23rd Infantry Regiment
|[Introduction]||[History 1861-1950]||[Korean War]|
|[Stryker Battalion]||[Coat of Arms and Insignia]||[Lineage and Honors]|
|[Campaigns]||[Unit Decorations]||[The 23rd Infantry Today]|
The 23rd Infantry Regiment has compiled a valorous and distinguished history of service to our country. As one of the most decorated infantry regiments in the United States Army, its achievements through the years have set a standard to uphold, a tradition to continue, and an organization of which to be exceedingly proud.
The 23rd Infantry Regiment was constituted on 3 May 1861 in the Regular Army as the 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry and was organized at Fort Trumbull, Connecticut.
The Battalion was redesignated on 30 April 1862 as the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry. As part of the 18th Division, V Corps, Army of the Potomac, the battalion compiled an impressive combat record while participating in twelve famous Civil War Campaigns including Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wilderness and Petersburg.
After the Civil War, the 2d Battalion was assigned to the Department of the Columbia with headquarters in Vancouver, Washington and on 21 September 1866, it was reorganized and redesignated as the 23rd Infantry Regiment.
When the Alaskan Territory was purchased from Imperial Russia early in the summer of 1867, the Territory was placed under the control of the War Department. After the necessary arrangements had been made with Russia, Colonel (Brevet Major General) Jefferson C. Davis, commanding officer of the 23rd Infantry, with Battery H, 2nd Artillery, three companies of the 23rd Infantry and one company of the 9th Infantry arrived in Sitka Harbor on 10 October 1867. After participating in the formal transfer ceremonies on 18 October 1867, the troops began unloading stores and equipment. On 29 October 1867, Colonel Davis assumed command of the District of Alaska with headquarters at Sitka. Because of the lateness of the season, Sitka was the only post established in 1867. In 1868-69 three additional posts were established. These were designated Forts Wrangell, Kodiak and Kenai.
Upon Colonel Davis’ departure for Alaska, command of the 23rd Infantry was assumed by its ranking officer Lieutenant Colonel (Brevet Major General) George Crook. The regimental headquarters had moved to Fort Boise, Idaho in 1866 whereupon elements of the 23rd undertook operations against Snake River Shoshone Indians from 1866-1868. Other elements of the 23rd were sent to Oregon and engaged Indian tribes there from 1866 to 1868. The 23rd Infantry also served in Arizona against the Apache Indians. In 1876 the 23rd joined in the pursuit and roundup of the Sioux and Northern Cheyenne who had wiped out General Custer’s command at the Little Big Horn in Montana. In the 1880’s the 23rd conducted operations against the Ute Indians in Colorado.
In 1898, the 23rd Infantry was sent across the Pacific to participate in the seizure of Manila during the Spanish-American War. The Regiment remained in the Philippines, participating in five campaigns against Filipino rebels. Upon conclusion of the Philippine Insurrection the 23rd Infantry Regiment returned to the United States via the Suez Canal and the Straits of Gibraltar, becoming the first U.S. Army regiment to circumnavigate the globe.
On 22 September 1917, the 23rd Infantry was assigned to the newly formed U.S. Second Division in France. The 23rd with the 9th Infantry formed one brigade; the second brigade was formed with two Marine regiments. The 23rd as part of the 2nd Division distinguished itself in six World War I campaigns including the Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne. The Armistice brought an end to the war on 11 November 1918. The 2nd Division marched into Germany and took up occupation duties lasting until April 1919. For its valor the 23rd was awarded three French Croix de Guerre with Palm and the French Fourragere which all soldiers assigned to the 23rd are entitled to wear on their left shoulder.
Upon returning to the U.S., the 23rd as part of the 2nd Division was stationed at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. It was to remain there for 23 years as the Division served as a test-bed for new concepts and organizations. In 1940 when the Army decided to move to a new division organization, the 2nd Division became the first to be reorganized in the new triangular concept of three infantry regiments. The 38th Infantry joined the 9th and 23rd as the third regiment.
In World War II the 23rd Infantry as part of the 2nd Infantry Division came ashore on Omaha Beach on D+1 June 7, 1944, and immediately entered the fierce hedgerow fighting culminating in the seizure of the city of Brest. The 23rd saw heavy combat across France and held the line at St. Vith during the Battle of the Bulge. For its gallantry in WW II the 23rd Infantry was awarded four Presidential Unit Citations.
