6th Field Artillery Regiment makes Fort Drum its home
June 19, 2014
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Soldiers of 3rd Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, uncased the 6th Field Artillery colors as the official custodians, making 3-6 FA the regimental headquarters location, during a ceremony May 28 on Fort Drum.
The 6th Field Artillery Regiment's history dates back to the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812. The unit has played a vital role in preserving the nation's freedom throughout nearly every major war to present day.
Following the War of 1812, the regiment also earned campaign streamers for its participation in the Mexican War and the Indian Wars.
The regiment earned an impressive 12 campaign streamers during the Civil War, to include battles at Manassas, Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, Appomattox, Antietam and Chancellorsville -- to name a few.
The 6th FA also deployed units to Cuba during the Spanish-American War, earning the Santiago campaign streamer.
The regiment has acquired many relics throughout its history; they are now displayed at the 3-6 FA Headquarters.
"To go inside and see it all is a bit like going into a museum," said Lt. Col. Jason T. Williams, 3-6 FA commander. "This is exciting for us, for 3rd Battalion to be able to have the responsibilities of the regimental colors."
During the regiment's service defeating revolutionaries in the Philippine-American War, it was awarded the famed "Cat," the most prized possession of the relics, which serves as the regimental mascot. The governor of the Philippines gave the 111-year-old "Cat" to the regiment in 1903.
"We had heard about the cat, but had never seen it," said Pfc. Timothy J. Kleinsmith, a medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3-6 FA. "We finally saw it for the first time in the battalion headquarters.
"It's lived up to its reputation," Kleinsmith continued. "It's a very honorable statue figure for us to have. We are very glad to finally have it with us."
The cat measures more than 3.5 feet long and weighs more than 40 pounds. It is the responsibility of the junior lieutenants to ensure the mascot is brought to all social functions.
Other relics acquired throughout the regiment's history include a World War I artillery horse saddle, a WWII Japanese flag captured in Manila, a WWII Japanese samurai sword and many, many other artifacts.
In 1914, the regiment was deployed to the Mexican border, and in 1916 it was personally selected by Gen. John J. "Blackjack" Pershing to pursue the famed Mexican general, Pancho Villa.
At dawn on Oct. 23, 1917, equipped with the French 75 mm howitzer, Soldiers of C Battery, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, fired the first artillery round of World War I with the American Expeditionary Force, serving with the 1st Infantry Division.
Throughout WWI, the regimental colors were made even heavier by earning another seven campaign streamers.
During WWII, the regiment participated in two campaigns in the Pacific Theater to include the liberation of Manila in 1944.
The regiment was involved in a staggering 10 campaigns throughout the Vietnam War.
"It's very humbling to be here in the 6th Field Artillery Regiment," Williams said. "I've been in some great units with some great histories, but coming up here and being part of the second-oldest artillery regiment in the Army is unbelievable."
Two more streamers were awarded to the unit for its involvement in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
The 1st Brigade Combat Team and the 10th Mountain Division (LI) are now the home of this historic artillery regiment, which brings with it 36 campaign streamers, three foreign awards and valorous unit awards.
"We are responsible for the history of the regiment and the maintenance of its colors," Williams said.
The unit also was involved in peacekeeping missions in Macedonia, Kosovo and Bosnia, and most recently it has served multiple missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I'm honored to be a part of this very historic unit," Kleinsmith said. "We are all a Family here, so it's great to be part of it."
Members of the Fort Drum community and beyond can share in this honor by visiting the 3-6 FA Headquarters and viewing a piece of American history.