C Company, 52d Infantry Regiment (Anti-Tank) is a Stryker Anti-Tank Company task organized under 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team). As a Company of 54 Infantrymen, the Company nicknamed "Avalanche" has conducted primarily Infantry operations during two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During the first deployment of a Stryker Brigade to Iraq (OIF 01-02), soldiers of C-52d IN earned five Bronze Stars, a Meritorious Unit Commendation, and a Superior Unit Award. In the most recent deployment (OIF 06-08) which saw C-52d IN operating in many significantly different roles and environments, Avalanche soldiers earned one Silver Star, 16 Bronze Stars, 17 Purple Hearts and received Honors from the Washington State Senate as a Company of 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team.
Campaign Participation Credit
After the 52nd Infantry Regiment's activation in 1917, the Regiment was assigned to the Sixth Infantry Division. The Sixth Division was organized in November of 1917 as a square division consisting of the 51st, 52nd, 53rd, and the 54th Infantry Regiments, the 16th, 17th and 18th Machine-Gun Battalions and the 3rd, 11th and 78th Field Artillery Regiments. The units of the division gathered in New York and left for France in July of 1918. After marching and training all over western France, the Sixth was assigned on August 31st to the Vosges sector. There, a chain of lofty wooded peaks had stalemated both the French and German armies. Their mission was the defense of a 21-mile front. The Division engaged in active patrols in No Man’s Land and behind the Boche lines. Daily German artillery concentrations of high explosives and gas shells kept the 6th supporting artillery busy with counterbattery fire. In addition infantry platoon strongpoints defended against German raiding parties which launched their attacks using liquid fire and grenades.
The Division developed its reputation for hiking when, prior to the Argonne Offensive, it engaged in extensive fake marches, often under enemy artillery and air bombardment, to deceive the Boche into thinking a major attack was to take place in the Vosges sector. Relieved and reassigned on October 10, 1918, the 6th Division hiked to an assembly area, marching over mountains and broken trails, usually in the dead of night.
After another short period of training, consisting primarily of forced marches, the Division hiked itself into the closing campaign of the war, the Meuse-Argonne offensive. In Corps reserve, the 6th was used in place of an unavailable cavalry division to try to maintain contact with the rapidly retreating Germans. Pulling machine-gun carts and ammo carts by hand, the best hiking outfit in the AEF marched from one front to another, usually on muddy bypaths and rain-soaked fields, to establish and incredible record of forty hiking days in a sixty-day campaign. Finally moved to another part of the front to maintain the brunt of the attack, the 6th reached the assigned area on the scheduled date, November 12, 1918, to find the war at an end, its reputation as the “Sightseeing Sixth” assured.
During its three months at the front, the 6th Division lost 227 men killed in action or died of wounds. It maintained an active defense in one important sector and played a major role in the tactical plan in another. The men of the 6th had distinguished themselves in combat, many earning the Distinguished Service Cross and Croix de Guerre. The Division was highly commended by General Pershing for its contribution to the final victory.
After the Armistice, the 6th continued its hikes through France and Germany to spread the fame of the six-point Red Star, adopted as the Division insignia on November 19, 1918. This six-point Red Star would become a part of the 52d's Crest to mark the Regiment's first Combat with the 6th Division. The bulk of the Division returned to the States in June of 1919 aboard the USS Leviathan. The Division continued its service at Camp Grant, Illinois and was deactivated on September 30, 1921.
After a period of inactivation, C Company, 52d Infantry Regiment was redesignated and activated as C Company, 52d Armored Infantry on 15 July 1942 as an element of the 9th Armored Division at Fort Riley, Kansas. They would deploy with the 9th Armored Division to France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and Germany after a two month train up in England. The company served in Europe with the 9th Division from 31 JUL 1944 to 6 MAY 1945, including a weeklong attachment to the 8th Infantry Division from 23 OCT 1944 to 30 OCT 1944.