The 2nd Infantry Division returned to the United States and was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington from 1946 to July 1950. Intensive training kept the 23rd Infantry combat- ready.
The North Korean invasion of South Korea in June 1950 sent the 2nd Infantry Division back overseas and to its third war. By August 1950 the Division had relieved the 24th Infantry Division on the Naktong River. This was to mark the beginning of a campaign by the 23rd Infantry that is worthy of the highest place in the annals of the United States Army. In fierce battles such as “Bloody Ridge”, “Old Baldy”, “Heartbreak Ridge” and “Arrowhead”, the 23rd Infantry proved itself, time after time, to have the same ability and grim determination to do the job well that had built its historic tradition of glory and honor through the years.
At Chipyong-Ni, the 23rd Infantry, along with its attached French Battalion, withstood repeated, frenzied and determined human wave attacks of four Chinese Communist Divisions, thus halting the Communist offensive which had threatened to engulf the entire 8th Army. For its heroic stand, the 23rd Infantry received the Distinguished Unit Citation.
The 23rd Infantry participated in some of the bitterest and bloodiest fighting of the Korean War. Probably the most famous and most costly battle was that of “Heartbreak Ridge” in the Fall of 1951. For thirty days and twenty-nine nights, the 23rd Infantry engaged Chinese Communist forces dug in on the ridge and, while costly to the 23rd, the final count told a story of Communist combat casualties of 3 to 1.
Reinforcing the 23rd Infantry as a fourth maneuver battalion, the French Battalion joined the Regiment on 11 December 1950. “Le Bataillon de Coree” had been organized in October from volunteers from the French Army. The Battalion arrived in Pusan at the end of November 1950, and until its departure from the 23rd for duty in Indo-China in October 1953, made significant contributions to the combat achievements of the 23rd Infantry. The French Battalion proved its value and courage on the nights of 6 and 8 October 1952 by repelling concentrated Communist attacks on “Arrowhead Ridge”. After sustaining tremendous artillery and mortar barrages, the French Battalion repeatedly threw back wave after wave of Chinese Communist troops, often through deadly hand-to-hand combat. For their heroism, the French Battalion was awarded the Korean Presidential Unit Citation by Syngman Rhee on 1 December 1952.
On 4 January 1953 the 23rd Infantry, minus the French Battalion, departed for the POW facilities on Koje-do and Choju-do Islands located of the southern coast of Korea. Turbulent riots and repeated incidents of insubordination on the part of the Chinese and North Korean prisoners had begun prior to the 23rd Infantry’s arrival and still continued; the compounds were seething with heightened unrest. With long hours of guard duty in the lonely blockhouses surrounding the compounds, the 23rd Infantry had little time for relaxation as troop barracks had to be built and road repairs initiated. The 23rd remained on POW guard duty until the end of March 1953.
In the closing days of the Korean War, the 23rd Infantry once again found itself manning front line positions. Included were two blocking operations, the first on the Wyoming Line, and the second on the Kansas Line.
The 23rd returned to the Kumhwa-Chorwon sector on 19 June 1953 and while defending outposts “Tom”, “Dick” and “Harry”, the cease-fire agreement between the Communist Forces and United Nations Forces was signed 27 July 1953. It was during the Korean War that the name “Tomahawk” was given the 23rd Infantry.
On 20 October 1954, the 23rd Infantry with the rest of the 2nd Infantry Division returned to Fort Lewis, Washington. Two years later, in 1956, the Division was transferred to Alaska. In 1957 the Army came to the conclusion that infantry regiments as tactical elements were obsolete and decided to replace them with battle groups. To preserve the lineage and honors of the historic regiments, the Combat Arms Regimental System (CARS) was created. In the case of infantry, the line companies of an infantry regiment would be used to create headquarters companies of battle groups (later battalions) bearing the regimental designations. As one of the most decorated regiments in the Army the 23rd Infantry was retained as one of the historic regiments. During the 1960s the 23rd fielded five battalions and a separate rifle company under the CARS concept.
