Tuesday, May 2, 2023

History of the 170th MP Battalion

By Major William Carraway

Historian, Georgia National Guard


Left: The colors of the 170th MP Battalion during a July 16, 2022 change of command ceremony. Right:Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 122nd Infantry
Regiment participate in a machine gun drill with an M1917A1 water-cooled machine gun in 1939. Georgia National Guard Archives. 

Formation and Early History[1]

The predecessor unit of the 170th MP Battalion was organized and federally recognized March 5, 1924 in the Georgia National Guard in Atlanta as Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion and Company C, 200th Infantry. On June 9, 1924, the unit was redesignated as Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, and Company C, 122d Infantry Regiment.


On July 1, 1939, the unit was converted and redesignated as Headquarters Battery and Combat Train, 1st Battalion, and Battery C, 179th Field Artillery. One year later the unit was reorganized and redesignated 1 July 1940 as Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 179th Field Artillery.


Collar discs and unit insignia of the 179th Field Artillery Battalion, and its predecessor, the 122nd Infantry Regiment, are flanked by source books
used in the writing of this chapter. Photo by Maj. William Carraway.

World War II[2]

The 179th FA was inducted into federal service Feb. 24, 1941 in Atlanta. After one week at home station, the 179th was sent to Camp Blanding near Jacksonville, Fla. along with their newly issued 155 Schneider Howitzers to begin initial training.[3] Upon arrival at Camp Blanding, the 179th, under the command of Col. Thomas Alexander, was assigned to the 74th Field Artillery Brigade, IV Corps.[4] Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the 179th was employed as part of the coastal defenses near Jacksonville.


The 179th remained at Camp Blanding through the winter of 1941 and in March 1942 moved by truck to Camp Shelby, Miss. The trip took the battalion three days to complete.[5] During their stay at Camp Shelby, the 179th participated in the Louisiana Maneuvers and conducted firing drills.


Technical manual that belonged to Staff Sgt. Charles
Turner, 179th FA. Georgia National Guard Archives.

On February 8, 1943, the 179th Field Artillery Regiment underwent its most dramatic transformation since its conversion from the 122nd Infantry four years previous. The second battalion was designated the 945th Field Artillery Battalion while the 1st Battalion was designated the 179th FA Battalion. The former regimental headquarters constituted the 179th FA Group.[6] The predecessor units of the 170th MP Battalion were reorganized and redesignated as Headquarters Battery and Battery C, 179th Field Artillery Battalion.


On March 7, 1943 the 179th FA relocated to Fort Sill, Okla. With the 945th FA arriving the next month. Shortly after arrival, the battalions participated in the Tennessee Maneuvers. At the conclusion of the maneuvers in March 1944, the battalions returned to Camp Gruber where their howitzers were upgraded to the M1 155 mm Howitzer.[7] Shortly thereafter, the units received their mobilization alert.


After a four-day train ride, the battalions reached Camp Myles Standish, Mass. In the last days of June.[8] On July 2, the battalions boarded the USS Brazil, a converted luxury liner, and set sail for Scotland the next day.[9]


After ten days sailing over rough seas, enduring cramped quarters, the Soldiers arrived in Gourock Scotland, the same port in which the Georgia National Guard’s 230th FA Battalion had arrived nearly five months earlier.[10] The next day the battalions travelled by train to Warwickshire, England. Here, the battalions received their full complement of combat equipment and vehicles and calibrated their howitzers for accurate fire. In preparation for movement to France, the battalions were assigned to the Third Army, 182nd Field Artillery Group.


In the late hours of August 12, 1944 while German armor was withdrawing from Mortain, the 179th FA arrived off the coast of Utah Beach along with the Georgia National Guard’s 945th Field Artillery Battalion. Although their landing occurred more than two months after the D-Day Landings of June 6, 1944, the night sky was alive with tracer fire and artillery. From the landing ships, the Soldiers could observe a U.S. Navy destroyer engaging some inland target which was illumined only by the impact of rounds against the black mass of the French countryside. The Artillerymen would soon send their own rounds against German targets in the effort to liberate the continent.


Headquarters Battery, 179th FA. Georgia National Guard Archives.

The battalions moved off the beach and encamped near St. Mere Eglise on August 13 where they spent a jittery first night in a war zone. The battalions continued on to Le Mans where they rendezvoused with XII Corps. Having linked up with Patton’s Army, the battalion had its first brush with the enemy when German stragglers attempting to reach their own line blundered into contact with the battalion. Though shots were fired, no casualties were reported on either side.[11] were poised to participate in the campaigns of the Third Army crossing France, participating in the Battle of the Bulge and proceeding on to Germany.


