On June 1, 1966, the 2d Battalion, 3d Infantry Regiment was activated at Fort Benning, GA. The 2nd Battalion was assigned to the 199th Infantry Brigade, eventually serving in the area around Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City). The 2d Battalion was awarded a Valorous Unit Award and earned 11 campaign streamers for its service in Vietnam. One of the Regiment’s four Medal of Honor recipients was Corporal Michael F. Folland, Company D, 2d Battalion, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on July 3, 1969. The 2d Battalion was inactivated on October 15, 1970, at Fort Benning.
Previously, the 2d Battalion was active from 1957-1963 in South Korea as an element of the 7th Infantry Division. The 2d Battalion was activated again in March 2001 at Fort Lewis, WA, which served as a home base between its four deployments to Iraq (3) and Afghanistan (1) since 2003.
Today, we remember Corporal Michael F. Folland. On this day in 1969, while assigned to
Company D, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), CPL Folland acted with “gallantry and intrepidity” when his unit was ambushed in Long Khanh Province, Republic of Vietnam. His actions cost him his life and were recognized with the posthumous awarding of the Medal of Honor.
The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) Headquarters building, located at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, VA, was named for CPL Folland on October 2, 1998.
Medal of Honor Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Cpl. Folland distinguished himself while serving as an ammunition bearer with the weapons platoon of Company D, during a reconnaissance patrol mission. As the patrol was moving through a dense jungle area, it was caught in an intense crossfire from heavily fortified and concealed enemy ambush positions. As the patrol reacted to neutralize the ambush, it became evident that the heavy weapons could not be used in the cramped fighting area. Cpl. Folland dropped his recoilless rifle ammunition, and ran forward to join his commander in an assault on the enemy bunkers. The assaulting force moved forward until it was pinned down directly in front of the heavily fortified bunkers by machine gun fire. Cpl. Folland stood up to draw enemy fire on himself and to place suppressive fire on the enemy positions while his commander attempted to destroy the machine gun positions with grenades. Before the officer could throw a grenade, an enemy grenade landed in the position. Cpl. Folland alerted his comrades and his commander hurled the grenade from the position. When a second enemy grenade landed in the position, Cpl. Folland again shouted a warning to his fellow soldiers. Seeing that no one could reach the grenade and realizing that it was about to explode, Cpl. Folland, with complete disregard for his safety, threw himself on the grenade. By his dauntless courage, Cpl. Folland saved the lives of his comrades although he was mortally wounded by the explosion. Cpl. Folland’s extraordinary heroism, at the cost of his life, was in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
On April 6, 1948, the 3d Infantry Regiment was re-activated on the Capitol Plaza in Washington, DC. What came to be known as the “Cold War” created a need for greater protection of the capital, national leaders, and public property. It was decided that The Old Guard, as the oldest active Infantry regiment, would be the ideal choice.
The flag used in the ceremony, which flew over the US Capitol at the time of Pearl Harbor, was later raised over the three defeated Axis capitals of Rome, Berlin, and Tokyo and then returned to the United States for use in appropriate ceremonies.
The mission to protect the capital had been performed by Military Policemen of the 703d and the 712th MP Battalions since the end of the World War II. The men of the 703rd were transferred to the 1st Battalion, 3d Infantry, and those in the 712th became the 2d Battalion, 3d Infantry, with a large number of recruit trainees from Fort Dix, New Jersey added to both battalions. The 1st Battalion was garrisoned at Fort Myer, VA and the 2d Battalion was garrisoned at newly-renamed Fort Lesley J. McNair, DC.
The Military District of Washington’s ceremonial mission had been performed since 1943 by the MDW Ceremonial Detachment. The Ceremonial Detachment first became Ceremonial Company, 1st Battalion, 3d Infantry Regiment. About a year later, Ceremonial Company became Company A of The Old Guard.
On March 15, 2001, the 2d Battalion, 3d Infantry Regiment activated at Fort Lewis, Washington. The 2d Battalion adopted the nickname “Patriots” and organized as part of the 3d Brigade, 2d Infantry Division. They were part of the first Stryker brigades to deploy into combat (2003). The Patriots have deployed four times in support of Operation: Iraqi Freedom and Operation: Enduring Freedom.
Before 2001, the 2d Battalion had been active July 1957-July 1963 (as 2nd Battle Group) and June 1966-October 1970. Those time frames saw the battalion deployed to South Korea and Vietnam, respectively.
On October 15, 1970, the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) was inactivated at Fort Benning, Georgia. The 2nd Battalion re-activated four years earlier at Fort Benning, before deploying to Vietnam. During the deployment, the 2d Battalion participated in eleven campaigns and earned the Valorous Unit Award for its actions during the Tet Offensive (31 Jan – 19 Feb 1968). The 2nd Battalion was assigned to the 199th Infantry Brigade (known as the Redcatchers) throughout its deployment. The 2d Battalion was next re-activated on 16 March 2001, as part of the Army’s first Stryker Brigade Combat Team under the 3d Brigade, 2d Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Washington.