The nation's oldest active-duty unit still serving celebrated its 243rd birthday on its namesake's 262nd birthday Jan. 11 at Fort Riley.
Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment - "Hamilton's Own" - gathered with their families and guests to honor a lineage that dates back to January 1776 with a streamer and cake cutting ceremony. The ceremony also included video birthday messages from casts of "Hamilton: An American Musical" across the country.
Gen. George Washington established the Continental Army's artillery branch on Nov. 17, 1775. Two months later, the colony of New York procured the New York Provincial Company of Artillery and on March 14, 1776, Capt. Alexander Hamilton was appointed its commander.
"From those first shots fired against the British during the Revolutionary War to our battalion's exemplary performance during the Global War on Terror, the streamers symbolize our lineage - our resume and credentials, if you will," said Command Sgt. Maj. Kazimier Kazimierowski, the battalion's senior noncommissioned officer.
During the ceremony, Hamilton's Own Soldiers dressed in uniforms representing each era in which their predecessors served assisted Kazimieroski in placing 78 battle streamers on the battalion's colors.
"The colors stand out as a silent testament to all who have gone before us," Kazimieroski said. "Our battalion's lineage pre-dates the Declaration of Independence, therefore, I can proudly say with certainty that our unit's history is our nation's history."
Today, the 1st Bn., 5th FA Regt. falls under the 1st Infantry Division's 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, and its Soldiers stand on the shoulders of giants, said Lt. Col. Iven Sugai, Hamilton's Own commander.
Those 78 streamers represent participation in every major conflict, except the Korean War, in U.S. history, Sugai said.
"Our history is truly our Army's history - America's history," he said.
Retired Lt. Col. Kevin West, who commanded Hamilton's Own from June 2007 to June 2009, attended the ceremony and said it was great leaders took a moment as they prepared to deploy to pause and reflect on what the battalion has accomplished.
"I want them to take pride in the unit history," West said of current Hamilton's Own Soldier. "There's only one Regular Army unit that flies Revolutionary campaign streamers off their colors. ... Take pride in that and start writing the next chapter in the battalion's history."
Speaking of the next chapter, Sugai spend some time talking about the 243rd year of service: "a year of firsts."
After a nine-month rotation to the Republic of Korea from late 2016 to mid 2017, the battalion dove right into testing the new M109A7 self-propelled howitzer, the newest armored tracked weapon system fielded since the Abrams and Bradley in the 1980s, Sugai said. Hamilton's Own Soldiers fired more than 10,000 rounds and traversed more than 1,000 of Fort Riley terrain by early April.
This new paladin spearheaded the Army's modernization efforts against near-peer and peer adversaries, the lieutenant colonel added. That period also included training exercises at Fort Riley and a September 2018 rotation to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California.
About 3,500 men and women of the 1st ABCT will soon replace the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, as part of a regular rotation of forces to Europe in support of the Atlantic Resolve mission.
"As we write our next chapter and soon depart for Europe, I find comfort in knowing the existing partnership and friendship to be had afar," Sugai said before reading a birthday message from the top official of the battalion's European host city.
"'Let me wish you all the bravery and persistence as well as good thoughts and faith accompanying your actions,'" Sugai read. "'May the long history of your unit be the source of pride and inducement of progress.'"