The 66th Armor Regiment is the oldest armored unit in the United States Army (see Iron Knights: the United States 66th Armored Regiment, by Maj. Gordon A. Blaker), tracing its lineage to the 301st Tank Battalion which served with distinction soon after it was formed in the First World War; the 301st trained at Camp Meade, MD, where then Cpt. Dwight D. Eisenhower was an instructor. It has often been rumored that the 301st, the parent unit of the 66th, was first commanded by Col. George S. Patton, but this appears not to have been the case; while Patton was the first officer assigned to the Tank Corps, and while the 301st Tank Battalion was the first unit formed, Patton went nearly immediately to France to train Americans attached to Allied commands. The 301st was the only American heavy tank battalion to have seen action in the war. After the war, the 301st transitioned in the Regular Army to become the 66th Infantry Regiment (Light Tanks) by way of the 16th Tank Battalion.
Two battalions of the regiment are still in service in the Regular Army.1–66 AR is assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division at Ft. Carson. The First Battalion has participated in combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom and in Operation Enduring Freedom.
3–66 AR is assigned to the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division garrisoned at Ft Riley, Kansas. The Third Battalion has participated in combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom and in Operation Enduring Freedom.
The 1st and 2nd Provisional Brigades of the United States Tank Corps would eventually go on to provide the original cadre for what would become the 66th Armored Regiment in World War II. In September 1918 both brigades - which were attached to the 1st Infantry Division in France - participated in the battle of St. Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, operating French-built Renault FT tanks. Five days before the Armistice with Germany, the brigades were renamed respectively the 304th and 305th Brigades, Tank Corps on 6 November 1918.
The casualties in the unit led General John J. Pershing to say: "The percentage of casualties among the officers and men tells the tale of splendid morale and gallantry in action and their unselfish devotion to duty". The regiment's Organization Day was chosen as 12 September to commemorate its baptism of fire at St. Mihiel.
The Headquarters and Headquarters Companies (HHC) of the 304th and 305th Tank Brigades transferred in 1919 to Camp Meade, Maryland and consolidated on 22 June 1921, reorganized and redesignated as HHC, 1st Tank Group. This organization reorganized and was redesignated HHC, 1st Tank Regiment on 1 September 1929, as the 66th Infantry Regiment (Light Tanks) on 25 October 1932, and as the 66th Armored Regiment on 15 July 1940, to become part of the newly formed 2nd Armored Division, stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia.
In December 1942, the regiment participated in the amphibious invasion of French Morocco in North Africa and led the division's entry into Casablanca. The regiment participated in the invasion of Sicily and through fierce fighting earned the unit six battle streamers during the war.
In 1944, the three battalions of the regiment went into action on the European Continent, beginning landing on Omaha Beach on D+3 (9 June 1944.) Four days later the regiment (as part of Combat Command A of the 2nd Armored Division) fought through elements of the German 6th Fallschirmjager Regiment and elements of the 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division southwest of Carentan, France at the Battle of Bloody Gulch. Later progress was also initially difficult in combat against elements of the newly arrived 116th Panzer Division and surviving elements of the Panzer Lehr Division. In a difficult battle in the streets of the village of Percy and on surrounding high ground on 30 July, against some of the eight Panthers Generalleutnant Fritz Bayerlein had found and rallied from workshops at neighbouring Villebaudon on 28 July, the 3/66th was to lose 13 tanks and was forced to pull out of the village losing another five tanks outside Percy to heavy Nebelwerfer and other mortar fire. On 31 July 3/66th was down to only 24 operational tanks. The regiment fought across France to the German border with the rest of the division and the U.S. Third Army, but was diverted north to counter the German advance during the Battle of the Bulge, assisting in the destruction of the 2nd Panzer Division and capturing Houffalize, Belgium.
The regiment was twice cited in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army. Captain James M. Burt, the commander of B Company, 66th Armored Regiment, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the Battle of Aachen in October 1944. Captain Burt later served as Honorary Colonel of the Regiment.
Following the war, elements of the 66th and other units of the 2nd Armored Division were selected to occupy the American sector of Berlin and serve as the first American troops to enter the fallen German capital.
During the Korean War, an offspring of the 66th fought under the designation "6th Tank Battalion". During the war, the sixth won seven battle streamers and the Korean Presidential Unit Citation. These honors were awarded to the 66th Armored Regiment when the 6th Tank Battalion was inactivated after the conflict.
Throughout the Cold War, the four battalions of the regiment served in the 2nd Armored Division at Ft. Hood, Texas, and as part of the 2nd Armored Division (Forward) in the Federal Republic of Germany.
