(FORT BLISS, Texas) – Every year, 1st Armored Division soldiers of the United States Army celebrate Operation Torch through week-long events in Fort Bliss, Texas. Soldiers participate in a division run, games, and competitions. Master Sgt. Pierre Miller elaborated further on the unit event.
“Torch week is a week throughout the 1st Armored Division to where all of the units get together,” said Miller. “We have a friendly competition throughout the division to promote esprit de corps and bring the units together.”
French for spirit of the body, the Army adopted the phrase, esprit de corps, to be symbolic for strength in unity.
Through teamwork, Soldiers participate in competitions that highlight the best mechanic, medic, scout, sapper, and field artillery soldier in the division. With the nickname of Old Ironsides, the unit celebrates Torch Week to instill pride with being an iron soldier. Sgt. Christopher Gauthier provided insight on what Torch Week means to him.
“The importance of it is to remember the mission that we did in Germany when we were fighting in Africa, and it’s a representation of Torch Week. It means,” said Gauthier. “I’m a part of something bigger than myself. It means that I stand in a long line of people who have done this for many years and sacrificed their time, and their family time, and their lives for the Army, for the unit, for their country, and freedom. It’s really cool to be a part of something other than myself.”
On November 8, 1942, the 1st Armored Division made contact with then adversary, German forces, during an invasion of North Africa. The invasion, known as Operation Torch, brought American and British forces together.
Becoming the first American armored division to see combat in World War II, the 1st Armored Division would go on to receive various unit and individual awards including 5,478 Purple Hearts. Historic video footage and more can be found on the unit’s Facebook page and at the unit’s museum.
In present time, soldiers celebrate the victory of Operation Torch. Families and civilian employees can also attend the celebration and partake in tank rides, hands-on weapon stations, and historic exhibits.