Camp Eagle Pass, TX – May 15, 1916

On this day 105 years ago, the 1st and 3d Battalions of The Old Guard arrived in Eagle Pass, TX.

After three years in New York State–and a reunion with families not seen for three years–the 3d Infantry Regiment was ordered to the border with Mexico in Texas. War in Europe and an unstable political situation in Mexico were the reasons, spurred on by an attack on the town of Columbus, NM, by the irregular Mexican troops of Pancho Villa. This led to a US action in Mexico led by General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing that came to be called the “Punitive Expedition.” Some troops, including the 3d Infantry Regiment, remained on the border. When the United States decided to close the largely unprotected border with Mexico, a large number of troops were kept on the border until the Mexican political situation smoothed out in 1920. A few regiments of regulars, among them.

The Old Guard, provided a disciplined backbone and cadre of men who trained citizen soldiers for warfare in Europe. Levied several times for men to fill up infantry units ordered overseas, by the end of the war and the occupation duty on the Rhine in 1921, almost every man in the Regiment in 1916 had been ordered overseas. In the Regiment at this time–and destined to rotate through and serve in Europe–were several young officers who were later to become famous: including James A. Van Fleet, later Field Commander in Korea; Henry H. Arnold, Army Air Force Chief of Staff during WWII; and Matthew B. Ridgway, Chief of Staff of the Army during the 1950’s.

Arrival in Newfoundland – 29 Jan 1941

US Army Transport Edmund B. Alexander
Colonel Maurice Welty
Travels of 3d Battalion from 13 Jan 1941 – 29 Jan 1941

🇺🇸 On This Day – 80 years ago 🇺🇸

On January 29, 1941, the US Army Transport Edmund B. Alexander arrived in St. John’s Harbor, Newfoundland, Canada. The 3d Battalion, 3d Infantry Regiment, along with the 24th Coast Artillery and the 62d Anti-Aircraft Artillery, made up the 977 soldiers who deployed to what would become Fort Pepperrell.

The force would be commanded by Colonel Maurice Welty. Though base construction began the previous year, the troops would live aboard the “Alexander” for several months until May 1941. In just two-weeks time, member of the Old Guard’s 3d Battalion traveled from Fort Snelling, MN by train to New York City. From NYC they boarded the “Alexander” and cruised up the East Coast to Newfoundland to their new home. More later about the the USAT Alexander, its history and its namesake.

1941-Deploying to Newfoundland

Co A & Co B barracks-Fort Snelling, MN – mid1930s
Co F, 3rd Infantry inspection-Ft. Snelling, MN – Mid1930s

⭐ 80 Years Ago Today ⭐
On January 13, 1941, members of the 3d Battalion, 3d Infantry Regiment departed Fort Snelling, MN on their way to Newfoundland. These men would be among the first service members to deploy outside of the United States in preparation for World War II.

In September 1940, the US & UK signed the “Destroyers for Bases” agreement. The agreement sold US destroyers to the UK in exchange for leases at various British possessions. The soldiers of The Old Guard were headed to Fort Pepperrell, Newfoundland, Canada via New York City and a US Army Transport Ship. More on that leg of the trip later!

Here are photos of Fort Snelling and some of the barracks where Old Guard soldiers lived, where the Regiment spent the previous 20 years.