78th Army Band:
Unit History



History-78th Army Band

1. Purpose. The purpose of this annex is to provide historical background information about the 99th RSC, the 78th Army Band and their mission.

2. Heraldry of the 99th Infantry Division (99th RSC)

a. Nickname: Battle Babies, Checkerboard Division

b. Motto: “Checkmate!”

c. Shoulder Patch: A five-sided shield of black on which is superimposed a horizontal band of white and blue squares in a checkerboard pattern. The black represents the iron mills of Pittsburg where many of the troops were from. The blue and white are taken from the coat of arms for William Pitt for whom Pittsburg was named. The dual nine number of checks represents the numerical designation. (See Appendix A)

d. Distinctive Unit Insignia: The king chess piece represents authority and leadership and relates to the command aspects of the unit’s mission. The round ball on the top of the chess piece represents the shot herd around the world. The blue and white checks on the black are refer to the arms of Pittsburgh, the unit’s home, and to the shoulder sleeve insignia of the 99th Infantry Division. The dual nine number of checks represents the numerical designation. Greed and red are for the Belgium Fourragere awarded for the Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe campaigns. (See Appendix A)

3. Narrative History of the 99th Infantry Division (99th RSC)

a. WWI to date 01 JAN 08

The 99th's original roots began on July 23, 1918, when the unit was constituted as the 99th Division in Camp Wheeler, Ga. On June 24, 1921, it was reconstituted as the 99th (Checkerboard) Division and assigned to the Organized Reserve in Pittsburgh.

The 99th assumed a Military Police mission in January 1942. Then, on April 1, 1942, it was reorganized as the 99th Infantry Division. On November 15, 1942, the 99th was ordered to Camp Van Dorn, Miss. to conduct combat training. The 99th Infantry Division arrived in England on October 10,1944, moved to Le Havre, France on November 3, 1944, and proceeded to Aubel, Belgium, to prepare for combat. The Division first saw action on the 9th, taking over the defense of the sector north of the Roer River between Schmidt and Monschau. After defensive patrolling, the 99th probed the Siegfried Line against heavy resistance, on December 13, 1944. An attack by Field Marshall Von Rundstedt caught the Division off guard on December 16, 1944 in what would eventually become known as the “Battle of the Bulge”. Although cut up and surrounded in part, the 99th held as a whole until reinforcements came. Then it drew back gradually to form defensive positions east of Elsenborn on December 19, 1944. Here it held firmly against violent enemy attacks. From December 21, 1944 to January 30, 1945, the unit was engaged in aggressive patrolling and reequipping. It attacked toward the Monschau Forest on February 1, 1945, mopping up and patrolling until it was relieved for training and rehabilitation, February 13, 1945. On March 2, 1945 the Division took the offensive, moving toward Keln and crossing the Erft Canal near Glesch. After clearing towns west of the Rhine, it crossed the river at Remagen on the 11th and continued to Linz and to the Wied. Crossing on March 23, 1945, it pushed east on the Koln-Frankfurt highway to Giessen. Against light resistance, it crossed the Dill River and pushed on to Krofdorf-Gleiberg, taking Giessen on March 29, 1945. The 99th then moved to Schwarzenau on April 3, 1945 and attacked the southeast sector of the Ruhr pocket on April 5, 1945. Although the enemy resisted fiercely, the Ruhr pocket collapsed with the fall of Iserlohn, on April 16, 1945. The last drive for the 99th began on April 23, 1945. The 99th crossed the Ludwig Canal against stiff resistance and established a bridgehead over the Altmuhl River on April 25, 1945 The Danube was crossed near Eining on April 27, 1945 and the Isar at Landshut, on May 1, 1945 after a stubborn fight. The attack continued without opposition to the Inn River and Giesenhausen when VE-day came. With the war in Europe over, the 99th conducted occupational duties until returning to America and inactivating on September 27, 1945.

The 99th Infantry Division was reactivated as the 99th U.S. Army Reserve Command (ARCOM) on December 22, 1967 with "Headquarters" in the Pittsburgh area at Leetsdale, PA. At its inception, the headquarters unit comprised approximately six officers and six enlisted men, but quickly grew to about 150 officers and 200 enlisted men. The headquarters was then moved to 250 Mt. Lebanon Blvd., Mt. Lebanon, PA. In the mid-'80s, the headquarters moved to Oakdale, PA, at the former Nike missile site.