As part of the 23rd Infantry’s reorganization under CARS on 20 June 1957, Company D, 23rd Infantry was redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Battle Group, 23rd Infantry and placed on inactive status. The 4th Battle Group, 23rd Infantry was later activated on 25 January 1963 in Alaska with its organic line companies concurrently being constituted and activated. On 20 May 1963, the 4th Battle Group, 23rd Infantry was assigned to the 172nd Infantry Brigade.
The Army decided battle groups were not the answer and reorganized them into battalions. On 1 July 1963 the 4th Battle Group, 23rd Infantry was reorganized and redesignated as the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry. Two and a half years later the expanding American military effort in Vietnam resulted in the 25th Infantry Division being ordered into combat. Because it was shy two of its nine infantry battalions, the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry was reassigned to the 25th Division on 14 January 1966 along with its sister Alaska-based battalion, the 4th Battalion 9th Infantry.
On 17 December 1965, the 4th Battalion (Mechanized) 23rd Infantry Regiment was alerted for overseas deployment and on 22 January 1966 it became part of the 25th Infantry Division (Tropic Lightning). After approximately 84 days of rigorous and intensive jungle training in the tropics of Hawaii, the 4/23rd boarded the USS Walker on 15 April 1966. The Walker sailed at 0200 the following day and arrived in Vung Tau, Republic of Vietnam after 14 days of calm sailing. The Battalion boarded landing craft and once ashore on the morning of 29 April, moved out for Cu Chi where they were to take up defensive positions and conduct combat operations.
On 9 May the 4/23rd participated in its first major operation against the Viet Cong. “Operation Akron” lasted for three days and the “Tomahawks” made a good showing their first time out in the field.
Following this operation, the 4/23rd returned to Cu Chi base camp to continue making improvements in their area. “Operation Wahiawa” began on 16 May 1966 and saw the Battalion operating in the Filhol Plantation area along with elements of the First Brigade. This operation lasted for 13 hard days, in which the Battalion moved through the plantation searching for the Viet Cong. Following this, “Operation Makiki” was launched on 3 June 1966 and the 4/23rd found itself in the thick of it when it ended on 7 June.
The 4/23rd moved to Bien Hoa in mid-June to secure the base camps of the 1st Infantry Division and those of the 173d Airborne Brigade. Company-sized operations and patrol actions were conducted during the operations at Bien Hoa. On 15 July the 4/23rd was flown by C-123 aircraft to Vo Dat for the start of “Operation Kahana II”, during which numerous company-sized operations were undertaken in both the Vo Dat and Vo Xu areas. Alpha Company distinguished itself while taking part in a search and destroy mission in the hamlet of Vo Xu. Unknown to anyone, the Viet Cong had prepared an ambush for the district chief of Vo Dat, but Alpha’s presence thwarted the attempt and resulted in 2 VC KIA.
The New Life Hamlet at Vo Xu was built up and Medcaps were regularly undertaken within the immediate area. It was during these operations that the 4/23rd made its first contacts with the Montagnard tribe and was duly impressed with both their attitude and perseverance. From Vo Dat, the 4/23rd was moved back to base camp and began preparations for the move to Tay Ninh for the upcoming “Operation Oahu”.
The mission of the Battalion was to secure the base camp of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade which was just then arriving from the United States. The entire month of August found the 4/23rd occupying the Tay Ninh perimeter and conducting constant search and destroy operations in the vicinity. With the 196th Brigade firmly entrenched, the Battalion found itself released from their present duties and reassigned to the 1st Infantry Division and flown out to Lai Khe to secure yet another perimeter. This time, it was for the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division and was the first big night move for the Battalion. Using Army Caribous and Air Force C-123s the Battalion was swiftly deployed to Lai Khe and established itself on the perimeter. After 4 days of operations with the 1st Infantry Division, the 4/23rd was once again moved back to Cu Chi to begin preparations for “Operation Kipapa”.
This operation got underway with the 4/23rd moving through the southern tip of the Filhol Plantation to Bao Tran. Its mission was to secure a forward fire base and destroy the VC operation in that area.
The Bao Cap – Bao Tran areas had historically been VC guerrilla strongholds and it proved to be every bit as tough an obstacle as expected. Numerous bunker and tunnel complexes were located and destroyed by the Battalion. Once the perimeter had been established, company-sized search and destroy operations were carried out daily and large caches of weapons, documents and food were discovered and destroyed. With the operation nearly concluded, the 4/23rd was pulled out and returned to Cu Chi base camp; however Alpha Company left a platoon-sized ambush patrol behind and roughly 3 hours after getting into position on 12 September, the platoon accounted for 1 VC KIA and 2 WIA out of the 4 VC who walked into the old perimeter to search for abandoned materials.
