Military history to the uninitiated can be dull reading. But this history of the 115th Area Support Group, spanning 81 years as of this writing, contains enough significant events and colorful characters to breathe life into an otherwise a simple file of old documents.
Although the official history shows its parentage in two units based in the Sacramento area, and the "battle honours" of the 184th Infantry and 117th Engineer Regiments, some mention must be made of the 103d Ordnance Group based in San Francisco until 1968. With its organization on 29 January 1968, the 115th General Support Group assumed the missions of the 103d, some of its subordinate units, and many of its key personnel.
In reading documents found in historical files, one finds that among all the other changes, terms have undergone constant refinement. The big event of the year, the "Summer Camp" of long ago, became Annual Active Duty for Training (ANACDUTRA) in the fifties, Annual Field Training (AFT) in the sixties, and finally Annual Training (AT) in the seventies.
The terms applied to the unit itself have changed with the years as well. From the original 115th General Support Group of 1968, it became the 115th Support Group (Area) in 1975, and later the 115th Area Support Group. With these changes in titles have come internal structural and strength changes.
In writing this history, we have taken a unique format, similar to that of a biography of a person. The first two chapters deal with both of the parents, Company C of the 749th Maintenance Battalion, and the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 3d Battalion, 149th Armor. The third chapter, deals with their offspring, the present day 115th Area Support Group. This is appropriate since a military unit, particularly those in the National Guard, are more than just a number and name on an Order of Battle. The average National Guard unit is truly an extended family made up of soldiers whose ancestors were members of the "regiment" and whose decedents will undoubtedly continue its traditions of service to the State of California and the United States of America.
"Men may die, but the regiment lives on!"
Historical Background of the
184th Infantry Regiment, 1958
The "older parent" was born in Sacramento on 21 July 1916 and given the designation Company A, 1st Separate Battalion of Engineers, California National Guard. Captain J.A. Given and First Lieutenant A.M. Barton were its first two members and personally recruited the unit from all over the State of California. Within a week of its formation the battalion was mobilized, or as contemporary histories read, mustered into federal service for duty along the Mexican border.
The Mexican Revolution had spilled over the border when Pancho Villa raided the town of Columbus, New Mexico. As a result of that raid, on 18 June 1916, the President had called up several National Guard units under the provisions of the National Defense Act of 3 June 1916. The United States responded by not only placing large numbers of troops along its southern border, but also sent an expeditionary force into Mexico under the command of Brigadier General John J. "Blackjack" Pershing. From Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, California a force made of largely National Guard formations guarded the border against further incursions. It was under these conditions that Company A was raised and accepted into Federal service.
Immediately upon mobilization the company reported to the State Mobilization Camp at the State Fair Grounds in Sacramento for training. The unit numbered three officers and 69 enlisted men. For the next two months Company A trained in infantry and pioneer techniques. They learned everything from hasty bridge construction to topographic sketching and field geometry to railroad track construction.
With the exception of a fire which destroyed the State Fair Ground's Administration Building on the night of 3-4 September 1916, life at the camp revolved around training for the eventual deployment. On 7 September, the company constructed a single deck bridge and participated in maneuvers with the Fifth California Infantry Regiment and a detachment from the Naval Training Station at Yerba Buena Island. Training continued until 30 September when the unit broke camp and prepared for deployment.
On 1 October 1916, the company entrained for Nogales, Arizona, arriving there at 0815 hours, 3 October. While at Nogales, the unit busied itself with the construction of roads and training trenches, map making and other engineer functions. It also conducted local patrols and other security functions.
Upon the return of the forces from the Mexican interior, the border area started to return to its normal routine and on 6 March 1917, the company was mustered out of Federal service. But this time of peace was to last exactly one month. On 6 April 1917, the United States entered "... the war to end all wars."
On 20 June 1917, the company was called back into Federal Service. Although called back into service, it did not officially muster in until 9 July 1917. It should be noted that up until this time, National Guard units continued using their state militia titles. In order to prevent confusion between our allies, a nationwide system of numerical designations was devised and on 14 August 1917, A Company, 1st Separate Battalion of California Engineers became Company D, 2d Battalion, 117th Engineer Regiment. B and C Companies from Los Angeles became E and F Companies of the newly designated battalion.
Between its mobilization and 1 September 1917, D Company, along with F Company, busied itself performing construction duties at Camp Fremont in Palo Alto. At the same time, E Company was undergoing training at Camp Lewis, Washington. On 1 September, the battalion left by train for Camp Mills, located on Long Island in New York. With the exception of stops for swimming at Salt Lake, Utah and Valley, Nebraska the trip was uneventful and the unit arrived at Camp Mills on 6 September.
The founders of the unit were still there. While at Camp Mills, Captain Givens was promoted to major and given command of the 2nd Battalion, while Lieutenant Barton was also promoted and appointed the Adjutant of the battalion. D Company was then turned over to Captain Wallace A. Mason, who would rise in rank to become the Commander of the 2nd Battalion, Commander of the 184th Infantry Regiment between the World Wars, and the Commander of the 79th Infantry Brigade at the start of the Second World War.
