An Air Defense Artillery battalion, which can trace its lineage back to World War I and Vietnam, reactivated March 4 in an uncasing ceremony on the Old Post Quadrangle.
Known as the Fighting Aces, 4th Battalion, 60th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, uncased the colors 50 years after the unit last saw action during the Vietnam War in 1972. Fourteen veterans who were with the unit in Vietnam, including the last command sergeant major, attended the ceremony to witness the uncasing.
According to Lt. Col. Alex Corby, battalion commander, the unit is the first Maneuver -Short Range Air Defense or M-SHORAD, unit in the continental United States and only the second activated by the U.S. Army.
“We’ll be the first and only, for the time being, directed energy, or laser weapon battalion that’s out there,” said Corby. “We are the first M-SHORAD unit to start integrating this capability here at Fort Sill. We will begin the proof-of-concept demonstration this coming fall and we’re very excited for that opportunity.”
The battalion will bring more than 500 Soldiers and their families to the Lawton Fort Sill area.
The U.S. Army identified the short-range air defense fires unit as a necessity.
“With the changing environment, the new threats or the current threats or realities, the need for maneuver short-range air defense artillery specifically for the newer force was identified,” Corby said. “And that’s the reason why this type of formation was brought back and this unit was reactivated.”
“This unit has always been there when the going gets tough. We’re proud of our history and our Soldiers understand that history and carry it forward with them,” said Corby.
Retired Sgt. Maj. Paul Hanson served in the battalion during the Vietnam War and was at Fort Sill to see the uncasing of the colors of his former unit – something he never thought he would see.
“I’m phenomenally proud. It’s wonderful to see them reorganize a unit that we never thought we’d see again,” said Hanson. “I would tell these young Soldiers to just be proud. They are in an organization that came up all the way through World War I, World War II and Vietnam. Be proud.”