Fort Sill
Overview
 
Fort Sill is a United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 post near Lawton
Lawton, Oklahoma
The city of Lawton is the county seat of Comanche County, in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. Located in the southwestern region of Oklahoma approximately southwest of Oklahoma City, it is the principal city of the Lawton Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area...

, Oklahoma, about 85 miles southwest of Oklahoma City
Oklahoma city
Oklahoma City is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Oklahoma.Oklahoma City may also refer to:*Oklahoma City metropolitan area*Downtown Oklahoma City*Uptown Oklahoma City*Oklahoma City bombing*Oklahoma City National Memorial...

.

Today, Fort Sill remains the only active Army installation of all the forts on the South Plains built during the Indian Wars
Indian Wars
American Indian Wars is the name used in the United States to describe a series of conflicts between American settlers or the federal government and the native peoples of North America before and after the American Revolutionary War. The wars resulted from the arrival of European colonizers who...

. It is designated as a National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...

 and serves as home of the United States Army Field Artillery School
United States Army Field Artillery School
The United States Army Field Artillery School trains Field Artillery Soldiers and Marines in tactics, techniques, and procedures for the employment of fire support systems in support of the maneuver commander...

 and well as the Marine Corps' site for Field Artillery MOS school, United States Army Air Defense Artillery School, the 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade
31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade (United States)
The 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade is an air defense artillery brigade of the United States Army based at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.- Organization :* 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade ** Headquarters and Headquarters Battery...

, the 75th Fires Brigade
75th Fires Brigade (United States)
The 75th Fires Brigade is an artillery brigade in the United States Army. It is currently based in Fort Sill, Oklahoma and supports the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas.- Mission :...

 and the 214th Fires Brigade
214th Fires Brigade (United States)
The 214th Fires Brigade is an artillery brigade in the United States Army. It is currently based in Fort Sill Oklahoma and supports the 4th Infantry Division located at Fort Carson, Colorado...

.
Encyclopedia
Fort Sill is a United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 post near Lawton
Lawton, Oklahoma
The city of Lawton is the county seat of Comanche County, in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. Located in the southwestern region of Oklahoma approximately southwest of Oklahoma City, it is the principal city of the Lawton Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area...

, Oklahoma, about 85 miles southwest of Oklahoma City
Oklahoma city
Oklahoma City is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Oklahoma.Oklahoma City may also refer to:*Oklahoma City metropolitan area*Downtown Oklahoma City*Uptown Oklahoma City*Oklahoma City bombing*Oklahoma City National Memorial...

.

Today, Fort Sill remains the only active Army installation of all the forts on the South Plains built during the Indian Wars
Indian Wars
American Indian Wars is the name used in the United States to describe a series of conflicts between American settlers or the federal government and the native peoples of North America before and after the American Revolutionary War. The wars resulted from the arrival of European colonizers who...

. It is designated as a National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...

 and serves as home of the United States Army Field Artillery School
United States Army Field Artillery School
The United States Army Field Artillery School trains Field Artillery Soldiers and Marines in tactics, techniques, and procedures for the employment of fire support systems in support of the maneuver commander...

 and well as the Marine Corps' site for Field Artillery MOS school, United States Army Air Defense Artillery School, the 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade
31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade (United States)
The 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade is an air defense artillery brigade of the United States Army based at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.- Organization :* 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade ** Headquarters and Headquarters Battery...

, the 75th Fires Brigade
75th Fires Brigade (United States)
The 75th Fires Brigade is an artillery brigade in the United States Army. It is currently based in Fort Sill, Oklahoma and supports the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas.- Mission :...

 and the 214th Fires Brigade
214th Fires Brigade (United States)
The 214th Fires Brigade is an artillery brigade in the United States Army. It is currently based in Fort Sill Oklahoma and supports the 4th Infantry Division located at Fort Carson, Colorado...

. Fort Sill is also one of the five locations for Army Basic Combat Training
United States Army Basic Training
United States Army Basic Training is the program of physical and mental training required in order for an individual to become a soldier in the United States Army, United States Army Reserve, or Army National Guard. It is carried out at several different Army posts around the United States...

.

As of December 2009, Major General David D. Halverson is the current commanding general of the Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill.

