35th ADA celebrates 100 years protecting freedom
Over the course of a hundred years, the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade has undergone numerous transformations, but one thing that has remained constant is the unit’s legacy of defending freedom around the world.
The Dragon Brigade celebrated its 100th birthday, May 31, at Osan Air Base, South Korea, recognizing the unit’s achievements, its robust partnerships, as well as affirming its critical mission on the Korean Peninsula.
“Tonight is about honoring the proud history of the Dragon Brigade,” said Col. Richard Wright, 35th ADA Bde. commander. “It is also about celebrating the U.S. - Korea alliance, and the partnership we have established over the years.”
Since 2004, the Dragon Brigade has served as a critical safeguard to the freedom of more than 51 million people on the Korean Peninsula. Brigadier Gen. Sean Gainey, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command commander, and guest speaker for the evening, asserted the prestige of the 35th, its partnerships, and its current mission which sets the brigade apart from its peers.
“This brigade has formed an amazing team; not just within the Army, but the team that they’ve built with our Republic of Korea partners, as well as the 7th Air Force.” Gainey said. “This brigade has a very strong, rich history. When the brigade moved out here to Korea it really separated itself from the peer brigades in the branch.”
Among the brigade’s accomplishments, according to Gainey, is being the first to integrate a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery with Patriot Missile batteries, first to employ counter unmanned aerial systems capability and essentially writing the doctrine for the Army, and employing it in critical locations across Korea.
“If you look at where this brigade stands in combat readiness, you have to look no further than Exercise Key Resolve 18 where this brigade essentially set the standard,” Gainey said. “The ability of this brigade to execute tactical flexibility has been nothing short of miraculous.”
The 35th ADA Bde. traces its lineage back to June 1, 1918, when the American Coastal Artillery was constituted at Fort Hunt, Virginia, in defense of the Potomac River. Shortly after its creation, the Soldiers of the brigade shipped off to France as part of the American Expeditionary Force, and supported Allied victory in World War I.
The brigade’s first major transformation took place with the advent of combat aviation at the outset of World War II, in which Germany and Japan held a significant advantage. The 35th Coastal Artillery quickly developed anti-aircraft artillery capabilities and served in North Africa, and on the beachheads of Salerno and Normandy. During Operation Overlord in 1944, the 35th was credited with 406 confirmed kills against enemy aircraft.
Following WWII, the 35th returned to the Washington DC area to provide anti-aircraft defense for the nation’s capital. Early in the Cold War, the brigade was the first to field the Nike Ajax guided missile command, which was later upgraded by the Nike Hercules system.
From the Battle of Meuse-Argonne in WWI, to Salerno and Normandy in WWII, to the Person Gulf, and finally, to the Land of the Morning Calm, the Soldiers of the 35th ADA Bde. have always led the way in defending the skies. To this day, the Dragon Brigade remains at the forward edge of air defense, pacing the branch in modernization and fielding the Army’s newest air defense systems to defend against emerging threats.
Col. Richard Wright and Command Sgt. Major Wilfredo Suarez, 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade commander and command sergeant major, with Ms. Lee Mi Sook, an honored member of the Songtan chapter of the Good Neighbors organization, cut a birthday cake, May 31, at Osan Air Base, South Korea. The 35th ADA Bde. celebrated its 100th year of service in defense of freedom. Partnership was a key theme of the celebration as the brigade expressed it appreciation for the support of local civic leaders, and Korean folk performers entertained those in attendance.