1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery
The battalion is currently organized as a general support field artillery unit equipped, with 155mm self-propelled howitzers. The battalion transitioned to organize as a Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) unit in 2001. Although assigned the field artillery mission to move, shoot, communicate and acquire targets, it takes more than artillerymen to make the battalion function. In addition to cannoneers, fire direction computers and forward observers - there are over 40 other skills (jobs) in the battalion. These include armorers, clerks, cooks, drivers, mechanics, medics, surveyors, and wiremen. Together, these varying skills form the teamwork necessary to make the battalion a viable fighting force.
Employees at the Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site (MATES) at Fort McCoy worked to field a new piece of field artillery equipment to a Wisconsin National Guard unit while preparing for the transition of a key mission. MATES helped field the multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) to the 121st Field Artillery Battalion of the Wisconsin National Guard in late 2002. The MLRS is one of the most modern pieces of field artillery equipment in the Army's inventory.
The 1st Battalion is the only active unit bearing the 121st Field Artillery Regimental Coat of Arms. The 2nd Battalion was deactivated in April, 1963, during a reorganization and the 3rd Battalion was deactivated along the with 32nd (Red Arrow) Infantry Division in December, 1967.
On September 11, 1884, the Wisconsin Army National Guard Field Artillery was born when twelve men signed an agreement to organize a battery in Milwaukee. The formal organization occurred on May 11, 1885 with the creation of the 1st Light Battery. The battery had 65 members, occupied the Farwell Avenue Skating Rink, and trained on a vacant lot on North Prospect Avenue.
During 1916, the 1st Field Artillery was formed. On June 8, 1916, Battery B was established in Green Bay. On June 12, 1916, Battery C was established in Racine. On June 14, 1916, Battery A, 1st Light Artillery was redesignated as Battery A, 1st Field Artillery. On June 30, 1916, Battery A, 1st Field Artillery was called to active duty on the Mexican border as organized forces were making raids into the United States. Having served with distinction, the battery was released at Camp Douglas, Wisconsin on October 16, 1916, and reconstituted as the Wisconsin National Guard unit at Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.
The 32nd Division was organized under War Department orders of July 18th, 1917, from National Guard troops from Wisconsin and Michigan. Wisconsin furnished approximately 15,000 and Michigan 8,000 troops of all arms. Later 4,000 National Army troops from Wisconsin and Michigan were transferred to the Division shortly before it left for France. On August 4th, 1917, Battery F, 121st Field Artillery regiment, was the first unit of the new division to arrive at Camp MacArthur. From that time until late in September troops continued to pour in as rapidly as railroad facilities could be provided to transport them from the north. The 1st Wisconsin Field Artillery regiment became the 121st Field Artillery, the heavy artillery regiment of the 57th Field Artillery Brigade. The Commanding Officer of the Wisconsin Artillery, Colonel Philip C. Westfahl, became Commander of the new regiment.
On September 19, 1917, the Regiment was redesignated as the 121st Field Artillery Regiment and assigned to the 57th Field Artillery Brigade as a part of the 32nd Division. In addition to the 32nd Division, the records indicated the 121st Field Artillery Regiment also supported the 3rd, 47th, 79th, and the regiment distinguished itself in six major campaigns: Aisne-Marne, Alsace, Champaign, Lorraine, Meuse-Argonne, and Oise-Aisne. Along with the General of the Armies John J. Pershing's personal commendation, the regiment received the battle streamer of the French Croix-de-Guerre with Silver Star embroidered Aisne-Marne and Oise-Aisne. The 121st Field Artillery Regiment was demobilized at Camp Grant, Ill., May 17, 1919.
On February 1, 1942, the 32nd Division was converted from "square" configuration to "triangular" and redesignated as the 32nd Infantry Division. Under the Division reorganization, the 121st Field Artillery Regiment was divided. The 1st Battalion was redesignated as the 121st Field Artillery Battalion and the 2nd Battalion became the 173rd Field Artillery Regiment. The 121st Field Artillery Battalion, as designated on February 1, 1942, distinguished itself in the Pacific Theatre of Operations. Its honors were: Aitape, Biak, Leyte, Luzon and New Guinea (with Saidor Arrowhead). Early in 1943 the 121st Field Artillery Battalion was issued 75 mm howitzers in place of the 155 mm howitzers that were its normal weapons as the general support battalion of Division Artillery.
Deactivation from World War II occurred over a six-month span: the 173rd Field Artillery Battalion on September 11, 1945 in Italy, the 985th Field Artillery Battalion on October 8, 1945, the 173rd Field Artillery Group on November 27, 1945 at Camp Kilmer, N.J., and the 121st Field Artillery Battalion on February 28, 1946 in Japan.
The 121st Field Artillery Battalion at Whitefish Bay and the 173rd Field Artillery Battalion at Superior were reconstituted as National Guard units on June 3, 1947, and July 31, 1947, respectively, as elements of the 32nd Infantry Division.
On February 15, 1961, the 121st Field Artillery Battalion was consolidated, reorganized, and redesignated under the Combat Coat of Arms Regimental Systems as units of the 121st Field Artillery. The 1st Howitzer Battalion at River Falls, the 2nd Howitzer Battalion at Marshfield, and the 3rd Rocket/Howitzer Battalion at Whitefish Bay.
On October 15, 1961, all battalions of the 121st Field Artillery were called to active duty with the 32nd Infantry Division for the Berlin Crisis. Having served with distinction at Fort Lewis, Washington, the 32nd Infantry Division was released on August 10, 1962, and returned under National Guard control within the 1st Battalion 121st Field Artillery at River Falls, the 2nd Battalion, 121st Field Artillery at River Falls, and the 3rd Battalion, 121st Field Artillery at Whitefish Bay.
On April 1, 1963, the 32nd Infantry Division was reorganized under the "ROAD" concept. Under this reorganization, the 2nd Battalion, 121st Field Artillery was deactivated. On November 1, 1964, the colors of the 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery were transferred from River Falls to Whitefish Bay.
On July 31, 1967 the 1st Battalion and the 3rd Battalion of the 121st Field Artillery were called to state duty for a Milwaukee riot. The battalions were released on August 2, 1962, then recalled for an additional day on August 7, 1967.
On December 30, 1967, the 32nd Infantry Division was deactivated and National Guard units realigned. Along with the 32nd Infantry Division, the 3rd Battalion, 121st Field Artillery was also deactivated.
On November 5, 1973, the 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery was called to state duty for a firefighters strike at Milwaukee. The battalion was released on November 8, 1973. On July 8, 1977, the 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery was called to state duty for a state employee strike. The battalion was sent to Taycheedah Correctional Institute near Fond du Lac. The battalion was released on July 21, 1977.
On February 1, 1980, the designation of Battery B was transferred during a statewide reorganization. The 1st Battalion, 127th Infantry was deactivated with Company C (-) at Sheboygan being reorganized as Detachment 1, Battery B, and Detachment 1, Company C at Plymouth becoming Battery B (-) of the 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery.
On March 1, 1981, the 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery was called to state duty for a firefighters strike in Milwaukee. The battalion was released on March 2, 1981, when an apparent contract settlement was reached. The battalion was recalled on March 19, 1981 when firefighters walked off the job again, and served until March 21, 1981.
On August 1, 1990 Battery A and Battery C were moved from the Whitefish Bay Armory to Sussex. This was necessary to improve training conditions for the soldiers.
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