History

The site of Fort Sill was staked out on 8 January 1869, by Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, who led a campaign into Indian Territory
Indian Territory
The Indian Territory, also known as the Indian Territories and the Indian Country, was land set aside within the United States for the settlement of American Indians...

 to stop hostile tribes from raiding border settlements in Texas and Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

.

Sheridan's massive winter campaign involved six cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 regiments accompanied by frontier scouts such as Buffalo Bill Cody, Wild Bill Hickok
Wild Bill Hickok
James Butler Hickok , better known as Wild Bill Hickok, was a folk hero of the American Old West. His skills as a gunfighter and scout, along with his reputation as a lawman, provided the basis for his fame, although some of his exploits are fictionalized.Hickok came to the West as a stagecoach...

, Ben Clark
Ben Clark
Ben Clark is a mountaineer and native of Clarksville, Tennessee, though he resides in Colorado. He starting rock climbing as a boy and progressed to larger, more challenging mountains in his early twenties....

 and Jack Stilwell. Troops camped at the location of the new fort included the 7th Cavalry
U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment
The 7th Cavalry Regiment is a United States Army Cavalry Regiment, whose lineage traces back to the mid-19th century. Its official nickname is "Garryowen," in honor of the Irish air Garryowen that was adopted as its march tune....

, the 19th Kansas Volunteers and the 10th Cavalry
U.S. 10th Cavalry Regiment
The 10th Cavalry Regiment is a unit of the United States Army. Formed as a segregated African-American unit, the 10th Cavalry was one of the original "Buffalo Soldier" regiments. It served in combat during the Indian Wars in the western United States, the Spanish-American War in Cuba and in the...

, a distinguished group of black "buffalo soldiers" who constructed many of the stone buildings still surrounding the old post quadrangle.

At first the garrison was called "Camp Wichita" and was referred to by the Indians as "the Soldier House at Medicine Bluffs." Sheridan later named it in honor of his West Point
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

 classmate and friend, Brigadier General
Brigadier General
Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

 Joshua W. Sill
Joshua W. Sill
Joshua Woodrow Sill , was a career officer in the United States Army and brigadier general during the American Civil War. He was killed at the Battle of Stones River in Tennessee. Fort Sill, Oklahoma, was later named in his honor.-Early life and background:Sill was born in Chillicothe, Ohio...

, who was killed during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. The first post commander was Brevet Maj. Gen. Benjamin Grierson
Benjamin Grierson
Benjamin Henry Grierson was a music teacher and then a career officer in the United States Army. He was a cavalry general in the volunteer Union Army during the American Civil War and later led troops in the American Old West...

 and the first Indian agent was Colonel
Colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

 Albert Gallatin Boone, grandson of Daniel Boone
Daniel Boone
Daniel Boone was an American pioneer, explorer, and frontiersman whose frontier exploits mad']'e him one of the first folk heroes of the United States. Boone is most famous for his exploration and settlement of what is now the Commonwealth of Kentucky, which was then beyond the western borders of...

.

Peace policy

Several months after the establishment of Fort Sill, President Ulysses Grant approved a peace policy placing responsibility for the Southwest tribes under Quaker Indian agents; the first Quaker agent assigned to the Kiowa and Comanche agency was Lawrie Tatum
Lawrie Tatum
Lawrie Tatum was a Quaker who was best known as an Indian Agent to the Kiowa and Comanche tribes at Fort Sill agency in Indian Territory....

. Fort Sill soldiers were restricted from taking punitive action against the Indians, who interpreted this as a sign of weakness. The Indians resumed raiding the Texas frontier and used Fort Sill as a sanctuary. In 1871 General of the Army
General of the Army
General of the Army is a military rank used in some countries to denote a senior military leader, usually a General in command of a nation's Army. It may also be the title given to a General who commands an Army in the field....

 William Tecumseh Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman was an American soldier, businessman, educator and author. He served as a General in the Union Army during the American Civil War , for which he received recognition for his outstanding command of military strategy as well as criticism for the harshness of the "scorched...

 arrived at Fort Sill to find several Kiowa
Kiowa
The Kiowa are a nation of American Indians and indigenous people of the Great Plains. They migrated from the northern plains to the southern plains in the late 17th century. In 1867, the Kiowa moved to a reservation in southwestern Oklahoma...

 chiefs boasting about a wagon train
Wagon train
A wagon train is a group of wagons traveling together. In the American West, individuals traveling across the plains in covered wagons banded together for mutual assistance, as is reflected in numerous films and television programs about the region, such as Audie Murphy's Tumbleweed and Ward Bond...

 massacre. When Sherman ordered their arrest during a meeting on Grierson's porch two of the Indians attempted to assassinate him. In memory of the event, the Commanding General's quarters were dubbed Sherman House.