The overall ARCOM concept was developed by Colonel Willie E. Dixon, in 1967 while working at the Pentagon. Colonel James Milnor Roberts, a Pittsburgh native, was chosen by Pentagon as Commanding Officer of the 99th ARCOM and Colonel Willie D Dixon became the Deputy Commanding Officer. By 1969, Col. Roberts was promoted to Brigadier General, was chosen to head all US Army Reserve and National Guard forces, and was assigned to the Pentagon. With the departure of General Roberts, Col. Willie E. Dixon was promoted to Commanding General of the 99th. Eventually both Roberts and Dixon became Major Generals. Because of the foresight of General Roberts and General Dixon, today's reservist is as well trained and equipped as any regular US Army soldier.
The "Checkmate" unit crest of the 99th (with the King chess piece in the center) was designed by Colonel Herald T. Walther, and adopted on May 13, 1970 The King chess piece represents authority and leadership which relates to the command aspects of the 99th mission. The round ball on the top of the chess piece represents the shot herd around the world. The blue and white checks represents the Pittsburgh coat of arms in honor of the unit’s home. The dual 9 number of blue and white checks represent the numerical designation of the 99th and is mirrored in the unit’s should sleeve isignia. The green and red represents the Belgium Fourragere awarded for the Ardennes-Alsace & Central Europe Campaigns.

While this reorganization of the entire Army Reserve was occurring, American involvement in Vietnam was escalating. There was no significant call-up of Reserve soldiers during Vietnam; however, units and individual soldiers of the 99th ARCOM served with distinction during the war. The 630th Transportation Company was activated on 13 May 1968, served 11 months in South Vietnam, and returned home to Washington, Pa., in August 1969. While in Vietnam soldiers of the 630th earned two Purple Hearts and 14 Bronze Stars. The 99th Army Reserve Command (ARCOM) was activated 22 Dec 1967.

Units and members of the 99th were deployed to Grenada during Operation Urgent Fury in 1983 and in 1989 they were sent to Panama for Operation Just Cause.

The 99th ARCOM was redesigated the 99th Regional Support Command (RSC) on April 16, 1996. The 99th Regional Support Command was officially organized, becoming one of 10 regional support commands, which were formerly the 20 Army Reserve commands, located in the United States. The 99th Headquarters in Oakdale, Pa., absorbed the then 97th and 79th Army Reserve Commands during this restructuring transition period. The 99th was now comprised of 185 units served by more than 20,000 soldiers in Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia. Units of the 99th RSC span the spectrum of the Combat Support and Combat Service Support branches of the Army. Of the 99th's units, 41 are designated as Force Support Package units - units, which will be the first called in the event of a global crisis or contingency.

After Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, 22 99th RSC units with more than 2,000 soldiers deployed to Saudi Arabia, Europe and other locations. On February 25, 1991, during the last few hours of the Gulf War, a SCUD missile destroyed a barracks that housed members of the 99th Regional Support Command's 14th Quartermaster Detachment. In the single, most devastating attack on U.S. forces during Operations Desert Shield/Storm, 29 soldiers died and 99 were wounded. The 14th Quartermaster Detachment, from Greensburg, Pa., lost 13 soldiers and suffered 43 wounded during this attack. The 99th's involvement in operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm ended with the demobilization of the last unit on September 21, 1991. Since 1995, nearly 1,200 99th Regional Support Command soldiers have deployed in support of operations in Bosnia. In addition to 99th units, individual soldiers have volunteered to fill shortfalls in the active Army.

In late 2003, all Regional Support Commands were re-designated to Regional Readiness Commands. The 99th Regional Readiness Command was responsible for over 200 facilities including Army Reserve Centers, Army Maintenance Support Activities, Equipment Concentration Sites, local training areas, and air support facilities.

