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2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment
"Steel Dragons"

The mission of the 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment is to, on order, deploy to a designated contingency area of operations, conducts reception, staging, onward movement, and Integration, and on order plan and coordinate for and synchronize the use of all indirect fires in support of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division combat operations.

The 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery had a long association with the United States Cavalry. It traced its lineage and honors to when it was originally constituted in the Regular Army on 3 June 1916 as C and D Troops, 24th Cavalry, the unit subsequently fought in more than 13 campaigns, earning 3 unit decorations.

On 5 June 1917, the units were redesignated as I and K troops of the 24th Cavalry Regiment at Fort D.A. Russell, Wyoming. In October 1917, the 24th Cavalry was reorganized and reequipped as an artillery regiment and on 1 November 1917 redesignated as the 82nd Field Artillery Regiment. I and K Troops were consolidated as Battery B, 82nd Field Artillery. After a short stay at Camp Logan, Houston, the 82nd Field Artillery Regiment as whole was ordered to Fort Bliss, Texas, where it was assigned to the 15th Cavalry Division. The 82nd Field Artillery was relieved in May 1918 from assignment to the 15th Cavalry Division.

Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel H.L. Newhold, the 82nd Field Artillery fired its first round, symbolized on the unit crest by a black projectile superimposed over the wavy band of white, over the Rio Grande into the city of Juarez, Mexico at 0900 on 16 June 1919 in an effort to rid the city of Pancho Villa and his Villaistas. The unit received a letter of commendation for its actions. On 9 September 1921, the unit was reorganized and redesignated as Battery B, 82nd Field Artillery Battalion, an element of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Bliss, Texas.

On 17 March 1930, the unit was reorganized and redesignated as Battery B, 82nd Field Artillery (Horse). A and B Batteries, 82nd Field Artillery consisted horse-drawn 75mm howitzers. In 1932, the artillery units of the 1st Cavalry Division adopted the practice of towing its artillery pieces with trucks and dropped the "horse" from its unit designation.

On 3 January 1941, the unit was redesignated as Battery B, 82nd Field Artillery Battalion. The Battalion remained at Fort Bliss until 4 June 1943 when it deployed to Brisbane, Australia with the 1st Cavalry Division for jungle training in preparation for participation General MacArthur's island hopping campaign. The Battalion moved to New Guinea on 23 June 1943 to prepare for combat.

In January of 1944, the Battalion fired its first round of World War II at Oro Bay, New Guinea. From there, the Battalion moved to Los Negros and, in February 1944, on to the Admiralty Islands. The unit's actions in the Admiralty Islands prepared it for the amphibious assault on Leyte in the Philippines on 7 October 1944. The 82nd Field Artillery Battalion received a campaign streamer with arrowhead for participation in the initial assault of this action.

Next, Battery B moved on to Luzon in January 1945, earning itself another campaign streamer. The 82nd Field Artillery Battalion was later organized into flying columns to support the 1st Cavalry Division as it fought its way into the capital of Manila and received the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation in recognition of its service in the Philippines. In September 1945, the 82nd Field Artillery Battalion completed its war effort with occupation duties in Tokyo, Japan.

While in Japan, the 82nd Field Artillery Battalion transitioned to 155mm howitzers and became a general support battalion in support of the 1st Cavalry Division. On 25 June 1950, North Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel and once again the 82nd Field Artillery Battalion was called to action. The Battalion deployed with the 1st Cavalry Division as part of an unopposed amphibious landing into the Pusan Perimeter at P'chang-dong. Battery B played a key role in the defense of Waegwan and Taegu by reinforcing the fires of the 61st Field Artillery. The Steel Dragons were awarded the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for their efforts at both Waegwan and Taegu. The Greek Gold Medal of Bravery was also awarded to the Battalion when they fired in support of the Greek Expeditionary Force and saved it from annihilation at the hands of Chinese forces.

On 10 October 1951, after 15 months of action, Battery B fired its one-millionth artillery round. The 1st Cavalry Division Commander, Major General Thomas L. Harrold, pulled the lanyard and fired the 155mm shell as members of Battery B and the 1st Cavalry Division Artillery (DIVARTY) Commander, Brigadier General John H. Hinds, looked on. On 1 November 1951, an aerial observer in a L-5 airplane directed fires of the 82nd Field Artillery Battalion onto columns of Chinese forces entering Korea. This action was one of the first contacts between the DIVARTY and the Chinese. The 82nd Field Artillery Battalion left Korea with the 1st Cavalry Division and moved to Hokkaido, Japan in December of 1951. It remained there at Camp Chitose until 15 October 1957, when it was inactivated and relieved from assignment to the 1st Cavalry Division.