The 9th Division was one of several real US Army divisions that participated in Operation Fortitude, the deception operation mounted by the US-British to deceive the Germans about the real landing site for Operation Neptune, the amphibious invasion of Northern France. The 9th was assigned to a camp on the British coastline opposite of the German defenses in Pas-de-Calais, ostensibly as part of the "First US Army Group" (FUSAG) under General Patton. While its members undertook training for the real invasion of the Normandy coast, the divisional headquarters was used to convey phony radio messages with the fake FUSAG HQ to make the Germans believe that an invasion of Pas-de-Calais by a massive army was the real intent of the Allies. The ruse was so successful that the German high command was completely fooled, and concentrated their reserves away from the Normandy Coast. In honor of their participation in this deception, the 9th was officially nicknamed the "Phantom Division."
The 9th Armored Division landed in Normandy late in September 1944, and first went into line, 23 October, on patrol duty in a quiet sector along the Luxembourg-German frontier. When the Germans launched their winter offensive, the 9th, with no real combat experience, suddenly found itself engaged in heavy fighting. The Division saw its severest action at St. Vith, Echternach, and Bastogne, its units fighting in widely separated areas.
Its stand at Bastogne held off the Germans long enough to enable the 101st Airborne to dig in for a defense of the city. After a rest period in January 1945, the Division made preparations for a drive across the Rur river. The offensive was launched, 28 February, and the 9th smashed across the Rur to Rheinbach, sending patrols into Remagen. The Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen was found intact, and was seized by elements of the 9th Armored minutes before demolition charges were set to explode on 7 March 1945. The Division exploited the bridgehead, moving south and east across the river Lahn toward Limburg an der Lahn, where thousands of Allied prisoners were liberated. A small booklet covering the history of the 9th Armored Division, "The 9th: The Story of the 9th Armored Division," is one of a series of G.I. Stories published by the Stars & Stripes in Paris in 1944-1945. Here is a quote that depicts an event where the 52d Armored Infantry Battalion receives information about the Nazi's plans to destroy the Ludendorff Bridge:
The 52d Armored Infantry Battalion holds back an advancing Nazi armor and infantry force while the 101st Airborne sets up defenses in Bastogne, resulting in successful retention of the city:
Soldiers of C Company, 52d Armored Infantry Battalion rescue four American tanks caught in a Nazi complex attack:
Following operations at the Remagen Bridgehead, the Division drove on to Frankfurt and then turned to assist in the closing of the Ruhr Pocket. In April it continued east, encircled Leipzig and secured a line along the Mulde river. The Division was shifting south to Czechoslovakia when the war in Europe ended.
C Company, 52d Infantry served in Vietnam from 01 DEC 1966 to 15 AUG 1972. In 1971, the company had an authorized strength of 137 Infantrymen. Three years earlier in 1968, C Company, 52d Infantry had an authorized strength of 151 Infantrymen. The company was a rifle security company assigned to bolster the Infantry capabilities of the 716th MP Battalion, which was responsible for providing security to the US facilities in the Saigon area. The Status of Forces agreement between the US and the South Vietnamese government prohibited stationing US combat forces in Saigon. As a result, the only forces within Saigon, C Company, 52d Infantry, with the 716th Military Police Battalion, the 527th Military Police Company, and the 90th Military Police Detachment, were equipped only with hand-held light arms.
They were on alert and expected isolated terrorists attacks. However, they would soon face the Tet offensive, an all out communist attack throughout the whole of Vietnam. The North Vietnamese violated the Tet holiday cease-fire in order to gain surprise against U.S. and South Vietnamese forces. Although U.S. intelligence anticipated the cease-fire would be violated, no one expected an all out attack within the city of Saigon. Instead, they would face some 4000 Viet Cong guerillas, many of whom had infiltrated Saigon during holiday festivities and were nearly indistinguishable from the local populace. In the early morning hours of 31 January 1968, these forces attacked facilities throughout Saigon almost simultaneously. C Company, 52d Infantry, along with the 716th MP and attached forces, would find themselves defending the U.S. Embassy against not only superior numbers but superior armament as well.
