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1st Battalion - 158th Field Artillery (MLRS)

The 1st Battalion, 158th Field Artillery (MLRS) completed the fielding process at Camp Gruber in June 2001 of the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS) fire support system.

The 158th Field Artillery was originally organized as a National Guard Artillery Regiment with units located in Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. When the 45th Infantry Division was activated as a National Guard Division in 1923 with units located in Oklahoma and the other three states, it was determined that the 158th Field Artillery, as a second direct support artillery regiment, would be mostly located in Oklahoma. This required several new batteries to be activated in Oklahoma and some transferred from Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. Only Battery A was left in its location in Roswell, New Mexico, and Battery E in its location in Mesa, Arizona.

This reorganization of the regiment in 1923 took place, with subsequent changes up to the time of induction into federal service for World War II on September 16, 1940.

The first four Oklahoma-assigned batteries attended Summer Camp at Camp Doniphan, Fort Sill, Oklahoma in August of 1924. As more batteries of the regiment were activated and located in Oklahoma, summer training involved a larger regiment until finally the two out-of-state batteries, those at Roswell, New Mexico, and Mesa, Arizona, also traveled to Fort Sill, Oklahoma for Summer Camp. The entire regiment trained together at Fort Sill beginning in 1927.

The 158th Field Artillery Regiment in the 45th Division was inducted into federal service for World Was II on September 16, 1940. The 158th Field Artillery Battalion, which served in combat in WW II, was part of the 158th Field Artillery Regiment, 45th Infantry Division.

The firing batteries of the battalion were armed with 75 mm howitzers. Battery A, which had been located for many years at Roswell, New Mexico, was transferred to Woodward, Oklahoma, a short time before induction. Following a brief stay at their home stations after induction, the division assembled at Fort Sill, OK., and began its training with all units being brought up to authorized personnel and equipment strength.

In early 1941, the 45th Infantry Division moved from Fort Sill, OK, to Camp Barkeley, near Abilene, Texas. The camp was in its final stage of construction and consisted of frame buildings for mess halls, headquarters and warehouse buildings. The troops were housed in pyramidal tents placed on concrete pads.

On 11 February 1942 the division to a new type infantry division that was triangular in concept. As a result of this change in organization, the First Battalion, Medical Detachment and Band of the 158th Field Artillery Regiment, became the 158th Field Artillery Battalion in the Division Artillery of the reorganized 45th Infantry Division. The 158th Field Artillery armament had been changed to 105mm towed howitzers by this time. The Second Battalion, 158th Field Artillery Regiment, was separated from the 45th Infantry Division and became the 207th Field Artillery Battalion. This separate battalion served in Panama, C.Z. and late served in the ETO. In 1944 it was changed from a 105mm Howitzer Battalion to an 8-inch Howitzer, Tractor-Drawn Battalion. It was inactivated 16 November 1945 at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.

After several change of stations, including moves to Fort Devens, MA, in April 1942; then to Pine Camp, NY, in November 1942; to Camp Pickett, VA, in January 1943, the 158th Field Artillery Battalion was finally moved with the rest of the 45th Infantry Division to Camp Patrick Henry, VA, for preparation to depart the United States for destination unknown. As a member of the 157th Regimental Combat Team, the battalion was trained to provide close support artillery fire for the infantry when and as needed through artillery forward observer teams located with the leading elements of the infantry.

The unit was loaded aboard U.S. Navy ships at Hampton Roads, VA, and the convoy of naval transports with the 45th Infantry Division on board departed the United States on June 8, 1943. The destination proved to be Oran, North Africa, where training exercises were conducted including the offloading of personnel and equipment from ships into landing craft in practice for an amphibious invasion.

The convoy departed Oran, North Africa as a part of the Seventh U.S. Army, under command of Lieutenant General George S. Patton, Jr., with destination unknown, but all personnel were now reading "The Soldier's Guide to Sicily." The division was under II Corps, commanded by Major General Omar N. Bradley. The 157th RCT was assigned a landing sector near Scoglitti, on the southern shore of Sicily. Despite very rough weather and high seas, most of the landings were successful and the 157th RCT moved inland. By nightfall most of its initial objectives had been secured.