While the battalion was at Camp Mills, it was united with the 1st Battalion of the regiment which was from South Carolina. The 117th, under the command of Colonel William Kelly, was to become the divisional engineers for the 42d Division, later known as the "Rainbow" Division. The 42d was a multi-state National Guard division whose title was derived from the rainbow patch they wore on their left sleeves.
While at Camp Mills, the regiment got its first taste of real Army life. Being a temporary camp, there were no permanent barracks or paved roads. The men lived in squad tents along muddy company "streets". The food was simple, but nutritious. A typical breakfast would consist of oatmeal, bacon, prunes, and coffee.
The days were spent training for the horrors
of modern warfare. It was also spent doing the more mundane tasks
of being a soldier, cleaning and drilling. Occasionally, the soldiers
of D Company would take part in field exercises on some of the
golf courses on Long Island, or go on long forced marched through
its scenic country side. Camp shows and trips to New York City
relieved the monotony of the camp.
The 117th left Camp Mills on 18 October and was ferried to the embarkation port at Hoboken, New Jersey. That same day, they boarded the USS Covington (formerly the German liner Cincinnati). Shortly after dark, the Covington slipped past the Statue of Liberty. Contemporary reports state that the quarters were cramped in the converted luxury liner. In fact, most of the Californians were billeted below the waterline. This meant almost certain death if the troopship encountered a torpedo attack. F Company from Southern California was so deep in the ship that the propeller shafts and rudder controls ran through their quarters.
But, those same reports also noted that the food on the Covington was both good and plentiful, and that many of the men would go for third helpings. Life on the ship became routine almost immediately. With over 5,000 soldiers on board, each company was allowed only one hour on deck. The rest of the day was spent being bored, participating in "abandon ship" drills, and standing in line for breakfast and dinner.
On the 29th of October, the convoy that included the Covington entered the German submarine zone. Prior to this, the convoy was escorted by the cruiser, U.S.S. Seattle and two destroyers. But from here on, several camouflaged subchasers would surround the convoy, protecting it from the German "underseeboot" or U-Boat threat. During the next three days, life belts were required to be worn at all times, drills became more frequent, and the men were required to sleep fully clothed.
Late in the afternoon of 31 October the Covington entered the mouth of the Loire River, and with the incoming tide arrived at St. Nazaire, France early in the morning of 1 November 1917. The locals crowded the docks because the presence of Americans was still a curiosity. Since the arrangements for receiving the troops had not been completed, they remained billeted on the ship for four more days!
Finally on 5 November 1917 the battalion entrained to its training are in the Vaucouleurs district, the home of Jean d' Arc. When they got to the town of Mauvages two days later, the Californians were shocked at the living conditions of the local population. Several of the buildings were heavily damaged from air raids and sanitation was non-existent.
Almost immediately, the regiment started a program of intense training and construction duties. One of the few distractions were nightly trips to Cafe d'Union and Cafe d'Gare in town. On 27 January, half of the company was sent to Chaumont for construction of General Pershing's headquarters there. They remained there until 17 February, when they returned to the rest of the unit, now located at Chalindery.
The 42d which was one of four American divisions to be considered as an assault division by General Pershing. It should be noted that the division's Chief of Staff and later, Commander of its 84th Infantry Brigade was a young Brigadier General Douglas MacArthur. When the division was performing its assault mission, the divisional engineers prepared the way through mine fields, and field fortifications, and would be exposed to enemy fire as often as the infantry. The time for training would soon be over and the "Rainbow" Division and the 117th would soon receive their baptism of fire.
On 22 February 1918, the 117th moved to the front line. On that day, the 117th had their first action at Habainville, in the Lunville Sector. At that time the company was attached to a French unit, the 167e Régiment d'Infanterie. This was to last until 21 March 1918. The Lunville sector was officially a "quiet" sector. It was so quiet that German soldiers regularly did their laundry in the shell craters of "No Man's Land" during broad daylight. When the 42d Division took its place in the line, the men of the 167th Infantry Regiment (formerly the 4th Alabama Infantry Regiment) saw this and decided that they didn't come thousands of miles to see the enemy do their laundry. They opened fire on the Germans, and Lunville was a quiet sector no more. The 117th was now busy constructing and repairing the massive system of trenches and fortifications that made up the Western Front. Artillery bombardments soon became the routine. All of this was made worse by days and days of cold rains. Soon the division received orders that they were to be moved to rest area on 22 March 1918. It would be their first of many rests that they would not get.
On 21 March, the German Army under Quartermaster General Erich Ludendorff launched the first of a series of four major offensives, hoping to end the war before the full force of the American Expeditionary Force could be brought to bear on the Western Front. These offensives, known as the First through Forth Ludendorff Offensives, would last until 6 August 1918.
The Allies were in trouble, and Pershing offered the entire A.E.F. to be placed under the command of Marshal Foch of France. The 42d Division relieved the French 128e Division, and become the first American division to occupy a divisional sector by itself. D Company had its second action in the Barracat Sector starting on 30 March 1918. It was reported by Captain Mason, in his narrative of the battalion's operations, that the sector "became quite active at times, the officers and men becoming accustomed to shell and gas attacks..." The regiment marched out of the line on 18 June 1918 bound for another trip to the rest area, and once again it would be postponed. Instead, they boarded train cars marked "HOMMES 40-CHEVAUX 8" (40 men-8 horses). Contemporary histories commented the belief that the prior occupants using its cars were of the four legged variety.