During the month of September, the 4/23rd remained in Cu Chi and conducted company sweeps and search and destroy missions in the Filhol Plantation and the Phu Hoa Dong area.
The month of October began with the “Tomahawks” once again preparing for another operation … “Operation Kalihi”, which was to be conducted in the Ap Nhe Viec area. The Battalion moved on foot to just north of Paris Ton Qui and established a defensive perimeter on 10 October 1966. From this forward base, company sweeps were conducted daily and on one particular sweep near the Saigon River, Alpha Company was taken under fire by Viet Cong. Some helicopters being used in the operation were downed by the intense ground fire and during the long night, with flareships orbiting overhead to illuminate the area, the men of Alpha maintained a secure perimeter around the downed ships. The following morning the disabled craft and the men of Alpha were safely extracted. The end of October saw the end of “Operation Kalihi” and the 4/23rd found itself immediately alerted for deployment to the Delta to relieve the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment at Ben Luc.
A very important pacification program had been successfully begun by the 4/9th “Manchus”, who were now due for rotation back to Cu Chi. On 5 November, the 4/23rd left Cu Chi and effected this relief. Operations began immediately with combinations of new pacification programs and security missions in the area. Since the 4/23rd was only the second major unit to have operated in the Delta, it was deemed very important to maintain good relations with the local populace. This resulted in extensive search and clear operations, Medcap and general pacification programs being conducted throughout the month of November.
The year 1967 brought a major and revolutionary change to the “Tomahawks” and to the 25th Infantry Division. Having had previous experience as a mechanized unit during its service in Alaska, the 4/23rd was chosen to be the first unit to make the “Mech switch”. It was felt that with just slight refresher training, the battalion could easily be returned to a mechanized infantry unit.
Ninety-three armored personnel carriers were scheduled to arrive in Cu Chi by the new year and the “Tomahawks” had to begin preparation for the changeover immediately so that mechanized operations could begin without delay. Dump trucks, tractors and scores of men from the 65th Engineer Battalion cleared the area, dumped and paved hard layers of dirt throughout the selected tract of land which was to become the new motor pool. Drivers for the new tracks began their training, wheeled vehicles were turned in and infantrymen were oriented on mechanized infantry tactics. All the officers and men of the command anxiously awaited the arrival of their new equipment.
In mid-January the “Tomahawks” were finally ready to continue their missions for the 25th Infantry Division. Speaking on the transition, Lieutenant Colonel Louis J. North, former 4/23rd commander, commented that the change over would “enhance the mobility and shock action of the battalion. It will simplify the problems of going into heavily booby-trapped areas and give us the ability to close in on the enemy faster and with greater fire power.”
Their first real test came on Operation Ala Moana, a search and destroy mission, conducted at Duc Lap for five days in late January, 1967. The “Tomahawks” proved their flexibility as they accounted for a VC KIA (BC), 4 VC KIA (possible), 4 VC POW and 55 detainees. They also destroyed numerous bunkers, fox holes and tunnels in addition to the capture of 1,800 pounds of rice.
During the month of February 1967, the “Tomahawks” participated in Operation Gadsden, a multi-brigade search and destroy/blocking operation conducted in Tay Ninh Province along the Cambodian border. The operation was designed to expose and deny the Viet Cong access to their infiltration and exfiltration routes along the border adjacent to War Zone C. The Recon Platoon was significant in this operation, having located a small ammo and medical cache and documents referring to a local VC Finance and Economy Agency. The area of operations for the “Tomahawks” was heavily infested with VC training and staging areas, many of which were destroyed by the new and powerful mechanized 4/23rd.
On 22 February 1967, the “Tomahawks” helped kick off the largest single operation up to that time … “Operation Junction City”. They set up a base camp approximately 15 kilometers northwest of Nui Ba Den (the Black Virgin Mountain). The 4th Battalion (Mech), 23rd Infantry was cited for its courage and valor and was instrumental in the end result of “Junction City”. A total of 947 VC were killed, 18 POW taken and 183 “Hoi Chanhs” rallied to the side of the South Vietnamese government during the 84 day operation.
