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1st Battalion - 120th Field Artillery Regiment

The 120th Field Artillery came into being on 22 September 1917 at Camp Mac Arthur, Waco, TX, as a part of the 57th Field Artillery Brigade, better known as the Iron Brigade. The 120th Field Artillery Regiment previously had been the 1st Wisconsin Cavalry. The history of the 1st Wisconsin Cavalry goes back to Civil War days.

The 120th Field Artillery, as part of the 57th Brigade continued its training at Camp Mac Arthur, with the 32nd Infantry Division until February 1918, when the entire division was ordered to Europe. The 120th Field Artillery landed at Liverpool, England and then by rail to South Hampton and across the English Channel to Le Havre, France.

In France the 120th trained at Camp De Coqtuidan, an old French Artillery Camp. It was here that it was equipped with French 75's and horses. Shortly before the 57th Brigade was ordered to the front in Alsace, the 2nd Battalion of the 120th was sent to Saumer, France with its batteries acting as training batteries for the Saumer Artillery School. The balance of the Battalion arrived in Belfort with the 57th Brigade on 8 June and marched to the front as a part of the 32nd Division, for the first time since leaving Camp Mac Arthur.

The 120th Field Artillery went into action in the Chateau-Thierry sector on 1 August 1918 near Rancheros in support of the 32nd Division. After the 32nd Division had taken Juivgay, the 32nd Division was relieved by the 2nd Moroccan Division, which included the famous "French Foreign Legion". The 120th Field Artillery remained on the line in support of the Foreign Legion and helped blast a path for the charge of the Legioneers. The 120th along with the 57th Brigade, was congratulated for the part they played in this action by the Commanding General of the Moroccan Division, by General Panot, French Corps Commander, and by General Mangin.

After World War I, the 32nd Division again became the Wisconsin-Michigan National Guard and no change was made in organization of the 120th Field Artillery Regiment, a Wisconsin unit, until World War II. On 15 October 1940 the 32nd Division was called into Federal Service and the units left for Camp Beauregard, LA, in a motor march which took six days.

In February 1941 they moved to Camp Livingston and six months later, when the 32nd Division became triangularized, the 2nd Battalion of the 120th became the 129th Field Artillery, and it was then that the present Service Battery came into being. The 1st Battalion of the 120th Field Artillery Regiment became the 120th Field Artillery Battalion.

In March 1942 the Division sailed from San Francisco and arrived in Australia on 22 April 1942, and trained at Camp Adelaide, Australia. In July 1942 the 129th and the 120th moved to Camp Cable, Australia.

In November 1942 Battery A, 129th Field Artillery went into New Guinea, with the other batteries remaining at Camp Cable. The four gun sections of Battery A were the first howitzers flown into a combat area, which landed at Port Morsesby. One-half of Battery A was flown over the Owen-Stanley Mountains to Buna and became the first United States Army Artillery to be flown into combat in the Pacific in World War II.

After the Buna Campaign, A Battery returned to Camp Cable with the 32nd Division. The 129th took part in the Saidor and Aitape Campaigns in New Guinea. They left from Hollandia, in New Guinea in November 1944 and took part in the Leyte Campaign for the Ormoc Corridor. In January 1945 they arrived at Lamon Bay on Luzon for the Luzon Campaign on the Villa Verde Trail. After V-J Day (14 August 1945) the battalion left the Philippine Islands for Occupation duty in Japan. Shortly thereafter the 129th Field Artillery Battalion left Japan for the United States for Demobilization. It was reactivated as the 120th Field Artillery Battalion, a part of the famous 32nd Infantry Division on 9 June 1947.

No major changes came until February 1959 when the 120th again had two battalions, the 1st and 2nd Battalions 120th Field Artillery, elements of the 32nd Infantry Division.

Exactly twenty one years to the day after the World War II activation, the 120th was again called to Federal Service and was sent to Fort Lewis, WA, for training. The call to Federal Service was a result of the "Berlin Crisis". While stationed at Fort Lewis the units were assigned along with the 32nd Division to the Strategic Army Command (STRAC). On 10 August 1962 the entire 32nd Division was released from Federal Service and returned to Wisconsin where they once again reverted to the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

On 30 December 1967 the 32nd Division was deactivated and reactivated as the 32nd Infantry Brigade, a non-divisional separate brigade. The 120th Field Artillery again lost the 2nd Battalion thru deactivation. The 1st Bn 120th Field Artillery became the direct support artillery battalion for the 32nd Brigade, which is its present configuration.

During the period from 1967 through 1977 the 120th Field Artillery was called upon to perform its state mission and assist in maintaining Law and Order during Civil Disturbances.

  • July 1967 at Milwaukee (Race Riots)
  • October 1969 at Madison (Welfare Marchers)
  • May 1970 at Madison (Student unrest)
  • January 1975 at Gresham (Occupation of the Novitiate)
  • July 1977at the Fox Lake Correctional Institute (State Employee Strike).
  • August 1992 at Wautoma (Tornado)
  • August 1994 at Big Flats (Tornado)
  • March 1996 at Weyauwega (Hazard Material Train Derailment)

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:16:55 ZULU