Red River War

In June 1874 the Comanche
Comanche
The Comanche are a Native American ethnic group whose historic range consisted of present-day eastern New Mexico, southern Colorado, northeastern Arizona, southern Kansas, all of Oklahoma, and most of northwest Texas. Historically, the Comanches were hunter-gatherers, with a typical Plains Indian...

s, Kiowa
Kiowa
The Kiowa are a nation of American Indians and indigenous people of the Great Plains. They migrated from the northern plains to the southern plains in the late 17th century. In 1867, the Kiowa moved to a reservation in southwestern Oklahoma...

s and Southern Cheyenne
Cheyenne
Cheyenne are a Native American people of the Great Plains, who are of the Algonquian language family. The Cheyenne Nation is composed of two united tribes, the Só'taeo'o and the Tsétsêhéstâhese .The Cheyenne are thought to have branched off other tribes of Algonquian stock inhabiting lands...

s went to war, and the South Plains shook with the hoofbeats of Indian raiders. The resulting Red River War
Red River War
The Red River War was a military campaign launched by the United States Army in 1874, as part of the Comanche War, to remove the Comanche, Kiowa, Southern Cheyenne, and Arapaho Native American tribes from the Southern Plains and forcibly relocate them to reservations in Indian Territory...

, which lasted a year, was a war of attrition involving relentless pursuit by converging military columns.

Without a chance to graze their livestock and faced with a disappearance of the great buffalo
American Bison
The American bison , also commonly known as the American buffalo, is a North American species of bison that once roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds...

 herds, the tribes eventually surrendered. Quanah Parker
Quanah Parker
Quanah Parker was a Comanche chief, a leader in the Native American Church, and the last leader of the powerful Quahadi band before they surrendered their battle of the Great Plains and went to a reservation in Indian Territory...

 and his Kwahadi Comanches were the last to abandon the struggle and their arrival at Fort Sill in June 1875 marked the end of Indian warfare on the south Plains.

In 1877, the first African-American to graduate from West Point, Henry O. Flipper, was assigned to the 10th Cavalry Regiment, the famous Buffalo Soldiers at Fort Sill. In addition to his leadership duties in the cavalry, he directed his men to dig a ditch to drain a swamp ... this is still called Flipper's Ditch and a landmark is on Upton Road by the Fort Sill Golf Course.

Unlike other U.S. territories, Indian Territory had no organized government, so Army posts like Fort Arbuckle
Fort Arbuckle
Not to be confused with Old Fort Arbuckle , a site in Tulsa County, Oklahoma.Fort Arbuckle was a United States military fort near Hoover, Oklahoma....

, Fort Supply
Fort Supply
Fort Supply was a United States Army post established on November 18, 1868, in Indian Territory to protect the Southern Plains...

 and Fort Sill found themselves the most significant federal and legal presence in a near wilderness. They provided protection to Indians and civilians alike, sometimes dealt as mediators between the Indians and the Indian agents, and somehow found time for base ball games between the cavalry troops, the infantry soldiers, the Chickasaw
Chickasaw
The Chickasaw are Native American people originally from the region that would become the Southeastern United States...

 Indians, the forts Indian Scouts and other Indian tribes.

At one point in the 1880s, the post was nearly deserted when gold was rumored to be found in the nearby Wichita Mountains and officers and soldiers alike rushed to stake claims.

Geronimo

In 1894 Geronimo
Geronimo
Geronimo was a prominent Native American leader of the Chiricahua Apache who fought against Mexico and the United States for their expansion into Apache tribal lands for several decades during the Apache Wars. Allegedly, "Geronimo" was the name given to him during a Mexican incident...

 and 341 other Chiricahua Apache
Chiricahua
Chiricahua are a group of Apache Native Americans who live in the Southwest United States. At the time of European encounter, they were living in 15 million acres of territory in southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona in the United States, and in northern Sonora and Chihuahua in Mexico...

 prisoners of war were brought to Fort Sill where they lived in villages scattered around the post. After a couple of years, Geronimo was granted permission to travel with Pawnee Bill
Pawnee Bill
Pawnee Bill , born Gordon William Lillie, was a Wild West showman and performer.Best known for his short partnership with Buffalo Bill, Pawnee Bill was born February 14, 1860, in Bloomington, Illinois. Pawnee Bill and his show made several false starts during the latter part of the nineteenth...