After their brush with the enemy, the 179th was attached to the Fourth Armored Division, XII Corps, 177th Field Artillery Group which had just wrapped up operations in the St. Lo breakthrough. Rendezvousing with the Fourth Armored at Chevilly, the battalion continued on to Montargis where, on August 22, they established firing positions and fired their first shells of the war. In their first action, the 179th accounted for 14 enemy artillery pieces and more than 400 German casualties.[12]


The 179th continued its eastward drive with the Fourth AD through Vaucoulers where the Georgia National Guard’s 151st Machine Gun Battalion trained before its employment in the trenches of the Western Front in 1917.Resupplied, the division continued eastward on September 10 and established a bridgehead over the Moselle River. Effecting the crossing, the 179th advanced to Luneville, France, where the 151st had entered the trenches in March 1917. Turning west, the division met stubborn German resistance at Fresnes en Saulnois where the 179th traded artillery fire with the enemy for five days.[13] For their actions, the 179th was recommended for the Presidential Unit Citation.


Battery C, 179th FA. Georgia National Guard Archives.

From September 28 to November 1, the 179th was held in a defensive position to await the buildup of combat power for an offensive operation. Moving out, the battalion reached Lanfroicourt where a tremendous artillery barrage occurred along a 55-mile front.[14] The ensuing infantry assault drove the German lines back and the 179th pursued with the 4th AD to Fenetrange where they linked up with the Seventh Army.


By December, the division had reached Rimling where the battalion fired on objectives across the border in Germany.


Reassigned to the Third Army, the battalion rushed to Belgium December 20 following German advances. By the 24th of December, the 179th, in support of the 26th Division, had established firing positions near Nagen, Belgium where they engaged German forces on the left flank of the enemy breakthrough.


On January 1, 1945, then assigned to the III Corps in support of the 35th Division, the battalion continued to hammer German forces near Boulaide, Luxembourg firing up to 1,000 shells a day despite desperately cold weather. On January 8, the battalion, following the 4th AD moved to relieve the 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne.


After establishing holding positions in Luxembourg, the 179th was again attached to the 4th AD on February 24 and crossed not Germany at Vianden. Breaking the Siegfried Line defenses, the division drove on to Bitburg and Coblenz. Bypassing Coblenz, the division maneuvered south through Worms and crossed the Rhine March 24. Advancing on the Main River, the 179th fired on Frankfurt before crossing the river five days later. Reaching the Autobahn, the division’s advance accelerated. Attached to the 90th Division, the 179th reached Leipzig. On May 4, again attached to the 4th AD, the 179th advanced to Berchtesgaden. Ordered to proceed to Prague, the 179th was in motion when the cease fire was announced.


In 266 days in Europe, the 179th fired nearly 49,000 rounds earning seven Silver Stars and 118 Bronze Star Medals. After serving in the European Operations, the 179th FA was inactivated Dec. 9, 1945 at Camp Patrick Henry, Va.


Post WWII Reorganizations

Upon the reorganization of the Georgia National Guard in July 1946, the 179th FA Battalion was assigned to the 48th Infantry Division.[15] The 179th was reorganized and federally recognized May 2, 1947 in Atlanta.[16] On November 1, 1955, the 48th was reorganized as the 48th Armored Division and the 179th was redesignated as Headquarters Battery and Battery C, 179th Armored Field Artillery Battalion.[17]


ATLANTA, April 21, 1955 Two- and-1/2-ton trucks of the 179th Field Artillery, 48th Armored Division loaded full of troops move out from
the Atlanta Armory during Operation Minuteman. Georgia National Guard Archives.

Subsequent reorganizations in 1959[18] and 1963 established the unit as Headquarters Battery and Battery C, 1st Rocket Howitzer Battalion, 179th Artillery and Headquarters and Service Battery and Battery D, 1st Battalion, 179th Artillery, respectively.

FORT STEWART, Ga.  1959 - Two 8-inch self-propelled howitzers of the 1st Rocket/Howitzer Battalion, 179th Artillery from Atlanta, Ga.
during annual training of the 48th Armored Division at Fort Stewart, Ga.  Image courtesy of the National Guard Educational Foundation, Washington D.C.


A reorganization of the 48th Armor Division January 1, 1968 consolidated Headquarters and Service Battery and Battery D. The consolidated unit was redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 170th Military Police Battalion.[19]


Unit Insignia of the 170th MP Battalion.

On February 24, 1971, the US Army Institute of Heraldry approved the distinctive unit insignia of the 170th Military Police Battalion. The colors green and yellow represent the Military Police. The gothic arch symbolizes the areas comprising the Ardennes-Alsace, Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns and is used to represent the unit's participation there as the 179th Field Artillery Regiment during World War II. Red and green refer to the French Croix de Guerre awarded the unit for action along the Moselle River represented by the wavy beam. The fleur-de-lis is symbolic of France and refers to both the Normandy and the Northern France campaigns. The black disc simulates a cannon ball and together with the colors scarlet and gold (yellow) alludes to artillery, the unit's former designation. A doorway implies protection and barrier, and with the scale of justice refers to the overall mission of the organization. The unit motto, first in peace and in war is inherited from the 122nd Infantry Regiment which was redesignated the 179th Field Artillery Regiment in 1939.[20]


The 170th MP Battalion was initially comprised of a headquarters detachment and the 178th and 190th MP Companies.. The 178th was organized in Monroe where it is currently stationed. Originally organized in Atlanta, the 190th relocated to Kennesaw in 1997 after a brief stationing at Dobbins Air Reserve Base.[21]

On September 30, 1999, Headquarters Detachment, 170th MP Battalion was consolidated with the 190th MP Company. The 190th MP Company carried forward the lineage and heritage of the 170th.[22]


Soldiers of the Monroe-based 178th Military Police Company march onto the parade field during the opening ceremony for Agile Spirit 19
at Vaziani Training Area on July 27, 2019. Photo by Spc. Isaiah Matthews.

