119th Field Artillery Regiment

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119th Field Artillery Regiment
Coat of arms
CountryUnited States
BranchMichigan National Guard
TypeField artillery
Nickname(s)Red Lions
Motto(s)Viam Praeparamus (We Prepare the Way)
Distinctive unit insignia119FARegtDUI.jpg
U.S. Field Artillery Regiments
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The 119th Field Artillery Regiment is a United States Army Regimental System parent artillery regiment, represented in the Michigan Army National Guard by the 1st Battalion, 119th Field Artillery Regiment.

The 1st Battalion, 119th Field Artillery is headquartered in Lansing, Michigan.
It consists of three batteries:

The 119th FA and 182nd Field Artillery (HIMARS) are the only two field artillery units in Michigan. Both are a member of the 197th Fires Brigade.


The 119th Field Artillery was organized on 6 November 1911 from existing Michigan National Guard units as the 1st Battalion, Field Artillery. Batteries A and B were mustered into Federal service on 19 June 1916 for duty on the Mexican border to replace Regular troops sent on the Pancho Villa Expedition, and the rest of the battalion was simultaneously disbanded, they mustered out of Federal service on 23 March 1917, and the battalion was reorganized in the Michigan National Guard on 26 June. Following the 5 July Federal recognition of its headquarters at Lansing, the battalion was drafted into Federal service on 5 August 1917 to participate in World War I, it became the 1st Battalion of the 32nd Division's 119th Field Artillery when the mobilized National Guard units were merged into units with Federal designations and structure on 23 September. With the 32nd Division, it fought in the Second Battle of the Marne, the Hundred Days Offensive, and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. For its actions in the Second Battle of the Marine and the Oise-Aisne Campaign during the Hundred Days Offensive the 119th Field Artillery was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Silver Star in 1924; the battalion was demobilized on 15 May 1919 at Camp Custer after returning from France.[1]

The 119th Field Artillery was reorganized between 1921 and 1922 as a Michigan National Guard unit of the 32nd Division, with its headquarters Federally recognized at Lansing on 10 February 1922.[1]

The 119th had been described once by General John "Black Jack" Pershing as being "The legion of hell itself ... disheveled and uncut, a rowdy and miscreant lot, who fight like demonic lions and drink like gods, but in all, no better men than to have with you in combat!" The reputation for unorthodox behavior, technical expertise, and astounding courage is echoed in the annals of military history, a proud heritage for the unit, who in 1996, took the name "Red Lions" from Pershing's comments and the lion on their crest which was taken from Ponce de Leon's ranch while serving on the Mexican border.

Also the 119th saw action in both World War I and World War II in hand-to-hand combat, winning them a distinguished honor of being called "The finest infantry unit in the artillery".

In World War I, as part of the famous 32nd Infantry Division ("Red Arrow"), the unit fought in numerous campaigns and battles in France, culminating in their distinguished service at the Second Battle of the Marne, when they and a handful of other American units routed the German counter-offensive, and brought an end to the war; the battalion was awarded the French Croix de Guerre for bravery and steadfast gallantry in action.

The regiment was withdrawn from the 32nd Division on 11 October 1940, and it was inducted into Federal service on 7 April 1941 at its home armories for World War II; when the United States Army divisional structure eliminated field artillery regiments, the regiment was broken up on 8 February 1943. Its headquarters and headquarters battery became that of the 119th Field Artillery Group, while the 1st and 2nd Battalions were respectively redesignated as the 978th and 979th Field Artillery Battalions.[1]

Just prior to the United States' entry into World War II, the 119th Field Artillery Regiment (155 mm Gun Motorized) was inducted into federal service on 7 April 1941 in Lansing, Michigan, and arrived at Fort Knox, Kentucky, 10 days later.

It transferred to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, on 2 June 1941 and was assigned to the 72nd Field Artillery Brigade, XI Corps. On 8 February 1943 it was redesignated as HHB, 119th Field Artillery Group; the regiment's former 1st and 2nd Battalions were redesignated as the 978th and 979th Field Artillery Battalions (155 mm Trac-D), respectively.

The 119th moved to Camp Young in California on 23 August 1943 and staged at Camp Myles Standish in Massachusetts from 5 February 1944 until it departed the Boston Port of Embarkation on 27 February 1944.

It arrived in England on 8 March 1944, and landed in France on 26 June 1944; the 119th crossed into Belgium on 8 September 1944, and into Holland on 13 September 1944, then entered Germany on 14 October 1944. By August 1945 the 119th was in Ostenburg, Germany.