Battery B, 82nd Field Artillery Battalion was redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Missile Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery on 1 June 1958, with its organic elements concurrently constituted. Twenty-five days later, it was reactivated and stationed in Germany, temporarily losing its association with the cavalry. While in Germany, the Battalion supported the Army's Cold War mission of defending Germany from Warsaw Pact countries. In July of 1959, the unit was redesignated the 2nd Missile Battalion, 82nd Artillery and was again inactivated on 25 March 1964.

On 1 September 1971, the Battalion was redesignated as the 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery due to changes in the Combat Arms Regimental System. In 1988, the Battalion was reactivated and assigned to the 3rd Armored Division Artillery at Friedberg, Germany. Later that year, the Battalion completed its transition to a 3x8 organization (3 platoons of 8 guns each).

In 1990, the 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery deployed to Southwest Asia as part of Operation Desert Shield. It provided direct support fires for 3rd Brigade, 3rd Armored Division during Operation Desert Storm against the Iraqi Republican Guard. Following the conflict, the Battalion returned to Germany and was again inactivated.

The 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery was reunited with the 1st Cavalry Division on 16 December 1992 at Fort Hood, Texas. There the Steel Dragons made up an integral part of the 1st Cavalry Division Artillery (DIVARTY), known as the "Red Team." The Steel Dragons participated in several National Training Center rotations in support of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team (not to be confused with the modular brigade combat team), 1st Cavalry Division beginning in July 1993. In early July 1996, the Battalion was equipped with the M109A6 155mm Paladin Howitzer. 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery was also one of the lead units in development and employment of the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS).

Between September and December 1996, the Steel Dragons participated in and led the way during Operation Desert Strike. The Steel Dragons were also the first to draw the new M109A6 Paladins in Kuwait and the first to live fire and test the Paladins in theater. Additionally, the Battalion was first to establish digital communications and conduct full-scale operations with the AFATDS. Along with paving the way for all other artillery units to follow, by live firing over 2000 rounds and providing baseline calibrations for the Paladins, the Steel Dragons also conducted Officer Professional Development classes and training exercises with Kuwaiti Army. The Battalion sent A Battery and personnel for a Fire Support Team (FIST) as part of 1-9th Infantry to participate in Exercise Intrinsic Action 96-04 in Kuwait with Task Force 1-9th Infantry between August and December 1996.

The Steel Dragons deployed from Fort Hood, Texas on 15 March 2004. The Battalion spent 2 weeks at Camp Udari, Kuwait drawing equipment, downloading home-station vehicles and preparing for the convoy into Iraq. On 27 March 2004 convoy rehearsals were complete, communication systems had been checked out, ammunition distributed, and vehicles staged for movement. The planned called for 3 days for movement, which concluded with escorts from 3-2nd Cavalry linking up south of the city and leading them onto Base-camp Wolfpack. The 3 day move north to Baghdad, Iraq was very successful. All vehicles, equipment and soldiers arrived safely at Camp Wolfpack on 29 March 2004.

3-2nd Cavalry was the unit the Steel Dragons replaced, and after a 10 day overlap they headed home to Fort Polk and Camp Wolfpack became Camp Steel Dragon. Joining the convoy and attached to Task Force Steel Dragon was B Company, 1-160th Infantry, part of the California Army National Guard. With nearly a hundred soldiers, the Company fufilled a vital role in Task Force Steel Dragon's success and made up for the detachment of C Battery, 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery to Colonel Lanza's 5th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.

Most of the soldiers of 2-82 Field Artillery were located on Camp Steel Dragon in the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq. Many of the fire supporters were located in different camps. The 2-82nd Field Artillery fire supporters attached within the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division were serving at 3rd Brigade's Headquarters, with Task Force 3-8th Cavalry, and with Task Force 1-9th Cavalry. Task Force 2-7th Cavalry and their fire supporters were serving with the 39th Brigade Combat Team at Camp Cooke in Taji. The soldiers of C Battery and the COLT Platoon were attached to Colonel Lanza's 5th Brigade Combat Team and were located on Camp Falcon on the south side of Baghdad. The rest of the 2-82nd Field Artillery soldiers, along with nearly 100 soldiers of B Company, 1-160th Infantry belonged to Task Force Steel Dragon.

