As the 1st Cavalry Division heads towards its centennial birthday on Sept. 13, observing its storied past illustrates for those who currently serve the legends who came before. Veterans of the 1st Cav. Div. like 92-year-old retired Capt. Frank Maloney, a veteran of the Korean War, have paved the way for new generations to forge their own legacy.
The Korean War, sometimes referred to as “the Forgotten War,” is a tremendous part of history and holds many “firsts” for the 1st Cav. Div., also nicknamed the “First Team.”
After World War II, in September of 1945, the 1st Cav. Div. was the first to lead forces into Japan’s capital city, earning the division’s distinction of “First in Tokyo,” and spent the next five years in Japan on Occupation Duty.
During this time, Maloney was preparing to join the Army. As a young man, he served as a bugler in the Boy Scouts and was later approached by a scout master, who asked him to join the State Guard, which he did for a few years, said Maloney.
“When I graduated high school in 1946 at age 18, I went into the regular Army and enlisted for an 18-month tour,” Maloney said. “Since I had already had experience in the State Guard, I went right through the 13-week basic training. I promoted to corporal right out of basic and was assigned as a drill instructor for about 18 months, at which time I was then appointed to Officer Candidate School.”
Maloney attended the only Army OCS at that time at Fort Riley, Kansas.
“I graduated and was assigned to Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. After three months there, I was sent overseas to Japan, where I joined the 1st Cav. Div. at Camp Drake.”
Maloney was a brand-new second lieutenant assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, known as the Garryowen Bde.
At that time, the Army was made up of those who elected to stay in after WWII, who were in their 30s, and not in the best shape, and privates who were kids, 17 and 18-years-old, he said.
“The 1st Cav. was really about the best. The 7th Cavalry was an outstanding outfit. We were ‘Garryowen,’ and we let everybody know it. We were very proud of that, and we took a great deal of pride in our training,” he said.
In June of 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea and the 1st Cav. Div. prepared for another battle.
“We went in in the middle of July 1950 and made an amphibious landing at Pohang Dong,” he said.
This was the Korean War’s first amphibious landing.
By the end of July, the division began offensive operations to the north and crossed the 38th parallel on October 9th. As they continued their maneuver to North Korea’s capital, the division was the “First in Pyongyang.”
“The 1st Cav. Division led the way through Seoul and eventually most of the North Korean army was wiped out,” Maloney said. “We did tremendous damage to the enemy. We lost an awful lot of men. I know I was one of very few officers left in my battalion.”
After a year and a half of continuous combat, the division began its return to Japan, and established a defensive presence in the northern island of Hokkaido.
During the war, Maloney was wounded and lost vision in both eyes. He was flown to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, where he stayed in recovery for approximately a year. The doctors there were able to save one of his eyes.
“One of the things in the hospital that I realized was there was a tremendous amount of esprit de corps amongst the Soldiers and officers there,” he said. “There were a lot of them who wanted to get back and many of them did. Many of them went back to Korea.”
Maloney received the Silver Star Medal, the third-highest military decoration for gallantry in combat, for his actions on Aug. 13, 1950, near Mo-Dong Korea.
He also received two Bronze Medals, a Purple Heart and the Combat Infantryman Badge, and was promoted to the rank of captain.
“I wanted to stay in the Army,” Maloney said. “I loved it and I had a lot of friends who were still alive.”
In 1951, the Army sent him to the University of Texas at Austin where he taught Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and assisted in other programs there.
Maloney’s legacy doesn’t end with his service in the Korean War. After his service, he completed law school and was licensed in Texas and again in Massachusetts.
“I practiced law up until I retired a few years ago,” Maloney said.
He served on the Court of Criminal Appeals in the state of Texas and taught law for many years. Additionally, his son is a major who now serves in the 1st Cav. Div.
“I grew up hearing stories about the 1st Cav. Division and what a great unit it was and how much pride the unit has,” Maj. Ed Maloney, son of Maloney and the 1st Cav. Div. deputy officer for information operations, said. “The unit is still full of pride, and it is really a great deal for me to get to serve in the same division that my dad did.”
Remembering the Korean War and all his comrades is emotional for Maloney.
He served under Gen. Hobart Gay, Gen. (then Lt. Col.) Billy Harris, Gen. (then Capt.) John Hill, and the intrepid Lt. Col. Peter Clainos. Others he served with were Charles McGee, Hugh Hoffman, “Ug” Fuson, John Wadsworth, Tom Hazzard, Pete Peterson and many other great 1st Cav. Div. Soldiers, he said.
“The regiment really had a lot of heroes in that war,” he said. “They were all magnificent Soldiers and some of them were never mentioned. That was an entirely different war. There was an awful lot of guts shown in that war and they fought like tigers. I think they should be very proud of what we did in the Korean War, very proud.”
Capt. Frank Maloney is now fully retired and resides in Austin, spending his summers in Massachusetts.