr., who served in the 1st Infantry Division; Maj. Charles Whittlesey, who led the 77th Infantry Division's "Lost Battalion" during its heroic battle in the Meuse-Argonne; and Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, "America's Ace of Aces." The Reserve Doughboys of 1917 and 1918 proved the viability of the Army Reserve concept and set the standards for Army Reserve Soldiers ever since.

Interwar Years

As it was for the entire Army, the inter-war era was a tough time for the Organized Reserve (as the Army Reserve was known from 1920 to 1952). Few enlisted men served. There was no pay for unit drill. There was no retirement plan. During the 1930s, training dollars were hard to get so that, at the most, less than 30 percent of Reserve officers attended annual training in any year of that decade. The low year was 1934, when only 14 percent went to annual training.

One training opportunity for Organized Reserve officers did contribute significantly to the success of one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's key New Deal programs. Between 1933 and 1939, more than 30,000 Organized Reserve Corps officers were involved in running some 2,700 Civilian Conservation Corps camps. The CCC program provided jobs to unemployed young men across the country. It also provided extra money to Organized Reserve officers, as well as giving them organizational and training experience that they would soon use again when the nation began to build up its armed forces for the Second World War.

World War II

The Army Reserve presence before and during World War II was enormous. In mid-1940, there were some 2,700 Reserve officers serving on active duty; within a year, there were 57,000 on active duty. About 90 percent of the Army's company grade officers in June 1941 were recently-mobilized Organized Reserve officers.

In a typical Regular Army combat division during the peak war years, Reserve Soldiers occupied most of the mid-grade officer positions. A 1944 War Department study in one Regular Army infantry division found that 62.5 percent of the battalion commanders, 84.5 percent of the company commanders and 30.3 percent of the platoon leaders were Reserve soldiers. Another survey noted part of the price paid to defeat Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Between Sept. 1, 1943, and May 31, 1944, 52.4 percent of the Army officers killed in action and 27.7 percent of those missing in action came from the Organized Reserve.

By the end of the war, more than 200,000 Reserve officers were on active duty, serving on every front. This was roughly a quarter of all Army officers. Most were in the grades of first lieutenant through lieutenant colonel but a few became generals.

The junior and mid-grade officers included Lt. Col. James Earl Rudder who led Rudder's Rangers up the Pointe du Hoc cliffs on D-Day; Lt. Col. Strom Thurmond who crash-landed in a glider with the 82nd Airborne Division on D-Day; Lt. Col. Henry Cabot Lodge who resigned from the U.S. Senate to serve in North Africa, Normandy and Italy; and Capt. Ronald Reagan who used his experience as a Hollywood movie star to make Army Air Corps training films.

The generals included James H. Doolittle, who received the Medal of Honor and a promotion from lieutenant colonel to brigadier general for leading "the Doolittle Raid" against Japan in April 1942; World War I Medal of Honor recipient William J. Donovan, who headed the nation's espionage and sabotage organization, the Office of Strategic Services, known as OSS, and ended the war as a major general; and another World War I hero, Theodore Roosevelt Jr., who was the first general officer to come ashore on a D-Day beach in Normandy. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions on Utah Beach June 6, 1944.

One Reserve officer would outrank them all. Senator Harry S Truman was a colonel in the Organized Reserve when war broke out. Turned down from coming on active duty by no less than Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall, Truman stayed in the Senate. He gained national prominence as head of a special sub-committee investigating wastefulness and fraud in the nation's defense programs. In 1944, he was chosen to be President Roosevelt's running mate. When the president died on April 12, 1945, Vice President (and Organized Reserve Colonel) Truman became the commander in chief and led the nation to final victory in World War II.

Korean War

Following the North Korean invasion of South Korea on June 25, 1950, President Truman called upon Organized Reserve men and women -- women were authorized to join the Organized Reserve in 1948 - to help strengthen the dangerously hollow Army. Within the first few weeks of the war, about 25,000 individual Organized Reserve Soldiers were called to active duty. More than 10,000 of these were junior officers and noncommissioned officers, whose World War II combat experience was desperately needed.

By the end of 1950, another 135,000 individual Reserve Soldiers would be called up. In all, more than 240,000 Reserve Soldiers were eventually called to active duty for service in Korea and for rebuilding the Army at home and abroad. Seven Reserve Soldiers -- men such as Capt. Raymond Harvey and Cpl. Hiroshi Miyamura -- received the Medal of Honor for their heroism.

On March 9, 1951, Capt. Harvey led Company C, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, up Hill 1232 and personally eliminated three enemy machine gun positions. Although seriously wounded in the assault, Harvey continued to direct his company in capturing the hill. He survived his wounds and received the Medal of Honor from President Truman on July 5, 1951.