By 16 April 2004 several of the platoons had enemy contact and in each case they handled the situation superbly, protecting the principal they were escorting and getting everyone out of the area without serious injuries. While they had a few soldiers earn Purple Hearts, none of the soldiers had been killed or suffered life threatening wounds. The attacks sustained the first few days validated how well trained the soldiers were and how competent their leadership was. It also proved the value of the add-on-armor doors installed on their HMMWVs.

On the evening of 7 May 2004, the unit took the time to have a task force formation, review some of what has been accomplished, and recognize some of the soldiers. Colonel Murray and Command Sergeant Major Sellards, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Commander and his Executive Officer, joined in. That formation marked the completion of the first full month conducting security escort missions for the Coalition Provisional Authority and other designated individuals and organizations. During that time they completed 500 platoon missions supporting over 700 security escort requests and drove over 65,000 miles. Most of the missions were in the Baghdad area, but on a daily basis we have a few missions running to other locations in Iraqi.

The vast majority of these missions were run without any enemy contact, but every platoon was prepared. They have had over a dozen enemy contacts and IEDs were the most common threat faced. They had learned the value of the armor on the HMMWVs and the importance and effectiveness of personal protective gear including body armor, Kevlar helmets, and protective eye wear. This protective equipment combined with proven tactics for convoy operations had contributed to the minimal number of casualties they've experienced.

B battery, 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery had a change of mission, tasked to provide artillery support to Camp Cook in Taji, Iraq. Two Paladin sections (a total of 12 soldiers), 2 mechanics, a platoon sergeant, the Fire Direction NCO, and the Battery Executive Officer worked with elements of the 1-206th Field Artillery from the Arkansas National Guard, a light artillery (105mm) battalion, to provide artillery counter-fire against enemy mortar and rocket attacks. By 16 May 2004, the Battery had fired over 25 155mm rounds and Camp Cook had not had any mortar or rocket attacks since their arrival.

As of 24 June 2004 the operational tempo remained fairly high. Already the soldiers had traveled a quarter of a million miles while conducting patrols. They had successfully completed over 1,200 missions. While they had had some enemy contact during the past few weeks, they had been successful in protecting the people being escorted and avoiding any friendly casualties. The enemy faced had not been so fortunate. Overall, the Steel Dragon troopers had done a great job in enabling the Coalition Provisional Authority to work with the Iraqi people and set the conditions for the establishment of the Interim Iraqi Government (IIG).

The Steel Dragons continued to see steady progress in improving operational and living conditions. They received a few more M1114 up-armored HMMWVs for platoons, some additional communications gear for long range patrols, and some additional protective equipment for gunners. On Camp Steel Dragon, they received some more air-conditioning units to make the main billeting area a bit more comfortable and opened a new coffee shop/internet caf. As 2-82nd Field Artillery completed the third month of deployment, the unit had been able to begin sending soldiers home on environmental leave. The limited number of slots available for leave and the number of soldiers required to meet mission requirements prevented getting every soldier home during this deployment. While some soldiers fell into a category for higher priority for leave (primarily due to the birth of a child while deployed), most soldiers fell into the same general category for leave.

As of 15 August 2004 the Battalion had spent 5 completed months since it first deployed from Fort Hood, Texas. Much had happened during those 5 months. In the preceeding 6 weeks they saw the IIG established, and to a large degree, it had been well received by a large portion of the Iraqi people. With the establishment of the IIG, the United States established its embassy in Iraq, which had taken over many of the support and assistance roles to the Iraqis that the Coalition Provisional Authority had provided. As the CPA went away, Task Force 2-82nd Field Artillery had shifted its primary support mission from supporting the CPA to supporting the US Embassy. The mission otherwise remained the same.

As of 15 August 2004, Task Force Steel Dragon had completed over 470,000 mission miles. The soldiers continued conducting more missions and the many soldiers working at Forward Operating Base Steel Dragon continued to help sustain and enable the gun-truck platoons to do their jobs. Task Force Steel Dragon took advantage of every slot they were given to get soldiers home on leave. They worked on the leave program and given the number of slots they had been receiving, they were likely be able to get many more soldiers home on leave than originally expected. This was possible in part because of the extra workload soldiers were willing to take on to help cover for one another.

Following its return from Iraq and as part of the Army's transformation towards a modular force, the 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment was inactivated along with the rest of the 1st Cavalry Division's DIVARTY on 20 June 2005 at Fort Hood, Texas. As part of the modular transformation, assets previously held at division level, but habitually attached to its brigades during operations were made organic to reorganized and redesignated brigade combat teams. 2-82nd Field Artillery was later reactivated as the organic field artillery battalion for the reorganized and redesignated 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas late in 2005.



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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:23:47 ZULU