History of the 1st Guided Missile Brigade

2nd Guided Missile Group

On 26 November 1952, the Second Guided Missile Group was activated at Fort Bliss, Texas as a provisional unit in the First Guided Missile Brigade, under the command of Colonel Orin T. Swain, with the mission of supervising the training of cadre that would later pioneer the first surface-to-surface missile units. The First Guided Missile Battalion, SSM, (later to be designated the Third Guided Missile Battalion) was also assigned to the Second Guided Missile Group on this date with an additional mission of furnishing troop support for the Loon Missile project. The 246th, 247th, and 259th Field Artillery Battalions, Corporal, were attached to the Second Guided Missile Group on 1 December. Although these battalions existed as small skeletal units at this time, they were later to set the standards for all future Corporal units.

Though continually hampered in their efforts in the early months of 1953 by the lack of equipment, trained personnel, and literature, the members of the Group stove diligently to accomplish an advanced individual troop training program. On 29 April, the 5th Ordnance Battalion with the 96th and 137th Ordnance Companies attached was assigned to provide the Ordnance support necessary to maintain the, then infant, Corporal battalions. On 15 May the department of the Army designated the Second Guided Missile Group as a self-sustaining unit. This date was proclaimed as the official organization day of the unit.

On 1 July 1953, Col. Iver A. Peterson assumed command of the Second Guided Missile Group. Initial individual training was now completed; therefore, it was his task to initiate a realistic unit training program in order to develop combat ready Corporal battalions. The 9th Ordnance Battalion on 21 September, and the 15th Ordnance Battalion on 17 December, both Special Weapons Support Units, were assigned to the Group in order to participate in joint unit training exercises.

The year 1954 witnessed the culmination of the first phase of the Second Guided Missile Group’s initial surface-to-surface missile training program with the termination of the Loon Missile project and the first firing of a Corporal Missile by a troop unit, the 246th Field Artillery Missile Battalion, Corporal, on 18 March. This same battalion later in the year participated in the first Army maneuver (Flashburn) involving the tactical employment of a guided missile unit. The 9th, 10th and 15th Ordnance Battalions departed during the latter part of the year for Europe and, on 26 October, the 550th Rocket Battery was assigned to the Group.

Maximum emphasis was placed by the Second Guided Missile Group on the development of improved techniques and tactical employment doctrine in 1955. The 523rd Engineer Detachment was attached on 1 June to support this program. On 24 July, Colonel Charles B. Elliott Jr. assumed command of the Second Guided Missile Group and was later instrumental in the activation and assignment of the 523rd and 526th Field Artillery Battalions, Corporal, to the Missile Group. As the year ended, the 5th Ordnance Battalion, with the 96th and 137th Ordnance Companies attached, was relieved from assignment and transferred to the 61st Ordnance Group at Fort Bliss, Texas.

The year 1956 was to begin the closing of the surface-to-surface era for the Second Guided Missile Group and the preparation for receiving replacement units in anticipation of its new surface-to-air mission. The 246th Field Artillery Battalion, Corporal, was relieved from assignment and departed for Ft. Sill, Oklahoma on 7 February. The 259th Field Artillery Battalion, Corporal was transferred on 16 February to the 46th Field Artillery Group located at Ft. Bliss, Texas. Colonel Charles J. Blake, Jr. was given command of the Second Guided Missile Group on 29 September and was to see the 47th and final Corporal missile fired under the auspices of the Group. On 1 December, the Second Guided Missile Group received a new commander, Colonel George A. Carver.

Colonel Carver’s mission early in 1957 was to complete the transformation of the Second Guided Missile Group to an all-surface-to-air unit. On 15 January, the 523rd Engineer Detachment departed for Ft. Meyer, Virginia and, on 21 January, the 526th Field Artillery Battalion, Corporal, was transferred to its new home at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. On 16 February, both the 247th and 523rd Field Artillery Battalions, Corporal, passed to the control of the 46th Field Artillery Group. The Third Guided Missile Battalion, SSM, the last remaining surface-to-surface missile unit in the Second Guided Missile Group, departed for Ft. Sill, Oklahoma on 24 June 57.

On 1 March 1957, the Second Guided Missile Group was given command of the Red Canyon Range Battalion, a unit whose mission is to support the Annual Service Practice Firing of all Nike units throughout the United States. On 1 May 1957, the historic 495th Antiaircraft Battalion (Nike) joined the group. This battalion, the first semi-mobile Nike unit, has the mission of supporting the United States Army Air Defense Board and the United States Air Defense School.

The role of the guided missile in the atomic age increases from day to day. Therefore, only the future can reveal what further history will be made by Second Guided Missile Group.

8 thoughts on “History of the 1st Guided Missile Brigade

  1. Wonderful article and I enjoyed learning about this unit. I have the same pin that belonged to one of my mothers brothers but it isn’t yellow it is red or burgundy colored. Would this be from another battalion? Any information would be appreciated.

  2. This is a wonderful one and ai enjoyed reading about this battalion. I have the same pin but it is t yellow. It is red or almost burgundy colored. It belonged to one of my mothers 3 brothers but I don’t know where they served or anything about their military careers. Any information or assistance about the pin would be appreciated.

  3. My father served in the 1st AAA Guided Missile Bn. Started out as a machinist and ended up as personnel sgt major before being discharged in ‘46. I’ve been wondering about the graphic with the red and yellow v-2 that appears on the title page of each chapter. Is it an official insignia of the unit?

    1. Good Morning, thank you for your comment! The logo depicted is not an official insignia recognized by the US Army Institute of Heraldry. However, it was used as the unit’s unofficial logo and appeared on several unit history documents from the late-1940s into the 1950s that we have in the museum archives.

      1. Thanks so much! I plan to be at the range for a NASA sounding rocket launch in August. I’d like to learn whatever I can about the early history when my father was there.

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