The Transportation Corps was established 31 July 1942 by Executive Order 9082. Transporters have a long history of answering the nations call. As far back as the Revolutionary War when General George Washington appointed the first Wagon Master, Transporters have been there to move and sustain American fighting forces.
Prior to the war of 1812, military transportation had taken a back seat in the national military strategy. It was apparent after the war that some form of organized transportation support was needed to guarantee the new nation’s ability to successfully engage and defeat an enemy. In response to this need, General Thomas S. Jesup was appointed as Quartermaster General in 1818. Later General Jesup initiated programs that not only improved the transportation capability of the U.S. military, but also encouraged the United States expansion to the west. These programs included the building of the Great Military Road of 1836 which linked the far flung ports of the west with the industrial bases of the east and the use of the steamship for amphibious landings.
During the Civil War, transportation proved to be an integral part of military logistics through the organization of railroads as a viable and efficient means of military transportation. By 1864 five of the nine divisions in the Quartermaster Department dealt exclusively with transportation. A substantial number of battles were won because of the field commander’s ability to swiftly and effectively move troops and supplies.
During the Spanish American War the awesome task of mobilizing and deploying a largely volunteer force to Cuba and the Philippines magnified the need for a separate transportation service within the Quartermaster Department. Army transporters worked with both the civilian railroads and the maritime industry to pull together a successful intermodal operation.
The Army Expeditionary Force that deployed to France during World War I, emphasized the need for a single transportation manager. W.W. Attebury, a former railroad executive, was appointed as the Director General of Transportation and a separate Transportation Corps was established in 1918. Having satisfied the immediate need and requirements of the day, this forerunner of the modern Transportation Corps was abolished after the war.
With the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States began the largest mobilization in its history. This time there was no hesitation concerning the control of transportation. In March 1942, the transportation functions were consolidated into the Transportation Division of the newly created Services of Supply. That same year, on 31 July, President Roosevelt established the Transportation Corps. By the end of the war the Transportation Corps had moved more than 30 million soldiers within the continental United States; and 7 million soldiers plus 126 million tons of supplies overseas.
When the Soviet Union cordoned off the city of Berlin in 1948, the Transportation Corps played a vital role in sustaining the city. Two years later, on 28 June 1950, President Truman established the Transportation Corps as a permanent branch of the Army.
During the Korean Conflict, the Transportation Corps kept the U.N. Forces supplied through three brutal winters. By the time the armistice was signed, the Transportation Corps had moved more than 3 million soldiers and 7 million tons of cargo.
The Vietnam War saw the most diversified assortment of transportation units ever assembled. For over a decade the Transportation Corps provided continuous support for American and allied forces through an unimproved tropical environment using watercraft, amphibians, motor trucks and Transportation Corps aircraft.
On 31 July 1986, the Transportation Corps was inducted into the U.S. Army Regimental System, heralding a new era in Transportation.
In 1990 the Transportation Corps faced one of its greatest challenges in its 200 year history with the onset of the Gulf War. During Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the Transportation Corps working out of ports on three continents effectively demonstrated its ability to deploy and sustain massive forces. Transporters ensured that no soldier was without the resources to face and defeat the enemy.
Successful operations in Somalia, Rwanda, Haiti and Bosnia have continued to demonstrate the successes of the Transportation Corps’ soldiers.