“Operation Manhattan”, conducted between 23 April and 7 June, was yet another multi-brigade search and destroy operation, the purpose of which was the location and destruction of Viet Cong forces in the Boi Loi/Ben Cui area. A secondary mission was the location and destruction of VC facilities and fortified positions in the Boi Loi Woods.
Intelligence reports indicated that the area of operation contained numerous important enemy base camps which were being used for logistical and command purposes. There were also indications that one complete VC battalion and part of another were operating in the area.
The Boi Loi Woods was characterized by heavy secondary forest and dense undergrowth, with some areas of wetland rice paddies and a large area of non-producing rubber plantation.
“Operation Manhattan” began on 23 April when the 4/23rd moved in to secure LZs (Landing Zones) for the 4/9th and 2/14th Infantry.
On the morning of 29 April, Bravo Company, 4/23rd was hit by a large VC force. The enemy employed small arms, mortars and rifle grenades in their attack. The infantrymen returned the enemy fire with small arms, automatic weapons and artillery. As the battle continued, the guerrillas fired on the unit with RPG-2 rockets, but only one APC was hit. Close support airstrikes were then called in and after 2 hours of intense fighting, the VC broke contact and withdrew, taking with them their killed and wounded.
During the next few days, the “Tomahawks” provided security for the engineer units employed in jungle clearing operations. Starting on 11 May, the main focus of attention was directed at the 65th Engineers’ Land Clearing Team (LCT). Thirty “Rome Plows” hacked away at the dense undergrowth and tangle of trees in the very heart of the Boi Loi Woods. The mission of the 4/23rd now shifted to one of providing security for the LCT, with continued local search and destroy operations and ambush patrols still being conducted. The 65th Engineers secondary role was that of upgrading and improving roads throughout the operational area.
Between 16 May and 6 June, 4/23rd elements continued to provide security and undertook further local search and destroy operations. On 22 May the Battalion began a 5-day operation in which they inserted and extracted Popular Force Reconnaissance units, while conducting combined search and destroy and night ambush patrols with their allies. On 28 May the “Tomahawks” ended this special operation and relocated back to the 65th Engineers and the previous security operations. June 7 saw the 4/23rd returning to the Cu Chi base camp and at 2400 hours, “Operation Manhattan” was concluded.
During the period of 21 June 1967 to 3 February 1968, the 4/23rd was again engaged in security detail for yet another series of Land Clearing Operations, this time in the Filhol Plantation, Hobo Woods and the Iron Triangle. The purpose of this clearing operation was to eliminate the dense, existing vegetation so as to deny cover to VC/NVA units operating in these historic strongholds.
On 19 September 1967 the 27th Land Clearing Detachment was placed OPCON to the Battalion and so remained until 3 February 1968.
The mission of clearing the vast areas of the Filhol, Hobo Woods and Iron Triangle was an enormous undertaking in land clearing alone since these areas consisted of 19,635 acres. However, the idea of conducting such an operation in an extremely hostile environment was disconcerting, to say the least! Since there were no guidelines established in conducting this type of operation, the Battalion had to, in effect, “write the book” while in the midst of the actual execution of the mission. The Battalion encountered three major obstacles during these operations: weather, terrain and the enemy. Each individually, and often in concert, would at times slow the Battalion’s progress. However, any and all obstacles were met and overcome as the clearing operations continued.
The additional operational considerations and logistical requirements needed to support this operation were massive. The Battalion was totally dependent on air resupply and evacuation. The amount of supplies having to be brought in reached into the millions of pounds. Such constant requirements greatly overburdened the support platoon. Notwithstanding the difficulties involved, supplies continued to arrive and this outstanding performance reflects most highly on the support unit personnel’s devotion to duty … all too often unmentioned by historians. Their faithful execution of their mission was critical in the overall success of the land clearing efforts.
Although normally considered a support-type mission connected with the engineers, the 4/23rd was assigned the task of clearing vast areas that had been VC strongholds for years. The Battalion was given a new unit with which to accomplish this task without benefit of a real doctrine of experience to go on and successfully developed effective concepts, and in spite of the many obstacles placed in the Battalion’s path, successfully accomplished the mission.
