1st Battalion - 263rd Cavalry (RSTA)
1st Battalion - 263rd Armor Regiment
The mission of the 1-263d Armor is to mobilize and deploy to a designated area of operations to close with and destroy enemy forces through firepower, maneuver, and shock effect. 1-263 Armor is comprised of 3 line companies and Headquarters and Headquarters Company. A Company (Marion, SC) * B Company (Dillon, SC) * C Company (Conway, SC) Headquarters Company (Mullins, SC) Battalion Command Group (Mullins, SC). D Company was reflagged as A Company 1999, when the battalion realigned into 3 maneuver companies. The 1-263 Armor is equipped with M1A1 (Heavy) tanks, M1064 Mortars, and a variety of support vehicles. M2 Bradley are attached as needed from infantry units.
Congressman John Spratt worked to see that the 1/263rd and 2/263rd Tank Battalions got M-1 tanks, and then convinced General Sullivan, the Army's Chief of Staff, to include the 2/263rd Tank Battalion, then headquartered in Rock Hill, in the 218th Brigade, which was attached to the 1st Infantry Division. For his staunch support of the National Guard, the National Guard Association of the United States awarded Congressman John Spratt one of its highest honors, the Charles Dick Medal of Merit. In accepting, Spratt said his support for the Guard comes naturally, because he knows so many "first-rate citizen-soldiers" who serve in the South Carolina National Guard. Spratt views the Guard as a cost-effective way of keeping combat-ready forces. But for the Guard to be combat-ready, he believes its units have to be on parity with their parent units in the regular Army when it comes to weapons and equipment.
The roots of the 1st Battalion 263rd Armor delve deep into South Carolina and American history. The battalion was organized in 1756 as the Artillery Company of Charleston which was chartered July 31, 1760. In 1775 it was chartered and designated the Charleston Battalion of Artillery. The unit had active state service for various periods during 1776 and 1780. It was dissolved after the British capture of Charleston. the unit was reconstructed as the Charleston Battalion of Artillery in 1783. It was consolidated with the Jefferson Artillery Company and redesignated and incorporated as the Charleston Ancient Artillery December 19, 1835. On March 10, 1836 the unit was mustered into federal service but was mustered out on April 6-7 of the same year. It was reorganized again on December 19, 1843 as the Regiment of Artillery of the Parish of Saint Philips and Saint Michaels, and consisted of two battalions. This unit was ordered into active state service December 27, 1860 and retained on local defense duty throughout the Civil War. Elements were detached for Confederate States service with the German Artillery, 1862-1865; Washington Artillery, 1861-1865; and the Lafayette and Marion Artillery 1862-1865.
The Lafayette and Beaufort Artillery reorganized May 1, 1892 as the Naval Battalion of South Carolina Volunteer Troops. They reorganized again in 1895 and were called into federal Service for Land duty May 4, 1898 and served with Naval Batteries during the Spanish-American War. They were called again into Federal Service on April 6, 1917 during World War I.
The Artillery of South Carolina was reorganized July 21, 1923 as the First Coast Defense Command, South Carolina Coast Artillery Corps with Headquarters at Beaufort and units at Dillon and Lancaster, South Carolina. The unit was redesignated on march 25, 1924 and again on July 31, 1925. It was consolidated December 6, 1926 and further reorganized as the 263rd Coast Artillery Regiment (Harbor Defense) on June 10, 1930 with Headquarters still in Beaufort. This unit was inducted into federal Service January 13, 1941 in support of World War II. The unit was redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Battery 263rd Coast Artillery Regiment (Harbor Defense) June 30, 1946 following the war. The unit was reorganized (less former 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions) March 6, 1947 as the Medical Detachment, 296th Field Artillery Battalion, 51st Division Artillery at Mullins, SC. The Detachment was federally recognized March 21, 1947 with it's Headquarters in Florence, South Carolina; also, a second unit in Mullins was organized and received Federal recognition as Service battery, 296th Field Artillery Battalion.
