Guard unit with local roots returning to Walla Walla

A Paladin 155 mm self-propelled howitzer fires a round in training. The Washington National Guard’s 2-146th Field Artillery’s Alpha Battery, which is returning to Walla Walla later this year, counts the weapon in its inventory.

A Paladin 155 mm self-propelled howitzer fires a round in training. The Washington National Guard’s 2-146th Field Artillery’s Alpha Battery, which is returning to Walla Walla later this year, counts the weapon in its inventory. U.S. Army photo

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WALLA WALLA — A Washington National Guard unit with its roots in Walla Walla is returning to the city.

The 2-146th Field Artillery’s Alpha Battery will be moving from Montesano, Wash., to the Walla Walla Armory later this year. The unit is expected to hold its first drills in December or January, said National Guard spokesman Capt. Joseph Siemandel.

The unit consists of 54 guardsmen whose specialties range from cannon crew member to fire direction specialists. It provides long range fire support during combat operations with Paladin 155 mm self-propelled howitzers and is also equipped with 75 mm Pack howitzers, used primarily for ceremonial purposes.

The unit will be stationed in Walla Walla but will conduct the majority of its training at the Army’s Yakima Training Center north of Yakima. The majority of its large equipment will be stored at Yakima center, but several of the smaller cannons will be kept at the Walla Walla Armory for public events such as fairs, parades and celebrations.

Alpha Battery is moving to Walla Walla because a new truck driving unit with deep water capabilities is being stationed in Montesano, Siemandel said. The truck unit will be able to directly help out when Western Washington deals with flooding.

In a release, Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty, adjutant general and commander of the Washington National Guard, said the move brings the field artillery unit back to Walla Walla, where field artillery began in the Washington National Guard almost 100 years ago.

“The community of Walla Walla is very important to the Washington National Guard,” Daugherty said. “The tradition and history of the field artillery in the community of Walla Walla is second to none and we are excited to return this capability to the city where it started.”

The historical ties between Walla Walla and the 146th Field Artillery Regiment go back to World War I when the first field artillery unit in the state of Washington was mustered to service, Daughtery said.

Those early guardsmen served at Fort Walla Walla before moving into the Walla Walla Armory. Since then, the 146th Regiment has served in multiple overseas engagements, including in Europe during World War I and in the Pacific during World War II.

More recently, guardsmen from the regiment have served in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in 2004 and 2008.

In addition to the new unit, the Walla Walla Armory will also continue to be home for members of Detachment 2, Echo Company, 181st Brigade Support Battalion.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

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