During the days that followed, heavy fighting continued in a general movement of the division to the north toward the Palermo-Messina Highway on the north coast of Sicily. After reaching the Palermo-Messina north coastal road, the division advance to the east toward Messina. High above the coast road to Messina and east of the Tusa River is Hill 335. This hill mass actually consists of five peaks, each of which was manned by enemy infantry with emplace artillery and mortars. The German high command had ordered this area held at all costs as it blocked the way to Messina. The enemy's comprehensive observation of the road and coast together with textbook fields of fire mad the reduction of this hill mass an awesome task. The 157th Infantry Regiment supported by the 158th Field Artillery Battalion was given the objective of Hill 335. The action began on 26 July with the crossing of the Tusa River completed on the 28th. Our infantry suffered its heaviest casualties in combat up to that time during the 29th and 30th when it gained the objective in the face of a murderous defense. This fight came to be known throughout the division as "Bloody Ridge.: It was the toughest fight of the Sicilian Campaign for the soldiers of the 45th Infantry Division.

On 31 July the 45th Infantry Division in its entirety was relieved by the 3rd Infantry Division and the 45th moved to rear areas for a well-deserved rest. During the rest of the Sicilian Campaign, the 45th assumed responsibility for defense of coastal road in its sector, with the exception of the 157th RCT. That organization was attached to II Corps for an amphibious operation behind enemy lines. On August 15th the 157th was combat loaded on to LST's and LCI's and moved during the night to the vicinity of Falcone. It landed but did not see any action except for a part of the 1st Battalion when it entered the outskirts of Messina with the 3rd Division. On 14 August 1943, the 157th RCT moved to assigned positions to make the final assault on Messina, Sicily. However, the battle for Sicily by then was over, as most of the German and Italian combat units to the Italian mainland.

Leaving Sicily on 8 September 1943 aboard LST's and LCI's, the 157th RCT was enroute to Salerno, Italy, when news came on the radio that the Italian government had surrendered. However, the celebration was short-lived when it was realized that the Germany Army had not surrendered at this point. The division was now a part of the Fifth U.S. Army under the command of Lieutenant General Mark Clark.

On September 1943, the first assault waves of the 36th Infantry Division, engaged in its first combat, landed on the beaches near Salerno, Italy, and encountered intense tank and artillery fire. The 157th Infantry Regiment, accompanied by the 158th Field Artillery Battalion, landed on D + 1 and passed through the 36th Infantry Division to extend the beachhead. German resistance increased daily with all factors of terrain and observation favoring the enemy. Five days after the initial landing, ferocity of the German counterattacks increased to an extent that brought doubts about the beachhead being held. The German back was broken in their attempt to destroy the beachhead.

Accompanied by the 3rd and 36th Infantry Divisions, the 45th Infantry Division moved inland against the retreating enemy as the cold and rain of the Italian winter set in. Also the height of the mountains defended by the Germans increased. In November 1943, "Hitler's Winter Line" overlooking the Volturno River was encountered. Transporting supplies to forward units by mule, the division launched a final push against the enemy on November 7, 1943, and the Germans withdrew to prepared positions and continued to pound Allied forces with steady artillery fire. November faded into December, and Thunderbird forces moved slowly northward until on 9 January 1944 the 45th Infantry Division was relieved from combat and moved to a rest area.

After a two-week rest, the division embarked for the more northern port and city of Anzio. The 3rd Infantry Division established a beachhead on 21 January 1944 against light resistance and was followed ashore by the 45th Infantry Division. Soon thereafter German armor, infantry and air began an all-out effort to drive the Americans into the sea, but after the fury of the German attack was spent, the Americans still held the beachhead. The 158th Field Artillery Battalion took heavy shelling from the Germans guns, exceeded in intensity only by the volume of our own fire.

The Anzio beachhead, a triangular parcel of land extending 20 miles along the coast and at one point penetrating inland 15 miles, was completely under enemy observation. Supply units, through under continuous observation and fire, maintained a steady flow of food and ammunition to the Thunderbirds. During March the Germans continued the constant pressure on the compact area. A breakthrough by the Fifth Army in Southern Italy at Cassino had endangered the left flank of the Germans opposing the Anzio beachhead. On 23 May 1944, the 45th Infantry Division as part of a general advance against fierce German opposition made contact with the southern forces of the Fifth Army and opened the road to Rome. Rome fell on 4 June 1944 and the Germans withdrew rapidly to the Arno River and later to the Gothic Line. In mid-June, the division was relieved from the pursuit of the Germans and moved to the Naples area to begin preparations for another amphibious landing, this time on the coast of Southern France.

