The History of the 1st Battalion 82nd Field Artillery Regiment

"Can and Will"
Written By Sgt. Ronald E. Griffin
Edited By Dan Gilloti

The Early Years

The 1st Battalion (Bn), 82nd Field Artillery Regiment (FA Regt) was first constituted on 1 July 1917 as Troops A and B of the 24th Cavalry and was organized on 5 June 1917 at Fort D. A. Russell, Wyoming. Consolidated, converted, and re-designated 1 November 1917, as Battery A, 82nd FA. That same year the complete 82nd FA Regt, comprised of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions, was sent first to Camp Logan near Houston, TX. A short time later it was sent to Ft Bliss, TX, where the 82nd FA Regt was assigned to the 15th Cavalry Division (Cav Div).

The 82nd FA Regt was relieved from its assignment with the 15th Cav Div in May 1918, but stayed at Ft Bliss, TX. The first round fired in anger by the 82nd FA Regt occurred on 16 June 1919, when guns of the 1st Bn, 82nd FA, then commanded by Major L.L.Lawson, fired over the Rio Grande River against the Rebel Forces of General Pancho Villa. The Rebel Forces had been using snipers to shoot across the Rio Grande River into El Paso, TX, and had wounded several US civilians. The worst sniper incident was the killing of PVT Sam Tusco from the 82nd FA Regt on 15 June 1919. In this very first action, the 82nd FA Regt received a Letter of Commendation for its actions and most of the men were authorized to wear the Mexican Campaign Medal. The event was commemorated by its use in the design of the unit crest. A black projectile was imposed over a wavy band of white symbolizing the Rio Grande River. On 9 September 1921, the 82nd FA Regt was re-designated as the 82nd FA Bn (Horse) and served as the Division Artillery for the newly activated 1st Cav Div. The 82nd FA Bn was the only (Horse) Artillery in the US Army at that time. The designation (Horse) meant that all unit members rode mounted on horses instead of riding on the gun carriages.

On 17 March 1930, the 82nd FA Regt was reactivated and the 82nd FA Bn (Horse) was reorganized as the 1st Bn, 82nd FA but lost its designation as (Horse). On 1 December 1934, Battery C, 1st Bn, 82nd FA was Inactivated and the 2nd Bn, 82nd FA was Reactivated. Consequently, the 82nd FA Regt was comprised of both 1st Bn and 2nd Bn of the 82nd FA Regt.

World War II

However, as the war clouds of WWII began to gather, the 82nd FA Regt was reorganized and re-designated at Ft Bliss, TX, on 3 January 1941. The 1st Bn, 82nd FA was reorganized as the 82nd FA Bn and the remainder of the 82nd FA Regt was reorganized as the 61st FA Bn and the 62nd FA Bn and formed the 1st Cav Div Artillery. With the onset of WW II the 82nd FA Bn deployed with the rest of the 1st Cav Div to Brisbane, Australia, on 4 June 1943. There the 1st Cav Div served under the Theater Command of General Douglas McArthur throughout the entire Pacific Campaign.

The first rounds fired by the 82nd FA Bn against the Japanese during WWII occurred at Oro Bay, New Guinea, in January of 1944. The 82nd FA Bn then participated in actions in the Admiralty Islands, Leyte and Luzon. During the Luzon campaign, the 82nd FA Bn participated in the Battle for Manila and provided fire support to forces involved in the assault of several key strong points within the city. After the defeat and surrender of all Japanese forces the 82nd FA Bn accompanied the rest of the 1st Cav Div as Occupation Forces in Japan beginning on 8 September 1945. The Base Camp for the 82nd FA was known as "Camp Whittington" near Kumagaya, Japan.

The Korean Conflict

In July of 1949, the 82nd FA Bn turned in its old 105mm Howitzers and its Direct Support role within the 1st Cav Div. It was issued 155mm Howitzers and switched roles to become the General Support Bn for 1st Cav Div. The first practice rounds of 155mm fire occurred on 12 July 1949 at Camp Weir.

On 25 June 1950, North Korean forces crossed the border into South Korea, beginning the Korean Conflict. From its bases in Japan the 1st Cav Div deployed to Korea at P'chang-dong within the Pusan Perimeter. Elements of the 82nd FA Bn were instrumental in the defense of Waegwan and Taegu and the UN's defensive perimeter. As the war progressed, Chinese Communist Forces (CCF) credited elements of the 82nd FA Bn with helping to save the Greek Expeditionary Force from annhilation. After the end of open hostilities the 82nd FA Bn left Korea for Camp Chitose, Japan, in December of 1951. The 82nd FA Bn remained in Japan until it was deactivated on 15 October 1957 and was relieved from assignment to the 1st Cav Div.

