ADAZI, Latvia – The early morning sun shined off the Division colors as the 1st Infantry Division Artillery (DIVARTY) celebrated its 105th birthday since it was established as the 1st Infantry Division’s field artillery brigade on May 24th, 1917.
U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. David Chastain, Operations Sergeant Major, of DIVARTY called the brigade to attention as U.S. Army Col. Richard J. Ikena Jr., commander of the 1st Infantry Division Artillery, addressed the formation with remarks on DIVARTY’s birthday and continued with an awards ceremony. Soldiers received awards for their efforts and dedication to the duty of 1st DIVARTY, including the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, Division Coins, and Battalion coins, showcasing various mottos and symbols important to the brigade. As Ikena walked down the line, presenting the awards to the Soldiers, he spoke with them, thanking them and recognizing them individually for their efforts, hard work, and dedication to the mission. Few units in the U.S armed forces have been around as long as the DIVARTY, whose rich history goes back to World War 1.
DIVARTY was constituted as Headquarters, 1st Field Artillery Brigade during World War I, and assigned to the 1st Expeditionary Division, later known as the 1st Infantry
Division. It completed its organization in August 1917 in France and participated in various battles, including the Third Battle of the Aisne, and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, for which they earned battle streamers.
“32 campaign streamers, if you look, seven campaign streamers from World War one, in
a one year period of time,” said Ikena, during a speech. “Remember our past, remember that those 32 Battle streamers came at a pretty high cost, honor them by standing on their shoulders to operate as we’re operating today, making a significant difference again, to assure our allies.”
After WWI, it returned to the U.S. and moved to various bases before being disbanded on October 16th, 1939, at Fort Hoyle, Maryland.
It was activated on October 1st, 1940, and participated following the outbreak of World War II, fighting in North Africa and Europe, earning battle streamers for their actions.
Following its return from Germany after WWII, it was re-designated as Headquarters and
Headquarters Battery, 1st Division Artillery in 1957, and fought in the Vietnam War from 1965 to 1970.
In 1990 to 1991, it participated in the Gulf War with the liberation and defense of Kuwait and inactivated on November 15th, 1995, at Fort Riley, Kansas.
It participated in the war on terrorism, and on the October 16th, 2015, the 1st Infantry
Division Artillery was activated and received attachment of all fires elements to standardise gunnery and fire support procedures, integrate and fires in support of maneuver operations, and synchronise the effects of joint fires to ensure combat-ready forces for the 1st Infantry Division.
“I think it’s a lot to try to bear that weight, the responsibility to do them proud, the people that have actually given their lives for the Big Red One,” said U.S. Army Spc. Christopher White assigned to 1st DIVARTY. “I personally think it means a lot to be able to wear the division’s patch, you see it in movies and games and all that kind of stuff. So it was just kind of surreal seeing it there. When you’re actually in the unit, there’s a lot of people who see its history, learn about it, knowing it’s a big deal, it means a lot.”
Currently, DIVARTY is one of the units stationed in Europe in support of NATO allies. Historically, it was one of the first units deployed to the theatre during World War 1; its presence, a call back to its inception, and history supporting its allies.
“We are now a brigade headquarters here, with the ability to absorb subordinate battalions. Our NATO Allies are all thrilled that we are here. We are assuring them by being here. Every single one of our Soldiers are valuable with their contribution,” said Ikena., speaking to his Soldiers. “I’m the face in the room that’s representing the organization trying to do it to the best of my ability, but It’s you, the 1st Infantry Division Artillery Soldiers, and your capability, your will, your sweat, and your tears. That is what they want and need.”
DIVARTY provides a single proponent within the 1st Infantry Division for standardised fires certification and leader development while exemplifying effective mission command and supporting the seamless cross-attachment of units with standard procedures and a shared understanding of the fires warfighting capabilities.