The security policemen on the perimeter could hear muffled gunfire as the VC shot up some of the bachelor officers' quarters and bachelor enlisted quarters along Plantation Road, which ran south through Cholon from the main gate of Tan Son Nhut. Five troops were killed, including a young enlisted man passing through on a Honda motorcycle on his way to his duty station. An MP jeep patrol was pinned down upon responding to the attack. The reaction team that arrived to reinforce the situation was headed by Staff Sergeant Jimmy Bedgood of C Company, 52d Infantry, a security-guard company made up of combat infantry veterans that was attached to the 716th Military Police Battalion. The reaction team provided the cover fire that allowed the jeep patrol to get out of harm's way. In the process, an RPG slammed into the reaction team's jeep, wounding several GIs and killing Bedgood, a twenty-one-year-old wild Georgia boy who was already on his third tour in Vietnam, having previously humped the bush as a grunt with the Big Red One and the 9th Infantry Division.
As both Military Police and marine reaction forces responded to the embassy, a stalemate ensued. Military Police surrounded the compound and exchanged fire with the guerillas on the grounds, but could not enter the compound due to the volume of fire and uncertainty as to the enemy's disposition. The Viet Cong could not enter the embassy building and could not exit the compound. Additionally, an infantry reaction force that attempted to land by helicopter on the roof of the embassy was repulsed by enemy fire. At dawn, the order was given to retake the compound. Military Police rammed the embassy's main gate and stormed the compound led by PFC Paul Healy of B Company, 716th Military Police Battalion. When the embassy was resecured, 19 dead Viet Cong were found and one was captured.
Despite being outnumbered and outgunned, C-52d Infantry and the 716th MP Battalion defended its ground very well indeed - none of the facilities in their charge were captured during the VC assault. The Company's performance during Tet was recognized by the Presidential Unit Citation, but the award came at a high price. Along with 27 soldiers of the 716th MP, nine C-52d soldiers gave their lives during the first day's fighting in defense of the U.S. Embassy.
C Co, 52d Infantry, 716th MP Bn:
For their actions in Saigon and in defense of the U.S. Embassy, four soldiers of C-52d IN would receive the military's third highest award, the Silver Star: SFC James R. Lobato, SPC Vincent R. Giovannelli, SPC Bruce McCartney, and SSG Herman Holness.
Staff Sergeant Herman Holness served in Company C, 52d Infantry, 716th Military Police Battalion. Company C, along with other infantry rifle companies, was assigned to the 716th Military Police Battalion and the 18th Military Police Brigade to reinforce security forces. These Soldiers performed numerous tasks and duties alongside their military police counterparts. Security guard duty and work with the military police led to “SG” markings on their helmet liners and brassards. On 31 January 1968, Staff Sergeant Holness was part of a reaction force sent to relieve a fellow unit that was under attack in the vicinity of the Phu Tho racetrack. While moving through the city, the lead vehicle of his unit was attacked by Viet Cong forces using mines and machine guns. The men in the vehicle were seriously wounded and trapped out in the open. Staff Sergeant Holness advanced to the disabled vehicle and caught the attention of the enemy, who diverted fire to his location, allowing the wounded men to exit the vehicle. When Staff Sergeant Holness reached cover behind the vehicle, he returned fire on the enemy position with devastating effect. While still under enemy fire, he began pulling the wounded Soldiers to safety. Although badly injured himself, Staff Sergeant Holness refused medical aid until his fellow Soldiers had been evacuated. In recognition of his selfless service, Staff Sergeant Holness was awarded the Silver Star.
Later in their deployment, C Company, 52d Infantry would be assigned to the 18th Military Police Brigade.
In May of 2000, the Army stood up its first Stryker Brigade Combat Team (3d Brigade, 2d Infantry Division, Stryker Brigade Combat Team, stationed at Fort Lewis, WA) under former Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki's Stryker Interim-Force Brigade Combat Team initiative. In September of 2000, A-D Companies of 1-32 AR were reflagged as 1-14 CAV (RSTA) while E Company, 1-32 AR was reflagged as C Company, 52d Infantry Regiment. The Company is commonly referred to as C-52, "Charlie, 52nd" and is nicknamed "Avalanche". As the Army stood up a total of six Stryker Brigades by 2008, each Anti-Tank Company was flagged as a separate Company of the 52d Infantry Regiment. The Commander of C Company, 52d Infantry Regiment, as the first Company reactivated under the 52d Infantry, holds the Regimental Colors and is the Regimental Commander.