These land clearing operations were titled “Barking Sands” – the cutting of the area of the Hobo Woods generally north of Trang Bang; “Atlanta” – which leveled the once impregnable Iron Triangle; and finally “Saratoga” – which encompassed the Filhol Rubber Plantation and additional portions of the Hobo Woods.
While the Lunar New Year cease fire (3 days of Tet) was still in existence, the enemy deliberately broke the truce and launched the infamous “Tet Offensive”. Saigon and Tan Son Nhut were the main focal points of the attacks. Still in the Hobo Woods, the “Tomahawks” were immediately pulled out of operations and dispatched to these critical points. Elements of the Battalion were summoned to Saigon to help other U.S. and South Vietnamese units quell the precarious situation. “Operation Quyet Thang” (Resolve to Win) was underway ant the Battalion began slowly to push the VC and NVA units out of both Saigon and the surrounding countryside.
On the 13th and 14th of February 1968, the 4/23rd again proved its capability as a fighting unit. An estimated battalion of NVA had taken the village of Ap Cho which is situated on QL-1 just south of Cu Chi. They were well entrenched, with good overhead protection and amply supplied with both food an munitions. The ARVN compound directly adjacent to the highway was under their control … this was a main convoy resupply route. Initial contact with the enemy forces was made by the 3/22nd. Supported by both airstrikes and artillery, the 3/22nd fought fiercely for over 10 days, with only the smallest portion of the village being retaken. On the morning of the 13th, the 4/23rd reinforced the 3/22nd. With APCs deployed on-line, the “Tomahawks” began their push into Ap Cho. The advance was slow and hard as the enemy employed RPG-7 anti-armor rockets against the APCs from bunkers and spider holes. The NVA had been ordered to hold Ap Cho at all costs, but the “Tomahawks” were even more determined that the enemy would be dislodged. By the evening of the 13th, the 4/23rd had retaken as much as 1/3 of the village. All that night, artillery and mortars pounded the enemy still within the other 2/3 of Ap Cho. The morning of the 14th saw Divisional Artillery’s M-110, self-propelled 8-inch howitzers employed against bunker lines in a direct-fire role while Charlie Company spearheaded up the center, supported by the rest of the Battalion attacking the flanks. The result was a complete success, illustrating how a mechanized unit could be used effectively. The NVA forces were routed and Ap Cho was again a safe place in which to live and work. This portion of QL-1 was once again secured for resupply convoy operations.
In March, the Recon platoon was engaged in limited search and destroy operations as well as road sweeps between Cu Chi Base Camp and Trang Bang to the north on QL-1 and to Hoc Mon Bridge on QL-1 to the south. This was important in keeping the highway open for convoys, which had increased in both frequency and size as a direct result of the Tet Offensive. On 25 March 1968, the 2d section Recon Platoon HHC 4/23rd began its usual morning sweep from Cu Chi to Trang Bang, while the 1st section swept south to Hoc Mon Bridge. Each section consisted of 4 APCs (“Vipers”) and a small contingent of 7 men of the 65th Engineers. Alpha Company, with about 430 men, was operating in the area around Trang Bang Bridge, located approximately 1500 meters south from the village of Trang Bang on QL-1.
Shortly before 0800, the Recon section was about 1100 meters south of Alpha’s lines when they encountered one of five battalions of the 271st NVA Regiment. The apparent intent of the 271st NVA was to ambush Alpha Company, using the 5 battalions to encircle them and with 2500 men, wipe out the American unit. These overwhelming odds should have ensured that outcome.
The 2d Recon section of 19 men with 4 APCs were now blocking the way of this NVA battalion which was attempting to move across QL-1, cutting it to prevent reinforcements and closing the circle.
In a brief but very intense firefight, Recon found that its exposed position on the highway and small numbers would prevent any maneuvering. Still, they managed to inflict severe casualties on the enemy before the tide of battle turned against them. With odds of 26 to 1, the 2d section was fast facing the prospect of being completely overrun.
With 2 APCs already hit and out of action, of which one was burning, and a large number of wounded, the decision was made to remount the deployed members and break out to Alpha’s position near the bridge. With only 2 operational APCs, all troops within reach mounted and move out. Those not able to mount the APCs made their move toward Alpha in the far-side ditch. Covering that 1100 meters cost both APCs as they were subjected to intense fire from RPGs and recoilless rifles. Additional Recon members were wounded.
