News: Battalion readies for deactivation
Story by Sgt. Garett Hernandez
FORT HOOD, Texas – “On seven separate occasions, when our nation and our Army needed the best, they activated 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment, First Strike,” said Col. Cory Mendenhall, commander of 1st Air Cavalry Brigade.
Due to a realignment of the Army, the 1-21st FAR, 41st Field Artillery Brigade, will deactivate June 12.
“It’s hard to imagine the Army without the 21st Field Artillery,” said Lt. Col. Kenneth McDaniel, former commander of 1-21st FAR, 41st Field Artillery Brigade. “It’s a historic battalion. It’s a prestigious battalion and a well-accomplished battalion.”
Over the past several months, the battalion has reduced its number of Soldiers from more than 400 to approximately 200, and when the battalion holds its deactivation ceremony, it will only have about 100 Soldiers remaining.
Most of the Soldiers will move to different units within 41st Field Artillery Brigade, while still more will move elsewhere on Fort Hood. Some of the remaining Soldiers have orders to change duty stations, and those who are due to end their Army career will do so in the next few months.
Not only are the Soldiers of the battalion moving, but thousands of weapons, computers and other equipment, will need to be dispersed throughout the 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, and the rest of U.S. Forces Command, including 250 vehicles, trailers and generators, said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael Bellamy, brigade property book officer.
During this time, in preparation for the deactivation, the battalion has held a series of town hall meetings to ensure that the family members as well, as the Soldiers, understand what is happening to the unit.
Instead of changing command with someone else, McDaniel relinquished his command of 1-21st FAR during a ceremony held at Fort Hood, Texas, April 10.
“Since 1917, the 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment has participated in almost every conflict, World War I, World War II, Vietnam, Desert Storm, operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom,” said Mendenhall. “Always ready to answer the nation’s call with overwhelming fire power in support of the ground maneuver commands.”
The battalion, in its nearly 100 years of service, has been awarded nine citations or commendations.
The battalion was first assigned to the 5th Infantry Division during World War I where it saw action in France. It then fought in WWII in Normandy, Northern France, the Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and throughout Central Europe. During the Vietnam War, the battalion was reflagged as the 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery and took part in 15 offenses and counter-offenses with the 1st Cavalry Division, starting its long association with the division.
“I am certain that this battalion will march into history with dignity and honor,” McDaniel said.