Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Sept. 29, 2015: Battery C, 1-118th’s First Firing of the M777

By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Ga. Army National Guard


Battery C, 1-118th FAR conducts the first live fire mission of its M777 155 mm howitzers at Fort Stewart
Sept. 29, 2015. Photo by Capt. William Carraway

Battery C, 1st Battalion 118th Field Artillery Regiment fired the first round from its newly assigned M777 howitzers during a live fire event at Fort Stewart Ga. on the misty morning of Sept. 29, 2015.

Just four days prior to the firing, Lt. Col. David Allen, commander of the 1-118th FAR presided over an activation ceremony for Battery C during which the battery’s guidon was entrusted to Capt. Jared Smith, battery commander. During the ceremony, rain began to fall. In five days, the Red Legs would answer Mother Nature’s rain with artillery thunder.

Battery C, 1-118th FAR following an activation ceremony at Fort Stewart, Ga. Sept. 24, 2015. Photo by Capt. William Carraway


The 1-118 FA contains elements of the oldest and youngest units of the Georgia Guard. With a heritage harkening back to the Chatham Artillery and campaign streamers from the American Revolution and the War of 1812, the 118th FA is steeped in history. While Battery C is the most recent unit, to join the venerable battalion, it too has a history dating back nearly 175 years.

Soldiers of the 118th FAR conduct rifle PT at Camp Wheeler near Macon, Ga. February 21, 1918. Georgia National Guard Archives.
Battery C traces its lineage to the Irish Jasper Greens, an antebellum militia unit formed in Savannah in 1842. In 1846, as part of the 1st Georgia Volunteer Regiment, the Jaspers were called into federal service for the Mexican War. The unit was again called to serve during the American Civil War where it participated in the defense of Savannah and Atlanta. As the 1st Georgia Volunteers, the 118th mustered into federal service for the Spanish American War in Griffin, Ga. May 11, 1898, although they did not see combat. In 1916, when the Georgia Guard was mobilized for Mexican border service, the 1st Georgia served near El Paso, Texas. Returning from border service, the unit was activated in 1917 for service in World War I and was designated for the first time as Battery C, 118th FA Sept. 23, 1917. Following the war, the unit served in the Georgia National Guard until activating for World War II service in 1940. Battery C, and the 118th FA were inactivated at the end of World War II but were reactivated in 1946 with the creation of the 48th Infantry Division.[2] Battery C was part of the 1990 activation of the 48th Brigade in support of Operation Desert Shield; however, the brigade did not ultimately deploy overseas.

Elements of the 118th FA have mobilized three times to Iraq and Afghanistan during the Global War on Terror. In 2005, the battalion mobilized with the 48th Infantry Brigade to Iraq. Battery C was consolidated with Battery B in 2008[3] following the reorganization of the battalion. The inactivation was short lived, and on July 28, 2015, Battery C was reorganized and reactivated in Savannah.

Lieutenant Colonel David Allen, commander of the 1-118th FAR and Capt. Jared Smith, commander of Battery C, 1-118th FAR observe
M777 firing at Fort Stewart, Ga. Sept. 29, 2015. Photo by Capt. William Carraway

Thunder and Steel Rain

Throughout its history, Battery C has manned numerous artillery pieces. From its early colonial-era bronze six-pound cannons to the towed 105 M101 artillery pieces of World War II, none were as lethal as the M777 155 mm towed howitzer. The M777 is truly massive. At 10.5 meters in length, the howitzer is longer than the LMTV used to tow it into position and the barrel alone is as long as a Cadillac Escalade. Capable of hurling 100-pound projectile 25 miles using a precision digital-control firing system, the M777 allows Battery C to reach out three times farther than units fielding the 105 mm howitzer. The M777 replaces the M198 in the Army Inventory. A key advantage of the newer weapon system is its weight. At 9,800 pounds, the M777 is three tons lighter than the M198 and can be lifted by a CH-47 helicopter. The M777 can also be brought into service three times faster than the M198. Using the precision-guided Excalibur munition, the M777 can drop rounds within 10 meters of a target from a range of 25 miles.

M777s at sunset at Fort Stewart. Photo by Capt. William Carraway

From six-pound bronze guns to today’s GPS guided artillery, Company C, and the rest of the 1st Battalion 118th FA are a living monument to the history of field artillery in the United States, even predating the nation’s history. This historic unit is not done making history yet.

[1] “Lineage and Honors of the 118th Field Artillery Regiment.” Center for Military History.

[2] Allotment of National Guard Ground Force Units to the State of Georgia, 11 July 1946, 1.

[3] OA 112-08, May 21, 2008.

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