The United States entered World War II with the bombing of Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. The Transportation Corps was created on 31 July 1942, but all trucks remained under the control of the Quartermaster Corps. On 23 November 1944, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 296th Quartermaster Battalion, Mobile was constituted in the US Army, and then activated at Camp Polk, Louisiana on 15 December 1944 where it remained the duration of the war. It was activated too late to participate in overseas operations during World War II.1
As units were waiting their turn to come home, the 296th Quartermaster Battalion moved to Fort Lawton, Washington on 20 August 1945 for shipment overseas with assignment to the Western Pacific Base Command. There it boarded Cushman K. Davis three days later. It arrived at Oahu, Hawaii on 2 September and then sailed the next day. It arrived at Eniwetok on 13 September and again set sail the next day stopping at Guam on 18 September where it disembarked.2
After the war, the Quartermaster Corps turned over the truck units to the Transportation Corps and the 296th was converted and redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 296th Transportation Corps Truck Battalion on 1 August 1946. It was assigned to the US Air Force, Middle Pacific on 1 October 1946, and was then reassigned to the Marianas Bonins Command effective 1 January 1947. On 14 May 1947, it was assigned to the 501st TC Port Battalion. It was later redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 296th Transportation Truck Battalion on 26 June 1947. It was relieved from the 501st Port Battalion and reassigned back to the Marianas Bonins Base Command on 31 October 1947. It was again redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 296th Transportation Truck Battalion on 17 October 1949.3
In June 1950, the Government of North Korea decided to unify the peninsula under a single communist rule by invading across the 38th Parallel and conquering South Korea. Its Army had just returned from combat in China where the Communists under Mao Tse Tung had defeated the Nationalists under Chiang Kai Shek. The inexperienced Republic of Korean (ROK) Army fell back in ruin. Consequently, President Harry Truman decided to reinforce the ROK Army and reestablish the 38th Parallel. The US Army entered the Korean War with the arrival of the 1st Battalion 21st Infantry on 1 July 1950.4
On 26 June 1950, the 296th Transportation Truck Battalion was relieved from the 46th Transportation Service Group and assigned to the 8160th Service Unit, Transportation Service Group then relieved from that provision command on 9 September and assigned to the Japan Logistical Command for transfer to Yokohama, Japan. Upon arrival in Yokohama on 21 August 1950, it would be assigned to the Yokohama Command. It then boarded USNS LT Raymond Beaudoin on 28 August 1950.
The 296th Battalion was then shipped out of Yokohama on 22 June 1951 and arrived at Pusan, Korea where it fell under the 2nd Logistical Command effective 25 June. The 2nd Logistical Command had responsibility for logistical support out of the Port of Pusan. The 296th Transportation Battalion was then attached to the 3rd Logistical Command on 7 September 1951. The 3rd Logistical Command had been created to support X Corps. On 25 October 1951, the 296th Transportation Truck Battalion was allotted to the Regular Army.
On 10 July 1952, Eighth Army established the Korean Communication Zone (KCOMZ) under the Far East Command to assume responsibility for rear area activities.5 The 2nd and 3rd Logistics Commands were both attached to KCOMZ. The 296th Transportation Battalion was then reassigned to the 2nd Logistical Command at Pusan effective 16 October 1952. The United States, North Korea, and China declared a truce on 27 July 1953 and the 38th parallel marked the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea.
It was reorganized and redesignated 8 April 1954 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 296th Transportation Battalion. It was then inactivated in Korea on 5 November 1955.6
On 16 October 1989, it was redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 296th Forward Support Battalion, and activated in Korea where it was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division, the only US Army division in Korea.7 While stationed at Camp Edwards, Korea it provided direct support to the 3rd Brigade, keeping watch on the DMZ. It was there the Battalion earned its nickname “Frontline Support.” Three years later, the battalion was inactivated on 16 September 1992.8
As part of the first Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), the 9th Infantry Division was inactivated at Fort Lewis, Washington and the 7th Infantry Division (Light) at Fort Ord, California was scheduled to relocate to Fort Lewis to take its place since Fort Ord was selected for base closure. Only the 9th Infantry Regiment (1st Brigade) relocated to Fort Lewis in February 1993 with its brigade slice of support which included the 79th Forward Support Battalion. Shortly thereafter, the 7th Infantry Division learned it was also scheduled for inactivation in 1994. Subsequently, the 9th Infantry Regiment was reassigned to the 25th Infantry Division in 1994 and then redesignated the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division on 16 April 1995.9 The 79th Forward Support Battalion was reflagged as the 296th Forward Support Battalion on 16 October 1995.10
During the Post-Cold War, the US Army was involved in contingency operations in Grenada, Central America and Panama, which did not have heavy armor. The leaders realized the Army needed a light and fast maneuverable fighting platform for these types of contingencies. In 1999, GEN Eric K. Shinseki announced the Army would transform two brigades built around this type of vehicle at Fort Lewis, Washington. The 3rd Brigade, 2nd ID and 1st Brigade, 25th ID became the first two Interim Brigade Combat Teams built around the Stryker Armored Combat Vehicle at Fort Lewis. On 15 September 2000, the 296th Forward Support Battalion was redesignated the 296th Brigade Support Battalion (BSB) as part of the Interim Brigade Combat Team. Because the Army envisioned contracting most of its logistical support, the 296th BSB was initially a bare bones organization with limited capability. The 3rd Brigade, 2nd ID became the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, and then 3-2 Brigade Combat Team (BCT) in order to maintain its lineage with its previous 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division past.
