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.
In honor of its birthday, here are six things 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. After the invasion, Cobb returned back 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 long-time supporter, received the USO distinguished service award in 2011.
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 is adding to its firepower this summer.
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, as part of a USO sponsored tour, legendary rocker Ozzy Osbourne and his wife Sharon visited with 1st Armored Division and other soldiers stationed in Korea.
Osbourne performed for over 30,000 troops in 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 2020.
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