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Army Reserves

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With the outbreak of war in Europe and especially with the fall of France in June 1940, the United States began rearming in earnest. The Nation began calling on its long-neglected Reserve as a key part in that rebuilding of its armed forces. There were some 2,700 Reserve officers serving on active duty in mid-1940; within a year, there were 57,000 serving on active duty. About 90 percent of the Army’s company grade officers in June 1941 were recently-mobilized Army Reserve officers.

The Reserve presence in World War II was considerable. In a typical Regular Army combat division during the peak war years, Reserve Soldiers occupied most of the mid-grade officer positions. By the end of the war, more than 200,000 Reserve Soldiers were on active duty, serving on every front. Roughly a quarter of all Army officers serving during the war were Army Reserve officers.

Most of them were in the grades of first lieutenant through lieutenant colonel, but a number progressed to general officer rank. These included Lt. Gen. James H. Doolittle, who led the first air attack against Japan in April 1942 (for which he received the Medal of Honor and a promotion from lieutenant colonel to brigadier general), Maj. Gen. William J. Donovan, a World War I Medal of Honor recipient who headed the Office of Strategic Services, known as OSS, the World War II predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency; and Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. The World War I hero returned to duty and was promoted to brigadier general. After combat in North Africa and Sicily, Roosevelt led the 4th Infantry Division ashore on Utah Beach on D-Day, the first general officer to come ashore on a Normandy beach. For his leadership and courage on June 6, 1944, he received the Medal of Honor.

Five years after the end of World War II, Army Reserve men and women (Women were authorized to join the Organized Reserve in 1948.) were called to duty again, this time for war in Korea. More than 200,000 Reserve Soldiers were eventually were called to active duty, some as individuals, others with the 971 Reserve units that were mobilized. Fourteen Reserve battalions and 40 separate companies actually went to Korea, and seven Reserve Soldiers, men like Cpl. Hiroshi Miyamura, received the Medal of Honor for their combat heroism.

In the 1960s, the Army Reserve stood ready to answer the Nation’s call during the Berlin Crisis, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War. Only Vietnam resulted in an armed conflict and because of decisions made by the administration of President Lyndon Johnson, only a small Reserve mobilization was authorized in 1968, resulting in a call-up of 42 Army Reserve units with fewer than 5,000 Army Reserve Soldiers.

Army Reserve Soldiers actively participated in Operation Just Cause, the United States’ intervention in Panama in 1989, with military police and civil affairs support.

The biggest deployment of Army Reserve Soldiers overseas since the Korean War took place in 1990-1991 with Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM. More than 63,000 Soldiers from 647 units were activated to accomplish both continental U.S. and overseas missions. Thousands of Individual Ready Reserve Soldiers, Individual Mobilization Augmentees and 1,000 retirees volunteered or were ordered to active duty as well. In all, almost 84,000 Army Reserve soldiers answered their country’s call.

In 1993, Army Reserve Soldiers participated in Operation Restore Hope, the Somalia relief expedition. More than 100 Army Reserve volunteers were brought on active duty to staff the 711th Adjutant General Company (Provisional) (Postal), the unit immediately deployed to Somalia to provide postal support to U.S. Forces there. Army Reserve civil affairs and public affairs soldiers also served in Somalia until U.S. Forces departed there in March 1994.

Since 1995, thousands of Army Reserve Soldiers have served in the Balkans to conduct peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and later in Kosovo, as well as to support those operations there from Hungary, Germany, and Italy. The Kosovo conflict also resulted in a stateside mission in 1999 when refugees from Kosovo arrived at the Fort Dix Army Reserve Installation in New Jersey. There, Army Reserve Soldiers led and were part of the Operation Provide Refuge Joint Task Force, alongside their active Army comrades, giving relief and assistance to more than 4,000 ethnic Albanians.

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