6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (HAWK)

Returning to Ft. Bliss


              We were young, proud and Army Air Defense Strong
                                    Men of the 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (HAWK) Vietnam

Welcome Home Air defenders  

The 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery the first and only HAWK missile battalion ever assigned to an infantry division (Americal Division was inactivated at Fort Bliss, Texas on 15 August 1969 after four years of duty in the Republic of Vietnam.


The first members of the Americal Division unit (6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (HAWK) stepped onto Texas soil Saturday night August 2, 1969 at 7:53 PM after a 20 hour flight aboard eight Air Force C141 Starlifers, the 648 men were another phase of the 25,000 American troop’s withdrawal from the Republic of Vietnam which has been announced by President Richard M. Nixon.


The first plane load of soldiers, led by Colonel Guertin and Sergeant Major Ernest Kovach were welcomed by Brigadier General Henry J. Schroeder, ATC commander. General Schroeder served as Major General Cassidy’s representative for the touch down ceremony.


The returning soldiers filed past a 6th Artillery Group honor guard and the 424th Army band to the waiting buses and trucks that shuttled them to Fort Bliss for processing.


Colonel David H. Sudderth, 6th Artillery Group commander was also on hand for the arrival ceremony. His 6th Group was host for the returning battalion.


Scores of dependents waited at Battery B, 8th Battalion, 7th Artillery mess hall where buses and trucks brought the soldiers for in-processing.

Campaign participation credits

An organization is given campaign participation credit if it actually engaged the enemy in combat, was stationed in the combat zone, or performed duties either in the air or on the ground in any part of the combat zone during the time limitations of the campaign. Service stars are worn on the service and campaign medals to denote participation in campaigns.

6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (HAWK) campaign participation in Vietnam:



            *Counteroffensive, Phase II

            *Counteroffensive, Phase III

            *Tet Counteroffensive

            *Counteroffensive, Phase IV

            *Counteroffensive, Phase V

            *Counteroffensive, Phase VI

            *Tet 69/Counteroffensive

            *Summer-fall 1969

6th Battalion, 56th Artillery return to Fort Bliss, Texas for Inactivation August 1969

6th Battalion, 56th Artillery Awarded the Meritorious Unit Cemmendation



II - Meritorious Unit Commendation. By direction of the Secretary of the Army, under the provisions of paragraph 203, AR671-5-1, the Meritorious Unit Commendation is awarded to the following named units of the United States Army for exceptionally meritorious achievement in the performance of outstanding service during the periods indicated:




For exceptionally meritorious achievement in the performance of outstanding service: The 6th BATTALION, 56TH ARTILLERY distinguished itself in support of military operations in the Republic of Vietnam during the period November 1965 to June1966. The members of this unit demonstrated extraordinary perseverance, determination and professional skill in providing air defense for military during installations in the Saigon, Long Binh and Bien Hoa. areas, Arriving in the zone the massive unit buildup, the Battalion had to select and prepare its own tactical missile sites. Through work and personal sacrifice, the members of the 6TH BATTALION, 56TH ARTILLERY succeeded in becoming operational within 2 days after the Hawk missiles arrived in-country. Since that time, the four batteries have assiduously maintained an exemplary record of operational readiness, despite the harsh environment. During frequent firing evaluations, the Battalion has proven its superior ability to engage any hostile aircraft that might threaten. The generous contributions of time and material this unit devoted to civic activities has been of profound benefit to the Vietnamese people in their operational areas. The unrelenting competence and dedicated devotion to duty displayed by the members of the 6TH BATTALION, 56TH ARTILLERY were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect distinct credit upon themselves and the Armed Forces of the United States.  

The 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (U) was inactivated, order read as follows:




Fort Bliss, Texas 79916


AKBAAC-T                                                                           1 August 1969


SUBJECT; Inactivation of the 6th Battalion, 56 Artillery (U)




  1. (U) Reference: Message, ATOPS-TP-UA, USCONARC, dated 18 July 1969.


  1. (C)  An inactivation ceremony to retire the 6th Battalion, 56 Artillery organizational colors will be conducted at Memorial Circle, as soon as possible after arrival of subject unit at this installation.


  1. (U) The Commanding Officer, 6th Artillery Group (AD) is responsible for the conduct of the ceremony and will insure necessary coordination with supporting commands and agencies. Direct coordination is authorized as appropriate.


  1. (U) The Commanding Officer, Special Troops will provide the following:


    1. National color (4’4” by 5’5”).
    2. Army Flag (4’4” by 5’5”).
    3. Three-star General’s boat flag
    4. Two-star General’s boat flag.
    5. Police of Memorial Circle NLT one (1) hour prior to Adjutant’s Call.


  1. (U) The Adjutant General will provide an officer to read the inactivation order.


  1. (U) The AGofS, C-E, will provide appropriate sound support, as required.


Regraded UNCLASSIFIED upon

                                                Closure of last element of

                                                                                                                6th Battalion, 56th Artillery.

The Inactivation Ceremony of the 6th Battalion, 56th Artillery (U)


Lieutenant General Harry H. Critz, Fourth Army commander, joined Major General Richard T. Cassidy, Fort Bliss commander, and Lieutenant Colonel J. A. Richard Guertin, the battalion commander, compose the viewing party for the inactivation ceremony at Fort Bliss, Texas.


Of the 648 men in the HAWK battalion, 551 have been reassigned to Fort Bliss, Texas. Their distribution finds 473 being assigned to the 6th Artillery Group; 34 to the Air Defense School; 27 to the 15th Artillery Group; 10 to the Air Defense Center; 6 to the Army Training Center, and one to Range Command.

Air Defense Artillery gets a battle Hymn


CWO4 Robert O. Wahlund, Commander of the 62nd Army Band, Fort Bliss, Texas, is the composer of “ADA March” and Lt. Col. Doug Hemphill, a professor of military science at the University of Notre Dame, penned the lyrics to the Army Air Defense branch anthem.


The 62nd Army Band put the “ADA March” with tenor SFC John Riggle singing the lyrics, on tape and presented the tape to Infante for the chief’s approval. Riggle also sang during the debut of “ADA March” at the Fort Bliss Officers Club during the spring’s 1987 ADA Commanders’ Conference.


The “ADA March” was first played for an official function during a 22 May 1987 Fort Bliss retirement ceremony for CSM Raymond H. Godfrin, then ADA’s ranking NCO.


The ADA March




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