Military


1st Battalion - 109th Field Artillery Regiment

The 109th Field Artillery is one of the oldest units in continuous existence in the United States Armed Forces. It was organized under Colonel Zebulon Butler in the Wyoming Valley on 17 October 1775, nearly a year before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The Wyoming Valley was then considered part of Connecticut, thus the unit was originally formed as the 24th Regiment, Connecticut Militia. The regiment carries both the Connecticut and Pennsylvania state flags in its color guard. The unit continues to serve the Valley and is officially named "Wyoming Valley Guards".

Although founded as an infantry unit, the regiment alternated between infantry and artillery throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. The regiment, under various unit designations, fought in the Revolutionary War, mustered into service for the War of 1812, fought in the Mexican-American War, fought in the Civil War, and mustered into federal service for the Spanish-American War of 1898. The regiment also fought in various battles against the Indians. A dark day in the regiment's history occurred with its 3 July 1778 defeat at the Battle Wyoming, known as the "Wyoming Massacre". On 11 October 1917, the unit was designated the 109th Field Artillery Regiment and was assigned horse-drawn, 75mm howitzers. It fought in World War One under Colonel Asher Miner as part of the 28th Infantry Division on the Western Front in France.

In 1942, the unit entered World War Two as the 109th Field Artillery Battalion. The unit served in Europe from France to Germany. During the Battle of the Bulge, the battalion fought valiantly to halt the German Ardennes Offensive. Once its guns were destroyed, the 109th fought as infantry, often in vicious hand-to-hand combat. For its valor, the battalion was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation, the highest decoration a unit can receive.

On 5 September 1950, the 109th was mobilized for the Korean War. On 11 September, at Coshocton, Ohio, while en route to Camp Atterbury, Indiana, a civilian train struck the battalion's troop train. Thirty-three soldiers were killed and scores wounded. A memorial is located at the Kingston Armory and a ceremony is conducted each year to commemorate the soldiers lost in the train wreck. For the remainder of the Korean War, the battalion, along with the 28th Infantry Division, served in Europe as part of the defenses against the Soviet Army.

On 1 September 1977, the unit assumed its current designation as the 1st Battalion, 109th Field Artillery. It is a component of the 28th Infantry Division (Mechanized), Pennsylvania Army National Guard. The battalion operates with three line batteries (A, B, C) of six 155mm self-propelled howitzers each, Service Battery (SVC), and Headquarters and Headquarters Battery (HHB). With an authorized strength of over 600 and over $50 million worth of equipment, the battalion is a crucial community asset for dealing with emergencies and natural disasters. It is also a key wartime resource, as the National Guard comprises over 65% of the entire Army's field artillery force. The 109th also pumps over $3 million dollars annually into the local economy.

The 109th Field Artillery was mobilized in 1996 to stop the Susquehanna River and low lying creeks from flooding the Wyoming Valley.

During 1999, the 1-109th FA perfected year-long individual and section training with AT at Fort Pickett, VA. The battalion conducted live Hipshoots as its first mission at Annual Training, integrated aerial observation of fires using FEDs with support from 2-104th Aviation, supported 1-201st FA, WVARNG, during its Paladin NET, and conducted a first-ever battery defense lanes training. During all this they received very high marks from the helpful Training Support Battalion (TSB) mentors from New Cumberland Depot, PA.

on 26 April 2004, the unit lost its first soldier in combat since 1945 when Sgt. Sherwood R. Baker was killed as a result of the explosion of a building he was inspecting in Baghdad, Iraq.



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