On 28 June, after 20 and 30 kilometer marches and train movements, they finally got to the town of L'Peine. There, they prepared for an attack west of the city of Rheims. However, this operation was canceled and the regiment marched off to the Esperance and Souain Sector and entered the line at Suippes on 5 July. During this time, the 2d Battalion became the reserve infantry for the 84th Infantry Brigade. On the 15th, with the opening of the Forth Ludendorff Offensive, the battalion joined the 1st Battalion to relieve the 165th Infantry Regiment in the Champagne-Marne Sector and remained there until the 18 July 1918. Almost immediately, an early morning German artillery barrage resulted in over 14 percent of D Company being killed or wounded. Combat after the initial barrage was characterized by Captain Mason as, "...considerable annoyance from gas shells, but suffered no serious casualties."
On 25 July, as a part of the French-American counteroffensive, the battalion, again serving as the reserve infantry for the 84th Infantry Brigade, arrived at Foret-de-Fere and followed up the advance to the Vesle River. On 6 August, they were relieved and returned to Foret-de-Tardenois.
The St. Mihiel Offensive started with a four hour artillery barrage 01:00 hours on 12 September. When it lifted, the engineers of the 117th went "over the top" and worked their way through the barbed wire and field fortifications. When they finished their "sapper" missions, they fought on as infantry destroying machine gun nests and taking many prisoners.
The battalion then moved to the Argonne, where it would participate in the last major campaign of the war. At 03:00 hours on 14 October 1918 the battalion moved out again as the reserve for the 84th Brigade. From 2 November, D Company was on the division's left flank, serving as infantry, while the rest of the regiment served as engineers. At this point in time the 42d was part of the drive toward Sedan, where they arrived on the afternoon of 7 November. Two days later, the battalion was ordered to the rear. On 10 November they arrived at Bar-Sur-Buzancy. It was there that the war ended for D Company, 117th Engineers. Overall, the 2nd Battalion had spent 193 day in action with only 63 days out of the line.
After moving through France, Belgium, and Luxembourg, D Company crossed the Sauer River at Bollendorf and entered Germany at 14:50 hours, 2 December 1918 as a part of the Army of Occupation. On 18 December, the regiment arrived at Mayschoss where it would remain on occupation duty until 10 April 1919. On that date the regiment left for Camp Pontanenzan at the French port city of Brest. Three days later, they departed Europe on the USS Pueblo and arrived at New York on 28 April 1919.
The regiment then moved to Camp Merritt, New York where they were deloused and assigned billets to await transportation to the West Coast. The regimental headquarters and the 1st Battalion were sent to Camp Jackson, South Carolina where the regiment was officially demobilized on 14 May 1919. The members of the E and F Companies, 2nd Battalion were sent by train to Camp Kearny for discharge, while D Company was sent to the Presidio of San Francisco.
In the last paragraph of his battalion history, Wallace A. Mason, now a Major and Commander of the 2d Battalion wrote, "We left Camp Merritt on May 10, arriving in San Francisco about seven days later, where we were discharged from the service of the United States, and there ending the service and designation of the Second Battalion, 117th Engineer Regiment."
The members of D Company felt a kinship with the 42d Division long after their service with that command. During the Second World War, the Commanding General of the 42nd received an old hand embroidered patch and a letter from one of D Company's members. This letter is reproduced in Appendix J.
Today, our colors fly the campaign steamers embroidered, CHAMPAGNE-MARNE, AISNE-MARNE, ST. MIHIEL, MEUSE-ARGONNE, LORRAINE 1918, and CHAMPAGNE 1918 as a visible link to the men of D Company, 117th Engineer Regiment.
The unit would remain inactive throughout the 1920s and the first half of the 1930's. In 1935, even though it was inactive, this unit was amalgamated with the 40th Division Quartermaster Trains. On 12 May 1936, Company D, 117th Engineer Regiment was brought back to active status as Company A, 115th Quartermaster Regiment in Sacramento. The two Los Angeles companies, E and F, of the old 2d Battalion were also brought back as Companies C and D of the 115th. In a 1939 reorganization which resulted in a third battalion being added, Company A was redesignated as Company E and moved from the 1st to the new 3rd Battalion.
From its reconstitution until 1941 the company provided quartermaster support to the elements of the 40th Division at its training center at Camp Merriam (after 1940, Camp San Luis Obispo). But, once again it would not last long.
In response to the war in Europe, the regiment was mobilized on 3 March 1941 and sent to Camp San Luis Obispo where it remained, except for divisional maneuvers at Fort Lewis, Washington, until the attack on Pearl Harbor. It should be noted that Technical Sergeant George B. Borchers who was a member of Company E during this time, continued to rise through the ranks and, as a Colonel, became the first commander of the 115th General Support Group in 1968.
Within 48 hours of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Camp San Luis Obispo was a ghost town as elements of the 40th Infantry Division took defensive and security positions over a 350,000 square mile area that stretched from Southern and Central California to Yuma, Arizona and Salt Lake City, Utah. With combat troops spread out so thinly across this great expanse, the 115th Quartermaster Regiment garrisoned Van Nuys and prepared for what was thought to be the inevitable Japanese invasion of the West Coast.
