A Short History of 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment

The 1st Battalion 37th Armored Regiment is arguably the most famous tank battalion in United States Army history with a long tradition of valor, excellence, and aggressiveness stretching from World War II to today. The Battalion was constituted on 13 January 1941 in the Regular Army as Company A, 7th Armored Regiment, an element of the 4th Armored Division. By 1943, the Army had re-designated the unit as Company A, 37th Tank Battalion.

On 12 July 1944, the Battalion landed at Normandy and began combat operations in the European Theater of War. There it fought with great distinction in the Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central European campaigns, earning three French Croix De Guerres and a Presidential Unit Citation. Among the 37th Tank’s most notable actions were seizing crossings on the Marne, Meuse, and Moselle Rivers during the Third Army’s historic drive across France, the relief of the 101st Airborne Division encircled at Bastogne, famous tank battles at Arracourt, Mayenvie, and Singling and finally the ill-fated Hammelburg Raid. While fighting near Valhey, France on September 14, 1944, Sergeant Joe Sadowski of Company A posthumously earned the Congressional Medal of Honor trying to save a crewmate after enemy fire knocked out his tank, illustrating our tradition of never failing those with whom we serve. Our motto, “Abrams’ Standards,” recalls the leadership and example set by General Creighton Abrams, the namesake of the Army’s current generation main battle tank. Then Lieutenant Colonel Abrams commanded the Battalion with great distinction during the Second World War and set the standards of excellence that we have strived to maintain ever since.

After the end of the Second World War in Europe, the Battalion transformed into Troop A, 37th Constabulary Squadron, an element of the 3d Constabulary Regiment. After sixteen months of stability and support operations in occupied Germany, the Army inactivated the Battalion on 20 September 1947 in Germany. During the 1950s the Battalion reactivated at Fort Hood, Texas once again as a part of 4th Armored Division. After several changes of organization, the Battalion assumed its current designation as the 1st Battalion, 37th Armor on 12 August 1963. The Battalion served at Fort Hood through the 1960s, then in May 1971 the Army re-assigned the Battalion to the 1st Armored Division in Germany.

The Battalion deployed to its second war in the fall of 1990 as part of Operation Desert Shield and later Desert Storm. Its honorable service in the Defense of Saudi Arabia, Liberation of Kuwait, and Ceasefire campaigns earned it a Valorous Unit Award. After returning to Germany, the Battalion served through the drawdown of the Army in Europe in the aftermath of the Cold War. Ultimately, the Battalion moved from Bavaria to Friedberg in March 1997 where we assumed some of the traditions of 1st Battalion, 32nd Armored Regiment, the original “Bandits of Friedberg” and their successor, the deactivating 4th Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment. From March 1997 until early 2001, the Battalion was called forward on several occasions to defend freedom in the eastern European nations of Macedonia, Bosnia, and Kosovo.

The Battalion returned to Southwest Asia in May 2003 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After 12 months in Baghdad conducting counter-insurgency operations, civil-military operations, and training Iraqi forces, the Bandits were extended and ordered to retake Karbala from Moqtada al-Sadr’s Militia. In intense fighting, the Battalion recaptured the city and decimated the militia’s ranks. For its actions in defeating insurgent forces, maintaining law and order, and building of a new government founded on democratic principles, the Battalion earned its second Presidential Unit Citation.

In July 2004, the Battalion returned to Friedberg, Germany and began reconstitution and retraining. The nation called upon the Bandits again in January 2006 when the Battalion again deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Initially operating in western Nineveh Province, the Bandits partnered with the 1st Brigade, 3rd Iraqi Division and the 4th Brigade, Iraqi Border Police to conduct combined area security operations, build Iraqi security force capabilities, and conduct civil military operations along the Syrian border. During this time, the validated two of three partnered Iraqi Army battalions and was the first to transition battlespace to Iraqi control.The Bandits’ mission on the border ended in May 2006 when the Task Force was ordered to the volatile Al Anbar province to spearhead the pacification of its capital city, Ar Ramadi. Upon arrival, the Task Force gallantly assaulted across the Nasir Canal and established a series of six combat outposts deep within enemy held territory. Operating from these outposts during nine months of intense combat, Task Force Bandits drove Al Qaeda in Iraq from their sanctuary and inflicted grievous losses on the enemy. For these actions, the Battalion recieved a Naval Unit Commendation.  After a 45 day extension, the Battalion returned to Friedberg in February 2007 and inactivated. That inactivation marked the end of the history of the “Bandits of Friedberg.” For more than sixty years, there were American tank Soldiers in Friedberg who called themselves the Bandits. This tradition began with the 1st Battalion 32nd Armor, with whom Elvis Presley served in the 1950’s. When 1-32 returned to the States after the end of the Cold War, the 4th Battalion 67th Armor continued the traditions of the Bandits, until they re-flagged as the 1st Battalion, 37th Armor. 

On 27 October 2008, 1-37 Armor was re-activated at Fort Bliss, Texas as part of 1AD's redeployment to the Continental United States (CONUS). 1–37 Armor deployed once again to Iraq in November 2009. As 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division converted to a Stryker brigade, 1–37 Armor deactivated on 11 January 2011.  1-37 Armor reactivated as a Combined Arm Battalion in 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division on 18 June 2015.

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