History & Awards:
History of the 15th Field Artillery Regiment
The 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery is a 105mm towed M-119 battalion, assigned to the 10th Mountain Division; supporting the Commandos of the 2nd Brigade.
The 15th Field Artillery (FA) Regiment was organized in Syracuse, New York on 1 June 1917 from cadre transferred from the 4th FA Regiment. Assignment to the 2nd Infantry Division followed on 21 September 1917, and training took place at Pine Camp, New York. The Regiment left the United States on 11 December 1917 and sailed on board the SS Adriatic for Liverpool, England.
The Regiment landed at Le Harve, France in February 1918, and was initially staged at Bourmont, France. On 21 March 1918, the Regiment deployed against the German Army on the west face of the St. Mihiel Salient. By 1 June 1918, the regiment occupied positions northwest of Chateau Thierry and on 14 July 1918, was relieved by elements of the 26th "Yankee" Division in order to prepare for the Soissons Counteroffensive. On 18 July 1918, the Regiment participated in its first major offensive near Soissons. During July - October 1918, the Regiment supported the 2nd Infantry Division in operations in Soissons, Marbache, and Champagne. The Regiment also provided artillery support to the American 36th Division and the French 78th Division.
On 10 November 1918, the Regiment fired in support of the Meuse River crossing and three days later crossed the Rhine River at Remagen for Occupation Duty. The War Records indicate the 15th FA Regiment was in continuous action from July-November 1918, and participated in the Lorraine; Aisne, Ille de France; Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel; and Meuse- Argonne campaigns, and earned them the unofficial nickname as the Indianheads. The Fighting Fifteenth fulfilled every mission assigned to it and expended 285,000 rounds of shell and shrapnel. This was the greatest number of artillery rounds fired by any US Army Artillery Regiment during the war.
Along with other units of the 2nd Infantry Division cited for outstanding performance in the Meuse Argonne and the Aisne-Marne campaigns, the 15th FA Regiment received three awards of the French Croix de Guerre with Palm. Additionally, each member of the Regiment was authorized to wear the Fourragere in the colors of the Croix de Guerre. After the Armistice in November 1915, the 15th FA Regiment remained as part of the Army of Occupation in Germany until the summer of 1919, returning to the United States in August 1919, the 15th FA Regiment took up permanent residence at Fort Sam Houston, TX.
On 10 October 1940, the 15th Field Artillery (FA) Regiment was reorganized at Fort Sam Houston, TX, as the 15th FA Battalion (BN). The 15th FA BN was ordered to Camp McCoy, WI. on 16 October 1942, for intensive training with the 2nd Infantry Division. Movement overseas came on 8 October 1943, when the 15th FA BN sailed from New YorK onboard the 55 Hawaiian Shipper for Belfast, Northern Ireland, where it trained for several months.
Embarkation for Porthcawl, Wales, followed on 17 April, 1944. As part of the 9th Regimental Combat Team (9th Infantry Regiment & 15th FA BN), the 15th FA BN landed at Omaha Beach near St. Laurent-Sur-Mer, France, on D Day +1(7 June 1944). The 15th FA BN fought for 73 straight days in support of the 2nd Infantry Division throughout Normandy without a break. Their first break in the combat action came on 19 August 1944, when the 15th FA BN was ordered to move 220 miles and occupy firing positions for the battle against the German fortress at Brest, France. The battle that ensued was bloody and hard fought by all elements of the 2nd Infantry Division including the 15th FA BN. On 26 September 1944, five officers and 42 enlisted men of the 15th FA BN were presented Bronze Star Medals by the Division Commander for their actions since D Day +1.
Following this, a 770 mile road march began on 27 September 1944 and carried the 15th FA BN to Schoenberg, Belgium. By 4 October 1944, the 15th FA BN crossed into Germany and opened fire on elements of both the 2nd and 3rd SS Panzer Grenadier Divisions. On 17 December 1944, the 15th FA BN fought as an integral part of the 2nd Infantry Division's attack on the Siegfried Line near Elsenborn. By 1 February 1945, the area known as Heartbreak Crossroads was taken after a multi-divisional battle. On 21 March 1945, the 15th FA BN crossed the Rhine River into Germany on a pontoon bridge near Remagen, and took up firing positions near the town of Leutesdorf. After several heavy engagements, the 15th FA BN moved to new firing positions at the town of Vaake, near the Weser River, arriving there on 7 April 1945. Throughout the remainder of April 1945, the 15th FA BN moved many times and even had to engage the enemy with direct fire from its howitzers. By 5 May 1945, the 2nd Infantry Division moved into Czechoslovakia along with the 15th FA BN. The war was officially over on 8 May 1945.