The invasion of Southern France was intended to aid the Allied advances from the Normandy invasion in Northern France. The 45th Infantry Division with the 3rd and 36th Infantry Divisions, all then under the Seventh U.S. Army, left the Naples area of Italy and on 15 August 1944 secured a landing on the coast of Southern France against light resistance. The division moved inland rapidly from one objective to another. The light resistance continued after the landing and by mid-September 1944 the 45th Infantry Division had crossed the Durrance River and occupied the city of Grenoble. A total of 318 miles were traveled inland in the push of the 45th into central France, flanked by the 3rd and 36th Infantry Divisions.

Turning to the east toward the German homeland, the division had to cross the strongly defended Moselle River, an important German defense before the Siegfried line. The 157th, 179th, and 180th RCT's were committed to the assault of the river and after a bitter 3 day battle the 120th Engineer Battalion bridged the river. Once across the Moselle River, the division pushed rapidly into the foothills of the Vosges Mountains with terrain and weather conditions reminiscent of the preceding winter in Italy. The slowly retreating enemy consistently held the higher ground as the division carried the fight ever closer to the German homeland. The enemy delaying action in the Vosges Mountains allowed them sufficient time to prepare defenses along the Muerthe and Montagne Rivers. The entire force of the division was necessary to overcome bitter enemy resistance at the river lines. By 23 October 1944, the Montagne River crossing was completed and the Vosges Mountain defenses had fallen. The battle for the Vosges was second only to the Anzio campaign in fierceness and, although less well known, of comparable importance as the last major mountain barrier on the Thunderbird routs into the Fatherland. The 45th Infantry Division Artillery remained on the line in support of the 44th Infantry Division as the 45th Infantry Division moved into reserve on 1 November 1944.

The 45th moved into combat again after a 22-day rest period; this time against enemy forces holding the Colmar Pocket in the French Maginot line. Areas of resistance in the fortifications of the line were methodically reduced as the division moved ever closer to German soil. On 13 December 1944, the 158th Field Artillery Battalion fired its first artillery fire onto German soil.

Deserting the defense of the Colmar, the enemy rapidly withdrew to the steel and concrete fortifications of the Siegfried Line, which the Germans used to full advantage. After several days of fighting, the division had only penetrated 1700 yards into the famed line. By the end of December 1944 opposing forces had taken up fixed positions.

Crack German SS troops now opposed the 45th Infantry Division and resistance increased. The Germans employed artillery of all calibers up to 280mm in a desperate assault against the 157th Infantry Regiment and the 158th Field Artillery Battalion in a wooded area near Mouterhouse in the heaviest engagement since Anzio. Of the five encircled companies of the 157th Infantry, few men were successful in getting out. During this time in one 90-minute period, the 158th Field Artillery Battalion fired 1,080 rounds in a fight for its life against tremendous odds. The Germans repeatedly tried to extend their forces in an effort to break through the Thunderbird sector. By holding firm, the 45th Infantry Division cost the Germans their last chance to stave off defeat by destroying or weakening the best units of the German Army.

As the 45th Infantry Division crossed the Siegfried Line, the stronghold of Germany crumbled. The 158th Field Artillery Battalion continued to support all elements of the division in the battles of Aschaffenburg, Nuremberg and Munich. The 158th spent VE Day with the division in the occupation of the city of Munich. Since D-Day in Sicily the 158th cannons had fired 307,115 rounds of ammunition in support of their infantry brothers in 511 days of combat.

A few months after VE Day, the 45th Infantry Division debarked at New York City and boarded trains for Camp Bowie, Texas, where the division was inactivated on 24 November 1945.

Shortly after the 45th Infantry Division was inactivated at Camp Bowie, Texas, efforts were begun to reorganize it as the 45th Infantry Division of the National Guard, for the first time to be located entirely in Oklahoma. By Labor Day 1946, Battery B, 158th Field Artillery Battalion, with home station at Anadarko, was the last battery to be organized in the Battalion. The battalion was Federally recognized on 27 September 1946 as an element of the 45th Infantry Division with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery at Duncan; Batteries A, B, and C located at Chickasha, Anadarko, and Weatherford, respectively, and Service Battery at Minco, all in Oklahoma. LTC Paul E. Scheefers, the Battalion S-3 in World War II, was placed in command. Major Charles W. Cleverdon, the Battalion S-2 from the Spring of 1942 until April, 1944, was assigned as battalion executive officer.

In August, 1950, the 158th Field Artillery Battalion was alerted as a part of the 45th Infantry Division, for induction into Federal Service for the Korean Conflict.

The 45th Infantry Division was ordered into active Federal Service on 1 September 1950 for service during the Korean Conflict. As in the 1940 mobilization, the 158th Field Artillery utilized the remaining time at home stations to enlist toward was strength and prepare for the overland movement to Camp Polk, Louisiana.

The battalion arrived on May Day 1951, at Muroran, a seaport on the northernmost Japanese island of Hokkaido, and immediately moved by passenger train to our destination, Chitose. Chitose was a World War II Japanese airfield now operated by the U.S. Air Force as a base for surveillance of the sea and Sakhalin Island. The Chitose camp was largely a tent city.

Following training, the 158th Field Artillery Battalion traded places with elements of the division that occupied Camp Crawford, the U.S. Military installation near Hokkaid's capital city, Sapporo. Here, the battalion tasted the luxury of living and working in weathertight masonry buildings.

During August 1951, commanders of organizations of the division were flown to Korea and assigned to a liked organization of the 1st Cavalry Division to become acquainted with the terrain, the tactical situation, and characteristics of the enemy. The 158th Field Artillery Battalion Commander returned to the battalion convinced of the need to school the howitzer and fire direction crews in the application of high angle fire because of the steepness and height of the mask behind which the guns would be placed.

During November snow came. At about this time the 158th Field Artillery Battalion was alerted to cross the Ishikiri plain to the mountains northwest of Sapporo and learn the art of cross-country skiing. The training was not to be because orders were received for the division to replace the 1st Cavalry Division on the line in Korea. All organizational equipment was to be left in place on Hokkaido and the 45th Infantry Division was to accept the 1st Cavalry Division's equipment in place in Korea. Individual arms and clothing were excepted.

The battalion departed Camp Crawford 3 December 1951 by passenger train to the port, thence by water to Pusan, Korea. Another passenger train ride took the Battalion to Tagwan-Ni, Korea, the railhead and rear echelon of the 45th Infantry Division. Once the 179th Infantry Regiment was in place, 158th Field Artillery Battalion forward observers took up positions in the front lines and registered out batteries in preparation for direct fire support of the RCT. It was three days before Christmas that the 158th Field Artillery Battalion shot the first round of artillery fire of the 45th Infantry Division into North Korean lines.

The 179th used the 158th Field Artillery Battalion to mark the route of their patrols by firing single rounds at predetermined ranges and intervals during the progress of a patrol. In other instances, in direct support of the regiment's combat, the 158th fired thousands of rounds at rates unheard of in Europe. In support of the 179th at Mundung-Ni Valley, near Heartbreak Ridge, the battalion fired between four and five thousand rounds in support of the action. The 20th ROK Division, on the left flank of the 45th, was the object of repeated attacks by Communist Forces during the month of June 1952. In support of the ROK Division, the 158th fired a total of 15,373 rounds.

The battalion was given a role of reinforcing the fires of another artillery unit or placed in direct support of another infantry organization when the 179th Infantry Regiment was placed in reserve. One such occasion took place 11 days before the cessation of hostilities. The battalion was assigned to direct support the 5th Infantry Regiment, which required a move of the battalion to Pleasant Valley, short of the main battle position. Here it fired its last round at 2141 hours or 19 minutes before the official end of hostilities.

During the Spring of 1952 rotation back to the States for demobilization was commenced for those Guardsmen of all ranks and grades who had not indicated a desire to remain in the Regular Army. Almost all of the Guardsmen had left for home by midsummer of 1952.

Soon after return Oklahoma personnel to home communities, there began a movement to organize a new 45th Infantry Division in Oklahoma as a National Guard division. The state wide effort was productive. The 158th Field Artillery Battalion (NGUS) as an element of the 45th Infantry Division (NGUS) was Federally recognized 3 November 1952, with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery at Chickasha, and Batteries A, B, C and Service Batteries assigned, respectively, to Duncan, Anadarko, Weatherford, and Minco, all in Oklahoma. LTC John R. Northrup, an experienced field artilleryman in WW II and the Executive Officer of the 158th in the Korean Conflict, assumed command of the battalion. Armament consisted of six 105mm howitzers (towed) per firing battery. The 45th Infantry Division remained in combat in Korea until the armistice, when it was shipped to New York City. On 30 April 1954 the active division was released and reverted to Oklahoma State control. Thus, from 3 November 1952 to 30 April 1954, there was a 158th Field Artillery Battalion in combat in Korea or in movement to New York City and another in Oklahoma. The two were distinguished by the Oklahoma battalion as well as the division having the suffix (NGUS), which was dropped on 30 April 1954.

On 1 May 1959 the structure of the 45th Infantry Division was changed from triangular to pentomic (five Battle Groups replacing the three Infantry Regiments). The 158th Field Artillery Battalion was redesignated as the 1st Howitzer Battalion, 158th Artillery, as an element of the 45th Infantry Division. Headquarters, and Headquarters and Service Battery were placed in Chickasha; Battery A, armed with six 105mm howitzers (towed) was located in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma; Battery B, armed with six 155mm howitzers (towed), was reorganized in Duncan.

In addition, the 2nd Howitzer Battalion, 158th Field Artillery, was activated with its Headquarters, Headquarters and Service Battery located at Minco; and two firing batteries were activated, each with six 105mm howitzers (towed) and located at Anadarko (Battery A) and Weatherford (Battery B). Major Don Bell was placed in command of this Battalion.

On 1 April 1963 the structure of the 45th Infantry Division was again changed, this time from a pentomic to a ROAD Division (Reorganization Objective Army Divisions). Three brigades replaced five battle groups. The 1st Howitzer Battalion, 158th Artillery, was redesignated and reorganized as the 1st Battalion, 158th Artillery, an element of the 45th Infantry Division, with Headquarters, Headquarters and Service Battery remaining at Chickasha, Battery A remaining at Pauls Valley and Batter B remaining at Duncan. Batter C was added and placed in El Reno, Oklahoma. The 155mm Howitzer (towed) was eliminated as an armament and six 105mm howitzers (towed) were placed in each of the three lettered batteries. LTC Larry E. Stephenson of Edmond, Oklahoma, who had assumed command of the 1st Howitzer Battalion, 158th Artillery on 18 December 1961 continued in command of this redesignated and reorganized battalion. The 2nd Howitzer Battalion, 158th Artillery, became the 171st Field Artillery Battalion.

On 1 November 1965, the structure of the 45th Infantry Division was again changed with the 1st Battalion 158th Artillery redesignated as the 1st Battalion, 158th Field Artillery, with Headquarters, Headquarters and Service Battery at Chickasha, Oklahoma; Battery A at Pauls Valley, Battery B at Duncan, and Battery C to Enid. The armament was six 105mm towed howitzers per firing battery.

On 1 February 1968, the State of Oklahoma and the nation were deprived of the military strength of the 45th Infantry Division. It was ordered inactivated on that date. In its place the 45th Infantry Brigade was organized and some of the former division infantry units were assigned to it. For the artillery of the division, the 45th Artillery Group was organized as a corps artillery under the command of Brigadier General William L. Youell of Blackwell, Oklahoma. The 1st Battalion 158th Field Artillery, as an organization in this group, was located as follows: Headquarters and Headquarters Battery at Lawton, Oklahoma; Battery A at Anadarko, Oklahoma; Battery B at Duncan, Oklahoma; Battery C at Chickasha, Oklahoma and Service Battery at Lawton, Oklahoma. Armament was changed to the 8-ionch towed howitzer.

On 1 December 1971, there was a further reorganization of the battalion that resulted only in a change of the battalion designation to First Battalion (8-Inch_SP) 158th Artillery. Battery locations were not changed but the armament was changed to the 8-inch selp-propelled weapon.

On 1 May 1972, a further reorganization occurred with no change in battery locations or armament. The battalion, however, was redesignated the First Battalion, 158th Field Artillery.

Several reorganizations the occurred, but these were only TO&E reorganizations with no change in battery locations and weapons. The first of these was on 1 May 1975, followed by another 1 October 1978.The next TO&E reorganization was on 1 May 1980, with no change in battery locations and weapons. Major Ronald W. Holt assumed command on 1 November 1980. The next TO&E reorganization occurred on 1 March 1983, again with no change in battery locations and armament.

The recent change of 10 July 1987 is quite noteworthy. On that date, the 1st Battalion, 158th Field Artillery, accepted the first launcher from the manufacturer of the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). Under the new system, each firing battery was armed with nine launchers, each carrying 12 Rockets. Each launcher can deliver the firepower of a full battalion of conventional artillery to a distance of 30 miles! The 12 rockets can be fired in less than one minute. The idea is to "shoot and scoot." The 1st Battalion, 158th Field Artillery, received federal recognition as a MLRS battalion on 1 September 1987 with Headquarters and Service Batteries in Lawton. Battery A was moved to Lawton. Batteries B and C remained in Duncan and Chickasha, respectively, but each has a detachment, one located in Walters (Battery B) and one in Marlow (Battery C).

The U.S. Army organized the first MLRS battery in 1983. The 1st Battalion, 158th Field Artillery, was the first National was the first organization selected for the new system.

By the time the 1-158th Field Artillery came together in the Saudi desert, the ground offensive of Desert Storm was only days away. The l-158th was assigned to the 75th FA Brigade, and their purpose was to fire preparatory fires on Iraqi artillery positions and other targets the following day, February 21. This was also the beginning of Haub's battalion constantly being on the move. This battalion was in support of seven different higher headquarters throughout the unit's time in-theater.

The unit was assigned to the 75th FA Brigade, an active brigade out of Fort Sill, Oklahoma, which was the higher headquarters that the l-158th had the best relationship. The unit trained extensively at Fort Sill with the 75th during peacetime resulting in greater cohesiveness on the battlefield.

Then the unit was assigned to the 3dArmored Division; VII Corps Artillery, 210th FA Brigade in the 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment, The 1st Infantry Division and assigned in support of the 1st Cavalry. As part of VII Corps repositioning of its units to the west in preparation for the "Hail Mary" tactic that was to demolish the Iraqi forces, A Battery, 1st Battalion, 158th Field Artillery (FAA) (Multiple Launch Rocket System[MLRS]), Oklahoma Army National Guard, sent its advance party on a 95-mile desert march not knowing that within three days of that move, the battery would be the first Army National Guard unit to fire on the enemy. The firing raids on Iraqi positions were designed to eliminate hostile artillery prior to the maneuver forces assault and to rehearse the massing of fires.

On February 16, Battery A engaged six enemy targets with 98 rockets, delivering 63,112 M-77 bombsites on Iraqi positions. The next day the battery delivered 71 rockets on four targets and on February 20, it launched 48 rockets against four more targets. While A Battery was making history, the remainder of the 1-158th FA was unloading its launchers at Dammarn Port, Saudi Arabia. Battery B, commanded by CPT Bennie Vaughan, and C Battery, commanded by CPT Mark Williamson, loaded their M-577s and launchers on heavy equipment trailers (HETs) and had them driven north to the theater assembly area arriving on the l8th. Around the clock, the units and the headquarters members uploaded and calibrated the self-propelled loader. launchers (SPLLs) with live rocket pods and established digital communications within the battalion. It wouldn't take long for B and C Batteries to join their sister unit further north to begin hitting enemy targets in preparation for the ground offensive. In total the 1-158 Field Artillery Oklahoma Army national Guard fired 903 rockets and traveled hundreds of kilometers in support of VII corps operations.

The MLRS Battalion along with the 1045th Missile Maintenance Detachment proved that the National Guard was capable of fielding the most sophisticated artillery system in the world. When called to war, the Army National Guard was able to perform at the highest standard.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:17:24 ZULU