Today's 99th RRC is rich in heritage, lineage, and honors from World Wars I and II; The Korean and Vietnam Wars; Operations Urgent Fury, Just Cause; Operations Desert Shield/Storm, and Operation Joint Guard/Endeavor, the peacekeeping mission in the Balkan Republics In the 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to disestablish the HQ 99th Regional Readiness Command located at Pitt USARC, Moon Township, PA. The DoD would instead establish a Northeast Regional Readiness Command Headquarters at Fort Dix, NJ, which, according to DoD, would further support the re-engineering and streamlining of the Command and Control structure of the Army Reserves The 99th has since remained in the Army Reserve.

b. Transformation to current organization and mission

Recently, the call has been made to transform the 99th from a Cold War strategic reserve to a well-trained operational force that compliments the Army across the full spectrum of capabilities.

On September 20, 2008 the 99th RRC was re-designated as the 99th Regional Support Command at it’s new headquarters at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Major General William Monk III, assumed command responsibility for the new RSC from Major General Alan D. Bell, deputy commander, U.S. Army Reserve Command and deputy chief of the U.S. Army Reserve for Operations, Readiness, Training, and Mobilization.

The 99th is the first of four new RSCs that are to be consolidated from 10 RRCs under the new Army Reserve transformation initiatives. The 99th RSC now comprises the geography that was once assigned to the 77th, 94th, and 99th RRCs, stretching along 13 states of American’s Eastern Seaboard from southern Virginia to the northen tip of Maine.

c. Medal of Honor Recipient: Vernon McGarity: Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company L, 393rd Infantry, 99th Infantry Division. Near Krinkelt, Belgium, 16 December 1944

d. Point of Interest: The I&R Platoon from 394th infantry regiment of the 99th division is the most decorated platoon of World War II for only one single action (4 DSC, 5 SS, 10 BSM with V (valor) device and Presidential Unit Citation) during the Battle of the Bulge.

4. Statement of Service of the 78th Army Band

a. Constituted 2 August 1943 in the Organized Reserves as the Band, 78th Infantry Division

b. Activated 9 August 1943 at Camp Butner, North Carolina

c. Redesignated 1 December 1943 as the 78th Infantry Division Band

d. Inactivated 22 May 1946 in Germany

e. Organized Reserves redesignated 25 March 1948 as the Organized Reserve Corps; redesignated 9 July 1952 as the Army Reserve

f. Activated 1 October 1950 at Newark, New Jersey

g. Location changed 9 November 1955 to Kearny, New Jersey; on 6 December 1958 to Edison, New Jersey

h. Reorganized and redesignated 1 May 1959 as the 78th Division Band

i. Consolidated 31 January 1968 with the Support Company, 78th Division (Training) and consolidated unit reorganized and redesignated as the Support Company and Band, 78th Division (Training)

j. Reorganized and redesignated 1 September 1970 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company and Band, 78th Support Battalion, an element of the 78th Division (Training)

k. Reorganized and redesignated 1 August 1971 as Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment and Band, 78th Support Battalion, an element of the 78th Division (Training)

l. Band element withdrawn 16 November 1982 and redesignated as the 878th Army Band, an element of the 78th Division (Training) (Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 78th Support Battalion--hereafter separate lineage)

m. Reorganized and redesignated 17 September 1983 as the band element of Headquarters Company, 78th Division (Training)

n. Band element withdrawn 16 September 1988 from Headquarters Company, 78th Division (Training); concurrently reorganized and redesignated as the 78th Division Band

o. 78th Division (Training) reorganized and redesignated 1 October 1993 as the 78th Division (Exercise; on 17 October 1999 as the 78th Division (Training Support)

p. Relieved 1 April 2007 from assignment to the 78th Division (Training Support)

q. Reorganized and redesignated 16 October 2008 as the 78th Army Band

5. Campaign Participation Credit

a. World War II

i. Rhineland

ii. Ardennes-Alsace

iii. Central Europe

6. Decorations (See Appendix B)

a. Army Meritorious Unit Commendation (See Appendix C-Documentation)

b. Streamer embroidered: EUROPEAN THEATER

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Appendix A-Heraldric Devices 99th Infantry Division (RSC)

Shoulder Sleeve Insignia (SSI) Distinctive Unit Insignia (DUI)

Belgium Fourragere

Appendix B-Decorations of the 78th Army Band

Meritorious Unit Commendation

European Theater Streamer

Shoulder Sleeve Insignia

Distinctive Unit Insignia