As their contribution to help defeat the forces of evil and to win WWII, the 15th FA BN was in combat for 336 days and fired 151,000 rounds while providing direct fire support to the 2nd Infantry Division and general support to several other divisions. For their efforts and sacrifices the 15th FA BN was awarded streamers for five major campaigns during WWII including: Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace; and Central Europe.
Additionally, the 15th FA BN was awarded the Belgian Fourragere, and was cited in the Order of the Day of the Belgian Army for extraordinary combat action in the battle of the Ardennes and Elsenborn Crest. Individual decorations awarded to members of the 15th FA BN during WWII included: 6 Silver Star Medals, 91 Bronze Star Medals for Gallantry, 83 Bronze Star Medals for Meritorious Service, 20 Air Medals, and 168 Purple Hearts.
On 15 July 1950, the 15th Field Artillery (FA) Battalion (BN) landed at Pusan, Korea, as an integral part of the 2nd Infantry Division (ID). The first artillery round fired in support of combat actions of the 2nd ID was fired by A Battery, 15th FA BN, on 6 August 1950. On the morning of 14 February 1951, 1LT Hartell was flying in a Liaison Plane as an Air Observer, when he noticed thousands of men and pack animals moving down from the north. It turned out that two Chinese Divisions were massing for an assault on the Wonju-Yogu Main Supply Route. 1LT Hartell caught them as they were assembling and fired several Battalions onto the target area for more than three straight hours. This became known famously as the great Wonju Shoot, and resulted in nearly 3,500 enemy casualties.
By 26 August 1951, 1LT Hartell was on the ground as a Forward Observer with B Company, 9th Infantry Regiment at the base of Hill 700 near Kobanson-ni. Hill 700 was attacked and taken by B Company that day. But the Chinese mounted a major counterattack at 0400 hours. 1LT Hartell walked the artillery fire right up the hill on top of the charging enemy. Although many of the enemy were cut down, they just kept coming. Although wounded, 1LT Hartell kept calling in artillery fire onto his hilltop. Finally at 0630 hours, 1LT Hartell was hit in the chest by a bullet and his phone went dead. For his heroic actions, 1LT Hartell was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor (Posthumously).
Additionally, MSG Jimmie Holloway, A Battery, 15th FA BN, distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy near Changboag-ni, Korea, on 12 February 1951. He braved 150 yards of open ground, while under heavy enemy fire, and dragged a wounded member of his Battery to safety. He again exposed himself to enemy fire and uncoupled a howitzer and swung it into firing position to place devastating fire on an enemy fortified hill that threatened A Battery's position. After the Battery XO was wounded, MSG Holloway exposed himself to heavy enemy mortar fire and directed artillery onto the opposing forces. Later that night, he was last seen leading a combat patrol towards the enemy. For his heroic actions MSG Holloway was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously).
From 15 July 1950 to 27 July 1953. the 15th FA BN established two records unequaled by any other artillery unit during the Korean War. In one 24-hour period during the battle for Bloody Ridge, the 15th FA BN fired 14,425 rounds. Additionally, from 26 August through 2 September 1951, in support of the 2nd ID during the battle of Heartbreak Ridge, the 15th FA BN fired 69,956 rounds. For its actions during its three continuous years in some of the bloodiest fighting of the war, the 15th FA BN was awarded 10 campaign streamers, including: UN Defensive; UN Offensive, Chinese Communist Forces Intervention; First UN Counteroffensive; Chinese Communist Forces Spring Offensive; UN Summer-Fall Offensive; Second Korean Winter, Korea, Summer-Fall 1952; Third Korean Winter; and Korea, Summer 1953. Additionally, the 15th FA BN was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation (Army), streamer embroidered HONGCHON; the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, streamer embroidered NAKTONG RIVER LINE; and the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, streamer embroidered KOREA.
In 1957, HHB, 1st Battalion (BN), 15th Field Artillery was reorganized to form the 7th BN, 15th Artillery (Arty). By the fall of 1966, the war in Vietnam was rapidly escalating and the requirement for additional troop strength was exercised. In October of 1966, the 7th BN, 15th Arty was alerted to begin preparations for deployment overseas. At that time the 7th BN, 15th Arty was located at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, armed with 8-inch Self-Propelled Howitzers, and was commanded by LTC (later BG) Robert B. Hankins. After an intensive period of unit training and equipment maintenance, the 7th BN, 15th Arty deployed to Vietnam onboard the 55 Walker in early June 1967. Landing at Qui Nhon, South Vietnam on 1 July 1967 the Battalion was assigned to the 41st Arty Group, First Field Forces Vietnam (IFFV).