From Korea to Vietnam and The Present

In early 1958, the old units of the 82nd FA Bn were reactivated again to form the 82nd Artillery Regt, by now known by its unofficial nickname of the "Dragons". All US Army Field Artillery and Anti-Aircraft Artillery were combined as a single branch known as the Artillery (Arty) Branch. This time three Battalions of the 82nd Arty Regt served in Europe in separate commands. The 1st Missile Bn (Msl Bn), 82nd Arty was designated as an Honest John Rocket Bn (Nuclear capable), while the 2nd and 3rd Bns, 82nd Arty retained their guns with at least the 2nd being equipped with 280mm cannons capable of firing nuclear rounds. The 1st Msl Bn, 82nd Arty was formed in Italy on 24 June 1958. On 1 July 1960, the 5th Bn, 82nd Arty (105mm/155mm Howitzers, Towed) was formed and assigned to duty with the 1st Cav Div in Korea. The 1st Msl Bn, 82nd Arty was deactivated in Italy on 20 April 1964.

However, this did not last long with all three battalions being deactivated in 1963 and 1964.

With the outbreak of the conflict in South East Asia, the 1st Bn, 82nd Arty was again called into duty and was reactivated on 10 Jan 1968. It was assigned to Ft Lewis, Washington, for organization and training until its deployment to Vietnam on 24 July 1968. As LTC (Ret) Bill Barta, serving as Bn S-3 at that time, has said "the Bn had started with myself, four 2nd Lieutenants and a stack of manuals". But under the able command of LTC Paul Cothern Jr. the men of the 1st Bn, 82nd Arty quickly and successfully underwent rigorous Bn Tests, including a difficult Technical Proficiency Inspection (TPI) to test it's nuclear readiness and riot control training for possible use in U.S. cities. Upon completing its processing for overseas movement, the Bn was effectively transformed into a combat ready arty unit with three 155mm Towed Howitzer Batteries and one 8" Self-Propelled Battery. This was all accomplished within the space of just 138 days.

The personnel of the 1st Bn flew directly to Chu Lai, South Vietnam, from Ft Lewis, Washington, via commercial charter jets. Upon arriving in Vietnam, the 1st Bn was assigned the mission of providing General Support artillery for the 11th Infantry Brigade (Inf Bde) and 198th Inf Bde of the 23rd (Americal) Infantry Division (ID). Initially A Btry occupied Hill 54 on 5 August 1968. B Btry moved to LZ Gator on 8 August 1968, and C Btry became operational in the Duc Pho area with four guns on LZ Liz and two at LZ Thunder. D Btry later moved to LZ Dottie. At the same time, HHB and Service Btry began to occupy and build up its base camp at LZ Hurricane right outside of the Chu Lai Combat Center on Highway 1.

According to the official Americal Unit History, during its first full year in Vietnam the 1st Bn was credited as having one of the most outstanding combat records of any US artillery unit at any time in history. This was accomplished in spite of numerous enemy attempts to capitalize on the unit's lack of combat experience by launching several major attacks against various elements of the unit beginning with a sapper/mortar attack against D Btry on LZ Dottie on 23 August 1968. On 22 September 1968, D Btry was hit again, along with A Btry on Hill 54 and B Btry on LZ Gator. None of these attacks were successful, resulting in only minor injuries and no equipment losses.

For the remainder of 1968, the various Firing Batteries of the Bn were kept busy supporting a number of operations within the Americal Div's Area of Operations (AO). This involved making numerous movements including its first aerial movements, to Fire Support Bases (FSBs) throughout the entire Americal Div's AO in support of all three of the Division's Inf Bdes. At one point guns from the 1st Bn simultaneously occupied nine separate firing positions with the two farthest positions, C Btry on LZ Thunder and A Btry on LZ Sooner, being approximately 144 Kilometers apart.

1969 is marked by the defense of LZ Snoopy from sapper and mortar attacks by members of B Btry (see related article available by clicking on the B Btry page). In addition, on the night of 23 February 1969, the elements of the 1st Bn responded to an all out post-Tet offensive by the enemy by firing no less than three hundred independent fire missions in a single three-hour period. These missions were successfully conducted while elements of the 1st Bn on LZs Gator, Cork and Dottie were themselves under rocket, mortar and sapper attacks.

In July of 1970, elements of the 1st Bn were deployed with other Americal units to support the 1st ARVN Division and several US infantry elements at Kham Duc near the Laotian border. During this operation, the 1st Bn suffered some of its heaviest losses of the war. On the night of 5 August 1970, the enemy struck A Btry's position near the airfield at this former Special Forces Camp. Covered by small arms and mortar fire, sappers penetrated the perimeter and blew up a guard bunker and the generator pit, but were met by the M16 and M60 fire from the cannoneers. At dawn the artillerymen counted a total of 14 NVA Killed In Action (KIA) inside their perimeter at the cost of three of their own KIA and many more Wounded In Action (WIA). As a further result of this action, three members of A Btry received the Silver Star, nine received the Bronze Star with "V" device and two received the Army Commendation Medal with "V" device.

