The Kansas National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 130th Field Artillery will celebrate its 135th birthday Friday, Dec. 19. The historic battalion is headquartered in Hiawatha with subordinate units located in Clay Center, Holton, Lenexa, Marysville, Ottawa and Paola. The battalion, which holds the lineage and honors of the 130th Field Artillery Regiment, traces its heritage to the formation of the 1st Kansas Artillery in 1879.
Soon after he took the oath of office in January 1879, Governor John P. St. John appeared before the Kansas Legislature in an urgent appeal for the reorganization of the state militia. Many of the governor’s constituents agreed that something should be done to improve the efficiency of the state’s military force and quite a bit of independent action followed during the spring and early summer. Civil War veterans and men who served in the Indian campaigns were among the leaders in this movement, which resulted in the organization of a number of independent companies that petitioned state officials to become units of the organized militia.
Olathe, Governor St. John’s hometown, honored its leading citizen by calling its new infantry company the “St. John Rifles.” Another rifle company was organized at Winfield during the summer and residents of the town were so enthusiastic that they went on to enlist recruits for a battery of light field artillery. The Winfield Courier of Oct. 23, 1879, reported 40 men had been accepted. These men were mustered into service on Dec. 19 as the St. John Battery, Kansas State Militia. Guns were issued early in the spring of 1880, two muzzle-loading pieces of pre-Civil War vintage.
The unit or soldiers from the battalion have served in every conflict since the Civil War. The battalion was mobilized for service along the Mexican Border, World War I and II, activated for duty in May 1968 at the time of the Pueblo incident, Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005 and most recently in July 2009 as the first Field Artillery Battalion to deploy to the Sinai in Egypt as Multinational Forces Observers. Smaller elements of the battalion also served in the Korean and Vietnam conflict, Operation Jump Start along the U.S./Mexico border in 2007 and multiple times for National Guard Civil Support within the confines of Kansas for floods, winter storms and severe weather recovery. The regiment has been awarded streamers for the Meuse-Argonne, Alsace, Lorraine, the Aleutian Islands, the European Theatre, Iraq Campaign and Iraq Occupation.
Their current weapons system is the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, which is the newest member of the Multiple Launch Rocket System family. The HIMARS is a highly-mobile artillery rocket system offering the firepower of MLRS on a wheeled chassis. The battalion converted to HIMARS in April 2011.
The battalion currently has positions open for those wanting to serve their state and nation. Anyone wishing to join the Army National Guard will earn a competitive salary for your part time service and may eligible to receive other compensations and benefits such as enlistment bonuses, reenlistment bonuses, college funding and incentive pay.
Service in the National Guard provides additional benefits including tuition assistance, the Post-9/11 GI Bill, National Guard Scholarships, ROTC, Student Loan Repayment Program, inexpensive health coverage from TRICARE Reserve Select, dental insurance, life insurance, Thrift Savings Plan, and retirement benefits after 20 years of service. For additional information contact a local recruiter at http://kansasarmynationalguard.com .