FORT SILL, Oklahoma (July 6, 2021) -- A Fort Sill battalion celebrated its regiment’s 105th birthday July 1. The special guest was a Soldier who served with the battalion over 60 years ago.
1st Battalion, 19th Field Artillery Regiment (FAR) had its cake cutting ceremony in its headquarters conference room. The room’s namesake retired Lt. Col. Jerry Orr was there to cut the cake along with Lt. Col. Matthew St. Pierre, 1-19th FA commander.
“It’s an opportunity to celebrate and pay respect to the history of this regiment,” St. Pierre said. “The Soldiers of this regiment have fought in World War I, World War II, and Vietnam.
The 19th FAR was created July 1, 1916. Over the years there have been five battalions in the regiment, St. Pierre said. All the regiment’s battalions were deactivated over time.
In 1997, 1-19th FA was reactivated to perform the Basic Combat Training mission under the 434th FA Brigade at Fort Sill. It is the last remaining battalion of the regiment.
“We’ve been active during the entire Global War on Terrorism by producing Soldiers to serve,” St. Pierre said.
A couple dozen 1-19th FA Soldiers and alumni filled the conference room for the celebration. In his remarks, St. Pierre said the cake cutting was a time to recognize everything that the regiment has done. “We feel very fortunate that we can connect with the living history (Orr) of the battalion.”
Orr, age 86, said it was an honor and humbling to be remembered by the battalion.
As a 2nd lieutenant, Orr served with C Battery, 1-19th FA in the demilitarized zone in Korea in 1958. It was his first assignment in the Army, he said.
“It was a 105 (mm howitzer) battery supporting the 1st Cav Division,” Orr said. “The (Korean) War had never really ended; there was a cease fire. We got into several scrapes in the DMZ.”
He recalled a couple firefights with him firing his officer-issued carbine, as well as artillery fires, he said.
Orr said his blessings in the Army were his noncommissioned officers.
“They took the time to help me and teach me what I was doing,” he said. “I learned that early in my career.”
Orr said he had not planned to make the Army a career, but he fell in love with it.
As a field artillery officer, Orr had a subsequent assignment as a battery commander with a missile brigade at Fort Sill, he said.
“One day the chief of staff here called me and said, 'Pack your bags, you’re the new aide-de-camp for Brigadier General Spivey,'” Orr said. “General Spivey was a Fort Sill commander. He was an incredible man, just an incredible Soldier.”
Orr would go on to fight in Vietnam. He would return to Fort Sill, but not to the 1-19th FA, he said. “I would have given anything to be its commander.”
Orr retired in 1979.
Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Jenny Clement was another of the veterans at the celebration. She was the first woman CSM of the battalion from 2007-11. “I thought it was an honor. I absolutely loved it.”
She recalled the cohesiveness of the battalion, and the excellent drill sergeants.
“You could be a private, and people would stop and help. You could be the battalion commander, and people would stop and help,” she said. “Soldiers were always helping each other out.”
She said the 1-19th FA invites its former Soldiers to retirements, birthdays, changes of command, and other significant events.
“Once you’re retired, people kind of forget about you, but not this battalion,” Clement said. “Since I’ve retired, every commander has invited me back to these events.”