's Wild West Show and he joined the Indian contingent at several annual World Expositions and Indian Expositions in the 1890s and early 1900s. Geronimo and other Indians leaders rode in the inaugural parade of President Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

 and met the president himself during that trip. Geronimo and the other Apache prisoners had free range of Fort Sill. He was a member of Fort Sill's Native Scouts, but he did make at least one documented attempt to escape the fort, though not in the dramatic fashion of jumping off the steep Medicine Bluffs on his horse in a hail of bullets as popularized in the 1939 movie, Geronimo (which was the inspiration for parachutists of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment
501st Parachute Infantry Regiment
The 501st Airborne Infantry Regiment is the first Airborne unit in the United States Military. It has been assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team , 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army, and is located in Fort Richardson, Alaska, to serve as a strategic front to the Department of Defense's Pacific...

 to yell his name when they jumped out of aircraft. Once, after visiting the off-post home of chief Quanah Parker
Quanah Parker
Quanah Parker was a Comanche chief, a leader in the Native American Church, and the last leader of the powerful Quahadi band before they surrendered their battle of the Great Plains and went to a reservation in Indian Territory...

, Geronimo decided to escape to his homeland in Arizona late one night rather than return to Fort Sill. He was captured the next day. He died of pneumonia in 1909 and is buried at Fort Sill.

The rest of the Apaches remained on Fort Sill until 1913. The Chiricahua had been promised the lands surrounding the fort by the US government; however local non-Indians resisted their settlement. In 1914 two-thirds of the tribe moved onto the Mescalero Apache Reservation and the remaining third settled on allotments around Fletcher
Fletcher, Oklahoma
Fletcher is a town in Comanche County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 1,177 at the 2010 census. It is included in the Lawton, Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area.-Geography:Fletcher is located at ....

 and Apache, Oklahoma
Apache, Oklahoma
Apache is a town in Caddo County, Oklahoma, USA. The population was 1,616 at the 2000 census.- Geography :Apache is located at ....

. They became what is known today as the Fort Sill Apache Tribe
Fort Sill Apache Tribe
The Fort Sill Apache Tribe is the federally recognized Native American tribe of Chiricahua Warm Springs Apache in Oklahoma.-History:The Fort Sill Apache Tribe is composed of Chiricahua Apache. The Apache are southern Athabaskan-speaking peoples who migrated many centuries ago from the subarctic to...

.

Lt. Hugh L. Scott
Hugh L. Scott
Hugh Lenox Scott was a post-Civil War West Point graduate who served as superintendent of West Point from 1906 to 1910, and Chief of Staff of the United States Army from 1914 to 1917, including the first few months of American involvement in World War I.-Biography:Born September 22, 1853 in...

 commanded Troop L of the 7th Cavalry, a unit consisting entirely of Indians and considered one of the best in the west. Indian scout I-See-O and other members of the troop are credited with helping tribes on the South Plains avert the Bloody Ghost Dance
Ghost Dance
The Ghost Dance was a new religious movement which was incorporated into numerous Native American belief systems. The traditional ritual used in the Ghost Dance, the circle dance, has been used by many Native Americans since prehistoric times...

 uprising of the 1890s in which many Indians were brutally murdered by the US Army on the North Plains.

The frontier disappears

The Last Indian lands in Oklahoma opened for settlement in 1901 and 29,000 homesteaders registered at Fort Sill during July for the land lottery. On 6 August the town of Lawton sprang up and quickly grew to become the third largest city in Oklahoma.

With the disappearance of the frontier, the mission of Fort Sill gradually changed from cavalry to field artillery
Field artillery
Field artillery is a category of mobile artillery used to support armies in the field. These weapons are specialized for mobility, tactical proficiency, long range, short range and extremely long range target engagement....

. The first artillery battery
Artillery battery
In military organizations, an artillery battery is a unit of guns, mortars, rockets or missiles so grouped in order to facilitate better battlefield communication and command and control, as well as to provide dispersion for its constituent gunnery crews and their systems...

 arrived at Fort Sill in 1902 and the last cavalry regiment departed in May 1907.
In 1917 the Henry Post Army Airfield
Henry Post Army Airfield
Henry Post Army Airfield is a military use airport located at Fort Sill in Comanche County, Oklahoma, United States. This military airport is owned by United States Army. It is the oldest continually operating airfield in the U.S. Army inventory...

 was constructed, for artillery observation and spotting.