On 18 February 1942, the division was reorganized into the new "triangular" doctrine of three infantry regiments. The division's quartermaster regiment was reduced to a single battalion and E Company became the Maintenance Platoon (later, Ordnance Maintenance Platoon), Headquarters Company, 115th Quartermaster Battalion.
In April, the division moved to Fort Lewis, Washington for further training and preparation for overseas service. And soon that day would come. On 25 July, the division received orders to move to the Port of Embarkation at Camp Stoneman, California. By 8 August, the men of the 115th Quartermaster Battalion boarded a troopship, just as the members of the 117th Engineers had decades before. And just as there forefathers did, the soldiers of the 115th established the shipboard routine of fire drills, gunnery drills, and abandon ship drills.
In September 1942 the division arrived in
Hawaii and moved to defensive positions in the outer islands,
with the 115th assigned to Kauai. Yet another redesignation took
place on 15
October of 1942, when the Ordnance Maintenance Platoon was expanded to a full company with the designation, 740th Ordnance Light Maintenance Company. Their mission was to provide maintenance support to the entire division. In July 1943, the division moved to positions on Oahu. In October, with the threat of a Japanese invasion passing, the 40th took up jungle and amphibious training in preparation of offensive operations.
During December, the division moved to Guadalcanal for further training and limited combat patrolling. While on the "canal", the division didn't battle the Japanese. They instead fought the island's muddy conditions, its swamps, and mosquito-borne malaria.
The division, now part of the 1st Marine Amphibious Corps, then moved to Cape Gloucester on New Britain Island and relieved the 1st Marine Division on 23 April 1944. The 40th conducted combat operations until 27 November 1944, when it was relieved by the 5th Australian Division. The 40th then assembled at Borgen Bay the next day and departed New Britain on 9 December 1944 for the their next objective, The Philippines.
After brief stopovers on New Guinea and Manus Island, the 40th Infantry Division landed in the Lingayen area of Luzon at 09:36 hours on 9 January 1945. It was followed up with another landing at Bamban. While opposition during the first landing was light, Bamban was a different story. The division battled the main Japanese force in the Bamban Hills, Fort Stotsenburg and Clark Field, The Zambales Mountains, Snake Hill, Storm King Mountain, The Seven Hills, and the mountain known as the Top of the World. In the final phase the battles moved to Scobia Ridge, Hill 1700, and Williams Ridge. On 2 March, the division was relieved by the 43d Infantry Division.
The division left Luzon on 15 March 1945 and conducted unopposed landings on Paney Islands on the 18th. They conducted combat operations in those islands until the division next moved to Los Negros Island where it conducted multiple landings with little or no opposition. The division regrouped on 8 April for an attack on the Japanese forces in the Negritos-Patog area. Prior to that attack, the 503d Parachute Infantry Regiment was attached to the division, replacing the 108th Infantry Regiment. The division attacked with all three regiments (The 160th and 185th Infantry, and the 503d) on 9 April and immediately ran into stiff resistance and counterattacks. To make matters worse, the weather turned bad. Torrential rainstorms made air support impossible. Hill 3155 switched hands between the 160th Infantry Regiment and the Japanese Army several times between 18 and 23 May. Organized resistance ceased on 31 May and the 40th moved to the Otan-Santa Barbara-Tigauan area for rehabilitation and training. The division was in this area when the war ended.
But while the shooting had stopped, the 40th's mission didn't end just yet. On 22 September 1945 the division arrived in Korea at the port of Inchon to take up occupation duties in that country. They remained in Korea until March 1946 when it returned to Camp Stoneman on 6 April 1946 and was inactivated. When it was all over, the 740th earned three more streamers for the current 115th's colors: BISMARCK ARCHIPELAGO, SOUTHERN PHILIPPINES, and LUZON (with Arrowhead). The Arrowhead signifies participation in an amphibious assault landing by the unit.
In 1951, the unit was reorganized and redesignated as the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment of the 175th Ordnance Battalion and relieved of its assignment to the 40th Infantry Division.
The peacetime routine of drills, annual training and State Active Duty would continue until 1 March 1963 when the unit was consolidated with the 1072d Transportation Company and redesignated as Company C, 749th Maintenance Battalion. The 749th, at that time was the divisional maintenance battalion for the 49th Infantry Division which was primarily a Northern California formation.
The unit's routine was soon reestablished.
But in 1968, one of the largest reorganizations of the National
Guard took place. The 49th Infantry Division was reduced to a
single Infantry Brigade and remaining divisional units were reorganized
and redesignated. Such was the fate of C Company. On 29 January
1968, it was consolidated with another old 49th Division unit,
Roseville's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion,
149th Armor to become the Headquarters and Headquarters Company,
115th General Support Group.
The other "parent" was born 14 November 1928 as Company I of the 184th Infantry Regiment. However, due to a reorganization in March of 1930, it was redesignated as Company A.
For the most part, the normal peacetime routine existed until 1934. In November of that year, prisoners at the Folsom State Prison seized control of the main buildings and took several of the staff as hostages. The warden was unable to control the situation and asked the Governor for the National Guard. Telephone calls and announcements over the radio were made. Theaters stopped their shows to announce "...all National Guardsmen report to your armory." The entire regiment, and supporting troops, under the command of Colonel Wallace Mason, assembled and moved to Folsom. When the action was over, 11 inmates were dead and 11 wounded.
