2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery, a proud tradition

Crest of the 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery

Crest of the 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery

By Walt Leaumont, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

The 2nd Battalion 138th Field Artillery (Longrifles) is currently conducting Annual Training at Fort Knox, Ky. They have a rich history that is based on their long and distinguished lineage and have served in every major conflict since the Mexican War.

The battalion was constituted on Jan. 21 1839 in the Kentucky Militia as the Louisville Legion. It was first mustered into Federal service May 17 1848 as the 1st Kentucky Volunteer Infantry for service in the Mexican War. As part of General Zachary Taylor’s forces, the battalion fought in the battles of Monterey and Buena Vista. In 1861, as the nation began the Civil War, men of Union sympathy were mustered into Federal service as the 5th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry (Louisville Legion), while those with southern sympathy became part of the 1st Kentucky Confederate Brigade, the famous Orphan Brigade. Members of the battalion on both sides of this horrible conflict fought bravely and distinguished themselves for their courage and fighting spirit at such battles as, Shiloh, Chickamauga, Vicksburg, Murfreesborough, Chattanooga, Kennesaw Mountain, and Atlanta.

The battalion was again called into federal service in 1898 for service during the Spanish-American War. As the nation prepared for World War I, the battalion was called to active duty and was reorganized in 1917 as the 138th Field Artillery Battalion and assigned to the 38th Infantry Division. Then in January 1941, as the nation mobilized to prepare for World War II, the battalion was once again was mobilized. During World War II elements of the battalion served in both the Pacific and European theaters, with the Second battalion seeing action in the Pacific as part of the 38th Infantry Division. The battalion provided devastating artillery fires in support of the 149th Infantry during the battles of New Guinea, Leyte, Luzon, and the Philippines, some of the battalion landed on the beaches of North Africa, fought in Sicily and Italy, and would later provide artillery support as our Army fought its way across Northern France, Belgium and Germany.

In 1951, elements of the battalion were again called into federal service for duty during the Korean War. In May of 1968, the Second Battalion was mobilized for service in the Republic of Vietnam. The battalion served with distinction for 13 months, firing over 150 thousand rounds in support of the 101st Airborne Division, 1st Cavalry Division, and the 23rd Corps Artillery. During Desert Storm, the battalion sent 58 soldiers with our sister battalion, 1-623d Field Artillery, and as volunteers with other units.

In 2003 in support of Operation NOBLE EAGLE 2/138th took the lead in forming Task Force Longrifle charged with providing security for Fort Campbell, Fort Knox and the Bluegrass Army Depot.

In 2006, A Battery 2/138 and HHB 2/138 deployed in support of OEF and conducted full-spectrum Military Police support operations and developed partnerships with the Afghan National Police in conjunction with combat operations. C Battery 2/138th and SVC Battery 2/138th deployed in support of OIF providing Base Defense and performed force protection missions, guarded military installations, ran security checkpoints, and supported personal security details for coalition forces. B Battery 2/138th deployed in support of OIF performing convoy security missions in conjunction with combat operations in sector.

Most recently the Battalion deployed to the Horn of Africa and supported numerous security missions across eastern Africa. The Battalion stands today as the most decorated unit in the Kentucky Army National Guard, with 52 campaign streamers, the Navy Unit Commendation, Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, and the Meritorious Unit Commendation.

The Longrifle Battalion’s motto is “Arma Parato Fero” which means “We bear arms in readiness” which is featured prominently on the unit crest. The crest of the 2nd Battalion was approved on Aug. 4 1934. Along with the motto it features a Cardinal which is symbolic in two ways. As the state bird it represents Kentucky and the Red is the color of the Field Artillery. The mullet contains four stars on a field of blue. The four stars represent four wars the unit participated in prior to 1934 and the blue is symbolic of the unit’s history as infantry.

The battalion is commanded by Lt. Col. Andrew Bates with Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Hughes. Their headquarters is in Lexington, with subordinate units in Carrollton, Carlisle, Bardstown, and Louisville.  They serve as proud Kentuckians.

 

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