The School of Fire for the Field Artillery was founded at Fort Sill in 1911 and continues to operate today as the world renowned U.S. Army Field Artillery School. At various times Fort Sill has also served as home to the Infantry School of Musketry, the School for Aerial Observers, the Artillery Officers Candidate School (Robinson Barracks), the Air Service Flying School, and the Army Aviation School
Army Aviation School
An Army Aviation School is a military educational establishment responsible for the training and development of the personnel and equipment of the aviation element in those armies that have a separate aviation branch.- Tasks :...

.

Henry Post Army Airfield

Fort Sill also contains the birthplace of military combat aviation, located at the parade field at the Old Post Quadrangle at Fort Sill.

Here, the 1st Aero Squadron
1st Reconnaissance Squadron
The 1st Reconnaissance Squadron is a United States Air Force reconnaissance training unit based at Beale Air Force Base, near Marysville, California. It is the oldest squadron in the Air Force, and the first organization to be established as a U.S. military flying unit...

, under Captain Benjamin D. Foulois, uncrated their new, unassembled airplanes and put them together in 1915. They then pushed their Curtiss JN-2
Curtiss JN-4
The Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny" was one of a series of "JN" biplanes built by the Curtiss Aeroplane Company of Hammondsport, New York, later the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company. Although the Curtiss JN series was originally produced as a training aircraft for the U.S...

 planes down hill to the Polo Field. On August 10, they made their first flights.

Unfortunately, the first airplane accident came just two days later, on August 12, 1915. Lt. Rondondo B. Sutton, the pilot, was hospitalized, but his passenger, Captain George H. Knox, the paymaster of Fort Sill, was killed. According to the Lawton Constitution
Lawton Constitution
The Lawton Constitution is a newspaper published in Lawton, Oklahoma. It began publishing in 1904.-References:*...

 newspaper article, there was a large crowd of civilians at the field to see the aircraft in flight – and were, consequently, there to see the results of the accident. The large crowd of men, women and children were horrified, according to the paper. Soon after, on September 5, another plane was lost in a second crash, after which Foulois grounded the remaining planes out of concern for safety.

Undaunted, the squadron began trials with the field artillery to see if they could perform reconnaissance of field positions, but the results were disappointing, mostly due to inadequate equipment. New equipment was ordered and by October 14, operations with the field artillery were resumed. On October 22, Lt. T.D. Milling made the first two flights to test aerial photography using a Brock camera. On November 6, the squadron successfully made a photo mosaic of 42 plates.

The squadron left Fort Sill on November 19 on a cross-country trip from which they would not return. They flew six planes to Fort Sam Houston
Fort Sam Houston
Fort Sam Houston is a U.S. Army post in San Antonio, Texas.Known colloquially as "Fort Sam," it is named for the first President of the Republic of Texas, Sam Houston....

, Texas, a total of 439 miles in a historic cross-country distance flight. The aviators were supported by a trail of supply-laden heavy trucks and their mechanics on motorcycles. The flight arrived on November 26, without any major incidents delaying them.

The squadron was kept in Texas because of tension along the U.S.-Mexico border. Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa
José Doroteo Arango Arámbula – better known by his pseudonym Francisco Villa or its hypocorism Pancho Villa – was one of the most prominent Mexican Revolutionary generals....

 felt betrayed that the U.S. government recognized Venustiano Carranza
Venustiano Carranza
Venustiano Carranza de la Garza, was one of the leaders of the Mexican Revolution. He ultimately became President of Mexico following the overthrow of the dictatorial Huerta regime in the summer of 1914 and during his administration the current constitution of Mexico was drafted...

's Mexican government. Villa began to attack Americans in northern Mexico. On March 9, 1916, Villa's troops attacked Columbus, New Mexico and a detachment of the 13th Cavalry
13th Cavalry Regiment (United States)
The 13th Cavalry Regiment is a unit of the United States Army. The 1st and 2nd Squadrons are currently stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas as part of the 1st Armored Division.-Service History:...

