Cold War

 

Soon after return Oklahoma personnel to home communities, there began a movement to organize a new 45th Infantry Division in Oklahoma as a National Guard division. The state wide effort was productive. The 158th Field Artillery Battalion (NGUS) as an element of the 45th Infantry Division (NGUS) was Federally recognized 3 November 1952, with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery at Chickasha, and Batteries A, B, C and Service Batteries assigned, respectively, to Duncan, Anadarko, Weatherford, and Minco, all in Oklahoma. LTC John R. Northrup, an experienced field artilleryman in WW II and the Executive Officer of the 158th in the Korean Conflict, assumed command of the battalion. Armament consisted of six 105mm howitzers (towed) per firing battery.

The 45th Infantry Division remained in combat in Korea until the armistice, when it was shipped to New York City. On 30 April 1954 the active division was released and reverted to Oklahoma State control. Thus, from 3 November 1952 to 30 April 1954, there was a 158th Field Artillery Battalion in combat in Korea or in movement to New York City and another in Oklahoma. The two were distinguished by the Oklahoma battalion as well as the division having the suffix (NGUS), which was dropped on 30 April 1954.

On 1 May 1959 the structure of the 45th Infantry Division was changed from triangular to pentomic (five Battle Groups replacing the three Infantry Regiments). The 158th Field Artillery Battalion was redesignated as the 1st Howitzer Battalion, 158th Artillery, as an element of the 45th Infantry Division. Headquarters, and Headquarters and Service Battery were placed in Chickasha; Battery A, armed with six 105mm howitzers (towed) was located in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma; Battery B, armed with six 155mm howitzers (towed), was reorganized in Duncan. LTC John R. Northup commanded this Battalion until 14 September 1960 when LTC Robert E. Shipman took command until 17 December 1961.

In addition, the 2nd Howitzer Battalion, 158th Field Artillery, was activated with its Headquarters, Headquarters and Service Battery located at Minco; and two firing batteries were activated, each with six 105mm howitzers (towed) and located at Anadarko (Battery A) and Weatherford (Battery B). Major Don Bell was placed in command of this Battalion.

On 1 April 1963 the structure of the 45th Infantry Division was again changed, this time from a pentomic to a ROAD Division (Reorganization Objective Army Divisions). Three brigades replaced five battle groups. The 1st Howitzer Battalion, 158th Artillery, was redesignated and reorganized as the 1st Battalion, 158th Artillery, an element of the 45th Infantry Division, with Headquarters, Headquarters and Service Battery remaining at Chickasha, Battery A remaining at Pauls Valley and Battery B remaining at Duncan. Battery C was added and placed in El Reno, Oklahoma. The 155mm Howitzer (towed) was eliminated as an armament and six 105mm howitzers (towed) were placed in each of the three lettered batteries. LTC Larry E. Stephenson of Edmond, Oklahoma, who had assumed command of the 1st Howitzer Battalion, 158th Artillery on 18 December 1961 continued in command of this redesignated and reorganized battalion. The 2nd Howitzer Battalion, 158th Artillery, became the 171st Field Artillery Battalion.

LTC Larry E. Stephenson

LTC Larry E. Stephenson

On 1 November 1965, the structure of the 45th Infantry Division was again changed with the 1st Battalion 158th Artillery redesignated as the 1st Battalion, 158th Field Artillery, with Headquarters, Headquarters and Service Battery at Chickasha, Oklahoma; Battery A at Pauls Valley, Battery B at Duncan, and Battery C to Enid. The armament was six 105mm towed howitzers per firing battery. The battalion commander continued to be LTC Larry E. Stephenson.

On 1 February 1968, the State of Oklahoma and the nation were deprived of the military strength of the 45th Infantry Division. It was ordered inactivated on that date. In its place the 45th Infantry Brigade was organized and some of the former division infantry units were assigned to it. For the artillery of the division, the 45th Artillery Group was organized as a corps artillery under the command of Brigadier General William L. Youell of Blackwell, Oklahoma.

LTC YOUELL

BG William L. Youell

The 1st Battalion 158th Field Artillery, as an organization in this group, was located as follows: Headquarters and Headquarters Battery at Lawton, Oklahoma; Battery A at Anadarko, Oklahoma; Battery B at Duncan, Oklahoma; Battery C at Chickasha, Oklahoma and Service Battery at Lawton, Oklahoma. Armament was changed to the 8-inch towed howitzer. The battalion was commanded by LTC Larry E. Stephenson until he retired on 1 September 1968, and was succeeded by LTC Joe A. Wheeler.

LTC Joe A. Wheeler

LTC Joe A. Wheeler

On 1 December 1971, there was a further reorganization of the battalion that resulted only in a change of the battalion designation to First Battalion (8-Inch_SP) 158th Artillery. Battery locations were not changed but the armament was changed to the 8-inch selp-propelled weapon. LTC Wheeler continued in command of the battalion until 10 April 1972, when he was succeeded by LTC Norman E. Duckworth.

LTC Norman E. Duckworth

LTC Norman E. Duckworth

On 1 May 1972, a further reorganization occurred with no change in battery locations or armament. The battalion, however, was redesignated the First Battalion, 158th Field Artillery. LTC Duckworth continued in command until 1 February 1975, when command of the battalion was assumed by LTC Merrill B. Burrus, Jr.

LTC Merrill B. Burrus Jr.

LTC Merrill B. Burrus Jr.

Several reorganizations the occurred, but these were only TO&E reorganizations with no change in battery locations and weapons. The first of these was on 1 May 1975, followed by another 1 October 1978. On 1 January 1980, LTC Jerry D. Simmons assumed command of the battalion.

LTC Jerry D. Simmons

LTC Jerry D. Simmons

The next TO&E reorganization was on 1 May 1980, with no change in battery locations and weapons. Major Ronald W. Holt assumed command on 1 November 1980. The next TO&E reorganization occurred on 1 March 1983, again with no change in battery locations and armament. On 1 February 1984 was succeeded by LTC Kenneth W. Bray, who served until LTC Jim R. Swafford took command on 1 September 1986.

The recent change of 10 July 1987 is quite noteworthy. On that date, the 1st Battalion, 158th Field Artillery, accepted the first launcher from the manufacturer of the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). Under the new system, each firing battery was armed with nine launchers, each carrying 12 Rockets. Each launcher can deliver the firepower of a full battalion of conventional artillery to a distance of 30 miles! The 12 rockets can be fired in less than one minute. The idea is to “shoot and scoot.” The 1st Battalion, 158th Field Artillery, received federal recognition as a MLRS battalion on 1 September 1987 with Headquarters and Service Batteries in Lawton. Battery A was moved to Lawton. Batteries B and C remained in Duncan and Chickasha, respectively, but each has a detachment, one located in Walters (Battery B) and one in Marlow (Battery C). The Battalion Commander was LTC Jim R. Swafford until 19 October 1987 when LTC Charles J. Frazier assumed command.

LTC Charles J. Frazier

LTC Charles J. Frazier

The U.S. Army organized the first MLRS battery in 1983. The 1st Battalion, 158th Field Artillery, was the first National was the first organization selected for the new system. Major General Ansel M. Stroud, Jr., then President of the National Guard Association of the United States, said, “It is only fitting that the 158th Field Artillery be selected for this honor. The combat history of this organization, as well as the peacetime accomplishments of this Battalion as an 8-inch, self propelled unit, make it the only logical choice.”