A Base Camp for the 7th BN, 15th Arty was established adjacent to the 41st Group Headquarters about two kilometers south of Phu Cat Airbase in the Central Highlands area. The first rounds fired against enemy targets by the 15th regiment occurred on 16 July 1967. By then. A Btry had deployed to LZ English located just north of the Bong Son River to provide heavy artillery support to the 1st Air Cavalry (Cav) Division. Concurrently, B Btry and HHB deployed to LZ Uplift, on Highway One, south of the Bong Son River, also in support of the 1st Air Cav Division. Simultaneously, C Btry moved to Binh Khe (LZ Diamondhead) in support of the Republic of Korea (ROK) 1st Capital Division, while Service Btry remained at the Base Camp (later named Camp Fidel) near the Phu Cat Airbase.
In October 1967, C Btry moved a two-gun Platoon to LZ Pony which was a Special Forces/Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) Camp located west of Highway One (QL-1) and south of the Bong Son River. By the end of October 1967, the two-gun platoon at LZ Pony was retubed as 175mm Guns, thereby extending their range to 32,800 meters. This provided the capability to reach out and touch the enemy in the western parts of the Central Highlands. The ability to retube quickly between 8-inch Howitzers and 175mm Guns was a craft that was practiced to perfection by the 7th BN, 15th Arty throughout its entire four years and four months in the combat zone.
As 1968 opened, the 7th BN, 15th Arty was heavily engaged in the Tet Offensive against targets of opportunity throughout Binh Dinh Province. As Tet was concluding at the end of February 1968, the last elements of the 1st Air Cav left the Central Highlands and completed their move north into the I Corps Area of Operation (AO) which was centered around Camp Evans. The 173rd Airborne (Abn) Brigade (Bde) was assigned the responsibility of the former 1st Air Cav Division AO and the 7th BN, 15th Arty shifted their heavy artillery support to the 173rd Abn Bde. Throughout the remainder of 1968 and 1969, the 7th BN, 15th Arty provided heavy artillery support to the 173rd Abn Bde, the 4th Infantry Division (ID), the US Army Special Forces, and the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) 22nd Infantry Division (ID).
By early 1970, the 7th BN, 15th Arty moved its Headquarters further west from LZ Uplift to Camp Raddiff near An Khe. The 7/15th continued to support numerous operations in the vicinity of Pleiku, Kontum, Ple Trap, and farther west towards the Cambodian Border throughout the remainder of 1970. One of the more memorable artillery operations conducted during 1970 by the 7/15th occurred when a two-gun Platoon from A Btry conducted a week long artillery raid at LZ Crusader, which brought them within 5 kilometers of the Cambodian Border. Many targets of opportunity were attacked by the Fighting Fifteenth in support of the ARVN 22nd ID, and netted a very large cache consisting of tons of weapons, ammunition, rice, and supplies. After a short move to Camp Fidel south of Phu Cat Airbase, the Battalion Headquarters was relocated to Artillery Hill outside of Pleiku by the end of 1970.
A major enemy offensive in the Ben Het area in March 1971, provided another opportunity for the Fighting Fifteenth to deliver large volumes of accurate and deadly heavy artillery fire. From a location approximately 8 miles from the tn-border region of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, the Fighting Fifteenth fired in continuous support of the ARVN 42nd Infantry Regiment during their combat operations against a determined foe During this operation the Fighting Fifteenth rained steel hell onto a very large North Vietnamese Army (NVA) force that was attempting to destroy the ARVN 42nd Infantry Regiment and its supporting elements. After a bitterly contested battle, the enemy was driven from the area and chased back across the Cambodian and Laotian borders where he enjoyed a "safe sanctuary". Left behind was one of the largest enemy supply and ammunition caches known to exist inside South Vietnam.
Toward the end of 1971, the 7/15th began to turn over control of the Artillery Support Mission in the II Corps Military Region (MR2) to the ARVN forces. On 28 November 1971, the 7/15th ceased combat operations in the Republic of South Vietnam, The unit colors were returned by a Guard of Honor to Ft. Lewis, WA, and the 7/15th Artillery was subsequently deactivated. During the Battalion's four years and four months in Vietnam, the Fighting Fifteenth fired over 360,000 rounds of deadly and accurate heavy artillery fire, were credited with 850 enemy Killed By Artillery (KBA), destroyed over 1,200 reinforced bunkers, and destroyed numerous other hard targets.
The Fighting Fifteenth was awarded a total of 13 streamers to add to its unit colors for the following campaigns Counteroffensive, Phase III, Tet Counteroffensive; Counteroffensive, Phase IV; Counteroffensive, Phase V; Counteroffensive, Phase VI; Tet 69/Counteroffensive, Summer- Fall 1969, Winter-Spring 1970, Sanctuary Counteroffensive, Counteroffensive, Phase VII, Consolidation I, Consolidation II; and the Cease Fire. Additionally, the Fighting Fifteenth were awarded the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry w/Palm streamer embroidered VIETNAM 1967-1971.