History and Traditions
Of the 15th Medical Battalion

The 15th Medical Battalion, as it is known today, was organized. at Fort Bliss, Texas, on 1 June 1926, as part of the 1st Cavalry Division, in accordance with General Orders Number 5, War Department, 23 March 1925. It was designated as the 1st Medical Squadron. The distinctive insignia, coat of arms and motto "Standing By", were adopted in July 1929.

One of its first missions other than non, training an. maneuvers was during the Escobar Revolution in Mexico during October, 1929. The 1st Medical Squadron supported troops of the 1st Cavalry Division that were stationed along the Mexican border as far west as Arizona.

During the year 1933, many members of the medical squadron were on duty with the Civilian Conservation Corps, performing physical examinations and furnishing medical aid and ambulance service to the various camps.

During the intervening years until the beginning of World War II, the 1st Medical Squadron participated in all 1st Cavalry Division maneuvers. The training was of the specialized type found in mounted medical units involving not only its basic knowledge required of the combat medical soldier, but also the duties and skills of the expert horseman and cavalrymen. This training enhanced, augmented and made practical the learning acquired through reading, study, troop training, and troop schools by disclosing deficiencies, limitations, and values of men and equipment.

With the advent of Wools War II, the unit was assigned the additional duty of training newly organized hospital units, many of which subsequently served overseas in combat. In the latter part of 1942, the Cavalry Division gave up its horses and began training as an infantry type division. This reorganization also effected changes in the medical squadron with an ensuing period of intensive unit training for future infantry combat operations. On 26 June 1943, the unit left the continental United States from San Francisco, California, for an overseas tour destined to include at least two wars, five years of occupation duty in Japan and ten years foreign service. On 11 July 1943, the unit landed at Camp Strathpine, Australia, and spent the remainder of the year undergoing intensive combat training including amphibious maneuvers.

The 1st Medical Squadron moved right along with the 1zt Cavalry Division on its campaigns through the southwest Pacific to Japan. The names of New Guinea, Los Negras, Bismarck Archipelago, Luzon, Leyte, and Antipoli as well the path of war and sacrifice taken by the division and medical squadron and are indelibly written in the history of this medical unit.

The following Campaign Streamers and Decorations were awarded During World War II,

Campaign Streamers

New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago (with arrowhead)
Leyte (with arrowhead) and Luzon
Streamer, Meritorious Unit Commendation, embroidered KOREA, 1st Ambulance Company
Streamer, Meritorious Unit Commendation, embroidered KOREA, 1st Clearing Company

In November 1951, the Battalion, together with the division, returned to Japan for the defense of the strategically located northern island of Hokkaido.

In the fall of 1957, the division was reassigned to Korea replacing the 24th Infantry Division on the DMZ. The Battalion, with the vital mission of maintaining the general health and welfare of the members of the 1st Cavalry Division, stands among the best of many battle-scarred and time-honored units of the US Army Medical Service.

The 15th Medical Battalion underwent reorganization on 1 September 1963, as directed by General Orders Number 323, Headquarter US Army Pacific, eat. 12 August 1963. The change resulted in the activation of Company D, and redisignation of Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, to Headquarters and Company A.

The current mission of the battalion is to provide division unit level medical support to the 1st Cavalry Division, elements of the 7th Infantry Division, and I Corps units in garrison. The garrison mission includes the operation of a 42 bed dispensary, which further enhances the training of the assigned personnel, insuring operational efficient, for the performance of our primary mission is made aware of these. hazards through proper training, and are often given the opportunity to display the high degree of physical fitness they maintain. On December 1964 the troopers of the 15th Medical Battalion donned full field equipment, to include weapons and protective mask, marched 6 miles cross country, encounters the aggressor force in small arms harassment, waded through a cloud of CS gas and continued toward their destination, arriving in 1 hour and 45 minutes after departure. Our Motto, "Always With You".

In September 1965, the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), supported by the 15th Medical Battalion (Airmobile), arrived at the Central Highlands bases of Qui Nhon and An Khe lying southeast of Pleiku. In October the North Vietnamese Army began a major operation in the Central Highlands, opening its campaign with an attack on the Plei Me Special Forces camp 25 miles southwest of Pleiku. The 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), was moved into the area, south and west of Pleiku to block any further enemy advance and to stand in readiness as a reaction force. On 27 October, the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) was directed to seek out and destroy the enemy force in western Pleiku province. Thus began the month-long campaign known as the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley. The great effectiveness of the airmobile division was demonstrated in its first combat trial.

The IA Drang campaign also proved the worth of the airmobile medical support battalion. An innovation, the airmobile medical battalion differed structurally in several ways from the conventional medical battalion. The most important difference was that it included an air ambulance platoon of 12 helicopters and an aircraft maintenance section.

Doctrinally, the division of responsibility between air ambulances organic to a division and Army-level, or Medevac helicopters, was clear cut. Divisional air ambulances evacuated patients in the division's area of operations from the site of wounding to one of the division's four clearing stations. Dust-off helicopters evacuated patients from the divisional clearing station to an Army hospital. In practice, the line of demarcation was often blurred. During lulls in combat, divisional aircraft flew patients from the clearing station to a hospital, while during peak periods of combat, Army-level helicopters supplemented divisional aircraft and evacuated casualties from the frontline to the divisional clearing station. Occasionally, assault helicopters were used when the medical air evacuation platoon was overtaxed, but Medevac aircarft were preferred because the medical aidman aboard could give emergency treatment and because the patient could be regulated to the hospital best suited to his needs.

In contrast to the usual practice in Vietnam of evacuating a casualty directly from the site of wounding to a, hospital by air ambulance, 95 percent of the casualties in the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) were first evacuated to one of the division's clearing stations, because of the size of the division's area of operations. The remaining 5 percent, severely wounded or critically ill patients who could not have survived a stop en route, were evacuated directly to the 45th Surgical Hospital in Tay Ninh or the 2d Surgical Hospital in Lai Khe.

Since there was no difference in flying time from the combat area to the helipad of the clearing station of the 15th Medical Battalion (Airmobile) and that of the 45th Surgical Hospital at Tay Ninh, patients were evacuated to the clearing station. The two units complemented each other. Personnel at the clearing station became adept in the triage of combat casualties and in the techniques- such as administering blood and reducing shock- of stabilizing a seriously wounded patient. Surgeons at the 45th Surgical Hospital, in turn, were, freed to devote their full effort to resuscitative surgery without fear that the condition of patients awaiting surgery would deteriorate. The clearing station handled a surprisingly large number of casualties in a short period of time. It also weeded out the slightly wounded and the "sick, lame, and lazy" who would have become the responsibility of the 45th Surgical Hospital had they been evacuated there originally.

The 15th Medical Battalion’s participation in Vietnam ended on 29 April 1971, when it, along with the Division Support Command, departed Vietnam for Fort Hood, Texas. For its participation in Vietnam, the battalion would earn thirteen campaign streamers, a Presidential Unit Citation, two Valorous Unit Commendations, and three Meritorious Unit Commendations.

Distinctive Unit Insignia

Symbolism - The colors of the shield, white and maroon, are the Army Medical Department colors. The bluebonnet, the Texas State flower, indicates the unit was organized in Texas.

15th Med Bn shield

Background - The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for the 1st Medical Squadron on 11 July 1928. It was redesignated for the 15th Medical Battalion on 29 December 1950. It was redesignated for the 15th Support Battalion with the description and symbolism revised on 22 April 1987.