. The town was burned and Americans suffered eighteen killed and eight wounded Soldiers and civilians. President Woodrow Wilson ordered Gen. John J. Pershing
John J. Pershing
John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing, GCB , was a general officer in the United States Army who led the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I...

 to lead 4,800 men into Mexico to capture Villa.

The 1st Aero Squadron was part of that army. They transferred to Casas Grandes in Mexico and began duties flying reconnaissance, delivering mail and dispatches and transporting senior officers. These simple tasks were more than their airplanes (designed for training, not combat) could handle. They didn't have enough power to fly over the mountains of northern Mexico. One rain storm dumped nearly a foot of water into the cockpit of Foulois' craft and flooded out his engine. He successfully managed to land his plane without power. Additionally, every landing in Mexico was carried out in hostile territory. Many pilots found themselves cut off from friendly lines with little more than their wits to rescue them from hostile Mexicans and Mexican officials.

The squadron flew 540 missions in Mexico - averaging 36 miles per mission. After six weeks, they were done. Their airplanes were worn out, and two had crashed. Four others needed parts and were grounded. For weeks afterward, crew members and pilots had blisters from carving new propellers out of logs. On April 20, 1916, the Army ordered the squadron back to Columbus, New Mexico. Their only real military success was finding a lost and thirsty cavalry column.

The 1st Aero Squadron received new airplanes, but these were hurriedly packed by the factory, were all missing parts and required significant modifications. The squadron did not again take to the field until they deployed to France as part of the American Expeditionary Force in World War I.

Henry Post Army Airfield, 1917
In Aug. 1917, Capt. H.R. Eyrich surveyed a new airfield location at Fort Sill and established Henry Post Army Airfield (named after 2nd Lt. Henry B. Post who was killed in a plane crash in California in 1914). The field occupies a small plateau about a mile south of the main post cantonment area. Construction immediately began on wooden hangars, offices and officer housing.

On Aug. 29, the 3rd Aero Squadron left Fort Sam Houston for Fort Sill with 12 Curtiss R4 airplanes under the command of Capt. Weir. It was redesignated as Squadron A, Post Field, Okla. on July 22, 1918. It was demobilized, due to the end of World War I, on Jan. 2, 1919. Today, the 3rd Flying Training Squadron, which traces its lineage to the 3rd Aero Squadron, trains pilots at Vance Air Force Base, Enid, Okla.

The 4th Aero Squadron was also sent to Post Airfield that summer. The 4th operated as an observation school for the field artillery until it was deactivated on Jan. 2, 1919. Today, the 394th Combat Training Squadron at Whiteman AFB, Mo., traces its lineage to the 4th Aero Squadron.

Aviation at Fort Sill added lighter-than-air ships to its inventory when Company A, 1st Balloon Squadron, arrived on Sept. 5, 1917 from the Balloon School in Omaha, Neb. The company split to form the 25th and 26th Balloon Companies on Feb. 16 and Apr. 2, 1918. In order to meet the demand for trained aerial observers for field artillery, a Balloon Corps Training School was set up at Post Field in 1918. During World War I, the school trained 751 officers and created 89 companies, of which 33 were deployed to Europe.

The school used balloons and fixed wing aircraft for aerial observation. Both sausage-shaped "captured" balloons and spherical-shaped "free" balloons were used in the 1920s and 30s. The balloonists were trained on free flight on the "free" balloons, but they had to stay within 50 miles of post and 8,000 feet.

The tethered or "captured" balloons were for observation only - connected to winch trucks on the ground by cable and transported at speeds as high as 60 miles an hour. They were inflated with hydrogen and operated at a maximum height of 4,300 feet. They observed and relayed fire-corrective information to special operation trucks.

At this time, balloon companies were a corps-level asset. The Army of World War I also included an aero squadron in every corps. Other auxiliary units for a corps were an anti-aircraft machine-gun and anti. aircraft artillery battalion, a remount depot, a. bakery company, a. troop transport train, a. telegraph battalion, a field signal battalion, a photo section and a sales commissary unit.

Self-propelled balloons were developed at Post Field in 1937. These balloons were designed to be powered to an observation point, their motors removed and observation baskets were attached. The famous balloon hangar, moved from Moffitt Field to Fort Sill in 1934, was intended to house dirigibles. The unique "cross" on the side of the building has no religious significance - it is part of an air circulation system designed to dry balloon fabric and parachutes.