It returned to the United States, arriving at the Hampton Road Port of Embarkation in Virginia on 16 November 1945.

The 979th FAB inactivated on 29 October 1945 at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, while the 978th followed a day later at Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts; the headquarters and headquarters battery of the 119th Field Artillery Group was inactivated at Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia, on 16 November.[1]

The 119th's campaign credits include Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central Europe.[1] During its tour in Europe the 119th reportedly distinguished itself for having fired more rounds in combat than any other Allied artillery unit in either the European or Pacific Theaters.

Postwar, the HHB of the 119th Field Artillery Group was consolidated with the 978th FAB and reorganized and Federally recognized as the 119th FAB at Lansing as part of the on 15 December 1946; the 979th FAB consolidated with the 943rd FAB and reorganized and Federally recognized with the designation of the latter on 6 December 1946, headquartered at Jackson, Michigan. Both battalions became part of the new 46th Infantry Division.[1]

The 119th and 943rd Field Artillery Battalions were consolidated to form the 119th Artillery on 15 March 1959 when the United States Army shifted to the Combat Arms Regimental System, which broke up regiments while retaining previous traditions under a parent regiment. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Howitzer Battalions were nominally assigned to the 119th Artillery, although all three battalions continued as part of the 46th Infantry Division; as a result of the Reorganization Objective Army Division restructuring of army divisions, the 3rd Battalion was eliminated and the 1st and 2nd Battalions dropped the howitzer designation on 15 March 1963. To respond to the Detroit riot, the 1st and 2nd Battalions were Federalized on 24 July 1967 while training at Camp Grayling, they were released from Federal service on 2 August after the end of the riot and returned to state control. After the elimination of the 46th Division during a restructuring of the National Guard, the 2nd Battalion was eliminated on 1 February 1968 and the 1st Battalion became part of the 38th Infantry Division; the parent regiment was redesignated as the 119th Field Artillery on 1 February 1972, and on 20 February 1987 it was reorganized under the United States Army Regimental System.[1]

During the Vietnam War, one team of forward observers went to Vietnam, serving with a Long Range Recon Patrol in the Mekong River area.

In the United States, the 119th helped to respond to numerous natural disasters including the blizzards of 1968 and 1979, and also to many civil emergencies such as riots and disturbances.

21st century[edit]

In 2001, following the September 11 Attacks by Al-Qaeda on the United States, the unit sent almost 100 troops to immediate service on the U.S.-Canadian border at the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, and the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron.

Those units set new records for seizures of contraband and arrests of wanted criminals and terror suspects. In six months on the Ambassador Bridge, they seized in excess of 20 million dollars (US) in illegal narcotics and contraband, stopped a child slavery ring, arrested 46 fugitives, including three wanted by Interpol, and more. Soldiers also worked in numerous airports, facilities, and elsewhere during the crisis, ensuring the people of Michigan could sleep soundly at night.

In 2003, the unit dispatched over 150 soldiers to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to serve as guards and security forces for the detainment facilities recently opened there. While at Guantanamo, the 46th Brigade was eliminated and the 1st Battalion, 119th Field Artillery became part of the 42nd Infantry Division;[1] the 119th Field Artillery again became the 119th Field Artillery Regiment on 1 October 2005 when the United States Army officially reintroduced the regiment designation for parent regiments.[2]

In 2004, 150 soldiers deployed for service at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq, where they set a series of distinguishing records. In the Battle of Abu Ghraib they repelled the largest attack on a U.S. military base or installation since the Vietnam War, together with the U.S. Marine Corps and other military personnel stationed at the base, on the night of 2005-04-02 and the following morning, they processed and provided security, custody, and control for over 20,000 detainees in one year, a record never before matched by any Allied facility of its type.




  • Clay, Steven E. (2010). US Army Order of Battle 1919–1941 (PDF). 2: The Arms: Cavalry, Field Artillery, and Coast Artillery, 1919–41. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: Combat Studies Institute Press. ISBN 9781780399171.
  • McKenney, Janice E. (2010). Field Artillery: Regular Army and Army Reserve, Part 2 (Army Lineage Series) (PDF). CMH Pub 60-11. Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History. OCLC 275151269.
  • Stanton, Shelby L. (1984). Order of Battle: U.S. Army, World War II. Novato, California: Presidio Press. ISBN 9780891411956.
  • United States Army Center of Military History (2014). CMH Style Guide (PDF). Washington, D.C.: United States Army Center of Military History.