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Unit History


 

COA, 87th Infantry Regiment

The battalion was formed in May 1942 as the 87th Infantry, Mountain, 2nd Battalion, Reinforced at Fort Lewis, Washington. It along with 1-87 Mountain Infantry, comprised the 87th Mountain Infantry. The battalion was made up of world famous skiers, mountaineers, forest rangers, trappers, lumberman, guides, cowboys, muleskinners, horseman, and regular army cadre.

As the battalion was conducting maneuvers in Jolan, California in November 1942, the Army was preparing a brand new camp to house the 87th on the Continental Divide at Camp Hale, Colorado, at 9,480 feet above sea level. 2-87 moved to Camp Hale in late December 1942. During the winter of 1942-43, the battalion conducted extreme cold weather and high altitude training and tested over one hundred types of equipment and vehicles.

On 11 June 1943, the battalion deployed to Fort Ord, California for amphibious training in preparation of combat operations. Within weeks after this training, the battalion sailed to the Aleutian Island as part of Amphibious Technical Force Nine. The 2-87 Mountain Infantry took part in regimental amphibious assault of Kiska on 1-16 August 1943 and occupied the island until withdrawal to Camp Carson, Colorado in December 1943.

In February 1944, the battalion joined the 10th Light Division and moved again to Camp Hale. In the winter of 1944, the battalion took part in a maneuver in sub-zero weather. In one night alone, over one hundred cases of frostbite were evacuated. All men who completed the maneuver were commended.

In late June 1944, the battalion moved with the newly designated 87th Infantry Regiment, Light as a part of the 10th Mountain Division to Camp Swift, Texas. On 20 December 1944, 2-87 entrained from Camp Swift to Newport News, Virginia and embarked on the USS West Point. The battalion sailed for Naples, Italy on 04 January 1945.

The battalion entered combat on 28 January 1945 as part of the Fifth U.S. Army. On the night of 19 February after 17 days of patrolling in the mountains on snowshoes and skis, the battalion was instrumental in the capture on Mount Belvedere and other key mountain peaks in a night attack.

On 4-5 March, 2-87 participated in their second offensive by capturing Mad Na Di Brasa and Castel d'Alano. Where as the Battle of Belvedere was a night attack, the Battle of Castel d' Alano was a deadly struggle in the sunlight, from bunker to bunker, hill to hill, objective to objective.

During the first two weeks of April 1945, the battalion planned and prepared for their part in the final spring offensive of the Fifth Army in Italy. The intent was to break through the northern Apennines, drive the Germans out of the mountains, and secure the wide PO Valley. The battalion fought continuously from 4 April to 2 May over mountainous terrain covering 140 miles.

The battalion learned of the surrender off all German forces at suppertime on 02 May 1945. The Germans had been impressed by the 10th Mountain Infantry soldiers. Using the words from captured enemy documents, the Germans knew they had been up against mountain troops. They believed them to be a hand picked elite corps, made up of physically superior soldiers, sports personalities and young men from politically significant American families. It was no accident General Lieutenant General Fridolin von Snger and Etterlin insisted on surrendering in person only to Major General George P. Hays, the Commanding General of what the General called the best American formation in Italy-the 10th Mountain Division.

From May-July 1945, the battalion conducted occupation duties. In July, the battalion was ordered to duty in the Pacific. 2-87 sailed from Italy on 02 August and arrived in the United States on 11 August. On 14 August. the battalion learned that the Japanese had surrendered and that the war was over.

The 2nd battalion, 87th Mountain Infantry was inactivated in November 1945 at Camp Carson, Colorado. On June 18 1948, the battalion was designated the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry and again assigned to the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Riley Kansas. In June 1958, the battalion was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division in Germany, and in 1963 reassigned to the 8th Infantry Division. 2-87 Infantry was inactivated in June 1986, only to be reactivated 2 years later as the sixth battalion of the 10th Mountain Division, Light Infantry, at Fort Drum, New York.

In August 1992 the battalion deployed to Homestead Florida to provide humanitarian disaster relief during JTF Operation Hurricane Andrew.

2-87 was deployed again In December of 1992, to Somolia as part of a Joint Task Force (JTF) in support of Operation Restore Hope.

In August 1994 the battalion deployed to Haiti on a four-month rotation in August of 1994 as part of Operation Uphold Democracy.

In January 1997 2-87 deployed with 529 soldiers as a Task Force to Sinai in Egypt for a six-month rotation for the Multinational Force Observers mission. The Task Force was part of a 14-country peace keeping force sent to the Sinai to enforce the Camp David Peace Accord signed in 1981.

In September 1998, elements of the battalion deployed to Central Asia to participate in CENTRAZBAT '98, a multi-national peacekeeping exercise involving soldiers from six former eastern block nations. During this exercise, 2-87 forged ties with other nations through shared hardships and training, while setting the stage for the multinational operations and peacekeeping missions that would soon follow.

In late August of 1999, the soldiers of 2-87 deployed overseas to the nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the former Yugoslavia. The battalion would serve as one unit in the Multinational Division (North) component of the Stabilization Force 6, in support of Operation Joint Forge. Task Force CATAMOUNT was charged with the northern portion of the MND (N) sector, including the towns of Brcko, Srebenik, and Modirchia. During the Task Force's seven month deployment, it participated in several missions designed to bring stability to the Balkans and a lasting peace to the People of Bosnia. Most notably, Operation Harvest which resulted in the destruction of over 5000 weapons, and the implementation of the Brcko Demilitarization process that disbanded and relocated over 5000 members of the Entity Armed Forces as well as destroyed 9000 weapons required by the Brcko Arbitration Decision.

From July 2001 to January 2002, 2-87 Infantry was again ordered overseas. This time it was a six-month deployment in support of the Mulit-National Force and Observers in the Sinai desert. During those six months, the battalion took part in pre-deployment and sustainment training and certification, 24hr operation of all remote sites and the battalion tactical operations center, training and deployment of the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) and were responsible for security and force protection of South Camp. The battalion also prepared and participated in Force Skills Competition, Operational Readiness Checks and SNAP Inspections, EIB, EFMB, marksmanship and live-fire training & testing, joint and combined training with other contingents, and many other tasks, duties and responsibilities.

In August 2003 the battalion deployed with 700 soldiers as a task force to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom IV, for a 9 month rotation. Task Force 2-87 was part of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, working as the northern combat task force. In Afghanistan, the Catamounts took part in combat operations to defeat anti-coalition forces operating in Asadabad, Barikowt, Khowst, Nangalam, and Ghazni provinces.

After their return from Afghanistan, 2-87 was swept up in the army's transformation initiative, where it added a weapons company, received in direct support a forward support company, and was assigned to the newly activated 3rd BCT (Spartans) of the 10th Mountain Division at Ft. Drum, NY. The battalion has proven its ability to deploy, fight and win anywhere in the world as part of the 10th Mountain Division (LI), and the XVIII Airborne Corps.