Since the reflagging of E Company, 1-32 AR, C-52d IN has served as the Anti-Tank Company in support of 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (3-2 SBCT). The Company holds a strength of 54 soldiers and 11 Stryker vehicles and has been most notably utilized to provide auxiliary Infantry support to the Brigade's three Infantry Battalions (1-23 IN, 2-3 IN, 5-20 IN) and other Task Forces operating in or near the Brigade's Area of Operations.
In addition to the six active duty Stryker Anti-Tank Companies, there is a National Guard Stryker Anti-Tank Company stationed in Pennsylvania under the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team. This Company, D Company, 112th Infantry Regiment, traces its lineage through the Pennsylvania National Guard's history. The alignment of Companies under the 52d Infantry Regiment is as follows:
|3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team||C Co., 52d IN||Avalanche||NOV 03 – NOV 04, JUL 06 – SEP 07|
|2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment||K Trp, 52d IN||Killer||NOV 04 – NOV 05, AUG 07 – NOV 08|
|1-25 Stryker Brigade Combat Team (formerly 172nd)||D Co., 52d IN||Demon||SEP 05 – DEC 06, SEP 08 – SEP 09|
|4-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team||F Co., 52d IN||Fierce||MAR 07 – JUN 08|
|2-25 Stryker Brigade Combat Team||B Co., 52d IN||[unknown]||DEC 07 – DEC 08|
|5-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team||A Co., 52d IN||[unknown]||None|
C Company, 52d Infantry Regiment was assigned to 3d Brigade, 2d Infantry Division during its deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 01-02 from NOV 03 – NOV 04. From DEC 03 – JAN 04, it supported 4th ID and 3-2 SBCT, the Army’s first Stryker Brigade, during Operations Arrowhead Blizzard and Arrowhead Polaris, the Brigade’s successful attack of insurgents in and around Samarra, Iraq. During twenty seven days of continuous combat operations in Samarra, the Company contributed to significant losses to the enemy in terms of personnel and equipment and neutralized enemy activity throughout their Battalion’s Area of Operations.
Upon completion, the Company followed the Brigade’s movement north in order to conduct a Relief in Place with 101st Airborne Division in Mosul, Iraq, where they operated out of Forward Operating Base Marez. Avalanche Company was assigned to Task Force Minute, 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery under command of LTC Sliwa. During combat and stability operations in the Upper Tigris River Valley south of Mosul, the Company conducted over 150 full spectrum missions totaling over 18,000 Stryker miles. The Company regularly served as the Task Force Main Effort on many Cordon and Searches, Convoy Security, Area and Route Reconnaissance, Counter Improvised Explosive Devise (IED) Sweeps, and Counter Mortar / Area Security Operations, which resulted in significant losses to the enemy in terms of personnel and equipment, as well as neutralizing enemy activity in the Company’s Area of Operations. Such areas as Hammam Al Alil, Ash Sharuh, Qayyarah, Hatra, Makhmur, and Tal Abjah were frequently patrolled.
Some of the Operations the Company conducted which led to the successful capture of both Battalion or Brigade High Value Targets, as well as a multitude of caches, included Operations Decimation, H3, Thunderbolt, King’s Gambit, Warrior Strike, Avalanche Fury, and Operation Rude Awakening. In JUN 04, C-52d IN was also responsible for the training and equipping of the new “Iraqi National Guard,” in which the Company trained an astonishing 30 Platoons comprising over 1,500 new Iraqi Soldiers.
The Company successfully redeployed to Fort Lewis in November, 2004 with no loss of equipment or life and was subsequently awarded with a Meritorious Unit Commendation and Superior Unit Award for their operations in theater. Avalanche was reassigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment under the Command of LTC Flowers and LTC Huggins. The Company successfully completed Reset in record time and deployed twice to the Yakima Training Center, successfully completing Operations Arrowhead Quiver and Arrowhead Warpath which included both Platoon and Company Maneuver Live Fires, Stryker gunnery, ATGM Gunner’s Skills Testing and TOW Tables 1-12.