By the time it deployed to Iraq, the 296th BSB was organized with an HHC and five companies:
On 20 March 2003, the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) spearheaded the V Corps advance to Baghdad, Iraq while the 101st Air Assault Division leap-frogged along an axis of advance to the left all the way to Mosul. Realizing it was going to be a long war, the Army settled into one-year “boots on the ground” rotations.
The 296th BSB deployed with 3-2 BCT to Kuwait in November 2003 and convoyed to FOB Pacesetter near Samarra on 2 December with the main body closing on 9 December. The 3-2 BCT was the first Stryker BCT to deploy to Iraq. While there the BCT S-4 purchased 1,000 sheets of steel and the BSB constructed “Mad Attakai” armor on the HMMWVs because of the threat of IEDs. After 45 days at Pacesetter, the BSB and BCT moved to Mosul where the 3-2 BCT “Arrowhead Brigade” then completed its transfer of authority from the 101st Airborne Division on 7 February 2004. The 296th BSB supported combat operations of the Arrowhead Brigade from the Iraq-Syria Border to the southern Iraq town of Al Kut. While at Mosul, the BSB expanded its up-armor process to include the HEMMTs and medium tactical vehicles. The most intense fighting took place during the Al Sadr Easter Uprising in April 2004. The Iraqis launched large-scale complex ambushes. On 4 November 2005, the battalion returned to Fort Lewis to prepare for future deployments.11
The 296th BSB returned to Mosul with the 3-2 BCT and completed a transfer of authority from the 172nd BSB on 30 July 2006. There it conducted sustainment operations from Mosul to Tal Afar and Taji. It also worked with the 2nd and 3rd Iraqi Army Divisions to develop headquarters support companies. During December 2006, the 296th BSB moved south to conduct operations in the Multinational Division-Baghdad (MND-B) Area of Operations where it continued operations to numerous other cities as well as Baqubah. In September 2007, the 296th BSB returned to Fort Lewis, which was later renamed Joint Base Lewis-McCord (JBLM) due to joint basing.12
On 2 September 2009, the 296th BSB completed a transfer of authority from the 25th BSB in Baqubah, Iraq, where it task organized with engineer, intelligence, signal and cavalry units. Task Force Frontline conducted numerous sustainment and operational support missions enabling Arrowhead Brigade operations throughout the Diyala Province. In July 2010, the Frontline Battalion returned to JBLM.13
On 6 April 2012, the 296th BSB completed a transfer of authority from the 25th BSB at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. The 296th BSB assumed responsibility for providing aggressive and disciplined sustainment support to Combined Task Force Arrowhead, which was composed of more than 6,000 Soldiers from six US battalions and two NATO Coalition-partnered Romanian Army Battalions spread across 22,680 square miles at 26 different locations. The Frontline Battalion projected sustainment support throughout the Combined Task Force Arrowhead area of operations in Regional Command-South through convoys and task organization of soldiers in Forward Logistics Elements to provide direct support to the maneuver battalions. In December 2012, the Frontline Battalion returned to JBLM.14
CCF Spring Offensive; UN Summer-Fall Offensive; Second Korean Winter; Korea, Summer-Fall 1952; Third Korean Winter; Korea, Summer 1953
Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army) for KOREA 1951-1952
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for KOREA 1951-1952
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for KOREA 1952-1953
1 296th Support Battalion, Historical Data, Center of Military History.
2 Historical Data, CMH.
3 Historical Data, CMH.
4 Richard Killblane, “Operation Yo Yo, Transportation in the Korean War” Army Sustainment, October-November 2013.
5 Walter G. Hermes, Truce Tent and Fighting Front, Center of Military History, 1966.
6 Lineage and Honors, CMH.
7 Lineage and Honors, CMH.
8 296th Brigade Support Battalion, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/296th_Brigade_Support_Battalion.
9 Richard E. Killblane, “Two Manchu Light Fighters,” unpublished.
10 79th Support Battalion, Historical Data, CMH.
11 296th BSB, Wikipedia; LTC Dennis M. Thompson, “Frontline Support of the First SBCT at War,” Army Logistician, July-August 2004; CPT Michael K. Pavek, “Feeding the Soldiers in Iraq,” Army Logistician, January-February 2005; and CPT Daniel P. Fresh, “SBCT Up-Armor Evolution,” Army Logistician, January-February 2005.
12 296th BSB, Wikipedia; and SPC Rich Vogt, “296th in Mosul, Iraqi Army Support Learn from the Best,” blog-ah!, 12 October 2006, http://blog-ah.typepad.com/blogah/2006/10/296th_in_mosul.html.
13 296th BSB, Wikipedia.
14 296th BSB, Wikipedia.