For the rest of the 1930s the unit kept busy with their weekly evening drills and the "summer camp" at Camp Merriam between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay. Several of the enlisted members who had joined the unit during the twenties and thirties would work their way through the NCO and commissioned officer ranks. One of the most notable was Sacramento dentist Roy A. Green, who joined the 184th as a private in 1918, and went on to be commissioned and command Company A, the 1st Battalion, and later the entire regiment. He was to eventually become a Major General, commanding the 49th Infantry Division. There were others, at least one other general officer and several colonels.
But the peacetime routine was not to last long. When France fell in the summer of 1940, President Roosevelt decided to bolster the Regular Army. There was the introduction of a peacetime draft, and in 1941 there was a general mobilization of the National Guard. The 184th, as well as the rest of the 40th Division was mobilized on 3 March 1941. They moved from their armories in Sacramento to their old training grounds at Camp San Luis Obispo. Most of the regiment thought that they would be on active duty for only a year. But on 7 December 1941, that all changed.
Within 48 hours of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the regiment had moved to the San Diego area and took up defensive positions for the expected attack or invasion of the West Coast. While the rest of the regiment garrisoned area such as Del Mar, La Mesa, and Lindbergh Field, Company A was sent to San Clemente Island. If the Japanese attack had occurred, this lone company of Sacramentans would have been decimated since the was no avenue of retreat or reinforcement. They were to remain there until April when they moved to Fort Lewis, Washington and later the Presidio of San Francisco.
While at the Presidio, the regiment was relieved from the 40th Infantry Division and attached directly to the Western Defense Command. In November 1942, the regiment was attached to the 7th Infantry Division at Fort Ord and later Amphibious Training Force Nine. It was during this period that the regiment was reinforced and its title modified to "184th Regimental Combat Team" In July 1943 the regiment left San Francisco bound for the Japanese held Aleutian Islands. The 184th arrived on Adak Island for training and was assigned again to the 7th Infantry Division.
On 15 August 1943, Operation COTTAGE, the retaking of the last Japanese held island in the Aleutians commenced. The 184th, augmented by the 1st Battalion, 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment, and with the 13th Canadian Infantry Brigade Group on its right, made its first of many assault landings at Long Beach on Kiska Island. When the regiment landed, its commander, Colonel Curtis D. O'Sullivan, ordered the regiment's band to play. They responded with "California, Here I Come" and "The Maple Leaf Forever." After an unopposed landing, the regiment found that the Japanese garrison had been evacuated by a large cruiser and destroyer force on the 28th of July. The enemy had left in such a hurry, that they left mess tables still set with meals, and blankets soaked in fuel oil, but not lit. But, the 184th did have the honor of being the only National Guard regiment to regain lost American territory from a foreign enemy in World War II, the first since the War of 1812.
When the island was declared secure, the division moved to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, arriving in September of 1943. This was a welcome change for the men who just spent over three months on the Alaskan islands. But it didn't last long. On 20 January 1944, the regiment left Hawaii bound for the Marshall Islands
Kwajalein Atoll had been Japanese territory for decades. As such, they had ample opportunity to build a complex system of fortifications. On 1 February, the 184th along with the 32d Infantry Regiment assaulted the heavily defended atoll. Two days later, A, B, and C Companies were given the assignment to clear the highly fortified blockhouse sector. When the battle for Kwajalein was over, approximately five days later, over 8,000 Japanese, members of the 61st Naval Guard Force were dead. General George C. Marshall, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, later said that the operations on Kwajalein were the most efficient of the war. Once again, the 184th achieved another first. They were the first National Guard unit to seize and hold territory that Japan held prior to the start of the war.
With the island secure, the 184th re-embarked on to their transports and returned to Hawaii for rehabilitation and more training. On 15 September 1944, they departed Hawaii, bound for Eniwetok Island. Initially, this was to be a staging area for the invasion of Yap Island, but when they arrived they found that the operation had been canceled in favor of a larger landing, the liberation of the Philippines.
On the morning of 20 October, the 184th hit the beaches near Dulag on the east coast of the island of Leyte. With the beachhead secured, they moved inland. The island provided the Japanese with an ideal defensive terrain. Leyte is a large island, covered with mountains, rain forests, and swamps. The Japanese were long accustomed to fighting in the jungle, and had over three years of occupation to learn the terrain and plan defenses. Additionally, it was easy for the Japanese to reinforce their garrison on Leyte from Luzon in the north and Mindanao in the south.
The Japanese 34th Army, consisting of four divisions, including the infamous 16th Division which was credited for the "Rape of Nanking" and the "Bataan Death March", was the primary opponent on Leyte. The 184th pushed on through the Dulag Valley experiencing high casualties. When the Japanese counterattacked the 32d Infantry Regiment which was spread out along the Palanas River, the 184th was sent to reinforce them. Several attacks were repulsed and the enemy was driven into the bamboo thickets. This action became known as The Battle of Shoestring Ridge. The division, less the 17th Infantry Regiment, was relieved by the 11th Airborne Division on 28 November 1944. The division then moved to Baybay, and the 184th started a drive from Damulaan towards the port of Ormac. They then seized the town Albuere and had joined up with soldiers of the 77th Infantry Division who had landed near Ormac.
