2/34 Armor - The Dreadnoughts Of Desert Storm

The Official Army

History Of 2/34 Armor





This is a copy of the official history of 2/34 Armor.  It can also be viewed at the Official 2/34 Armor web site that is part of the Fort Riley web site.




2d Battalion, 34th Armor can trace its origins to B Company, 34th Armor Regiment, which was formed on 1 October 1941 at Fort Knox, Kentucky. The 34th Armor was initially assigned to the 5th Armored Division.

When the United States entered WWII after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Division moved to Camp Cooke, California to defend the west coast against a possible Japanese invasion. When the invasion didn't materialize, the 5th Armored Division moved to Camp Irwin in the Mojave Desert to train in desert operations for possible deployment to North Africa to battle Field Marshal Rommel's Afrika Korps.

In 1942 after months of training, the Division moved to McMinnville, Tennessee and began training on river crossings in preparation for a European theater mission. Tankers that had been battling the dust and heat of the Mojave only weeks before were now encountering mud and snow as their main adversary. In July of 1943 the division moved to Pine Camp, New York (now Fort Drum) to prepare for overseas movement. On 20 September 1943, 34th Armor was broken up into three Battalions. The Bravo Company of the 1st battalion was redesignated Bravo 772d Tank Battalion.

On 26 January 1945 the 772d Tank Battalion loaded its Sherman and Stuart tanks on the troop ship "SEA ROBIN" and set sail for France. Arriving in the European Theater of Operations on 6 February 1945, the battalion began moving east towards the front lines.

On 24 March 1945 the battalion was attached to the 44th Infantry Division. On the 27th, the battalion crossed the Rhine River and participated in the final push into Hitler's "Thousand Year Reich" leading the Division's attack on Mannheim, Germany. From 29 March to 30 April the battalion moved rapidly across Germany destroying all resistance it encountered. By the end of the war the 772d had halted its move near the town of Tarrenz, Austria and began occupation duties until 26 June. Due to its original affiliation with the 34th Armor Regiment the battalion received its first Presidential Unit Citation for the heroic assaults on the Roer River dams.

Returning stateside, the 772d Tank Battalion was inactivated at Camp Shelby, Mississippi on 14 November 1945. From 1945 to 1963 the battalion went through numerous redesignations and changes. Designated on 16 January 1947, the 772d Tank Battalion became the 306th Tank Battalion. Assigned to Fort Ord, California, the 306th Tank Battalion served a four year tour with the Sixth Army.

On 01 October 1963 the 306th Tank Battalion was designated the 2d Battalion, 34th Armor and was officially activated at Fort Irwin, California as part of the 4th Infantry Division. On 3 August 1966 the battalion was alerted for movement to the Republic of South Vietnam. Arriving at Vung Tau on 10 September 1966 with their M48A3 Patton tanks, 2-34 AR began conducting limited operations with the 173d Airborne and 1st Infantry Division. While under operational control to the 1st Infantry Division, 2-34 AR was conducting search and destroy operations in the II Field Force Area. The Vietnamese rainy season had turned the ground into a problem for the Tankers. Thirty-four of the battalion's tanks became mired causing their mission to be in jeopardy. Major General (MG) William E. DePuy, the 1st Division Commander, monitoring the situation from a helicopter, contacted Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Stailey, the 2-34 AR battalion commander, and asked "How many Tanks do you have stuck, Tanker?" LTC Stailey responded with his situation report (SITREP) of thirty-four tanks mired. MG DePuy then challenged LTC Stailey to a case of beer that he couldn't get all his tanks recovered by nightfall. With determination and hard work, the tankers met this challenge and were on the move again (and thirsty) before dark with all thirty four vehicles recovered. So impressed by their performance, MG DePuy nicknamed the battalion "DREADNAUGHT" meaning they could do the impossible and feared nothing. From that point on, 2-34 AR would be known as the "DREADNAUGHTS" and also become a familiar call sign throughout Vietnam as its tank companies would be parceled out to other units until the battalion's departure. In October 1966 Bravo company (Call Sign Battlin' Bravo) was attached to 1-4 Cavalry of the 1st Infantry Division at Phu Loi, where it would remain until the invasion of Cambodia in 1970. Alpha company (Call Sign Orphans) was detached to the 25th Infantry Division at Cu Chi. Charlie company (Call Sign Fighting Aces) was sent north to I Corps Tactical Zone. Alpha and Charlie companies participated in numerous operations in the III Corps area while still staying close to the battalion HQ located at Long Binh. The constant parceling out of its tank companies seldom left the battalion with more than one company under its own control. At some points it controlled none of its organic companies.

In 1967 the battalion began to participate in larger combined arms operations. Operation Junction City, which began in the early part of March 1967, saw 2-34 AR conducting search and destroy operations as part of the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division Task Force.

On 21 March 1967, 2-34 Armor minus B Co distinguished itself in combat near the village of Soui Tre. Fire Support Base Gold, established only two days prior, had come under attack from the 272d Viet Cong Main Force Regiment consisting of over 1100 soldiers. In a four hour battle in which the Dreadnaughts helped turn an enemy victory into a defeat, 2-34 AR received its second Presidential Unit Citation. C Co would stay with the battalion for the remainder of 1967.

