The 17th Cavalry Regiment was organized under the provisions of the National Defense Act of 1916 at Ft Bliss, Texas on 30 June 1916, and constituted on 1 July 1916. 3rd Squadron was originally organized as Troop C, 17th Cavalry Regiment on 1 July 1916, and constituted on 9 July 1916.
General Pershing had taken his columns into Mexico only a short time before and the need of cavalry troops was pressing. Thirty-two officers and seven hundred ninety-one veterans from the 1st, 3rd, 6th, 8th and 14th Regiments were transferred as the nucleus of the new regiment. Many of these were recalled from the Punitive Expedition and since all were experienced troopers, little time was spent in whipping the organization into shape.
The Regimental Commander, Colonel Williard A. Holbrook, assumed command on 9 July 1916, on which date the men from the 8th Cavalry joined the regiment. Colonel Holbrook held command until he was promoted to the rank of Major General. Colonel Holbrook went on to become the Chief of Cavalry for the United States Army.
The Regiment held its first mounted formation on 4 August 1916, and consisted of all fifteen troops and the wagons of the supply Troop. On 14 May 1917, the Regiment received orders for a change of station due to disturbances along the border of Arizona. By 17 May, the Regiment loaded up on trains and traveled from El Paso to arrive at Douglas, Arizona, on the mid-afternoon of 18 May. The Regiment established itself at "Camp Harry J. Jones", Douglas, Arizona, with outposts near Naco, Arizona (30 miles west along the border), west of town near the C & A Copper Smelter, Forrest, Arizona, and Slaughter's Ranch (13 miles east).
Trouble began in the copper mining districts of Arizona as the union workers (IWW) became unmanageable. On 5 July 1917, a provisional squadron, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel White, marched north to Globe, Arizona, for strike duty. Later that month, forest fires in Mormon Canyon (Turkey Creek) grew beyond the control of the forest rangers, prompting another call for assistance by the civil leaders. A detail of fifty men, under 2nd Lieutenant Arthur S. Harrington, deployed to assist them. The Regiment would remain in the Southwest until the end of the war. After the armistice was signed, the Regiment was under orders to move to Hawaii.
On 5 April 1919, the 17th Cavalry set sail from San Francisco on the U.S.A.T. Sherman, bound for Honolulu and Schofield Barracks. The massive demobilization following the end of World War I would leave the 17th Cavalry manning the garrison at Fort Shafter and Schofield Barracks until the fall of 1920, covering approximately one hundred miles of rugged coast line with one regiment of cavalry.
With the exception of the sector in and around the city of Honolulu and Pearl Harbor, the entire coastline of the island was left to the 17th Cavalry Regiment. The Regiment developed an intricate system of shielded lights and telephone lines for command and control as well as reporting, with camps placed in locations that provided excellent cover and concealment from the air or sea.
Reorganization in 1921, resulted in a reduction of the number of cavalry regiments from seventeen to fourteen, this included inactivation of the 17th Cavalry. Lack of funds, reduced personnel authorization, and serious doubts that "the mounted combat of large bodies of cavalry is probably a thing of the past" contributed to the decision as well as a new regimental organization designed to reduce overhead, increase firepower, and retain mobility.
The regiment left Schofield Barracks for Honolulu by truck, on September 16, and embarked on the U.S.A.T. Buford for Monterey, California. The officers and enlisted men were transferred to the 11th Cavalry on September 26, and the 17th Cavalry was placed on the inactive list. (Jenkins 1997)
The Regiment was reactivated and designated as the 7th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Mechanized) and participated in the breakout from Normandy in 1944. After World War II, the Regiment was designated as the 17th Armored Cavalry Group and was eventually inactivated in 1959.
HHT, 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry was constituted on 1 February 1963, and Troop B (Air) was activated 7 February 1963, at Fort Rucker, Alabama. LTC John B. Stockton, the originator of the Air Cavalry tradition of the Stetson, commanded the Squadron, which was constituted on 15 February 1963, and assigned to the 11th Air Assault Division (Test). The rest of the Troops were activated on 19 March 1964, at Fort Benning, Georgia. The Squadron began its history by taking part in the initial training of air assault and air mobility tactics and operations at Fort Benning, Georgia. After completion of this mission, the Squadron was redesignated as 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry and deployed to Vietnam with the 1st Cavalry Division. Meanwhile, the 3-17 Cavalry designation was deactivated until the United States began a large build-up of forces in South Vietnam.
Reactivated on 25 November 1966, at Fort Knox, Kentucky, 3-17 Cavalry soon deployed to Vietnam. The Squadron comprised five troops: a headquarters troop, three flight troops, and an armored scout (infantry) troop. Headquarters Troop (HHT, “Redhorse”) was a flight troop, but was also responsible for all the support functions of the Squadron. Alpha (“Silver Spurs”), Bravo (“Burning Stogies”), and Charlie (“Charlie Horse”) Troops were the primary aviation troops with the majority of the aircrews and aircraft. Delta Troop (“Blue Tigers”) was the ground cavalry reconnaissance troop.
The Squadron arrived in Vietnam during the period of 14 October thru 2 November 1967, and was assigned to the 12th Aviation Group. Shortly after arriving, the Squadron was called upon to prove itself in battle during the Tet Offensive in January 1968, and the fight was on. Stationed primarily at Di An, the Squadron was responsible for air cavalry support in the western part of the III Corps Tactical Zone, consisting of attack, reconnaissance, air assault, and resupply missions. Rarely were any two troops located in the same location at the same time. On 20 July 1970, 3-17 Cavalry was assigned directly to II Field Force, Vietnam, and then later that year, the Squadron was placed under the operational control of the 1st Cavalry Division. The 1st Cavalry Division combined 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry with 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry to form the Army's first air cavalry brigade with excellent results.
On 30 April 1972, the Squadron redeployed to the United States as the second-longest serving air cavalry squadron in Vietnam. For its actions in Vietnam, the squadron was awarded the Valorous Unit Award with streamer embroidered, "Cambodia" and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, streamer embroidered, “Vietnam 1967-1968”. Following its redeployment, the squadron was inactivated on 19 June 1973, at Fort Lewis, Washington.
The Squadron was reactivated on 2 June 1988, as the Cavalry Squadron of the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) at Griffis AFB. Following a move to Fort Drum’s Wheeler Sack Army Airfield, the Squadron deployed to Florida as part of the relief efforts following Hurricane Andrew in 1992. A few months later, the Squadron deployed to Eastern Africa as part of Operation “Restore Hope”, conducting reconnaissance and security operations to assist in restoring order to famine stricken Somalia. Alpha Troop, 3-17 Cavalry deployed in support of Operation “Uphold Democracy” in Haiti. The Troop performed security operations for the 10th Aviation Brigade Headquarters.
The 3-17 Cavalry deployed twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2003, the Squadron deployed with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. 3-17 Cavalry earned a Meritorious Unit Commendation for operations in Samarra, Mosul, and Tal Afar. In 2007, the Squadron deployed as part of the Presidential Surge, serving with the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade in securing the “Southern Belts” of Baghdad. On 22 October 2008, the Squadron was assigned to assigned to 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division and moved to Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia.