1st Battalion - 216th Air Defense Artillery
The 1st Battalion (Stinger) 216th Air Defense Artillery (ADA) is a Stinger pure unit with four firing Batteries and a Headquarters Battery (HHB).
The mission of the 1-216th ADA Battalion is to provide direct support, low altitude, air defense coverage to Divisions and smaller maneuver units, or General Support - Reinforcing low altitude coverage to Patriot fire units.
The Battalion also has an augmentation mission to provide a 40 member Stinger fire unit as augmentation to Patriot fire units upon depoyment. This could be both in the United States or off our shores. This real mission adds focus to our training, and provides us the opportunity to fire live missiles every year as a part of our Annual Service Practice or ASP.
By order of the War Department, the 216th Coast Artillery Antiaircraft Regiment was formed on the 1st of July, 1940. It was the growing urgency of immediate steps towards a stronger national defense that the 205th and 206th Infantry regiments from the 92d Brigade of the Minnesota National Guard had been converted so quickly into "Triple A." A training contingient was sent from the 61st Coast Artillery, Illinois, where a AAA regiment already existed. This full battalion of cadre made the initial convertion possible up at Camp Ripley in only three weeks. It required an enormous reorganization of personnel, as well as re-education from simple infantry to a number of complex military skills in the AAA. Additionally, companies assigned to the 216th had to be reformed into batteries conforming to the new table of organization, with the issue of completely different equipment.
Intensive technical training continued through out the regular drill year until January. Officers, Non-coms, and enlisted men alike buried themselves in both the theoretical and practical elements of Antiaircraft Artillery. Comprehensive instruction was carried out in the classroom and in the field. Units alternated from range finding, time on the big guns, automatic weapons, personal rifle work, searchlight, communications, and motor transport mechanics. Many of these fine guardsmen spend numerous hours at home studying as well. Then on January 6th, 1941 the unit finally achieved acceptance from the War Department. 1300 Minnesotans answered that first reveille on that old, much marched on, armory floor. They were issued new overcoats, and ate their first Regular Army breakfast in the Masonic Temple. After ten hectic days of training as regulars, the Regiment marched to the St. Paul Depot and boarded for California.
The 216th CA disembarked at Camp Haan, CA. This was the start of a year of intensive training where they would refine their AAA skills into perfection. The camp was filled with hundreds of five man tents, mounted on wooden platforms, neatly organized into platoon and battery areas. The troops were issued denim overalls for use during training. Their "pinks" were saved for special occasions during off-duty hours. Over 400 selectees were added to the ranks of the 216th during that year as the unit reached its wartime strength.
The Regiment was divided into individual battalions in 1943. 1st Battalion of the 216th Regiment was reconstituted into the Minnesota National Guard after the war as the 256th Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons battalion, an element of the 47th Infantry Division. This unit would serve again as it was mobilized for the Korean War. In 1954 it reverted back to state control, and was disbanded in 1959.
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