An Artillery Battalion of the 263rd coast Artillery in Florence, SC was reorganized and designated the 263RD HEAVY TANK BATTALION on February 1, 1949 and on March 17, 1949 the Headquarters was moved to Mullins, SC with units located Beaufort, Charleston, and Conway, SC. The Service Battery, 296th Field Artillery Battalion was redesignated as Headquarters, Headquarters and Service Company, 263rd Heavy Tank Battalion, 51st Infantry Division. The Medical Detachment remained a separate unit, but also became an element of the Heavy Tank Battalion. On December 1, 1952, the battalion was redesignated the 263rd TANK BATTALION. On March 1, 1955, a unit was organized in Myrtle Beach, SC under the 263rd Tank Battalion.
On April 1, 1959, the battalion was again reorganized and redesignated. The units located in Beaufort and Charleston were no longer an element of the 263rd Armor Battalion. Battery C, 296th Field Artillery and the 131st Antiaircraft Artillery Detachment, both located in Dillon, SC; and the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 201st Medical Battalion, in Bennettsville, SC became a part of the battalion designated as the 1ST MEDIUM TANK BATTALION (PATTON), 263RD ARMOR. The Medical Detachment and the Headquarters, Headquarters and Service Company merged to form the new Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the newly designated tank battalion.
On April 1, 1963, the battalion reorganized dropping the Bennettsville unit. The Headquarters and Headquarters company lost the Mortar and Scout Platoons which were attached to Company B in Dillon, SC. Company A was located in Marion, SC; Company C was located in Conway, SC; and Company D was located in Myrtle Beach, SC. Another reorganization occurred April 30, 1964 with the battalion renamed the 1st BATTALION 263RD ARMOR. The Marion unit was dropped from the battalion and became a Military Police and Transportation unit. Company D in Myrtle Beach became Company A, 1st Battalion 263rd Armor.
On January 1, 1968, another major reorganization occurred. The units of the 1st Battalion 263rd Armor became: Headquarters and Headquarters Company (-) remained in Mullins; Det 1 in Marion; Company A in Myrtle Beach; Company B in Dillon; and Company C in Conway. The Det 1 in Marion was comprised of the HHC Tank Section along with the Battalion Scout and Mortar Platoons. The 1053rd Transportation Company (Medium Truck) and Headquarters, Headquarters Detachment, 51st Military Police reorganized to form the Detachment 1.
On December 1, 1971, the battalion reorganized again which affected the Marion unit. The Marion unit was redesignated the Combat Support Company authorizing a company Commander and First Sergeant for the first time. The Detachment 1 was dropped.
On October 1, 1974, the 1st Battalion 263rd Armor became affiliated with the 1st Cavalry Division of Ft. Hood, Texas. The Army Affiliation Program was designed to affiliate National Guard units with active Army units to improve readiness posture and make the National Guard more responsive to mobilization requirements. On July 1, 1976, the 1st Battalion 263rd Armor achieved "Roundout" status with the 1st Cavalry Division.
The most significant changes to the battalion occurred on June 1, 1983. A reorganization of the National guard allowed the battalion to become the second National Guard unit in the nation to field M60A3 tanks. The Headquarters and Headquarters Company increased in the number of personnel. The Combat Support Company in Marion became Company D, 1st Battalion 263rd Armor. A detachment of Direct Support Maintenance personnel was formed to augment the battalion and was located in Columbia, SC. The battalion became attached to Detachment 1, Headquarters, State Area Command, SC (Troop command). The battalion also became "Roundout" to the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized), Ft. Stewart, GA. This affiliation brought along the M60A3 tanks, Improved Tow Vehicles and the FIST Vehicles.
On March 1, 1985, the battalion reorganized. All unit locations remained the same. The battalion Headquarters became Headquarters and Headquarters Company (-Detachment 1). The detachment 1 remained located in Columbia, SC.
