The 504th Military Police Battalion, the “Dragon Fighters,” was first constituted on 29 July 1921 in the Organized Reserves as the 304th Military Police Battalion. It was organized in April 1922 in Tennessee. The unit was inactivated on 1 January 1938 in Tennessee and concurrently withdrawn from the Organized Reserves and lotted the to the Regular Army. On 1 June 1940, the unit was re-designated as the 504th Military Police Battalion. The unit was then activated at Fort Sam Houston, Texas on 15 May 1942, the day the Battalion subsequently celebrated as its birthday. Company D, 504th Military Police Battalion was subsequently inactivated on 20 June 1942 at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
The 504th Miltary Police Battalion had no sooner formed when it began training for its first major challenge. For two years, the Battalion prepared for its baptism by fire. In February 1943, the 504th Military Police Battalion was alterted for deployment to Europe, and on 18 March 1943, landed on the beaches of North Africa as part of the first Allied force of World War II to fight against Rommel’s Africa Korps.
As the battle widened, the Battalion spread over some 400,000 square miles of desert. As the Africa Korp gradually fell against the combined American-British advance, the 504th Military Police Battalion assumed control of huge numbers of German prisoners. However, the Battalion’s attention was quickly turned to the north as the Allied force prepared for their first landing on the European continent to strike against the “soft underbelly” of the Third Reich.
On 10 July 1943, elements of the 504th joined 800,000 Allied soldiers as part of Operation “Avalanche,” the Allied landing at Salerno. Soldiers of the Battalion had now been combat tested in nearly every type of operation for which the military police were then trained. Later actions of the 504th Military Police Battalion during World War II included the August 1944 landing in Southern France to support the earlier D-Day invasion of Normandy and its movement across 500 miles in Europe in one month as part of the Seventh Army.
Following the Allied victory over the European Axis powers, the Battalion was assigned to the Third Army Headquarters in Munich, Germany. In 26 months of fighting, the 504th Military Police Battalion had emerged from World War II as the most decorated military police battalion of the conflict by earning 9 battle stars and 4 bronze arrowheads for amphibious landings. After assisting the Allied occupation, the Battalion was inactivated on 20 January 1947 in Germany.
On 2 October 1950, the 504th Military Police Battalion was reactivated at Camp Gordon, Georgia and for the next 12 years, remained a combat ready military police force that was called many times to deploy throughout the world.
In October 1962, the Battalion was re-stationed to Fort Lewis, Washington. Its time at Fort Lewis was soon to be interrupted by the Nation’s invovement in Vietnam. In August 1965, the Battalion landed in Qui Nhon, Republic of Vietnam, and over the next 7 years, soldiers of the 504th Military Police Battalion engaged in the seemingly endless struggle against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army. The Battalion was involved in countless operations during this period carrying it from one end of Vietnam to the other, until its redeployment to the Presidio of San Francisco, California, in 1972.
Upon its return from Vietnam, Companies A, B, and C were inactivated on 31 July 1972, at the Presidio of San Francisco, California. The Battalion’s Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment was re-stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington in June 1984. On 22 February 1988, the Battalion was authorized the special distinctive designation “Dragon Fighters.”
The 504th Military Police Battalion’s contributions included pre-planning phases of Operation Just Cause, with the Battalion deployed to Panama from August 1989 through December 1989. Also, the Battalion was responsible for the train-up, readiness, and deployment of 2 reserve companies supporting Operation Desert Storm. Additionally, the Battalion deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from November 1991 to February 1992, in support of Joint Task Force Guantanamo. As the first Army unit in Cuba, the Battalion quickly establised security and provided outstanding humanitarian relief efforts to all Haitian migrants as part of Operation Safe Harbor.
By the 1990s, the 504th Military Police Battalion was the most decorated military police battalion on active duty. The 504th Military Police Battalion was, at the time, a combat military police battalion with a Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment and 3 military police companies: the 66th Military Police Company, the 170th Military Police Company, and the 571st Military Police Company. The 504th also fulfilled the Law and Order mission for Fort Lewis and Yakima Training Center.
on 4 November 2001, Task Force 716th Military Police from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, gave way to Task Force 504th Military Police out of Fort Lewis, Washington, during a Task Force Falcon Military Police transfer of authority ceremony in Kosovo. Each task force was comprised of both active and reserve component elements, so having a year to prepare for this allowed them to bring all the units together as a team and train on a number of occasions. The Task Force 504th Military Police included the 66th Military Police Company, Fort Lewis, Washington; the 209th Military Police Company, Fort Polk, Louisiana; the 2175th Military Police Company of the Missouri National Guard; and Detachment 6, 391st Military Police Battalion, Columbus, Ohio, part of the US Army Reserves. The military police trained to do peacetime, wartime, and all types of contingency operations. The military police mission was exactly suited for what happened in Kosovo, to include law enforcement operations, maneuverability support operations, keeping the lines of communication on the roads open, doing checkpoints, cordon and searches, and meeting with the local people.
In late 2004, the 1st Military Police Brigade (Provisional) at Fort Lewis, Washington was inactivated and reflagged as the 42nd Military Police Brigade. The 504th Military Police Battalion remained assigned to this unit and subsequently gained the 54th Military Police Company.