2nd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment
"Balls of the Eagle"
On order, 2nd Battalion 320th Field Artillery Regiment of the Division Artillery Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) deploys worldwide to synchronize fire support and provide direct supporting fires for 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). On order, 2-320th Field Artillery conducts Air Assault operations in support of the 1st Brigade scheme of maneuver.
As of 2006 the 2-320th Field Artillery was composed of 4 batteries. A and B batteries were the two howitzer elements each containing 2 platoons with 4 M119A2 howitzers, G/426th FSC was a forward support company which conducts maintenance, distribution and mess operations, and Headquarters and Headquarters Battery was a support and operations battery which facilitates ammunition distribution and provides the Command and Control elements for the battalion. Additionally, attached to the battalion was C Company, 1-377th Field Artillery, an 8 howitzer M198 unit, which provided General Support artillery fires to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) or other units in XVIIIth Airborne Corps as directed.
The 2nd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery was activated in August 1917 at Camp Gordon, Georgia, and assigned to the 82nd Infantry Division ("All-American"). After completing training, the unit deployed to France for participation in World War I. Shortly after arrival, the Battalion was committed to combat, participating in three major campaigns: St. Mihiel, Meuse-Aregonne, and Lorraine. Upon termination of the hostilities in Europe, the unit returned to Camp Dix, New Jersey, where it was demobilized on 12 May 1919.
The 320th Field Artillery was reorganized on 15 August 1942, and redesignated the 320th Glider Field Artillery and assigned to the newly formed 82nd Airborne Division. The unit received its initial training at Camp Clairborn, Louisiana, and shipped to North Africa. From 9 July until 1 November 1943, the Battalion served in Tunisia, Sicily and Italy prior to returning to England in preparation for Operation Overlord. On 6 June 1944, the Battalion assaulted by parachute and glider in the vicinity of St. Mere Eglise in support of the 325th (Glider Infantry) Regiment. For this action, the unit was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and the French Croix de Guerre with Palm. Over the next eleven months, the battalion participated in the airborne assault near Arnhem, the crucial Battle of the Bulge, the Rhineland campaign and linked up with Russian troops on the Elbe River on 30 April 1945. Throughout World War II, the battalion was credited with six campaigns: Sicily, Naples-Foggia, Normandy, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe.
After returning to the United States, the Battalion was inactivated on 15 December 1948 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. On 1 August 1951, the battalion was redesignated the 320th Airborne Field Artillery and returned to active service. The unit served with the 508th Regimental Combat Team at Fort Benning, Georgia, followed by duty in Japan and Germany with the 11th Airborne Division. On 3 December 1962, the 2nd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery was assigned to Fort Campbell and the 101st Airborne Division.
In June 1965, the battalion deployed to Vietnam where it served for seven years in continuous combat. On 28 July 1965, the battalion landed at Cam Ranh Bay as part of the First Brigade Task Force. The Battalion performed valiantly in some of the heaviest fighting in Vietnam. Typical of those battles was the attack on Battery B on 7 June 1966 by a battalion of the NVA regulars near Tou Morong. After a long battle, the enemy broke through the perimeter and captured the number six howitzer. A counterattack led by the Battery Commander drove the enemy from the position only to lose the howitzer again to an enemy counter attack. Turning all five remaining guns towards the enemy, the battery shot direct fire for five minutes prior to fierce hand to hand combat. After six hours, the enemy was finally driven from the perimeter.
On 15 October 1967, NVA regulars attacked Battery A and seized three guns. During the enemy's attempt to seize a fourth gun, SSG Webster Anderson climbed to an exposed parapet and issued commands to direct fire. Wounded by two enemy grenades, he propped himself on the parapet. When another grenade rolled into his gun pit, he grabbed the grenade, only to have it explode in his hand. Although only partially conscious, he refused medical evacuation in order to lead his soldiers. SSG Webster Anderson was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery.
Over the course of seven years in Vietnam, the 2nd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery earned the nickname, "Balls of the Eagle," fifteen campaigns streamers, two Valorous Unit Awards, and a Presidential Unit Citation.
During Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, the battalion participated in the initial air assault into Iraq with the First Brigade Task Force, securing Forward Operating Base (FOB) Cobra. For this action the battalion was awarded its second Meritorious Unit Commendation.
From October 1995 to March 1996 battalion fire support personnel deployed to Haiti to perform peacekeeping operations as part of JTF Bastogne. Also in 1996, selected Battalion soldiers participated in Operation Joint Endeavor, Bosnia.
In 2003 2-320th Field Artillery deployed with the rest of 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. It returned with the rest of the Brigade in 2004 to undergo a transition to the US Army's new modular system. The Battalion was also reduced one Company, with personnel from C Company being reassigned to the newly reformed 4th Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment.
It returned to Iraq in 2005 with the transitioned 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, and served there through 2008.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|