By Mike Case
Organized at Fort Knox, Kentucky, on July 15, 1940, the 1st Armored Division fought on the battlefields of North Africa and Italy during World War II. After the war, the 1st Armored would go on to participate in a variety of conflicts, from the Cold War to Desert Storm, Kosovo and most recently to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Here are six facts you should know about “America’s Tank Division”:
1. The 1st Armored Division is the Army’s Sole Armored Division.
In 2011, the unit changed its home base from Baumholder, Germany, to Fort Bliss, Texas, consequently launching the Army’s largest installation construction program. With the relocation of the unit, Fort Bliss, located near El Paso, went from being home to 9,000 soldiers in 2005 to more than 34,000 in 2011.
2. Army Pvt. Roy Cobb of “Band of Brothers” Fame Was Assigned to the 1st Armored Division and Participated in Operation Torch, the Allied Invasion of North Africa.
The unit was the first U.S. armored division to see combat in WWII. As noted in Stephen Ambrose’s “Band of Brothers” book, after the invasion, Cobb returned stateside and decided to join the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, where he would earn his jump wings and be sent to Europe along with the rest of the unit.
3. Gen. Martin Dempsey Commanded the 1st Armored Division From 2003-2005.
Dempsey, a USO tour veteran and longtime supporter, received the USO distinguished service award in 2011. Dempsey led the division in Baghdad during his command tour, where he actively participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
4. The Unit’s Nickname, “Old Ironsides,” Was Inspired By a Famous Navy Ship.
The USS Constitution’s nickname is “Old Ironsides,” and after seeing a picture of the vessel, the 1st Armored Division’s first commander Maj. Gen. Bruce Magruder decided to adopt the ship’s nickname for his own unit.
5. The 1st Armored Division Added to its Firepower in Summer 2019.
In June 2019, the division’s 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team turned in its smaller Stryker vehicles for heavier equipment. Their new vehicles include the Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles.
6. In 2002, Legendary Rocker Ozzy Osbourne visited the 1st Armored Division and Other Soldiers stationed in South Korea.
As part of a USO entertainment tour, Osbourne – accompanied by his wife, Sharon – performed for over 30,000 troops in South Korea and then went on to visit other service members stationed in Japan.
-This story originally appeared on USO.org in 2019. It has been updated in 2021.
More Stories Like This
9 Must-Know Facts about the Army's 1st Cavalry Division for its Birthday
As the 1st Cavalry Division celebrates its birthday on Sept 13, here’s nine things you may not know about the Troopers who make up America's "First Team."
'Call of Duty,' a K9 War Hero Named Rags and the 'Big Red One' Patch: About the 1st Infantry Division
Originally commissioned in 1917 to fight in World War I, the 1st Infantry Division is the oldest continuously serving division in the U.S. Army. Here are seven facts you should know about the unit.
Here Are 7 Things You Need to Know About the 101st Airborne Division
How much do you know about the 101st Airborne Division? The only air assault division in the U.S. Army, the 101st Airborne is based out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and has a rich history dating back to World War II.
More from the USO
Nov 23, 2021
5 Facts to Celebrate the Navy Chaplain Corps' Birthday
The U.S. Navy Chaplain Corps is responsible for the spiritual well-being of service members of all faiths. It provides chaplains to the Navy, Marine Corps and the Coast Guard. Beyond the Chaplain Corps' primary mission, its history is filled with examples of amazing, selfless courage.
Nov 23, 2021
What It’s Like Celebrating Thanksgiving with a Deployed Spouse
Celebrating Thanksgiving with a deployed spouse can take its toll on the entire military family, but especially on the military spouses. Andrea Weathers shares her firsthand accounts of spending Thanksgivings apart from both her Navy husband and her own family - and how her military community supported her through it all.