Celebrate History: America’s First Corps’ 106th Birthday

By Michael MartinJanuary 26, 2024

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.— The Commanding General of America’s First Corps, Lt. Gen. Xavier Brunson, and Command Sgt. Maj. Shawn Carns, the command sergeant major of America’s First Corps, celebrated the corps’ 106th birthday with a ceremonial cake cutting event in the American Lake Conference Center, Thursday, January 25, 2023.

America’s First Corps’ birthday cake sits on a stand at American Lake Conference Center, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Jan. 25, 2024. The cake cutting ceremony is a long standing tradition where the commander cuts the cake, but traditionally, the oldest and youngest Soldiers in the command’s footprint are chosen to help cut the cake.(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Martin, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
America’s First Corps’ birthday cake sits on a stand at American Lake Conference Center, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Jan. 25, 2024. The cake cutting ceremony is a long standing tradition where the commander cuts the cake, but traditionally, the oldest and youngest Soldiers in the command’s footprint are chosen to help cut the cake.(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Martin, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

“To you members of the Corps, we have much to be proud of in 106 years,” said Brunson. “Our Corps was founded at a time where we had to have people to go forward and do jobs to help to liberate people. We stand ready to do that across the Pacific with great partners from all the nations that came to be with us here today. So, be proud of what we’ve done. This might not have been the place you wanted to be, but this is the place where you are. There is no finer place that you could serve and be Soldier at then here in America’s First Corps.”

Lt. Gen. Xavier Brunson, commander of America's First Corps, delivers remarks to members of America’s First Corps at American Lake Conference Center, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Jan. 25, 2024. The cake cutting ceremony is a long standing tradition where the commander cuts the cake, but traditionally, the oldest and youngest Soldiers in the command’s footprint are chosen to help cut the cake.(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Martin, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
Lt. Gen. Xavier Brunson, commander of America's First Corps, delivers remarks to members of America’s First Corps at American Lake Conference Center, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Jan. 25, 2024. The cake cutting ceremony is a long standing tradition where the commander cuts the cake, but traditionally, the oldest and youngest Soldiers in the command’s footprint are chosen to help cut the cake.(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Martin, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

This unit has contributed to every major conflict, as well as conducted multiple humanitarian missions since its inception on January 15-20, 1918.

“America’s First Corps maintains a persistent presence west of the International Date Line, with our forces serving throughout the Indo-Pacific alongside allies and partners,” said Brunson during a Dec. 2022 exercise in Japan.

Lt. Gen. Xavier T. Brunson, commander of America’s First Corps, and First Corps Command Sgt. Maj. Shawn F. Carns, along with the youngest and oldest Soldier within I Corps formation cut the Corps’ birthday cake at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Jan. 25, 2024. The cake cutting ceremony is a long standing tradition where the commander cuts the cake, but traditionally, the oldest and youngest Soldiers in the command’s footprint are chosen to help cut the cake.(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Martin, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
Lt. Gen. Xavier T. Brunson, commander of America’s First Corps, and First Corps Command Sgt. Maj. Shawn F. Carns, along with the youngest and oldest Soldier within I Corps formation cut the Corps’ birthday cake at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Jan. 25, 2024. The cake cutting ceremony is a long standing tradition where the commander cuts the cake, but traditionally, the oldest and youngest Soldiers in the command’s footprint are chosen to help cut the cake.(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Martin, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

The presence of I Corps within the Indo-Pacific region began when the unit was reactivated for World War II in 1942. I Corps then went on the offensive with its allies conducting island-hopping operations in Papua, New Guinea and Luzon, Philippines, which is still seen on its colors to this day.

America’s First Corps deployed to the Republic of Korea in 1950 to defend U.S. interests after an invasion from the Northern Korean People’s Army. The corps executed campaigns against a larger enemy in an austere environment during its time in combat. The unit’s flag is adorned with 10 streamers, each representing the campaigns it led during the Korean war.

From 1953 into the 1970s, America’s First Corps guided U.S. forces patrolling the Korean Demilitarized Zone, including the 2nd and 7th Infantry Divisions, in support of the Republic of Korea Army. The 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division was selected as the first Stryker brigade combat team to deploy to the Republic of Korea as a rotational unit.

Lt. Gen. Xavier T. Brunson, commander of America’s First Corps, and First Corps Command Sgt. Maj. Shawn F. Carns, along with the youngest and oldest Soldier within I Corps formation cut the Corps’ birthday cake at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Jan. 25, 2024. The cake cutting ceremony is a long standing tradition where the commander cuts the cake, but traditionally, the oldest and youngest Soldiers in the command’s footprint are chosen to help cut the cake.(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Martin, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
Lt. Gen. Xavier T. Brunson, commander of America’s First Corps, and First Corps Command Sgt. Maj. Shawn F. Carns, along with the youngest and oldest Soldier within I Corps formation cut the Corps’ birthday cake at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Jan. 25, 2024. The cake cutting ceremony is a long standing tradition where the commander cuts the cake, but traditionally, the oldest and youngest Soldiers in the command’s footprint are chosen to help cut the cake.(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Martin, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Early in the years of our Republic, President Thomas Jefferson sought to establish America’s presence in the Pacific Northwest. Jefferson anticipated that the coastal region of America would become a gateway to the Indo-Pacific, opening vast opportunities for increased trade and commerce. This has expanded engagement and deepened the country’s connectivity across the region ever since.

“Make no mistake, America is in the Indo-Pacific to stay,” said former Secretary of Defense James Mattis. “This is our priority theater, our interests, and the regions are inextricably intertwined. Our Indo-Pacific strategy makes significant security, economic, and development investments, ones that demonstrate our commitment to allies and partners in support of our vision of a safe, secure, prosperous, and free Indo-Pacific based on shared principles with those nations, large and small.”

The entrance sign outside of the conference center illuminates during the evening ceremony at American Lake Conference Center, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Jan. 25, 2024. The cake cutting ceremony is a long standing tradition where the commander cuts the cake, but traditionally, the oldest and youngest Soldiers in the command’s footprint are chosen to help cut the cake.(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Martin, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)
The entrance sign outside of the conference center illuminates during the evening ceremony at American Lake Conference Center, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Jan. 25, 2024. The cake cutting ceremony is a long standing tradition where the commander cuts the cake, but traditionally, the oldest and youngest Soldiers in the command’s footprint are chosen to help cut the cake.(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Martin, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

I Corps’ commitment to working alongside its allies and partners to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific, involves splitting the Corps into nodes across the region. Exercises such as Yama Sakura in Japan and Talisman Sabre in Australia have provided reassurance that the Corps is adaptable to many operations, and is tailorable to fit the mission-set.