Modern Era

The 170th was reorganized in Decatur September 1, 2007[23] and on Sept. 1, 2019, the 190th MP Company was consolidated with Headquarters Detachment. The lineage of the original 170th MP Battalion was thus restored to the 170th.[24] As of this date, the 170th MP Battalion with the 178th and 179th MP Companies were assigned to the Marietta-based 201st Regional Support Group.

Georgia National Guard Infection Control Teams from the 265th Chemical Battalion and the 170th Military Police Battalion assist personnel
of the Saide G. Mays Health and Rehabilitation Center in Atlanta, Georgia, to disinfect the facility in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus,
April 5, 2020. Photo by Major Charles W. Westrip.

Units of the 179th have mobilized repeatedly in support of overseas operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and have supported training missions overseas, most recently in the country of Georgia. The 170th has assisted with security operations following natural disasters such as Hurricanes Irma, Michael, Dorian and Ida. In 2020 and 2021, the 170th MP Battalion was heavily involved in the state’s coordinated response to the Coronavirus pandemic and in civil unrest responses in Georgia and Washington DC. In January 2023, the 170th was mobilized to Atlanta in anticipation of possible civil unrest.


Soldiers of the 170th Military Police Battalion stage in Atlanta in anticipation of possible civil unrest January 27, 2023. Photo by Capt. Robbie Russell.


[1] Center for Military History. “190th MP Company Lineage and Honors Certificate.”

[2] Center for Military History. “190th MP Company Lineage and Honors Certificate.”

[3] Historical and Pictorial Review 179th Field Artillery. The Army and Navy Publishing Company, Nashville 1941, 18.

[4] 74th Field Artillery Brigade, U.S. Army, Camp Blanding, Fla., 1941.

[5] History and Battle Record of 179 F.A. Bn., 1857-1945, (Regensburg, Germany: Frederich Putset, 1945), 1.

[6] War Department, General Order #1, March 3, 1943.

[7] William M. Cosgrove, Time on Target: the 945th Field Artillery Battalion in World War II, (W. M. Cosgrove III, 1997), 39.

[8] History and Battle Record of 179 F.A. Bn., 1857-1945, (Regensburg, Germany: Frederich Putset, 1945), 4.

[9] History and Battle Record of 179 F.A. Bn., 1857-1945, (Regensburg, Germany: Frederich Putset, 1945), 4.

[10] William Carraway, “First to Fire: The Georgia National Guard’s 230th Field Artillery in Normandy” June 27, 2019 http://www.georgiaguardhistory.com/2019/06/first-to-fire-georgia-national-guards.html

[11] History and Battle Record of 179 F.A. Bn., 1857-1945, (Regensburg, Germany: Frederich Putset, 1945), 11.

[12] History and Battle Record of 179 F.A. Bn., 1857-1945, (Regensburg, Germany: Frederich Putset, 1945), 11.

[13] History and Battle Record of 179 F.A. Bn., 1857-1945, (Regensburg, Germany: Frederich Putset, 1945), 13.

[14] History and Battle Record of 179 F.A. Bn., 1857-1945, (Regensburg, Germany: Frederich Putset, 1945), 14.

[15] Center for Military History. “190th MP Company Lineage and Honors Certificate.”

[16] Center for Military History. “190th MP Company Lineage and Honors Certificate.”

[17] National Guard Bureau, NG AROTO325.4 October 17, 1955.

[18] National Guard Bureau, RA 73-59 10 June 1959.

[19] National Guard Bureau, RA 71-67 December 14, 1967, effective January 1, 1968.

[20] The Institute of Heraldry. “Distinctive Unit Insignia of the 170th MP Battalion.” https://tioh.army.mil/Catalog/Heraldry.aspx?HeraldryId=7011&CategoryId=3937&grp=2&menu=Uniformed%20Services&from=search.

[21] National Guard Bureau, OA 199-97 August 22, 1997, effective September 1, 1997.

[22] National Guard Bureau, OA 252-90 October 11, 1990 effective September 30, 1990.

[23] National Guard Bureau, OA 97-05 October 28, 2005, effective September 1, 2007.

[24] National Guard Bureau, OA 337-19 November 18, 2019 effective September 1, 2019.

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