The 3rd Armored Division was activated on April 15, 1941 to participate in World War II. It arrived in the European Theatre on September 15, 1943, where it trained for awhile. Its core units were the 36th Armored Infantry Regiment, the 32nd Armored Regiment, the 33rd Armored Regiment, the 23rd Armored Engineer Battalion, the 83rd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, and the 143rd Armored Signal Company.
It remained in Somerset, England until June 1944, when it departed to partake in the Normandy operations (D-Day). It advanced through France. During this time, it was under the command of VII Corps and XVIII Airborne Corps for some time, and assigned to the 1st US Army and the 12th Army Group for the duration of its career.
The division reached Belgium on September 2, 1944, and began attacking the Rhineland of Germany on February 7, 1945. On March 31, however, the current commander of the division, Major General Maurice Rose was killed trying to surrender to a German tank commander.
The 3rd Armored Division had 231 days of combat in WW2, with a total of 2,540 killed, 7,331 wounded, 95 missing, and 139 captured. Total battle and non-battle casualties equalled 16,122. About 5,000 awards were won by soldiers in this division, including about 3,900 Bronze Stars.
The division was deployed in the Persian Gulf War, while assigned to the V Corps. The main reason for this was because the 3rd Armored was comparably modernized, and was well-equipped with M3 Bradleys. Following the war, 3rd Armored was one of the first units rotated to Camp Doha, Kuwait. On February 15, 1992, 3rd Armored's strength was lowered to zero and removed from the force structure, but the division is not inactive.