Members of 2/30, CPT John Stranahan
CO of D Battery on left

155mm Schneider Howitzer on Kodiak Island in 1943

30th Guidon in France 1946
“Hard Chargers”
World War II
The Two-Front War
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At Camp Roberts, California, the Hard Chargers of the 30th Artillery Regiment, which consisted of the Regimental Headquarters and the 1st and 2nd Battalions, struggled to unpack and prepare mountains of equipment prior to receiving the full compliment of personnel. On 20 June 1941 those men began to arrive, and training on the 155mm Schneider Howitzers began in earnest. Training took on a new sense of urgency less than six months later when word was received of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. On 9 December 1941, President Roosevelt, acting with the Advice and Consent of Congress declared war on Japan. Two days later Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.

The 30th paid little attention to the Axis announcement; they were already on the move to the Pacific Coast. War and the threat of an invasion of the West Coast became even more real when a Japanese submarine shelled a refinery near Santa Barbara, California in February 1942.

In May 1942 the Regiment moved to Camp Murray, near Fort Lewis, Washington. From there the Battalions deployed to assignments in Alaska. The 1st Battalion moved to Amchitka Island, near Adak, and the 2nd Battalion moved to Fort Richardson.

At this time the 30th Artillery had neither a Regimental Crest nor a Motto. "I'll Find A Way or Make One" was initially approved as a motto, but it was decided to wait until after the war to make it permanent. COL John M. Hamilton, who commanded the 2nd Battalion, had SSG Martinson, his Operations Sergeant, draw an emblem for the Battalion. Thus was born the "Hard Charger Bear," an artillery red Kodiak bear standing erect in the process of throwing a shell with another ready under its arm. COL Hamilton adopted the logo and used it on regimental stationery and report covers, when he took command of the 30th FA Regiment.

During this time the Regiment and its two Battalions came under the control of the Alaskan Defense Command. The 1st Battalion moved to Adak in preparation for the invasion of the island of Kiska. Before the invasion was launched, it was confirmed that the Japanese had evacuated the island. The Battalion returned to Amchitka and prepared to spend the winter.

In 1944 the 30th Regiment was on the move again, first to Virginia, where it was designated the 30th Field Artillery Group, then to Camp Butner, North Carolina, before making a move to Fort Benning, Georgia. To confuse enemy spies, the 1st Battalion was designated the 521st FA Battalion and the 2nd became the 550th FA Battalion. In December of 1944 the 30th Group moved to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, then on to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey in preparation for movement to Europe.

Upon arrival in France on 12 March, the 521st moved into a replacement camp called "Lucky Strike." They crossed the German border on April 14, 1945, and on the 1st of May were redesignated the 30th Field Artillery Battalion. The 550th arrived at Le Havre, France and moved first to "Lucky Strike", then to Dieppe.

30th FA Group

In November of 1944 the 30th FA Group deployed to Scotland and entered the combat zone at Villiers, France, on 10 February 1945. The 30th FA Group controlled the fires of several medium and heavy artillery battalions in support of the 3rd Infantry Division, 63rd Infantry Division, 70th Infantry Division, and 101st Cavalry Group. By the time the war ended on 8 May 1945, the 30th FA Group had fired over 1,900 Fire Missions using the 4.5" Guns, 155mm Long Tom Guns, 155mm, 8" and 240mm Howitzers.

The 30th FA Group occupied Donauworth, Germany as part of the Occupation Forces and provided Military Government Officers. In addition, the Group controlled two large German ammo dumps and the local POW camps. They also operated several Displaced Person Camps in the vicinity of Donauworth. In January of 1946 they moved to Hilpostien and took on the task of rebuilding the training area at Grafenwohr for use by US Forces. Completion of this task signaled the temporary end of the 30th FA Group's activities in Germany during World War II. The unit was inactivated on 31 July 1946.

521st FA Battalion/30th FA Battalion

The 521st FA Battalion moved into Polch, Germany on 14 April 1945. They provided Security Forces for several Military Government Offices in the area. On 1 May 1945, the 521st was redesignated the 30th FA Battalion. The 30th FA Battalion continued this role until they deployed back to the US to Fort Bragg, North Carolina in the summer of 1945. The 30th FA Battalion remained at Fort Bragg until they were inactivated on 9 February 1949.

550th FA Battalion

The first mission of the 550th was to organize four POW Interrogation Teams comprised of 1 officer and 30 enlisted men each. These teams remained detached from the 550th for the duration of the Battalion's time in Europe. The remainder of the Battalion moved to the vicinity of Simmern, Germany on the banks of the Rhine River. From here they provided Security Forces and Military Government Offices for St. Goar, Bad Kreutznach, and Birkenfeld, Germany. In July 1945 the Battalion was redeployed to Camp Swift, Texas. The 550th FA Battalion was inactivated effective 4 February 1946.

The history covered here is brief, and it does not tell the entire story. Each individual involved in a conflict has his own story as he saw it. Personal accounts and stories may be found in the Oral History and Buddies area. If you were a member of the 30th during this time period, your stories are solicited and welcomed.

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