The battle raged for hours with artillery and airstrikes called in to break up the 271st’s attack. When the battle ended, the men of the 4/23rd had held their ground and were still an operational force. The 271st NVA Regiment was not. QL-1 was open as usual on March 26th, just as it had been on the 24th!
The 2d section Recon had lost 4 APCs and the vehicles of the contingent of 65th Engineers. They had suffered 6 KIA, 11 WIA. The awards presented for this action were: 1 Distinguished Service Cross, 6 Silver Stars, 10 Bronze Stars with “V” and 16 Purple Hearts. They were credited with 175 NVA killed and an uncounted number of enemy wounded.
Significant in the month of April was the Battalion’s contact with a well dug-in NVA battalion. Joined by the 3/39th ARVN Regiment, the “Tomahawks” fought fiercely for two days. Supported by artillery and tactical air strikes, the 4/23rd forced the NVA to break contact just outside of Duc Hoa. A sweep of the bloody battlefield yielded 99 NVA dead, 31 automatic and 7 crew-served weapons. For the 4/23rd’s outstanding performance, General William Westmoreland, Commander of the American Forces In Vietnam, personally wrote a congratulatory message, citing the Battalion’s courage and valor.
HHC Recon again found itself in the thick of intense fighting when on 26 April, they were attacked while setting up in a night defensive position. Despite suicidal human-wave attacks by the NVA, the men of Recon held their ground for hours until reinforcements arrived, and were credited with 150 NVA killed.
The 4th Battalion (Mechanized) 23rd Infantry continued its record of gallant combat service with the 25th Division until the Tropic Lightning left Vietnam in 1971. The battalion received two U.S. Army Valorous Unit Awards, two awards of the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm as well as the Republic of Vietnam Civic Action Honor Medal, 1st Class.
— Information on this page provided by Bill Kestell, Recon Platoon, 4th/23rd Infantry, and forwarded to us by Terry Landers.
Upon return of the 25th Division to Hawaii the 4/23rd was inactivated on 5 June 1972. The battalion was reassigned to the 172nd Infantry Brigade in Alaska and reactivated on 2 August 1972. The 4/23rd was again inactivated on 6 January 1983. It was then assigned to the 9th Infantry Division (Motorized) and reactivated on 21 January 1983 at Fort Lewis, Washington. The Battalion was equipped with all-terrain light vehicles mounting machine guns and anit-tank weapons. On 28 September 1990 the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry was inactivated.
The 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry was reactivated on 16 March 2004 at Fort Richardson Alaska. The battalion was organized as a Stryker battalion and assigned to the 172nd Infantry Brigade (Stryker) The battalion served a sixteen month tour of duty in Iraq from August 2005-December 2006. The battalion was inactivated on 15 December 2006. On 16 April 2007 the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment was reactivated as a Stryker infantry battalion at Fort Lewis Washington and assigned to the 5th Brigade Combat Team (Stryker), 2nd Infantry Division.
Symbolism: The Crest of the 23rd Infantry Regiment consists of eleven distinct sections, each having its own history:
The Totem Pole at the top of the shield represents service in Alaska. the American Eagle portrays the new owner of the Alaskan Territory, the Russian Bear, the old owner. Between the Totem Pole and the shield is depicted a plate, denoting the feast given the Eagle by the Bear during the change-over. The Totem Pole is encircled by the French Fourragere which was awarded the 23rd Infantry by Marshall Henri Pere in 1918 for the Regiment’s heroic duty in France during the First World War.
The Shield in Blue and White denote the new and old colors of the infantry. The Maltese Cross in the upper left corner represents service in the Fifth Corps, Army of the Potomac during the War Between the States.
In the upper right corner is the Sea-Lion of the Pacific, taken from the seal of Manila, and denotes Philippine service during the Spanish-American War.
World War I service and commemoration of the Mont Blanc campaign of October 1918 is depicted by the outline at the lower half of the shield.
The distinction of being the first American Regiment to circumnavigate the globe is depicted on the lower portion of the shield by the globe and two steamships.
Along the bottom of the shield is a streamer upon which is the motto of the 23rd Infantry Regiment … “We Serve”.
