1st Battalion 22nd Infantry
Operation Golden Pheasant
An M-102 howitzer being transported by a CH-47 helicopter in Honduras during Operation Golden Pheasant
Photo from the Wikiwand website
Operation Golden Pheasant was an
emergency deployment of U.S. troops to Honduras in 1988,
as a result of threatening actions by the forces of Nicaragua.
Included in the forces sent to
Honduras for the Operation was 1st Battalion 22nd
In early March, 1988, the Nicaraguan Sandinista government launched Operation Danto to overrun Contra rebel supply caches
in the San Andrés de Bocay region, crossing into Honduran territory in their drive.
The United States, under President Ronald Reagan, dispatched elements of the 7th Infantry Division (Light)
Quick Reaction Force (QRF) on a no-notice deployment. This small force quickly landed at Palmerola Air Base
(now known as Soto Cano Air Base) and moved quickly into position at a Honduran military base to facilitate
the guarding of a local general. The units from the 7th Infantry Division were on the ground several days
when the 82nd Airborne elements arrived. The deployment evolved into a live-fire training exercise, but the light infantry soldiers
and paratroopers deployed ready to fight, causing the Sandinistas to rapidly withdraw back across their border.
The 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment and Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion of the 505th
Parachute Infantry Regiment 82nd Airborne Division, were joined by soldiers from the 2nd Battalion 9th Infantry Regiment,
2d and 3d Battalions of the 27th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division (Light) from Fort Ord, California.
On 17 March, 1st Battalion landed at Palmerola Airfield, a Honduran Air Force base that was the headquarters for the
U.S. military presence in Honduras. The 2nd Battalion jumped onto the airfield a day later, soldiers of the 27th Infantry Regiment
(the "Wolfhounds") rappelled onto the airbase on 17 March 1988 and moved within 3 miles of the Nicaraguan border the same day.
The units from the 82nd Airborne, the 504th began rigorous training exercises with orders to avoid the fighting on the border.
Had those orders changed, the paratroopers and infantrymen were prepared to fight, but the invading Sandinista troops had already
begun to withdraw. Within days, the Sandinista government negotiated a truce with Contra leaders, and by the end of March
the 7th Infantry had returned to Fort Ord, California and the paratroopers of the 504th had returned to Fort Bragg.
United States Army Units participating in Operation Golden Pheasant
2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry
Regiment, 7th Infantry Division (Light)
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 9th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division (Light)
Bravo Battery, 6th Battalion, 8th Field Artillery, 7th Infantry Division (Light)
13th Engineer Battalion
1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry, 10th Mountain Division (Light)
1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
Company C, 3rd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
Company A, 3rd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
3rd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division (Light)
2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division (Light)
3rd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division (Light)
21st Military Police Company (Airborne), 503rd Airborne MP Battalion, 16th MP Brigade (Airborne)
313th Military Intelligence Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division
Battery A, 1/14th Field Artillery, 24th Infantry Division
Battery B, 3rd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
Company B, 307th Medical Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division
Company B, 407th Supply and Transport Battalion, 82d Airborne Division
Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division (Light) along with elements of
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment
Joint Task Force Bravo, 401st Military Police Company
7th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
Second Battalion, 9th Aviation Regiment
864th Engineering Battalion (Combat, Heavy)
1st Squadron 17th Cavalry Regiment (Airborne, Air Cav)
988th MP Company, 3rd Platoon
Company C, 426th Signal Battalion (retasked from supporting Exercise Ahuas Tara 88)
HHC 50th Signal Battalion (Airborne, 18th Airborne Corps Electronic Technician)
Company A, 307th Engineer Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division
United States Marine Corps Units
2nd Battalion 7th Marines
2nd Battalion 5th Marines
United States Air Force Units
113th Civil Engineer Squadron (District of Columbia Air National Guard) ¹
A CH-47 transport helicopter delivers
medical supplies to U.S. forces during a training exercise near
Tamara, Honduras, March 1988.
(The training exercise was Operation Golden Pheasant.)
(Source: Office of the Secretary of Defense, NARA)
SPC Bobby J. Runnels was a
soldier in 1st Battalion 22nd Infantry in 1988,
and deployed with 1-22 Infantry
to Honduras in March of that year. The following is what he had to say about the deployment:
"We deployed as a Battalion
to Honduras as a part of Operation Golden Pheasant. We lost one
man I believe he was from HHC,
who drowned in a river crossing. We were in Honduras for a little over 30 days. We encountered sporadic sniper fire
from the mountains around us as we were traveling from Honduran army post during training missions with the Honduran army.
We also did an 18 click infiltration deliberate attack of a fortified position in Honduras. I believe that was in March of '88." ²
( Ed., The lost man mentioned above was SPC
Craig A. Lee, who drowned while on a joint training exercise with
the Honduran Army
while deployed to Honduras with HHC 1-22 IN the previous year, in August 1987. )
Note: At the end of March 1988
the 7th Infantry Division and 82nd Airborne Division had returned
to the United States.
However, the U.S. Army maintained troop deployments to Honduras for some time to come. Records could not be found
to determine the exact date of 1-22 Infantry's return to CONUS, but it is believed the Battalion returned at the end of March 1988.
A C-47A of the Honduran Air Force prepares to take off as part of the exercise Task Force Dragon / Golden Pheasant conducted with the United States.
Photo from the Wikiwand website
¹ From the Wikipedia website
² E-mail from Bobby J. Runnels June 2015
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