20 Military Units History Tried to Forget

Throughout American military history, numerous units have demonstrated extraordinary bravery and made significant sacrifices, yet many have not received the recognition they deserve. This article shines a light on these overlooked groups whose valiant efforts are an integral part of our nation’s heritage.

1. The Harlem Hellfighters

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During World War I, the 369th Infantry Regiment, known as the Harlem Hellfighters, served on the front lines for 191 days, longer than any other American unit. Despite facing tremendous racial discrimination, they earned a reputation for never losing a foot of ground.

2. The Ghost Army

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In World War II, the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, known as the Ghost Army, used inflatable tanks, sound effects, and fake radio transmissions to deceive the enemy about the size and location of American forces.

3. The Code Talkers Beyond the Navajo

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While the Navajo Code Talkers are well-known, other Native American tribes, including the Choctaw, Comanche, and Hopi, also used their languages to create unbreakable codes during World Wars I and II.

4. The Lost Battalion

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During World War I, the 77th Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion became known as the Lost Battalion after being surrounded by German forces in the Argonne Forest. Despite being cut off, they held their position for days until relieved.

5. The Merrill’s Marauders

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Officially known as the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), Merrill’s Marauders fought through harsh jungle conditions in Burma during World War II to capture the strategic town of Myitkyina from the Japanese.

6. The Polar Bears

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In 1918-1919, the American North Russia Expeditionary Force, nicknamed the Polar Bears, was sent to northern Russia during the Russian Civil War. Their involvement is a lesser-known aspect of U.S. military history.

7. The Red Ball Express

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This predominantly African American truck convoy unit provided vital logistics support during World War II, keeping Allied forces moving through Europe after D-Day.

8. The Alamo Scouts

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Operating in the Pacific during World War II, this small group of U.S. Army soldiers conducted reconnaissance and raiding missions. They are credited with liberating over 500 prisoners of war.

9. The Montford Point Marines

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From 1942 to 1949, over 20,000 African American recruits trained at Montford Point, a segregated boot camp in North Carolina. These Marines went on to serve bravely in the Pacific Theater during World War II.

10. The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP)

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The WASPs were the first women to fly American military aircraft. They faced significant gender barriers while performing critical stateside duties during World War II.

11. The Philippine Scouts

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This unit comprised Filipino soldiers under U.S. command who played a crucial role in the defense of the Philippines during World War II.

12. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team

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An Asian American unit composed mostly of Japanese Americans, the 442nd is the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in the history of American warfare.

13. The 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion

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Known as the “Triple Nickles,” this was the first all African American parachute unit. They were tasked with firefighting missions in the Pacific Northwest during World War II, aside from combat operations.

14. The Blue Devils

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The 88th Infantry Division, known as the Blue Devils, fought in Italy during World War II and was one of the first draftee units to enter combat, performing with distinction.

15. The Flying Tigers

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Before the U.S. officially entered World War II, the Flying Tigers, a group of American volunteer pilots, fought the Japanese in China under General Claire Chennault.

16. The Lark Force

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During World War II, this small Australian command served in New Britain, facing overwhelming Japanese forces during the invasion of Rabaul.

17. The Seabees

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Created during World War II, the U.S. Navy’s Construction Battalions, or Seabees, built bases, airstrips, and roads under hostile conditions, proving essential to war efforts.

18. The Tunnel Rats

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During the Vietnam War, these brave soldiers, known as tunnel rats, conducted underground search and destroy missions in the extensive network of tunnels used by the Viet Cong.

19. The Windtalkers

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This refers specifically to the Navajo Code Talkers who developed and used an unbreakable code based on their native language to send secret communications during World War II.

20. The Hello Girls

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In World War I, these female telephone operators were recruited by the U.S. Army Signal Corps to run the switchboards in France, providing critical communications support under challenging conditions.

Remembering the Forgotten

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These units, often overlooked in popular narratives, played pivotal roles in their respective conflicts and deserve recognition for their contributions to American military history. Their stories remind us of the diverse and multifaceted nature of warfare and the many forms of bravery displayed by U.S. service members.

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For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.