The remainder of the 7th then moved to Ormac to regroup. From there, they spent several weeks landing on and securing several of the small islands that surround Leyte. On 10 February they were relieved by the Americal Division and started to prepare for the Ryukyus Campaign. When the division left, they were credited with inflicting over 54,000 enemy deaths.
On 1 April 1945 the division landed on Okinawa. By now, the regiment was being commanded by Colonel Roy A. Green. Initially the 7th and 96th Infantry Divisions were to clear the southern end of the island. Fortunately for these thinly spread forces, an expected counterattack did not occur. If it had, there was a possibility that they could have driven the invasion force into the sea. A few days after the landing, the 184th came into contact with elements of the Japanese 32d Army on the heavily fortified Kakazu Ridge. On 9 April, with the assistance of massed artillery fire, Tomb Hill was captured. By now Company A was losing 30 to 50 men per day. Rifle companies of 40 or 50 men became the rule. On 1 May, despite the presence of infiltrators, the 184th attacked and briefly held Gala Ridge before losing it to a counterattack. Both sides traded blow for blow until the Japanese fell back to their final defensive positions along the Naha-Shuri-Yanabarau Road. In keeping with their motto, "Let's Go", the 184th, using a rainstorm to cover their movements, outflanked the Japanese positions and effectively cut off their forces on the Chenin Peninsula. All that was left to do was mop up the scattered pockets of resistance on the peninsula. When Ryukyus Campaign ended, the Japanese 32d Army had lost tens of thousand of its soldiers. The 184th had lost hundreds.
Next, the division began planning for an invasion that was to make Okinawa look easy, the invasion of the Japanese Home Islands. Fortunately, the dropping of the Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the need for the landings. If they had taken place, some predicted that over a million deaths would have occurred on both sides.
Instead, the 7th was rushed to Korea to disarm the Japanese garrison there and to provide an occupation force. When the regiment arrived in Seoul, the honor of accepting the surrender of all Japanese forces in that region fell upon Colonel Green and the members of Sacramento's 184th Infantry Regiment. While there, the company would lose many of its members to rotation. There were few of the original members of Company A left now. All had earned their Combat Infantry Badges. Most of them had earned the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal for valor. Some even earned the Silver Star. Those who didn't have enough points to be rotated home were used to help reform the 31st Infantry Regiment that had been destroyed on Bataan. It is ironic the 184th, who helped destroy the Japanese 16th Division, would be rebuilding the regiment destroyed by the 16th.
When the 31st Infantry Regiment was fully reconstituted, it replaced the 184th in the 7th Infantry Division's Order of Battle, and on 20 January 1946, the colors were cased and the regiment inactivated. The 184th would maintain links with the 7th, 31st, and 32d Infantry Regiments for many years after the war. Company A, 184th Infantry Regiment had participated in some of the toughest fighting of the war, and it is evidenced by the streamers embroidered ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, EASTERN MANDATES (with arrowhead), LEYTE (also with an arrowhead), and RYUKYUS. Also, the President of the Philippine Commonwealth presented the regiment The Philippine Presidential Unit Citation for their part in liberating the people of the Philippines.
The regiment was reformed almost a year later in Sacramento as a part of the newly formed 49th Infantry Division, and it quickly settled down into the cycle of drills and annual training at Camp San Luis Obispo. In 1956, the unit moved to the small railroad town of Roseville, just east of Sacramento. It and its decedents would remain there through the present day.
With the advent of the "Pentomic" divisional structure on 1 May 1959, the old regiments disappeared, replaced by a series of battle groups. Company A, 184th Infantry Regiment became Company C, 2nd Battle Group, 184th Infantry. On 1 March of the following year, yet another reorganization resulted in the company becoming the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the battle group.
The final reorganization before the establishment
of the 115th took place on 1 March 1963 when the infantrymen became
tankers and the unit became Headquarters and Headquarters Company,
3rd Battalion, 149th Armor. That designation would remain until
1968 when the unit consolidated with Company C, 749th Maintenance
The 115th General Support Group was "born" in Roseville on 29 January 1968 with Colonel George B. Borchers, a former enlisted member of Company E, 115th Quartermaster Regiment, as its first commander. Its nine companies were organized into three battalions, the 161st and 749th Maintenance Battalions and the 217th Transportation Battalion. The headquarters now had statewide logistical responsibilities. The missions of the assigned units included direct and general support levels of maintenance, transportation, supply and services, and aircraft repair. There was even a band. The group was spread out between Roseville in the north to Long Beach and Barstow in the south.
The first AT occurred during June of 1968 and a task force under the flag of the 161st Maintenance Battalion was formed to provide logistical support to units training at Fort Irwin, California. This was to set the pattern for annual training that lasts to the present day. Task forces formed under one of the battalions to provide "real world" logistical support to units training in the field. In addition to the Headquarters Detachment of the 161st (Long Beach), the task force consisted of 118th and 123d Maintenance Companies, 349th Supply and Service Company (DS), 1113th Transportation Company (Car), and the 2632d Transportation Company (Light).
1969 found the unit participating in a wide variety of missions. The 349th Supply and Service Company, 147th Quartermaster Detachment (Bath) and the entire 161st Maintenance Battalion was designated as Selected Reserve Forces (SRF) units. SRF (pronounced "surf") units were high priority units that required higher levels of readiness and more training time. Also that year, the group would provide support to the 4,000 Guardsmen at the "Peoples' Park" disturbance at the University of California at Berkeley for two weeks. Later in the year, the unit would participate in the first of what would be a long series of high profile exercises out of state, LOGEX-69 at the Army Quartermaster School, Fort Lee, Virginia.
In 1971, the 223d General Support Group was formed and the Headquarters Detachment of the 161st Maintenance Battalion, 147th Quartermaster Detachment (Bath), 428th Maintenance Company, and the 1114th and 1498th Transportation Companies were transferred to the new command. Also, the 749th Maintenance Battalion was redesignated as a Service Battalion. Of special note was the assumption of command by Colonel Robert Nimmo. After his command, Colonel Nimmo went on to become a distinguished state senator from San Luis Obispo County and the Director of the Veterans Administration under President Ronald Reagan.
In 1973, one of the more unusual events in the group's history occurred. On 28 April, a munitions train traveling through the Southern Pacific Railroad's Roseville yards caught fire and 22 carloads of 250-pound aerial bombs exploded. When it is was all over four days later, the town of Antelope was flattened and parts of railroad cars and shrapnel from the bombs had fallen into the wide area between North Highlands, Citrus Heights and Roseville. Soldiers from the group headquarters company provided assistance to civil authorities in northern Sacramento and southern Placer Counties during the disaster and clean up.
1974 was to prove to be a busy year for the group staff. With the disbanding of the 223d Support Group and the formation of other units, the group structure and strength radically changed. It had gone from 11 companies and detachments totaling 1200 soldiers to 23 similar sized units and double the strength. The group's units which had been limited to Roseville in the north to Atascadero in the south, now stretched from Eureka and Susanville back down to Barstow and Long Beach. The 161st Maintenance Battalion returned to the group and two new battalions were added, the 579th Engineer and the 185th Transportation Battalions. The 217th Transportation Battalion, with the 1112th Transportation Company, which were aircraft repair units, were transferred to the 76th Aviation Group. During 1975, along with other structural changes, the 59th Army Band returned and the 170th Military Police Detachment (Criminal Investigation) was attached.
In the late 1970's the group was responsible for commanding combat service support operations at both Fort Irwin and Camp Roberts. This usually involved back to back incremented ATs conducted over a six week period. In 1977, after a long drought, one of the worse fire seasons in the state's history struck. Group units were deployed to all of the major fire areas, providing maintenance, quartermaster and transportation support to military and civilian fire fighting forces alike.
1980 was the start of a decade of transition. For the first time, Group units were training overseas, something that is considered common now. That year, the 123d Maintenance Company performed it annual training in Karlsruhe, Germany. Also that year, the group headquarters sent its first cell to Europe for Exercise ABLE ARCHER. It was also the year that the group established the partnership relationship with the 593d Area Support Group during its annual training at Fort Lewis, Washington. This special relationship continues through this day and both units have benefitted greatly from these ties.
The next year was one of considerable support to civilian authority. The highlight was Operation MEDFLY, Governor Jerry Brown's effort to eradicate the Mediterranean Fruit Fly without the use of pesticide. Also that year was the large, but extremely peaceful protest at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Station just outside the city of San Luis Obispo. In both cases group staff and elements were used extensively to provide logistical support where needed.
1984 was another year of firsts. It was then that the first Exercise LASTING RESPONSE was conducted. This command post exercise (CPX) brought over 500 soldier from the 115th's wartime structure to Camp San Luis Obispo to train on the "real world" war plans. The most unique feature of this exercise was the inclusion of members of the German Territorial Army. This is another special relationship that has blossomed over the years and it is hoped, that despite recent mission changes, many friendships will be maintained well into the 21st century.
The training year of LASTING RESPONSE exercises, as well as major CPXs in Europe (i.e., REFORGER, WINTEX-CIMEX, CRESTED EAGLE, etc.) became the routine for the 115th throughout the 1980s. In these and other areas, the group excelled and in 1986 and 1989 the 115th Area Support Group was considered the best support group in the 21st Theater Army Area Command's (TAACOM) wartime structure. But, as busy and filled with accomplishments as the 1980s were, they would pale to the events that took place in late 1989, 1990 and 1991.
At 17:04 hours on 17 October 1989, most of Northern California was sitting down in front of their televisions to see the opening game of the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics. At that time, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake stuck the San Francisco Bay area. Immediately the National Guard sprung into action. The entire 112th Engineer Company was mobilized for work in the Santa Cruz Mountains in support of the 579th Engineer Battalion. Other units provided power generation teams, contact maintenance teams, laundry and shower points, fuel supply points, and other logistical support to relief forces and the general population. While most of the group's unit had returned to normal standing by the end of the year, laundry and shower teams were to remain deployed in the Redwood Estates area until February 1990.