1861 Constituted 3 May as Company D, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, Regular Army; organized 8 July 1861 at Fort Trumbull, Connecticut
1862 Redesignated 30 April as Company D, 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment
1866 Reorganized and redesignated 21 September as Company D, 23rd Infantry
1917 Assigned to 2nd Division [later redesignated as the 2nd Infantry Division] 22 September
1957 Inactivated 20 June in Alaska, relieved from assignment to 2nd Infantry Division; concurrently, redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Battle Group, 23rd Infantry
1963 Activated 25 January in Alaska (organic elements concurrently constituted and activated; Assigned 20 May to the 172nd Infantry Brigade; Reorganized and redesignated 1 July as the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry
1966 Relieved 14 January from assignment to the 172nd Infantry Brigade and assigned to the 25th Infantry Division
1972 Inactivated 5 June in Hawaii
1972 Relieved from assignment to the 25th Infantry Division on 2 August and assigned to the 172d Infantry Brigade; concurrently, activated in Alaska
1983 Inactivated 6 January in Alaska and relieved from assignment to the 172nd Infantry Brigade
1983 Assigned to the 9th Infantry Division on 21 January, activated at Ft. Lewis, Washington.
1990 Inactivated 28 September at Fort Lewis, Washington, and relieved from assignment to the 9th Infantry Division.
2004 Activated 16 March at Fort Richardson, Alaska and assigned to the 172nd Infantry Brigade.
2006 Inactivated 5 December 2006 and relieved from assignment to the 172nd Infantry Brigade.
Little Big Horn
War With Spain
World War I
Ile de France 1918
World War II
First UN Counteroffensive
CCF Spring Offensive
Second Korean Winter
Korea, Summer-Fall 1952
Third Korean Winter
Korea, Summer 1953
Counteroffensive, Phase II
Counteroffensive, Phase III
Counteroffensive, Phase IV
Counteroffensive, Phase V
Counteroffensive, Phase VI
Counteroffensive, Phase VII
Presidential Unit Citation (Army), Streamer embroidered WIRTZFELD, BELGIUM
Presidential Unit Citation (Army), Streamer embroidered ST. VITH
Presidential Unit Citation (Army), Streamer embroidered KRINKELTER WALD, BELGIUM
Presidential Unit Citation (Army), Streamer embroidered BREST, FRANCE
Presidential Unit Citation (Army), Streamer embroidered TWIN TUNNELS
Presidential Unit Citation (Army), Streamer embroidered CHIPYONG-NI
Presidential Unit Citation (Army), Streamer embroidered HONGCHON
Valorous Unit Award, Streamer embroidered TAY NINH PROVINCE
Valorous Unit Award, Streamer embroidered SAIGON
Valorous Unit Award Streamer embroidered IRAQ
French Croix de Guerre with Palm, World War I, Streamer embroidered AISNE-MARNE
French Croix de Guerre with Palm, World War I, Streamer embroidered MEUSE-ARGONNE
French Croix de Guerre with Palm, World War I, Streamer embroidered CHATEAU THIERRY
French Croix de Guerre, World War I, Fourragere
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, Streamer embroidered NAKTONG RIVER LINE
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, Streamer embroidered KOREA 1950-1952
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, Streamer embroidered KOREA 1950-1953
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, Streamer embroidered KOREA 1952-1953
Belgian Fourragere, 1940
Cited in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army for action in the ARDENNES
Cited in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army for action at ELSENBORN CREST
Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, Streamer embroidered VIETNAM 1966-1968
Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, Streamer embroidered VIETNAM 1968-1970
Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal, 1st Class, Streamer embroidered VIETNAM 1966-1970
The 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment was organized as a Stryker battalion and assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team (Stryker), 2nd Infantry Division. The battalion served a one year tour of duty in Iraq in 2003-2004 and later a second tour of duty from Fort Lewis. The 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry is also organized as a Stryker battalion and was assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Stryker) 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, serving a tour of duty in Iraq. When the 4-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team was deactivated at Fort Lewis, Washington, the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment was reassigned to the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado. The 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 23rd Infantry remain at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA.
Other 23rd Infantry Regiment Resources
4th Battalion (Mechanized) / 23rd Infantry Regiment “Tomahawks” Association. You will find company rosters, maps, a memorial wall, photos and more.