Cpl. Miyamura was a machine-gun squad leader in Company H, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division when he was ordered to hold a hill against Chinese Communist troops for as long as possible. Throughout the night of April 24-25, 1951, he and his 15 men did just that. They repelled several enemy assaults during the night, with Miyamura directing the defense and frequently manning one of the machine guns or engaging the Chinese in hand-to-hand combat. After covering the withdrawal of his surviving men, Miyamura was seriously wounded and captured. On Oct. 27, 1953, two months after his release from more than two years of captivity, now Staff Sgt. Miyamura was presented the Medal of Honor by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Because of the backlash caused by Inactive Reserve Soldiers being called up before their drilling comrades, Congress passed legislation in 1952 mandating that, in the future, reserve-component units would be called up in national emergencies before levying the reserve manpower pools. The Armed Forces Reserve Act of 1952 also renamed the Organized Reserve Corps as the Army Reserve.

Army Reserve, 1960-1990

Army Reserve Soldiers were mobilized for the Berlin and Cuban Missile Crises of the early 1960s but their next combat test came during the Vietnam War. President Lyndon B. Johnson's administration opted for only a small Reserve and Guard mobilization in 1968. For the Army Reserve, this meant a call-up of 42 Army Reserve units with fewer than 5,000 Soldiers. Of these, 35 units and 3,500 Soldiers deployed to Vietnam.

After the Vietnam War, the Army Reserve worked to meet the challenges faced in the All-Volunteer Force era under the Total Force Policy, which called for smaller active forces backed up by reinvigorated, well-trained, well-equipped reserve forces.

The results of this effort began to bear fruit beginning with the 1983 Grenada invasion when Army Reserve civil affairs Soldiers helped rebuild Grenada's infrastructure. A few years later, Army Reserve military police and civil affairs Soldiers participated in Operation Just Cause, the 1989 intervention in Panama.

Operation Desert Storm

The first major test of the Total Force Policy and the biggest deployment of Army Reserve Soldiers overseas since the Korean War took place in 1990-1991 with Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. More than 63,000 Soldiers from 647 units were activated to accomplish both continental U.S. and overseas missions. Thousands of Individual Ready Reserve Soldiers, Individual Mobilization Augmentees and 1,000 retirees volunteered or were ordered to active duty as well. In all, almost 84,000 Army Reserve Soldiers answered their country's call.

The Army Reserve paid a heavy price for the liberation of Kuwait and the defeat of Iraq. An Iraqi Scud missile killed 28 Army Reserve men and women on February 25, 1991, and wounded almost 100 others. Thirteen of those killed in action and 43 of the wounded were from the 14th Quartermaster Detachment, giving this water purification unit from Greensburg, Pa., an 80 percent casualty rate. No other American or coalition unit in the war suffered such a high casualty rate.

Military Ops Other Than War

In 1993, Army Reserve soldiers took part in Operation Restore Hope, the Somalia relief expedition. They included more than 100 Army Reserve volunteers who made up the 711th Adjutant General Company (Provisional) (Postal), as well as Army Reserve civil affairs and public affairs Soldiers who served in Somalia until U.S. Forces departed there in March 1994.

Army Reserve soldiers deployed to Haiti on Operation Uphold Democracy from 1995-1996. They included an 18-person team of judges and lawyers led by an Army Reserve major general who was also a New Jersey Superior Court judge. This team worked to review the Haitian judicial system, train judges and modernize the country's 19th Century legal code.

Since 1995, thousands of Army Reserve Soldiers have conducted peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and Kosovo, as well supporting those operations from Hungary, Germany, and Italy. There was also a stateside mission from the Balkans conflict. In 1999, Army Reserve Soldiers led and were part of the Operation Provide Refuge Joint Task Force, giving relief and assistance to more than 4,000 ethnic Albanian refugees from Kosovo at the Fort Dix Army Reserve Installation in New Jersey.

War on Terror

On September 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and a field in Pennsylvania, killing thousands of Americans. Army Reserve men and women were on the front lines of this first war of the 21st century from its outset, with a number of them among those killed at the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.

The Army Reserve response to the attack on America was swift. Army Reserve Soldiers immediately started performing a variety of key missions: force protection and security at installations and facilities, intelligence and investigation support, training and training validation, headquarters augmentation and historical documentation, logistics and transportation operations. One particularly grim mission was that performed by the 311th Quartermaster Company (Mortuary Affairs) from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Called upon almost immediately following the attack on the Pentagon, the unit quickly deployed and commenced its mortuary operations in the Pentagon's north parking lot, sifting through tons of debris for human remains.

Between the Sept. 14 partial mobilization and Dec. 31, 2001, some 9,020 Army Reserve Soldiers were mobilized, both in defense of the American homeland (Operation Noble Eagle) and in the offense against the terrorists (Operation Enduring Freedom).