1990 opened pretty much as any year did at the 115th, planning for exercises and cells to Europe, and conducting the business of the National Guard. But there were to be differences, major and serious differences. It started with annual training in May of that year. At the end of a successful Exercise LASTING RESPONSE, Generalmajor (Major General) Frank Schild, Commanding General of Wehrbereichkommando (WBK) V, presented the Fahnenband des Landes Baden-Württemburg (Streamer of the State of Baden-Württemburg) to the 115th Area Support Group on behalf of the Ministerpresident and people of the German State of Baden-Württemburg in recognition of their commitment to the defense of Germany and Western Europe. Since its inception, this award had only been awarded ten times, all to units of the Bundeswher (the German Federal Armed Forces). It was also the first time that a unit based in the United States (to include Regular Army and other reserve component units) received a unit citation from any of the German states. With the reduction of forces in Europe, it is doubtful that any other unit, reserve or active, will be so honored. The black and gold streamer attached to the flagstaff of the group's colors has secured the 115th Area Support Group a unique place in the history of the American military presence in Europe.
But the units of the 115th would not go to Europe or Korea for their next action, they would go to sands of the Middle East. On 2 August 1990, the Soviet trained and equipped Iraqi Army crossed their border with Kuwait and over ran the small oil rich emirate in a matter of hours. Within days, the 1113th and 2668th Transportation Companies were placed on alert for mobilization. This was followed later by the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment of the 185th Transportation Battalion. The 185th and 1113th were attached to units of the newly formed 22d Support Command while the 2668th was attached to 101st Corps Support Group, 1st Corps Support Command (Airborne). During Operation DESERT SHIELD and later DESERT STORM, the 1113th had the mission of bringing up supplies from the ports, air fields, and supply depots up to the Corps Support Commands of the III and VII Corps, and XVIII Airborne Corps. When the ground war started the 185th, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Chambers, and with its attached Regular Army, National Guard, and Army Reserve units made the "end run" right behind the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) and the other units of the VII Corps.
While they made military logistics history performing their duties in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq, the most important statistic came out after the shooting had stopped. For the first time in the history of the California National Guard, all of the soldiers who went into the active combat theater of operations, came back alive. This was not only true for the units of the 115th, but also those of the 49th Military Police Brigade and the 175th Medical Brigade. This was the best news that came out of the Persian Gulf War.
When all of the units came back, the group wound up with one more unit than it sent over. The 224th Transportation Detachment (Movement Control) was attached to the 115th Area Support Group immediately upon is demobilization. This too was a unit of "firsts" that should fit well within the traditions of the 115th. The unit was the first unit called up for the war, the first to deploy, and the first unit in the history of the California National Guard to be commanded in a war zone by a woman, First Lieutenant Margaret Perez.
Finally, with the relaxation of East-West tensions in Central Europe, and the possibility of former enemies joining NATO, new missions were sought. In 1993, the tenth and final Exercise LASTING RESPONSE was conducted. During those years that the group had its focus on Europe, it built a reputation their as being one of the best in the Army. It was constantly used as a test unit for new training systems and logistics systems. It performed the missions it was given by the 21st TAACOM with success and was consider the model reserve component Area Support Group. It is expected that this tradition of excellence will continue.
As the unit enter the last half of the 1990's, new primary missions are being contemplated. Nation building tasks in Central America were planned for and executed with the same degree of degree of professionalism that the unit had always displayed. Former adversaries have once again become allies as members of the Ukraine Defense Forces now train with the California National Guard on a regular basis.
In 1996, the Headquarters Company was consolidated with the 224th Transportation Detachment. This action added the Persian Gulf War campaign honors, DEFENSE OF SAUDI ARABIA, LIBERATION AND DEFENSE OF KUWAIT, and CEASE-FIRE to the unit's long list of honors.
On 6 June 1997, the group achieved another first. It is the first senior command of the California National Guard to be commanded by a woman, Colonel Elizabeth I. Robinson who previously commanded the 980th Medical Logistics Battalion, the group's newest unit. This is just the latest, but surely not the last of the 115th's achievements.
With the end of the Cold War and the reduction of troops in Europe and elsewhere overseas, the Army found itself with too many Area Support Groups. So, on 1 October 1997, the colors were cased and the the 115th became the 115th Troop Command, a organizations that continued the history and traditions of the old ASG.
But this was only to be a temporary rest. Soon after this reorganization, the Army decided that it had indeed erred in cutting back many of the support organizations. Almost immediately the 115th ASG returned to the list of new organizations to be fielded in the California National Guard and on 1 October 2001, the colors were uncased and the unit returned to active duty.
As we enter the era of reorganizations and new missions, we have lost units that have been with the 115th since its organization as a support group. Units like the 2632d Transportation Company from San Bruno or the old 349th Quartermaster Supply Company in Benicia. Some units, like the 1113th Transportation Company, also traced their roots back to the old 184th Infantry Regiment and carry the same campaign honors on their guidons that we carry on our colors. Some mourned the passing of the 185th Transportation Battalion when it became a Quartermaster Battalion. But, they forget that along time ago it was the 185th Infantry Regiment, and later the 185th Armor Group. Our system of lineages and honors will somehow keep these regimental honors alive. It can be fully expected that twenty, fifty, or a hundred years from now, some part-time unit historian will be hunched over his or her computer writing the "regimental" history of a National Guard unit in Roseville. Today, we can only imagine what type of unit it will be. We hope that they and the members of that future unit know and understand the legacy that we in 2001 are leaving them.