The battalion made its first trip to the National Training Center, Ft. Irwin, California from 19 July - 9 August 1986 due to its "Roundout" affiliation with the 24th Infantry Division. The battalion was one of the few National guard units selected to participate in the computer-monitored wargames at the National Training Center.
On October 1, 1987, the reorganized unit reorganized under a new Table of Organization and Equipment to become an M1IP (Abrams) Tank Battalion. The Scout Platoon fielded M3 Calvary Fighting Vehicles.
During 1989 Hurricane Hugo hit the South Carolina coast. The battalion assisted the Emergency Operations Center set up in Conway and provided food, fuel, and personnel from 21 September - 23 October 1989.
On November 30, 1990, the battalion was mobilized for Operation Desert Shield/Storm. The battalion assembled at the armories and on December 4, 1990 moved to Ft. Stewart, GA. On 26 December, 1990, personnel started flying out to the Mojave Desert, Ft. Irwin, California where they trained until March 4, 1991 when the first personnel flew back to Ft. Stewart, GA. The unit remained at Ft. Stewart until April 10, 1991 and returned back to their Home Station Armories.
During Training Year 1993 the Headquarters and Headquarters Company Food Service Team received the State Phillip A. Connelly Award for Excellence in Army Food Service Operations. The unit repeated the award during Training Year 1994 and placed second in the Region III competition. no unit in the South Carolina Army National Guard had ever done that well in Connelly Award competition. In June 1995, the unit received the state award for an unprecedented third consecutive time.
On 1 October 1995 the 1st Battalion 263rd Armor reorganized. The battalion became an element of the 218th Heavy Separate Brigade (Mechanized) with its Headquarters in Newberry, South Carolina. Detachment 1, HHC was deactivated with its members absorbed into the HHC, 1-263rd Armor and Company B (Maint), 163rd Forward Support Battalion in Orangeburg. The reorganization allowed the 1-263rd Armor to transition from M1IP tanks to M1A1 tanks. The Scout Platoon transitioned from M3A1 Bradley Cavalry Fighting Vehicles to the HMMWVs. The Mortar Platoon transitioned from 4.2 inch mortars to 120mm mortars. The reorganization allowed the 1-263rd Armor to become a part of the "Enhanced Brigade"concept brought on active duty personnel referred to as the Resident Training Detachment (RTD). The RTDs mission is to advise and assist in battalion staff and unit level training.
On November 19, 1995 the HHC Food Service Team competed for the Region II (Eagle) Philip A. Connelly competition and won. No unit in the history of the South Carolina Army National Guard had ever won the region competition. The unit was notified in February 1996 that it would be evaluated in the national competition on 5 May 1996. In July 1996, the HHC was notified by the National Guard Bureau that the unit had won runner-up in the national competition. Pennsylvania had beaten South Carolina by only a few points. HHC represented South Carolina for an unprecedented fourth time during the twenty-ninth annual competition. In February 1997, the battalion was notified that it had won the Region II competition for a second year in a row. The Department of the Army Level Evaluation (National) was held in Mullins on 15 June 1997. The HHC was notified in July that it had won the award. The six cooks: SFC Ronald Lilly - BN Food Service Sergeant, SSG Edwin Hodge - Cook, SGT Victor Zecca - Cook, SGT Freddie Woods - Cook, SPC George Brown - Cook, PFC Johnny Vereen - Cook, plus the Battalion Commander and the Command Sergeant Major attended the awards ceremony in Baltimore, MD on August 23, 1997.
On 12 July 1996, 44 members of the battalion from A/C/D Companies and HHC were activated in support of Hurricane Bertha. The battalion headquarters was tasked with providing logistical support to the staging area at the Conway Armory. All personnel on State Active Duty were released at 2000 hours 13 July 1997. On 4 September 1996, six (6) officers and one hundred thirty three (133) members of the battalion were activated for State Active Duty to support Hurricane Fran. The members were from HHC, A,B,C, and D Companies. They were released from State Active Duty on 6 September 1996.
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