70 Years Ago today: King of Battle!
Tracing its lineage to the 1st Regiment, Arkansas State Guards, in 1897– which was reformed as the 2nd Arkansas Volunteer Infantry during the SpanAm War (but never made it further south than Alabama) then simply as the 2nd Arkansas Infantry to guard the Southern border against Pancho Villa in 1916– they traded their blue hat cords for red when they were redesignated the 142nd Field Artillery Regiment to go fight the Kaiser. Assigned to the 39th Infantry (Delta) Division, they left for France in the summer of 1918 with their tractor-drawn 155 mm GPF howitzers, but were certified too late to “see the elephant.”
Demobilized and sent back to Arkansas, the 142nd was recalled to active federal service on 6 January 1941. Reformed as the 142nd Field Artillery Group with two additional battalions– the 936th and 937th– which landed in Italy in November 1943, participating in the drive across the Rapido River and the liberation of Rom, then the 937th was sent to land in France during the Dragoon operation, fighting its way to the Rhineland. In all, the 937th fired over 200,000 155mm shells during WWII.
Returning home after the VE Day, the 937th had its HQ based at Fort Smith while its three gun batteries and support elements were at Mena, Paris, and Ozark.
In response to the Korean War, both the 936th and 937th were mobilized 2 August 1950 and the latter was sent to Fort Hood for training, arriving in Korea in time to fire its first combat mission 3 April 1951.
As noted by Arkansas Army and Air National Guard, a History and Record of Events, 1820–1962:
The battalion went into line with the I Corps on 30 April near Uijongbu, Korea. During the Chinese Spring Drive, the battalion fell back to Seoul and was moved to IX Corps. Battery A continued with X Corps and was attached to the 1st Marine Division. On 17 May 1952 the battalion was attached to 2nd Infantry Division, IX Corps. For the action with 2nd Division, Battery C and Headquarters Battery received the Distinguished Unit Citation. The battalion continued in general support to IX Corps from 28 July 1953 until 9 October 1954.
The battalion was awarded battle streamers for the following campaigns: First U.N. Counteroffensive; CCF Spring Offensive; UN Spring Offensive; UN Summer-Fall Offensive; Second Korean Winter; Korea, Summer-Fall 1952; Third Korean Winter and Korea, Summer 1953. The 937th fired 223,400 combat rounds in Korea and suffered thirteen killed in action and 156 wounded in action. The battalion was inactivated on 26 November 1954.
Following the conflict, the 936th and 937th were simplified as the 1st and 2nd Battalions, 142nd Field Artillery, using towed 155s, before upgrading to 8-inchers in the 1970s.
2nd Bn/142nd FA, formerly the 937th of WWII and Korean War fame, deployed overseas during Desert Storm as one of the last units with the big 8-inch M110A2 howitzer, in notable Arkansas fashion.
Today, “The most combat-ready unit in Arkansas” is still around, having switched to M109s in 1994.
There is at least one “Long Tom” still in the 142nd inventory.