30th Infantry Division/Brigade Combat Team “OLD HICKORY”
By Wes Morrison (co-Credit to Frank Towers) May 2013
The 30th Division was created on July 18, 1917, and was formally activated into Federal service in August 1917 at Camp Sevier, South Carolina, and was composed of National Guard units from North and South Carolina and Tennessee.
The Division was named after the famed citizen soldier and President, Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson, who was born near the North/South Carolina border, and rising to fame in Tennessee, where he provided some regional flavor to the tightly knit group of soldiers that he led there during the Indian Wars of the early 1800’s and War of 1812.
The Division's patch is an obvious link to this heritage, being represented by an "O" and "H" with the Roman Numeral "XXX" in Royal Blue on a background of Scarlet Red in the center. During World War I, the shoulder patch (logo) was worn horizontally, which actually was the incorrect orientation, which was not discovered and corrected until the mid 1920's.
The 30th Infantry Division served overseas during World War I where it was one of only two American Divisions to serve under foreign command serving in the Allied Army that consisted of the American II Corps and the Australian Corps of the British Expeditionary Force. On 29 September 1918, the Old Hickory Division distinguished itself in the Somme Offensive by smashing its way through the famed and so called impregnable 'Hindenburg Line', a victory that hastened the end of World War I. It also participated in the Battles of La Selle, St. Mihiel and in the Meuse-Argonne, and during these battles; its men were awarded twelve (12) Congressional Medals of Honor. That is more than any other US Army Division in World War I.
Again in September 1940, the 30th Infantry Division, composed of the National Guard troops of North & South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia, was inducted into Federal service at Ft. Jackson, S.C. The Division would organize and train at Fort Jackson, SC; Camp Blanding, FL; Camp Forrest, TN and Camp Atterbury, IN before embarking for Europe in February of 1944. The main body of the 30th Division entered combat on Omaha Beach from 10-15 June 1944.
During combat, the 30th Infantry Division was known as the "Workhorse of the Western Front". It was also familiarly known as "Roosevelt's SS Troops", so named by the German High Command because of the consistent vigor and terrific pressure the 30th Infantry Division brought to bear on Hitler's 'elite' 1st SS Division. The German 'elite' 1st SS Division was the main force of resistance just prior to the breakthrough at St. LO, and again at Mortain, which the 30th Infantry Division literally tore to shreds, thereby allowing Gen. George Patton's armored forces of the U.S. Third Army to go forward and race across France, thereby shortening the war by many months. The German 1st SS Division was then reorganized over the next few months, and was again faced by the 30th Infantry Division in the "Battle of the Bulge", during the great Ardennes-Alsace Offensive, near Malmedy, Belgium, during the winter of 1944-45. Again the 30th Infantry Division tore to shreds this 'elite' enemy. One other notable achievement by the 30th Division during World War II was the breaching of the Seigfried Line (or Western Wall) that allowed the capture of the first German City of Aachen in October of 1944. Six Congressional Medals of Honor were awarded to 30th Division soldiers in World War II.
Upon completion of duty in World War II, the Division was demobilized to National Guard status becoming the 30th Infantry Brigade in 1974.
The 30th Brigade Combat Team was one of two of the first National Guard Combat brigades mobilized since the Korean War when it was ordered to active duty in September of 2003. The Brigade trained at Fort Bragg, NC; Fort Stewart, GA; Camp Blanding, FL and Fort Polk, LA before embarking planes for Kuwait in February of 2004. The first elements of the brigade entered the Iraq theater of operations in late February with the main body following up in early March.
During the deployment, the Old Hickory Brigade conducted approximately 19,000 combat patrols, 3,700 joint patrols with the Iraqi National Guard, 110 ambushes and 36 deliberate raids in efforts to capture or kill enemy forces. These operations resulted in the discovery of 251 improvised explosive devices, 369 ammunition / weapons caches and the capture of 452 insurgents. In addition, the Brigade trained and mentored the 206th, 209th and 297th Iraqi National Guard Battalions, the Diyala Province Depart-ment of Border Enforcement, the 167 Department of Border Patrol officers, and the Iraqi police in eastern Diyala to improve security and prepare Iraq for a future sovereign democracy. After 10 months of “boots on the ground” in Iraq, the Brigade was demobilized in January and February of 2005.
In February 2009, the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team answered the call to deploy to Iraq again mobilizing at Camp Shelby, MS and finishing its training at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, CA.
The 30th HBCT conducted a Relief In Place with the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division on 26 MAY 09 at FOB Falcon, Iraq. AO HICKORY would span almost 200 square miles and each of their subordinate battalions responsible for an area. Over half of the Soldiers in the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team were redeployed for this second mission. The brigade’s focus would be to provide security for the local populace, to assist them in modifying and maintaining essential services and to re-generate a depressed local economy.
Throughout the tour the 30th HBCT developed many relationships with the local populace, their leaders and also the Iraqi Security Forces in the area. The cooperation between U.S. and Iraqi Forces led to the apprehension of some of the key leadership responsible for bombings, the smuggling of explosive materiel and many other terrorist activities that occurred throughout AO HICKORY.
The “Old Hickory” Brigade also completed many civil capacity projects that helped to create new jobs for some, and fix some pre-existing issues that limited agricultural production, education and in some cases, medical assistance for others. Overall, the 30th HBCT was able to successfully handle the dual role of personal security of the people, while also helping to nourish and repair their essential services as well. The 30th HBCT redeployed to Fort Stewart, GA in January and February of 2010 to demobilize.
For its performance in combat, every battalion in the Brigade was awarded the Meritorious Unit Citation from the Department of the Army. These were the first unit citations issued to the OLD HICKORY Brigade since World War II.
To date, the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team is the only National Guard Brigade Combat Team that deployed in the War on Terror twice to conduct full spectrum operations. In short, the citizen soldiers of OLD HICKORY functioned as a maneuver brigade for 1st Infantry Division in 2004 and 1st Cavalry Division in 2009. This accomplishment adds to the legacy built by those citizen soldiers of OLD HICKORY from World Wars I and 2 who built the legacy of this historic and proud fighting unit.
Today, over 3,400 men and women citizen soldiers carry on the tradition of OLD HICKORY as the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team. The 30th is Always Ready, and will always Stay and Fight!