The 4th Battalion 17th Infantry Regiment is a United States Army infantry battalion. An earlier regiment designated the 17th Infantry Regiment was organized on January 11, 1812, but was consolidated with four other regiments as the 3rd Infantry in the post-war reorganization of the army following the War of 1812, due to the shattering losses it sustained at the River Raisin. The current battalion was constituted within the 17th Regiment of Infantry on May 3, 1861.
The 4th Battalion 17th Infantry has a proud and distinguished history. The 17th Infantry was created by Congress on January 11, 1812 and formed with personnel from western states and was the only Regular Army regiment in General James Winchester’s column of Army of the Northwest’s campaign to regain Detroit. During the War of 1812, the 17th fought at the River Raisin, Fort Meigs, Fort Stephenson, and Thames River. In 1815, the 17th was consolidated with the 5th, 19th, and 28th Infantry from the 3rd Infantry.
In April 1861, the bombardment of Fort Sumter stood as the opening engagement of the American Civil War. It was the boiling point as tension between the seceded States and the Union turned to violence. This caused President Abraham Lincoln to call for the buildup of the Union Army, an Army that would protect the Union and its interests. The President's call resulted in the 17th Infantry once again being constituted in the Regular Army on May 3, 1861. The Adjutant Generals office of President Lincoln issued General Order 16 bringing the regiment back into existence. It differed from the older regiments of infantry in that it had three battalions with one major, one adjutant, one quartermaster and commissary, one sergeant-major, one commissary sergeant, and one hospital steward with eight companies each. The 17th Infantry Regiment was in the Army of the Potomac as part of “Slow Trot” Skykes Division. From the 5th Army Corps the 17th Infantry Regiment adopted the white cross patee which is seen today on the regimental coat of arms. At Fredericksburg, the 17th suffered heavy losses in the assault on the famous stone wall. The men of the 17th lay flat on their faces eighty yards in front of the famous stone wall and drew heavy fire from rebel sharpshooters. This wall is also represented on the regimental crest.
The 17th Infantry Regiment fought valiantly in the Indian wars, as is depicted on the regimental coat of arms by two sable arrows, armed and flighted gules. Throughout the Indian Wars, the regiment successfully fought over rough terrain against a determined enemy. The Regiment earned streamers for the Little Big Horn (1876); Pine Ridge (1890–1891); North Dakota 1872.
The sinking of the USS Maine (ACR-1) in Havana, Cuba once again led the US into war, this time against Spain on April 21, 1898. The 17th Infantry Regiment again found itself in combat. The five bastioned fort on the regimental crest represents the regiment's service with the V Corps in Cuba. For three months, American Soldiers fought in the jungles, and the Soldiers of the 17th Infantry distinguished themselves. On July 1, 1898 at El Caney, Cuba: PVT George Berg, PVT Oscar Brookin, CPL Ulysses Buzzard, PVT Thomas J. Graves, 1LT Benjamin Hardaway, CPL Norman Ressler, 2LT Charles DuVal Roberts, CPL Warren Shepherd and PVT Bruno Wende earned this nation's highest military award for valor, the Medal of Honor, all of these Soldiers were proud members of the 17th Infantry Regiment.
The Spanish–American War left Spain's military devastated and this proved a critical point for the Philippine Islands as they grasped the opportunity to gain freedom. Their alliance with the U.S. was short lived and in 1899 combat ensued in Manila. A sea lion was taken from the Spanish Arms of Manila and is depicted on the regimental coat of arms. The 17th Infantry Regiment fought valiantly and tenaciously, continually displaying heroism and courage.
On March 8, 1916 Pancho Villa raided Columbus, New Mexico. Villa’s invasion of the U.S. spurred the 17th Infantry Regiment into action as they served in Pershing’s forces to bring Villa to justice.
In June 1942 the Japanese invaded the Aleutian Islands. In 1943, the 17th Infantry Regiment was called to action as part of the 7th Infantry Division and the Regiment was chosen to land at Red Beach, Holtz Bay, on Attu Island in the Bering Sea. The Regiment fought as part of the 7th Infantry Division "Bayonet" throughout World War II. PFC Leonard Brostrom and PFC John Thorson both earned the Medal of Honor for their gallantry during heavy fighting on Leyte, the Philippine Islands on October 28, 1944 as soldiers from the 17th Infantry Regiment. During World War II the 17th fought in the Aleutian Islands, Eastern Mandates, Leyte and Ryukyus.
The Buffaloes served during the Korean War. They partook in the UN Defensive, UN Offensive, CCF Intervention, First UN Counteroffensive, CCF Spring Offensive, UN Summer-Fall Offensive, Second Korean Winter, Korea Summer-Fall 1952, Third Korean Winter and Korea, Summer 1953. Seven of the 17th Infantry Regiments Soldiers earned the Medal of Honor during the Korean War: CPT Raymond Harvey, CPL Einar Ingman, PFC Anthony T. Kahoʻohanohano, CPL William Lyell, PFC Joseph Rodriguez. Also 1LT Richard Shea and PVT Charles Barker both earned the Medal of Honor for their courage and gallantry at Pork Chop Hill.
In 1970, the 17th Infantry Regiment joined the Vietnam War. During this period President Richard Nixon began the Nixon Doctrine, which later became known as "Vietnamization." This plan called for the buildup of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam to defend South Vietnam. The battle hardened Buffaloes served in Counteroffensive Phase VII, Consolidation I, Consolidation II, and Cease Fire.
In 1989 President George W. Bush called for the use of force against Panama and its dictator, Manuel Noriega. Declaring that an operation was necessary to safeguard the lives of U.S. citizens in Panama, defend democracy and human rights, combat drug trafficking, and secure the functioning of the Panama Canal. Operation Just Cause involved over 27,000 Soldiers including the 17th Infantry Regiment as members of the 7th IN DIV (L).
The 17th Infantry was activated once again at Fort Bliss Texas as a part of the Ready First Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division on January 11, 2011. The Battalion continues to build combat power to prepare for future operations.Presidential Unit Citation (Army), Streamer embroidered LEYTE
Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, Streamer embroidered October 17, 1944 TO July 4, 1945
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, Streamer embroidered INCHON
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, Streamer embroidered KOREA 1950–1953
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, Streamer embroidered KOREA 1952–1953
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, Streamer embroidered KOREA 1945–1948; 1953–1957