That offensive began in October 2001 when America struck back at the terrorists' base in Afghanistan. Within a few months, Afghanistan's repressive Taliban regime, which had supported and given sanctuary to the al Qaeda terrorists who had launched the 9-11 attacks, was driven from power and, along with the foreign terrorists, was in hiding in the rugged south and east of Afghanistan. Army Reserve Soldiers contributed significantly to this victory. Army Reserve public affairs soldiers went into the mountains of eastern Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) on Operation Anaconda. Army Reserve engineers improved facilities at Kandahar. Medical Citizen-Soldiers treated casualties at Bagram air base. Army Reserve civil affairs Soldiers operated throughout the country to help the Afghans recover from decades of war.

Operation Iraqi Freedom

On March 20, 2003, Operation Iraqi Freedom began, with Army Reserve Soldiers fighting their way to Baghdad alongside their U.S. and coalition comrades-in-arms. The 459th Engineer Company (Multi-Role Bridge Company), for example, built bridges across the Diyala and Euphrates Rivers under fire to support the I Marine Expeditionary Force's advance to Baghdad. Although major combat operations in Iraq were declared to be over on May 1, 2003, a difficult guerilla campaign continued, resulting in more American casualties taking place after than before the end of major combat operations. Of the 22 Army Reserve Soldiers killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom from March to November 2003, only two were killed before May 1.

Nature was also a tough adversary faced by the Army Reserve in the early 21st Century. Two examples of this occurred in 2005 when Army Reserve helicopter units assisted the people of the U.S. Gulf Coast in September following Hurricane Katrina and the people of Pakistan following a devastating earthquake in October.

As the Army Reserve's first century came to a close, it remained heavily committed in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, Army Reserve Soldiers were helping the emerging Afghan democracy as part of the coalition forces building a 70,000-man strong Afghan National Army and assisting the Afghans in setting up a modern defense establishment under the control of a democratically elected civilian government.

In Iraq, Army Reserve Soldiers continued to battle Iraqi insurgents while laying the groundwork for Iraq's security forces to take over this mission themselves. In late 2004, the 98th Division (Institutional Training) deployed to Iraq to speed up the new Iraqi Army's training. This was the first time since the U.S. military began training Iraqi security forces that an Army Reserve unit took on this important mission.

The Army Reserve's only remaining ground combat unit, the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry, also deployed to Iraq, serving there as part of the 29th Separate Infantry Brigade, Hawaii Army National Guard. The 100th/442nd's Soldiers hail from Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam and Saipan. In Iraq from 2005-2006, they upheld the proud heritage of the original 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team of World War II, the most decorated U.S. Army units of their size in American history. During its year in Iraq, four Soldiers from the battalion were killed and 45 wounded.
At the end of March 2008, the number of Army Reserve Soldiers killed in both Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom had grown to 156. More than 1,270 had been wounded in action.

Transforming to an Operational Force

Today's Army Reserve is one of its most battle-tested and experienced forces since its creation. More than 182,000 Army Reserve Warrior-Citizens have been called to duty since the 9-11 terrorist attacks. More than 41,000 have been mobilized more than once. Some 23,000 Soldiers - from a force of about 205,000 - are currently mobilized and deployed in more than a dozen countries around the world, to include Iraq and Afghanistan, and in the United States.

"The Army Reserve of 2008 is vastly different than the Army Reserve of 1908," Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, chief of the Army Reserve, said at a ceremony re-enlisting 100 Army Reserve Soldiers in Baghdad on Jan.18, 2008. "The Army Reserve today really is an operational force, an integrated part of the Army,

As part of integration, the Army Reserve provides the Total Force with combat support, combat service support and training capabilities. Many of these capabilities are either exclusively or primarily in the Army Reserve. Throughout its first century, the Army Reserve evolved and changed, from its original pool of medical officers to a force that was a smaller mirror image of the Active Army to today's organization that includes both complementary units and a reservoir of trained individuals.

What did not change, though, was the type of person who is an Army Reserve Soldier, the Warrior-Citizen of today, as indicated by the actions of Jeremy Church and Jason Fetty.

Spc. Jeremy Church of the 724th Transportation Company received the first Silver Star awarded to an Army Reserve Soldier in Iraq for battling insurgents and rescuing other Soldiers and civilians during an ambush on his convoy in April 2004.

Staff Sgt. Jason Fetty, a 339th Combat Support Hospital Soldier attached to the 364th Civil Affairs Brigade, was awarded the first Army Reserve Silver Star in Afghanistan for engaging in hand-to-hand combat with a suicide bomber to foil his attack on the Khost Hospital in February 2007.

(Retired Col. Randy Pullen, U.S. Army Reserve, held senior public affairs positions at the Office of the Chief, Army Reserve, and the Office of the Chief, Public Affairs, Headquarters, Department of the Army, and was director of Public Affairs, Office of Military Cooperation - Afghanistan, in 2004.)


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