Balloons were assigned to the field until 1941. The 1st Airborne Command and Control Squadron at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., traces its lineage through the 1st Balloon Company.

An Enduring Legacy - Fort Sill Aviation

The 44th Aero Squadron was assigned to support the Field Artillery School at Post Field in Aug. 1922. It was reassigned July 31, 1927 to the Air Corps Training Center. The unit today is not active. It was replaced by the 88th Observation Squadron, which moved from Brooks Field, Texas, to Fort Sill in Sept. 1928. The 88th left Post Field in 1931 and today is known as the 436th Training Squadron out of Dyess AFB, Texas.

In the 1930s the WPA and Army built several new permanent structures to replace the World War I-era tar paper buildings. Building 4908, the aircraft maintenance hangar, built in 1932 is the oldest building at the airfield.

World War II to present

By 1940, the Field Artillery School had permission to train its own fixed wing pilots as field artillery spotters. The Army Air Corps turned Post Field over to the FA School and the facility began to swarm with Grasshoppers and Bird Dogs. (single-engine small airplanes) - part of the Department of Air Training.

What was originally a five-week course was expanded, and special primary flight schools for prospective field artillery pilots were set up at Pittsburg, Kansas, and Denton, Texas. After attending one of these primary schools, pilots went to Post Field for their advanced training, which included short field procedures and observer training.

By the end of the war, 262 pilots and 2,262 mechanics were trained at Post Field.

Advancements in air defense artillery and radar systems during the Cold War made the slow-moving Grasshoppers and Bird Dogs easy targets - especially in forward areas. Because of this vulnerability, they were phased out during the Vietnam War. During that conflict, 469 O-1 Bird Dogs were lost to all causes. 284 of these were lost by the Army.

The Army Ground Forces Air Training School (later designated the Army Aviation School) was established at Post Field on Dec. 7, 1945. In Oct. 1948, pilot training for helicopters H25 and H13 began. The first warrant officer class began in 1951.

The school was transferred to Camp Rucker, Ala. in 1954, but Post Field still had an assortment of helicopter units that called it home.

In 1963 the 1st Aerial Artillery Group (Provisional) was organized to test equipping CH-34 helicopters with rocket pods attached to each side. The rockets converted a transport aircraft, an easy target in most combat situations, into a sophisticated flying weapon capable of direct or indirect fires. It was the ancestor to the Cheyenne and Long Bow attack helicopters of today.

The 295th Aviation Company. (Heavy Helicopter) was established at Fort Sill in the 60s. The unit was assigned ten Skycrane CH-54A helicopters. The unit also had a UH-1H administrative aircraft and later an OH-58 joined the unit. It was the mother company to the 355th Aviation Company (that deployed to Vietnam in 1968-69) and the 273rd Aviation Company (that deployed to Vietnam 1967-1968.) In Dec. 1969, the unit was deployed to Finthen Army Airfield near Mainz, Germany. Today, the company is designated F Company, 159th Aviation Regiment (Heavy Lift Helicopter Company) and is equipped with CH-47 Chinooks.

Post Field is the oldest continually operating airfield in the U.S. Army.

Cemeteries

There are various cemeteries on Fort Sill, where many Indians are buried. Geronimo
Geronimo
Geronimo was a prominent Native American leader of the Chiricahua Apache who fought against Mexico and the United States for their expansion into Apache tribal lands for several decades during the Apache Wars. Allegedly, "Geronimo" was the name given to him during a Mexican incident...

, Kiowa Chief Satanta
Satanta
Satanta can refer to:* Satanta , a chief of the Kiowa Native Americans* Satanta, Kansas, a town in the United States...

, and Comanche Chief Quanah Parker
Quanah Parker
Quanah Parker was a Comanche chief, a leader in the Native American Church, and the last leader of the powerful Quahadi band before they surrendered their battle of the Great Plains and went to a reservation in Indian Territory...

 are among the famous Native American leaders buried there.

Activities today

A detachment of the United States Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

, consisting of a firing battery and commanded by a colonel, is stationed at Fort Sill. Referred to as the MARDET, the detachment works with the Field Artillery School to train Marine artillerymen. Marines also serve as gunnery and fire support instructors at the Field Artillery Officer Basic Course, and as small group leaders at the Field Artillery Captains' Career Course. All Marine artillery officers attend the Field Artillery School and are trained alongside their Army Counterparts.