During an extended 15 month deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom 06-08 from JUL 06 – SEP 08, the Avalanche Company operated under the command of over eight different higher headquarters. Its operations spanned much of northern and central Iraq. In July and August of 2006, C-52d manned a Combat Outpost in Rabiyah, Iraq in support of 200 personnel for over 30 days, overseeing various military transition teams and all life support operations. In the months of September and October, C-52d operated under Task Force Red Lion in Q-West, conducting assessments of essential services and other security and support operations. Additionally, C-52d conducted clearance operations of Route Tampa resulting in a 75% reduction of IEDs. During late October and November, C-52d operated under 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment in Mosul, Iraq. The Avalanche Company supported clearing operations and performed assessments of essential services that were valuable to restoring stability.
December marked The Avalanche Company’s move to Baghdad as they operated under Task Force Tomahawk. The soldiers of C-52d provided security and conducted several raids during major clearing operations in support of Multi-National Division Baghdad. In late December of 2006, C-52d would move to Taji, Iraq, where they would remain through May 2007 in support of 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment. In the Company’s most notable event, Third Platoon of C-52d distinguished itself while responding to a complex attack on a Joint Security Station in Tarmiya, Iraq, enabling the successful evacuation of 21 wounded American soldiers and security of the site. Several members of Third Platoon were awarded Bronze Star Medals for their actions on February 19, 2007. Third Platoon's Platoon Leader, SFC Ismael Iban, was awarded a Silver Star for Gallantry in Action.
In Sheik Hamed Village, Avalanche Company conducted bilateral clearing operations with the Iraqi Army, executed several missions against time-sensitive targets, and trained basic soldier skills to an Iraqi Army Battalion, enhancing their ability to secure their area of operations. C-52d also secured key infrastructure, specifically the Khark Water Treatment Plant, which supplies 75% of Iraq’s drinkable water.
In the Brigade’s culminating mission to expel al Qaeda from Baqubah, their self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State of Iraq, C-52d conducted a 50km attack from the march into battle in support of Operation Arrowhead Ripper. The soldiers of Avalanche Company screened over 2,500 displaced Iraqis attempting to flee Baqubah, resulting in the capture of over 30 Armed Insurgents. Additionally, C-52d conducted an air assault operation that resulted in the discovery and capture of numerous enemy caches including anti-aircraft artillery, indirect fire weapons, IED making materials and various small arms. This operation would severely hamper the enemy’s ability to use indirect fire to inflict casualties and instill terror upon the civilian population.
Led by CPT Erich B. Schneider for the totality of the deployment, the Company successfully redeployed to Fort Lewis in September, 2007 with no loss of life.
CPT Cyle J. Fena, AR [date needed] – JUN 01
CPT Jonathan C. Muenchow, AR JUN 01 – FEB 03
CPT Eric Molfino, IN FEB 03 – AUG 04
CPT Arieyeh J. Austin, IN AUG 04 – DEC 05
CPT Erich B. Schneider, IN DEC 05 – JAN 08
CPT Dan J. Futrell, IN JAN 08 – Present
1SG [first name] Eichenlaub, AR AUG/SEP 00 – OCT 00
1SG Charles Geisewhite, IN OCT 00 – JUL 03
1SG Timothy W. Coulter, IN JUL 03 – FEB 05
1SG Stephen Kessler, IN FEB 05 – JUN 06
1SG David M. Corbin, IN JUN 06 – JAN 08
SFC Stephen J. Dotson, AR JAN 08 – AUG 08
1SG T. Michael Pickerel, IN AUG 08 – Present
Michael Yon: The General Lee Comes Home 24 SEP 07
Northwest Guardian: Soldiers celebrate flour mill reopening 06 SEP 07
Michael Yon: Bird's Eye View 25 JUL 07
Michael Yon: Superman 16 JUL 07
Michael Yon: Bless the Beasts and Children 30 JUN 07
Michael Yon: Bread and a Circus, Part II of II 20 JUN 07
Michael Yon: Bread and a Circus, Part I of II 19 JUN 07
DVIDS Videos: ING Training Evaluation 26 JUL 04
GlobalSecurity.org: 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division History as of DEC 04
GlobalSecurity.org: 1-14 CAV History as of OCT 00
United States Army Center Of Military History www.history.army.mil
The Institute of Heraldry www.tioh.hqda.pentagon.mil
Army Digest, MAR 80, "Bridgehead to Victory." (At Remagen), Pg 30-31.
Armor Magazine, SEP-OCT 65, "Narrow is the Way." (Across the Remagen Bridge in Germany).