Battalion activation

From left, 434th Field Artillery Brigade commander Col. Daniel Blackmon stands at attention Friday as Lt. Col. Robin W. VanDeusen, commander of newly reactivated 1st Battalion, 22nd Field Artillery, hand its unfurled colors back to battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Alexander.

Fort Sill’s 434th Field Artillery Brigade uncased the colors of its newest Combat Basic Training battalion at a ceremony on the Old Post Quadrangle Friday.

Performing the honors were Col. Daniel Blackmon, brigade commander, and the command team of newly reactivated 1st Battalion, 22nd FA, Lt. Col. Robin W. VanDeusen and Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Alexander.

Blackmon said this will be the fifth basic training battalion in 434th FA Brigade and will increase its basic training capability from about 17,000 to about 22,000 trainees per year.

1-22 FA has been activated and inactivated four times over the course of its century-long history, according to VanDeusen.

It was last stood up here at Fort Sill Sept. 15, 1996, when it served as a basic training battalion within the FA Training Center. On May 8, 2008, the battalion reflagged under the 428th FA Brigade, where its new mission was the instruction of second lieutenants in Basic Officer Leader Course Phase II. It trained more than 8,000 second lieutenants from all branches of the Army before its deactivation on April 9, 2010.

“Our call sign is ‘The Scorpion,’ and our motto is ‘Never Second,’” VanDeusen said.

He called this an opportunity to add capacity to the brigade’s basic training mission, as the Army continues to build soldiers who are fit and resilient and embody the Army values as they prepare to serve their country.

When 1-22 FA is fully stood up, its permanent party will consist of a little more than 100 soldiers. In addition to its Headquarters and Headquarters Service Battery, it will have five batteries’ worth of drill sergeants, first sergeants, commanders and some support staff. He anticipates the battalion will be fully staffed by May 2021.

Van Deusen said he’s very excited to bring back 1-22 FA.

“The Army said it was a capability that was needed, and we were able to rise to the occasion,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to build a team. We get to shape the culture and climate of this organization, and to really posit the impact on all the people who are going to come through.”

Two of its batteries are already undergoing their first cycles of basic training. VanDeusen estimated that once 1-22 FA is at full capacity, it will have a throughput of approximately 4,000 trainees a year.

The trainees will be housed in a newly upgraded starship, Building 6007, named Fox Hall in memory of Medal of Honor recipient 1st Lt. John Robert Fox. Fox was killed in action after calling in artillery fire on the enemy during World War II.

VanDeusen confirmed that some of the open sections of this starship have been utilized to support the 434th FA Brigade mission in whatever way is needed, whether to separate soldiers who need to be quarantined or for some of the soldiers who are in training.

A field artilleryman, VanDeusen was last stationed at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. He served as an observer/controller/trainer for various artillery positions. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel Jan. 1, and he has been on the ground here almost 90 days.

“I think the whole team here is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to train these soldiers because this is going to be the future of the Army,” VanDeusen said.

The 22nd FA Regiment was constituted on May 18, 1918, as Battery A, Separate Battalion of Mountain Artillery. The unit was organized at Corozal Canal Zone, Panama, on July 10, 1918. Its “Scorpion” call sign apparently dates from its time in Panama, when it pulled security for the Corozal Canal Zone in Panama.

During World War II, the battalion participated in the Normandy invasion, the effort in northern France, the Battle of the Bulge and the effort in central Europe.

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