History of the 1st Guided Missile Brigade

247th Field Artillery Missile Battalion

“Do It Now.”
247th FA BN Unit Insignia from the Army Institute of Heraldry

Activated in New Caledonia, an island in the South Pacific, from the 3rd Battalion, 200th FA Regiment on 15 August 1942, the 247th FA Battalion, 105mm Howitzer, was assigned as an organic unit of the 23rd “Americal” Divisions.

On 2 November 1942, the 247th sailed with the division to the Solomons and on 8 December landed in Guadalcanal.

Positions remained unchanged until January 20, when the 247th moved forward and joined the 245th and 246th east of the Matanikau River. After the capture of Kokumbona, the 247th jumped to new emplacements 2,000 yards east of the small village, and on January 30 the 246th sped through the 245th’s position to move 1,500 yards northwest of Kokumba. The 247th, not one to be left behind, countered the first of a series of moves destined to carry it up the coast.

By 4 February, however, the 245th Field Artillery had re-entered the picture from positions on the east bank of the Bonegi River, supporting activities to the northwest. Four days later, the advance had gained sufficient ground to allow the 247th to displace the gun positions 2,000 yards northwest of the Umagan River. From these positions, at 0745 on February 9, the 247th fired the last rounds of the campaign on check points in front of the 161st Infantry Regiment.

The Americal was then sent to the Fiji Islands to take over from the 37th Infantry. Upon leaving Guadalcanal, the Americal received a commendation from Maj. Gen. Alexander M. Patch, Commanding General of XIV Corps. In commending the officers and enlisted men of the division for their action between 13October 1942 to 4 January 1943, he said in part:

“The success of these operations was achieved due to the aggressive leadership, thorough training, courage, and high morale displayed by the officers and enlisted men of the Division.”

In an additional commendation for its part in the final drive against the Japanese, General Patch wrote:

“I am proud for the second time in the Guadalcanal campaign to cite the Americal Division for its outstanding performance of duty in action again attributable to its determination, fighting spirit and splendid morale.”

Completing the relief of the 37th Division, the 247th was assigned the mission of Artillery support for the 132nd Infantry, which was to protect the western sector guarding the coastline from Yako, southeast of Nandi to Korovunitoto, near Nathilau Point.

On 22 December, detachments from the 247th sailed with the second echelon of the Americal for Bougainville at the upper end of the Solomon Islands, and, on 6 January 1944, the Battalion, less detachments, sailed with the last group from Viti Levu for Bougainville.

In a pre-departure message to his troops, General Hodge wrote, in part:

“This Division worked hard during the past few months preparing for tasks that lie ahead. We have made great progress under conditions that left much to be desired. Discipline, appearance, and soldierly conduct have shown marked improvement. Wishful thinking has waned as more and more of us are showing willingness to face squarely the hard facts about this war and our task herein. Intensive combat training has brought to all of us confidence in ourselves and in our ability to cope with the enemy under all conditions. The combined result is a great improvement in the mental and moral fiber of the command and the development of all important and self-control in individuals…

I take this opportunity to express personally my confidence that each officer and man of this division is able to and will perform fully his duties as a member of the great divisional team, and the confidence that our team can perform any task it may be given in a manner that leaves no regrets, no recriminations and no loose ends.”

The year ahead, 1944, was to offer combat and more combat for the Americal under some of the most difficult conditions yet encountered in the Pacific. The rugged days of Guadalcanal were gone. The United States’ drives in the Pacific were gaining momentum on an ever-widening scale. The Americal Division was now stepping back in the fight.

On 14 January, the 247th moved into positions on Bougainville, in the Soloman Islands archipelago, occupied by the 4th Battalion, 12th Marines, to handle direct support missions of the 132nd Infantry. The battalion remained in the thick of the battle on Bougainville until June 1944 when it was transferred to Leyte in the Philippines.

On March 26, 1945 at precisely 0830, the 247th FA Battalion, in support of the 132nd Infantry, landed on the shores of Cebu, between the barriers of Talisay and Tanki, along a sector centered some five miles southwest of Cebu City. In support of the 132nd Infantry, the 247th amply covered the eastern side of the island. By 30 June the fighting was over for the battalion.

On September 10, 1945, the control of the occupation of the Yokohama sector of Japan was passed to General Slocum and the division artillery of the Americal, with the 247th being assigned the area of the southern part of the Yokosuka Peninsula. On 3 November, the 247th was relieved from duty by the 12th Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division.

On November 19th the first units of the Americal steamed into Puget Sound aboard the “Sea Witch” and landed at Seattle, Washington.

By December 9, 1945 the 247th had been processed and inactivated.

On 14 February 1952, the 247th was relieved from the Americal Division and, on 18 February 1952, was assigned to the Regular Army and redesignated the 247th Field Artillery Battalion, Guided Missile, Corporal. On 15 March 1952, the 247th was assigned its first personnel. The battalion grew slowly from that date until 6 August 1953 when the two launching and service batteries were organized. An intensive training period was then started in preparation for future missile firings. This training continued throughout the winter of 1953 and 1954. On 27 April 1954, Baker Battery launched its first missile.

A Corporal missile takes off from its launch pad at WSMR with the Organ Mountains in the background, 1959. WSMR photo.

On 1 September 1955 the battalion was reorganized as the 247th Field Artillery Missile Battalion. Resulting from this reorganization, the 526th Field Artillery Missile Battalion was also activated.

From April 1954 to September 1955, “A” Battery and “B” Battery each launched five missiles. From the reorganization in 1955 to 1957, the battalion has launched sixteen missiles, making a total of 26 missiles in all.

The mission of the 247th Field Artillery Missile Battalion is to provide surface-to-surface missile support to the U.S. Air Defense Center Anti-Aircraft Artillery & Guided Missile School and provide necessary support to the development program for non-conventional warheads.

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