By the end of its first two years in combat the 1st Bn, 82nd FA received credit for over 1,500 confirmed enemy KIA and 400 probable enemy KIA; the destruction of over 2,000 military structures; 500 bunker complexes; 150 tunnel complexes; "countless" trenches and spider holes; 50 rice caches; 300 secondary explosions; 40 mortar tubes; 10 anti-aircraft weapons; and "numerous beasts of burden". These impressive results are even more remarkable considering the fact that only about 35 % of the unit's fire missions were observed

But the Gun Crews were not the only ones to rack up impressive statistics during this period. The Bn and Btry FDC Sections performed outstanding service under very adverse conditions of terrain and weather while faced with very difficult tactical situations created by the necessity of employing multiple platoon-sized firing elements during this period. Service and support troops also faced tremendous challenges as indicated by the fact that Bn supply personnel racked up a monthly average of approximately 60,000 road miles for a total of over 1,600,000 miles of convoy driving with only ten minor vehicle accidents through December of 1970. During the period from its deployment in 1968 till December of 1970, men of the 1st Bn, 82nd FA were awarded 5 Silver Stars, 49 Bronze Stars with "V" device, and 37 Army Commendation Medals with "V" device.

In the spring of 1971, the 1st Bn deployed further to the north to participate in its twelfth and final major operation of the war. Batteries A, B, and C were deployed along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in support of Lam Son 719, the ARVN incursion into Laos. During this time period D Btry was assigned to the 101st Abn Div (AIRMOBILE) to support their operations near Da Nang. During operations in the north, A Btry and HHB were deployed at LZ Vandegrift alongside QL 9 in support of the 1/77th Armor, 3/187 Inf and the 4/3 Inf in operations north of the QL 9 near the infamous "Rockpile". B Btry was sent by helicopter lift to LZ Sheppard near the Khe Sanh Combat Base, with one platoon soon moving to Vandegrift and later the rest of the Btry moving to Khe Sanh Combat Base. C Battery was sent to FSB Charlie 2 just west of Quang Tri City near the DMZ and later moved to Lang Vei on the Laotian border and still later moved to the Khe Sanh Combat Base.

In one 10 hour period, the guns on Vandegrift, along with the guns from B Btry, 5th Bn, 4th Arty (105mm SP Battery w/15 guns total), are estimated to have fired between 7,000 to 9,000 rounds at an NVA Division that was trying to mount an attack against Vandegrift.

A Battery also had the dubious distinction of being the first US unit to suffer a KIA in this operation when it was rocketed at LZ Elliot just south of the infamous "Rockpile" along QL 9.

During the 69 days of the operation, the guns of the 1st Bn fired 76,124 rounds of 155mm ammunition on 2,486 fire missions or an average of just under 35 missions per day. The majority of these missions were in direct support of at least five separate infantry and armor battalions. This expenditure represented an average of 13 rounds per gun per day or 1,119 rounds per day for the 1st Bn. During the 69 days of the Operation, the 1st Bn lost four KIA and twenty WIA plus three more fatalities due to non-hostile causes.

The Battalion stood down and returned to the states in the final months of 1971 where it was soon deactivated. The 1st Bn, 82nd FA was reactivated on 21 June 1975, with the 1st Cav Div at Fort Hood, TX. The soldiers of the 1st Bn 82nd FA were again called to serve their country in time of war during the Gulf War. Additionally, members of the 1st Bn, 82nd FA been deployed to several other areas of the world on a variety of missions including to Bosnia. Members of the 1st Bn, 82nd FA have also helped serve their fellow countrymen in peacetime when they were sent to help fight the western states wildfires in the summer of 2000. The 1st Bn, 2nd and 3rd Bns of the 82nd FA Regt Regiment are currently serving at Fort Hood, Texas, as part of the 1st Cav Div Artillery. In the history of the 82nd FA Regt, this is a continuation of a long association with the 1st Cav Div.

(note: a computer disk containing reproductions of S3-Operations daily reports for the battalion during Lam Son 719, is available to 1/82 vets free of charge and non-1/82 parties at cost. The disk can be obtained by emailing the webmaster of LZ Hurricane with your name and address.)

Campaign Participation Credit

World War II

New Guinea
Bismarck Archipelago
Leyte (with Arrowhead)

Korean War

UN Defensive
UN Offensive
CCF Intervention
First UN Counter-offensive
CCF Spring Offensive
UN Summer-Fall Offensive
Second Korean Winter


Counteroffensive, Phase V
Counteroffensive, Phase VI
Tet 69/Counteroffensive
Counteroffensive, Phase VII
Consolidation I


-- Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, Streamer embroidered "17 October, 1944 to 4 July, 1945" (82nd Field Artillery Battalion cited; DA GO 47, 1950)

-- Chryssoun Aristion Andrias (Bravery Gold Medal of Greece), Streamer embroidered "Korea" (82nd Field Artillery Battalion cited; DA GO 2, 1956)

-- Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, Streamer embroidered "Waegwan-Taegu" (82nd Field Artillery Battalion cited; DA GO 35, 1951)

-- Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, Streamer embroidered "Vietnam 1969-1970 (1st Battalion, 82nd Artillery, cited: DA GO 42, 1972)

-- Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, Streamer embroidered "Vietnam 1971" (1st Battalion, 82nd Artillery, cited; DA GO 42, 1972)

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