The 77th Army Band (Special designation
Special designation
A special designation in the United States Army is a "nickname granted to a military organization" which has been authorized by the Center of Military History and recognized through a certificate signed by the Chief of Military History...

:"The Pride of Fort Sill") is part of the Fires Center of Excellence. It was originally organized on 1 March 1907 at Fort Du Pont, Delaware as the 13th Band, Coast Artillery.

Another special detachment is the Field Artillery Half Section, an eight-man group representative of the "flying artillery" which was drawn by a team of horses (the Half Section has eight horses – all named after former commanding generals of Fort Sill) around the turn of the 20th century. The Half Section was established in 1969 to celebrate Fort Sill's Centennial. The Soldiers are volunteers for the show group, while the horses, their equipment and transportation are provided through charitable donations. The popular Half Section has appeared in regional parades, local festivities, change of command ceremonies and a presidential inauguration parade.

Tenant units

  • 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade
    31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade (United States)
    The 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade is an air defense artillery brigade of the United States Army based at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.- Organization :* 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade ** Headquarters and Headquarters Battery...

    • 3rd Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment (United States)
      2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment (United States)
      The 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment is an air defense artillery regiment of the United States Army first formed in 1821.-Lineage:Constituted 1 June 1821 in the Regular Army as the 2nd Regiment of Artillery and organized from existing units with Headquarters at Baltimore, MarylandRegiment broken...

    • 4th Battalion, 3rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment (United States)
      3rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment (United States)
      The 3rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment is an air defense artillery regiment of the United States Army first formed in 1821 as the 3rd Regiment of Artillery.-History:...

  • 75th Fires Brigade
    75th Fires Brigade (United States)
    The 75th Fires Brigade is an artillery brigade in the United States Army. It is currently based in Fort Sill, Oklahoma and supports the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas.- Mission :...

    • 3rd Battalion, 13th Field Artillery Regiment (United States)
      13th Field Artillery Regiment (United States)
      The 13th Field Artillery Regiment is an Field Artillery regiment of the United States Army first formed in 1916-History:The 13th Field Artillery was Constituted 1 July 1916 in the Regular Army at Camp Stewart, Texas-Lineage:...

    • 2nd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery Regiment (United States)
      18th Field Artillery Regiment (United States)
      The 18th Field Artillery Regiment is an Field Artillery regiment of the United States Army first formed in 1916-Distinctive Unit Insignia:*Description...

    • 1st Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment (United States)
      17th Field Artillery Regiment (United States)
      The 17th Field Artillery Regiment is an Field Artillery regiment of the United States Army first formed in 1916-History:The 17th Field Artillery was Constituted 1 July 1916 in the Regular Army at Camp Robinson, Wisconsin-Lineage:...

    • 100th Brigade Support Battalion
  • 214th Fires Brigade
    • 2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery Regiment (United States)
      4th Field Artillery Regiment (United States)
      The 4th Field Artillery Regiment is an Field Artillery regiment of the United States Army first formed in 1907.-History:The 4th Field Artillery Regiment was first activated in 1907 from numbered companies of artillery...

    • 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment (United States)
      5th Field Artillery Regiment (United States)
      The 5th Field Artillery Regiment was constituted as part of the Regular Army in January 1907. Individual battalions have lineages that date back further.-Distinctive Unit Insignia:*Description...

    • 1st Battalion, 14th Field Artillery Regiment (United States)
      14th Field Artillery Regiment (United States)
      The 14th Field Artillery Regiment is an Field Artillery regiment of the United States Army first formed in 1916-History:The 14th Field Artillery was Constituted 1 July 1916 in the Regular Army at Fort Sill, Oklahoma-Lineage:...

    • 168th Brigade Support Battalion
    • Hotel Battery, 26th Field Artillery Regiment (United States)
      26th Field Artillery Regiment (United States)
      The 26th Field Artillery Regiment is an Field Artillery regiment of the United States Army. first Constituted 5 July 1918 in the National Army -Lineage:...

      (Target Acquisition)
    • 529th Signal Company
  • United States Army Field Artillery School
    United States Army Field Artillery School
    The United States Army Field Artillery School trains Field Artillery Soldiers and Marines in tactics, techniques, and procedures for the employment of fire support systems in support of the maneuver commander...

  • United States Army Air Defense Artillery School

Climate


External links

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