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HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
 


553rd Field Artillery Battalion. / 18th Artillery Group
 


The 553rd Field Artillery Bn. was activated sometime during the civil war. The history of this unit at that time is currently unknown by me, but what I am aware of was its activation on 10 September 1948, at Ft. Lewis, Washington. It was inactivated on 15 December 1948, at Ft. Lewis, and reactivated as the Artillery and Guided Missile School - Fort Sill, Oklahoma on 23 August 1950.

The mission of the 553rd at Fort Sill was to train artillery officers and men for duty on all present day weapons at that time. The 553rd was equipped with sixteen 8 inch Howitzers split trail, as well as sixteen 4.5 inch Howitzers - which were the precursors to the 155mm Howitzer. The Unit also was equipped with sixteen 105mm Howitzers.

The 4.5 inch Howitzer was used for official firing shoots for training officers at the Officer Candidate School located on Fort Sill. This weapon was being phased out of the army ordinance and the ammunition was to be used up. For this purpose it was used almost extensively until 1953 when the 4.5 was completely dismantled. The Artillery School began using 8 inch and 105mm Howitzers for the training in 1954.

Under the Army Gyroscope Program, the 553rd was ordered on 19 January, 1956 to prepare for a unit transfer to Darmstadt, Germany by surface transportation. The advance party was to arrive by 15 May, 1956 and the main body by 12 July, 1956. Travel was accomplished aboard the USS General Alexander M. Patch. The unit at Darmstadt was the 18th Field Artillery Bn.  The two units were changing duty stations under operation Gyroscope.

The mission of the 553rd at Darmstadt was direct support of the 36th Artillery Group, assigned under the command of the V-Corp, (otherwise known as the Victory Corp) and to maintain a constant state of combat readiness to protect the interests of NATO and the 7th United States Army. September 1957 about 300 of the original men of the 553rd FA Bn. were replaced by a packet of that same amount from Ft. Sill.

On 15 May 1958, the 553rd Field Artillery Bn. was removed from the Gyroscope list. On 25 June 1958, the 553rd, along with the 542nd Armored Field Artillery Bn., the 544th Airborne Field Artillery Bn., and the 18th Field Artillery Bn., were deactivated and reorganized to become the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th of the 18th Artillery Group.

The 18th Artillery was organized on 1 June 1917 at Fort Bliss, Texas.
 

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