Long-time artillery regiment deactivates - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Long-time artillery regiment deactivates

FORT SILL, Okla._ A nearly century-old artillery unit was deactivated today on post.

The 1st Battalion 17th Field Artillery Regiment started in 1916 and its soldiers have seen combat in almost every war since its inception.

"It makes me really proud to have commanded such an honorable battalion with such a record," says retired Colonel Ralph Melcher, who commanded the unit in Korea from 167-68

Melcher was there to honor the rich history of his former group as they folded their colors for possibly the last time.

"The most important takeaway for us is seeing the veterans and seeing the copperheads from past generations," says Captain Garrison Haning, the current intelligence officer of the regiment. "It means a lot to us because its makes us realize what a history we're a part of."

The 17th FAR has seen action on battlefields first in world war one and in recent years on Afghanistan and Iraq's soil.

Like many of the unit's soldiers, Garrison will remain active at Fort Sill in a different capacity after the inactivation is complete, still serving the 75th Fires Brigade.

"We are going to send soldiers back into the army who are well-trained and who are proficient in their skills and are still sharp artilleryman," says Haning.

The brigade commander, Colonel Mike Eastman, says the inactivation of a deep rooted unit like the 1st and 17th is the end, for now, of a remarkable era full of accomplishment.

"It's an emotional day for the soldiers here and for anyone that has been associated with this great battalion," says Eastman.

A hundred years of service to the county, as they said today, always taking pride in stepping up to the plate whenever they were called to serve.

More than 400 soldiers are affected by this deactivation, but many will fill vacancies around post while others move to other installations around the country. 

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