In 1991, during Operation Desert Storm, the regiment assisted in the liberation of Kuwait and the defeat of the Iraqi army. The 2nd and 3rd battalions of the regiment, stationed in Germany as part of the 2nd Armored Division (Forward), deployed and fought under the operational control of the 1st Infantry Division as part of Task Force 1-41 Infantry. The 4th Battalion, along with the 3d (Phantom) Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division, was attached to the 1st Armored Division. The 2nd and 3rd battalions served in the Battle of 73 Easting and the Battle of Norfolk. The Phantom Brigade became the 1st Armor's lead brigade for VII Corps' "left hook" to smash the Iraqi Republican Guard divisions. It served in the largest tank battle in American history at the Battle of Medina Ridge.
In the spring of 1995, the 1st Battalion of the 66th was assigned to assist over 5,000 Cuban and Haitian refugees interned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The 1st and 3rd Battalions deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. 3–66 Armor was deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom for 2003–2004 and 1-66 Armor deployed shortly after 3-66 Armor to Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2003-2004 as well. 1-66 Armored Regiment also deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2008-2009. This was the last tour of duty for 1-66 Armor BN while stationed at Fort Hood, TX before relocating to Fort Carson, CO. 1-66 Armor BN was then deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom from 2010-2011, as part of the surge in the volatile Arghandab River Valley west of Kandahar City in RC-South. 3-66 Armor BN was recently deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom from 2011-2012 to Paktika Province in RC-East.Shield: Tierced in pairle reversed gules, azure, and or, in dexter chief an escuctcheon azure semé-de-lys or charged with saltire of the last; overall, a label of three points argent
Crest: On a wreath of the three colors a wyvern couchant reguardant to sinister argent, grasping in its dexter claw a pine tree inverted and eradicated proper, and charged on its neck with a label of three points azure
Motto: "Semper in Hostes" (Always into the enemy).
Symbolism: The coat of arms was originally approved for the 15th Tank Battalion, part of which was in the old 304th Tank Brigade. Therefore, the shield and crest of the 304th Tank Brigade are used with the label added for difference. The shield is of the colors of the Tank Corps shoulder sleeve insignia. The Brigade was organized at Langres, France, in 1918, and the arms of Langres are shown on an escutcheon with the saltire changed from red to gold for difference. The wyvern is from the original insignia of the French Tank Corps. The uprooted pine tree commemorates the activities of the brigade in the Argonne Forest during the Meuse-Argonne operations.
Organized in August 1918 in the American Expeditionary Forces in France as Headquarters and Headquarters Companies, 1st and 2d Provisional Brigades, Tank Corps.
Redesignated 6 November 1918 as Headquarters and Headquarters Companies, 304th and 305th Brigades, Tank Corps, respectively
Consolidated and redesignated 22 June 1921 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Tank Group
Reorganized and redesignated 1 September 1929 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Tank Regiment; remainder of the 1st Tank Regiment organized from existing units as follows:
(3d Battalion activated 16 September 1931 at Camp Devens, Massachusetts)
1st Tank Regiment converted and redesignated 25 October 1932 as the 66th Infantry (Light Tanks)
(Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 66th Infantry [Light Tanks] inactivated 1 September 1938 at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland; Headquarters Company activated 16 October 1939 at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland; Headquarters activated 10 January 1940)
Converted and redesignated 15 July 1940 as the 66th Armored Regiment and assigned to the 2d Armored Division
Regiment broken up 25 March 1946 and its elements reorganized and redesignated as elements of the 2d Armored Division as follows:
After 25 March 1946 the above units underwent changes as follows:
6th Tank Battalion (less Companies C and D); 66th Tank Battalion; Company D, 82d Reconnaissance Battalion; Company D, 12th Armored Infantry Battalion; and the Maintenance Company and Companies G, H, I, 66th Armored Regiment, consolidated, reorganized and redesignated 1 July 1957 as the 66th Armor, a parent regiment under the Combat Arms Regimental System (Companies C and D, 6th Tank Battalion reorganized and redesignated as elements of the 67th Armor—hereafter separate lineages)
Withdrawn 1 October 1983 from the Combat Arms Regimental System and reorganized under the United States Army Regimental System
- Presidential Unit Citation (Army) for NORMANDY
- Presidential Unit Citation (Army) for VIRE RIVER
- Presidential Unit Citation (Army) for ROER RIVER
- Valorous Unit Award for IRAQ-KUWAIT
- Valorous Unit Award for IRAQ OIF 07-09 New Baghdad
- Belgian Fourragere 1940
- Meritorious Unit Citation (3RD BN) awarded 10 March 2010 for Operation Iraqi Freedom 08-10
- Cited in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army for action in BELGIUM 1944
- Cited in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army for action in the ARDENNES