FORT SILL, Okla. (Feb. 3, 2023) — During a ceremony held at Fort Sill, the historic 1st Battalion, 19th Field Artillery Regiment, “War Eagles”, a basic training battalion, was deactivated Feb. 3, 2023.
"...all I can say is that all of you now carry a flame with you and that is the warrior heritage."
The final casing of the colors at Cache Creek Chapel marked the end of the battalion’s 106 years of service to the Army and the United States. The War Eagles will always be remembered as heroes who served their country with honor and distinction, said Lt. Col. Mathew St. Pierre, the battalion’s final commander.
The very soul of a military unit is symbolized by the colors under which it trains and fights. From the earliest times, warriors used a banner or other symbol to identify units and to serve as a rallying point for troops. After a battle, the unit whose colors remained flying was the victor.
In casing the battalion colors, St. Pierre and Battalion Command Sergeant Major Rudy Rodriguez, symbolically close the most recent chapter in the history of War Eagles and the 19th Field Artillery Regiment.
The battalion was first activated in 1917 and has been instrumental in providing artillery support throughout World War I, World War II, and most recently as a basic combat training battalion, turning thousands of civilians into Soldiers.
For Col. Michael Stewart, 434th Field Artillery Brigade commander, the moment was bitter-sweet and marked the end of an era. During his remarks he said, although the battalion has been deactivated, its legacy will live on in the memories of those who served in the War Eagles, and in the hearts of all Americans who appreciate the sacrifices made by the members of the U.S. military. He offered his advice to those who served in the battalion.
“I've been a member of a few units across our Army that no longer exist and if I have any wisdom to offer all of us on that, all I can say is that all of you now carry a flame with you and that is the warrior heritage,” Stewart said. “No one is going to come behind you to renew that flame or to help you carry it. It's now yours alone to bear but be proud of what you have because it’s a great thing.”
Deactivations and reactivations of historic units are a somewhat normal occurrence and are usually based on the ever-changing needs and requirements of a continually evolving military force, said Don Herrick, Fort Sill’s director of Public Affairs.