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Battery A (THAAD), 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment
1st Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment
"Grave Diggers"

On 3 April 2013, the Department of Defense announced the deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to the US territory of Guam following North Korean threats to attack US forces and installations there. The THAAD system and personnel deployed were from A-4th Air Defense Artillery.

Battery A, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment is a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system equipped battery assigned to the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade and based at Fort Bliss, Texas.

The 1st Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery was originally formed at West Point, New York, on 20 October 1786 as Captain Henry Burbeck's Company of Artillery. Following its creation the unit underwent a series of redesignations as part of the newly formed Regular Army of the United States, these changes involved naming the unit after the commanding officer.

In April 1802, the unit was consolidated with several other artillery units to form a larger unit, still named after its commander, designated as Captain Henry M. Muhlenberg's Company, Regiment of Artillerists. Several more changes in who was commanding the unit meant further redesignations, but the size of the unit remained relatively unchanged. It was in this configuration that the unit first went to war during the War of 1812, participating in the 1815, Louisiana Campaign.

In June of 1821, the unit was combined with the newly formed 4th Regiment of Artillery picking up the designation of Company D. Under this new designation, D Company, 4th Artillery took part in the Mexican War, fighting through all but one battle in that campaign to include the final assault on the Fortress at Chapultepec.

The start of the Civil War brought the entire 4th Regiment of Artillery into battle and elements of the Regiment fought in almost every major battle of the war. Streamers with names like Antietam, Manassas, Wilderness, Chickamauga, Chattanooga and Appomattox hung proudly from the Regimental Colors. It was the guns of A Battery, 4th Artillery under the command of Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing that stood at The Angle on the 3 July 1863 and helped turn back the Confederates assault under General George Pickett contributing directly to the victory at Gettysburg. Company D took part in the Battle of Cold Harbor and the Siege of Petersburg. Additionally the Colors of 1st Battalion, 4th Artillery showed participation in the campaigns in Virginia from 1861-1864.

Following the end of the Civil War, Company D along with several other elements of 4th Artillery participated in actions against Indians in the West.

In 1901, as part of the formation of the Coast Artillery Corps, the 4th Regiment was broken up and its components assigned as separate numbered companies. The unit that was redesignated as the 39th Company, Coast Artillery, Artillery Corps. Elements of the unit deployed to Europe and took part in World War I in the Lorraine earning the Lorraine Cross as seen on the unit shield. After returning, the 39th Company protected portions of Alabama until being inactivated in September 1921.

In 1924, the requirement to protect the Panama Canal led to the assignment of several Coastal Artillery units to the Canal Zone. Redesignated as Battery D, 4th Coast Artillery Battalion, the unit continued to serve as a part of the defense of this vital American interest until the latter half of World War II when the unit was used during the Leyte and Ryukyus campaigns. Other elements of the 4th Coast Artillery Regiment fought across North Africa and up the Italian Peninsula.

By 1950, the changing nature of the battlefield ensured that changes were in store for elements of the 4th Coast Artillery. Released from duties in and around the Canal Zone the unit was consolidated, redesigned and moved to England where it turned in its big guns for weapons designed to combat aircraft. Now known as Battery D, 4th Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion, the men of Battery D helped protect England during the start of the Cold War until being recalled to the United States and disbanded in November of 1954.

Once again the unit was consolidated and reconstituted in the summer of 1958. The unit, designated as Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Missile Battalion, 4th Artillery (with its subordinate elements concurrently consistuted and activated), served as part of the defenses of the Continental United States in the upper New York State Region until again being inactivated in March 1970. While active, elements of the Battalion were also deployed to Southeast Asia where they fought in support of operations in Vietnam.

On 13 September 1971, 1st Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment was activated in Washington State serving at Forts Lawton and Lewis until again being inactivated on 16 April 1988.

In 1996 the decision was made to assign 1-4th Air Defense Artillery as the 1st Armored Divisions as its organic Air Defense Battalion. In February 1996, C Battery, 1st Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment was activated as part of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team and assigned to Fort Riley, Kansas. In February 1997, the remaining elements of the Battalion (Headquarters, A, B and D Batteries) were activated at McCully Barracks, Germany.

In September 2001, the clear, ocean-side skies of Putlos, Germany ran red in the autumn sun and the fiery explosions of the 1-4th Air Defense Artillery gunnery. The Battalion made the most out of its first gunnery as a whole in 3 years.

In 2004 the Department of the Army approved an initiative to rebalance forces between its active and reserve components. As part of this plan, 1st Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery, located in Wackernheim, Germany, was designated for inactivation by 30 September 2004. The 1-4th Air Defense Artillery, assigned to the 1st Armored Division, was the first US Army Europe unit affected under this plan. As a part of this Army initiative, air defense artillery battalions in all 10 active-duty Army divisions would be removed from the division structure as part of the transformation to the modular force structure. In late 2004, the 1st Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery was subsequently inactivated.

On 28 May 2008, the US Army's first Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery was activated. 1st Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment was reorganized and redesignated as Battery A, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment and subsequently activated assigned to the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command at Fort Bliss, Texas.

In 2011, A-4th Air Defense Artillery prepared for another commemorative flight test. Flight Test THAAD 12 (FTT-12) was the first THAAD flight test to be conducted by A-4th Air Defense Artillery soldiers with limited Missile Defense Agency or contractor involvement. Since January 2011, A-4th Air Defense Artillery prepared itself for FTT-12 ultimately moving itself forward to a much desired deployment. The journey began with a mini-emergency deployment readiness exercise in February 2011, showcasing A-4 Air Defense Artillery's ability to successfully conduct a rapid deployment. In April of 2011, A-4th Air Defense Artillery deployed their equipment to Tactical Site 19 at McGregor Range, New Mexico, for several weeks. This resulted in the unit's Table VIII certification, which certified A-4th Air Defense Artillery to conduct its wartime mission. Further preparing itself for deployment and FTT-12, A-4th Air Defense Artillery continued with its first ever successful air load validation resulting in the completion of a minimum engagement package in May 2011.

By late 2011, A-4th Air Defense Artillery was preparing for its Reliability Confidence Test. The THAAD RCT was an event designed to gather data for reliability assessment and evaluate fixes and improvements incorporated into the THAAD system during the development program. Concurrently, A-4th Air Defense Artillery was preparing itself for FTT-12 at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii. FTT-12 was to be conducted as a real-world deployment under operationally realistic conditions with Soldiers planning, deploying, emplacing, and operating the system using their tactics, techniques, and procedures.

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Page last modified: 04-04-2013 12:50:47 ZULU