On 01 August 1967 2-34 AR was reassigned to the 25th Infantry Division. On the eve of the Tet Offensive, the Fighting Aces began a series of moves that would take it away from the Dreadnaught area of operations to the DMZ in the I Corp sector over 800 miles away. For the remainder of their time in Vietnam, the "Fighting Aces" would be attached to various units including the 101st Airborne Division, 1st Cavalry Division, 23d Infantry Division, 5th Infantry Division, and the 3d Marine Division. Charlie company was assigned to 3d Brigade, 25th Infantry Division and attached to Task Force Oregon from 01 August 1967 to 20 August 1967 where it earned the Valorous Unit Award for being involved in fierce fighting of well fortified and prepared Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regulars in the Quang Ngai Province. A Co would remain with the battalion HQ and conducted operations with the 25th Infantry Division until the Cambodian incursion.

In May of 1970 President Nixon ordered American units into the Cambodian sanctuaries in an attempt to destroy the communist supply lines and end the war. Alpha, Bravo, and Delta companies participated as part of Task Force Shoemaker, 1st Cavalry Division. A Co was the first American ground unit into Cambodia. For their actions in the area known as the "Fishhook" the battalion minus C Co received its first Valorous Unit Award. Delta company was inactivated after WWII but returned to life with 2-34th Armor in the middle of the Vietnam deployment to assist in the manning of the battalion due to two companies being "loaned" out. D Company was the company of support personnel with medics, cooks, mechanics, and other support specialty Soldiers. This in effect allowed more men to be assigned to the remaining companies within the Battalion.

In December 1970 2-34 Armor returned stateside and was reassigned back to the 4th Infantry Division stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado. Turning in their aging M48's for M60's, the Dreadnaughts participated in numerous REFORGER exercises, National Training Center rotations, and occasional humanitarian assistance missions as part of the 3d Brigade, 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized), where it served with honor until 14 July 1987.

On 16 August 1987 the Dreadnaught battalion was reassigned to the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized) at Fort Riley, Kansas. For the next three years the battalion would continue to train for combat and their M60A3 tanks were replaced by the M1IP in 1989.

On 2 September 1990 war clouds again loomed on the horizon when Iraq invaded its smaller neighbor Kuwait in a border dispute over oil. For the third time in the last 45 years, the Dreadnaughts were on the move.

01 January 1991, arriving in Saudi Arabia, the battalion began training for desert combat and drew M1A1's. Moving into tactical assembly areas, Alpha and Delta companies were attached to 5-16 Infantry and HHC, Bulldawgs and the Fighting Aces comprised Task Force 2-34 Armor. On 24 February 1991, after weeks of preparation and training, TF 2-34 conducted a passage of lines with the US VII Corps and the United Kingdom's 1st Armoured Division. Initial enemy resistance was light, but on the evening of 26-27 February 1991 the Republican Guard "Tawaklana" Division was completely destroyed. When the cease-fire went into effect, TF 2-34 acted as part of General Schwartzkopf's guard force at Safwan, Iraq.

The Dreadnaughts redeployed to Fort Riley on 08 May 1991. For their actions in Desert Storm, the battalion received its second Valorous Unit Award. In April 2000, Delta company was inactivated due to Army reorganization.

On 15 December 2004, D Co was reactivated in preparation for deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom III (OIF III) as the Rear Detachment company. In January 2005 the battalion was attached to the 3d Brigade (Sledgehammer), 3d Infantry Division (Mechanized), which was attached to the 42d Infantry Division (Rainbow Division). The Dreadnaughts deployed to Kuwait for Operation Iraq Freedom III and, in February 2005, completed a 420-mile overland tactical road march to its area of responsibility north of Baqubah, Iraq at FOB Gabe. From February to August, Bulldawgs minus 3d Platoon were attached to 1-30 Infantry at FOB Normandy. Bulldawgs 3d platoon was attached to Bravo company 2-69 AR, which was attached to 1-10 FA. From August 2005 to January 2006 Bulldawg 3d platoon was attached to Alpha company, 1-10 FA for the remaining deployment conducting operations out of FOB Gabe. For a year the battalion conducted full-spectrum operations in an area of responsibility equal in size to Rhode Island and set the conditions for two historic elections: the Constitutional Referendum and Parliamentary Election. The Dreadnaughts redeployed to Fort Riley in January 2006.

On 27 April 2006, with the Dreadnaughts back at home, there was no need for a Rear Detachment company, and once again Delta company was inactivated.

On 25 August 2006 the Dreadnaught's reorganized into an EMTOE training battalion and was given a new mission to train advisors deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan out of the newly constructed confines of the old troop area known as "Camp Funston". Already with Headquarters Company (Call Sign Head Hunters), Alpha Company (Call Sign Orphans), Bravo Company (Call Sign Bulldawgs), and Charlie Company (Call Sign Fighting Aces) the Dreadnaughts had to reactivate Delta company (Call Sign Demons) and activate Echo company (Call Sign Easy), to reorganize the battalion into six Observer Controller companies. The battalion is currently conducting Advisor training for Army, Navy and Air Force personnel in order to prepare them for duties as transition team members serving with Iraqi and Afghan security forces.

Today, the Dreadnaught Battalion continues as a living legacy to our predecessors who fought on the battlefields of Europe, the jungles of Vietnam, and the desert sands of Iraq. The Soldiers of the 2d Battalion, 34th Armor, remain part of the 1st Infantry Division's Devil Brigade.



Copyright 2001 by [LIGHTNING FORCE]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 01/01/10 09:49:42 -0600.