United States Army

Whatever happened to the 8th Missile Battalion,
1st Air Defense, 30th Artillery Brigade (HAWK)?



As of July 1, 1973, the 30th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, located on Okinawa ceased operations and was placed on inactive status. The brigade, which was composed of two battalions, the 8th Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery (Hawk) and the 8th Battalion, 3rd Air Defense Artillery (Nike Hercules); the Headquarters Battery and the 44th Ordinance Company (Guided Missile) (General Support), was phased out as a result of the reversion of the Ryukyu Islands from United States control to the control of the Japanese Government which took place in 1972.

The 30th Air Defense Artillery Brigade has roots dating from World War 1, specifically with the formation of the First Expeditionary Brigade, Coast Artillery Corps, Regular Army, at Fort Adams, Rhode Island, July 24, 1917. Originally, it was known as the First Separate Brigade, Coast Artillery Corps, receiving its numerical designation as the 30th Artillery Brigade (Coast Artillery Corps-Railway), March 25, 1918. In that year the brigade took its heavy railway guns to France where it earned campaign streamers for the Saint-Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives.

After the war the brigade returned from Europe and was inactivated at Camp Eustis, Virginia, in August 1921. Save for a four-year period 1926-1930, the 30th Artillery Brigade did not reappear on rolls of the active Army until 1960. In 1949 the Army activated on Okinawa the 97th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Group composed of elements of the 61st and the 65th Artilleries. Armed with 78mm Skysweepers, 120mm and 90mm guns, the units of the 97th AAA served through a trouble-ridden decade that saw the Korean War, the Indo-China War and successive crises.

In 1959 the Army’s 97th Group converted to the highly capable Nike-Hercules air defense missiles and on June 24, 1960 was redesignated the 30th Artillery Brigade (Air Defense).

As then constituted, the brigade was formed in part from the former subordinate units of the inactivated 97th, to include the brigade headquarters, the 2nd Missile Battalion, 61st Artillery and the 1st Missile Battalion, 65th Artillery.

In 1961 the 30th Brigade was brought to four-battalion strength with the arrival of battalions of the 1st and 3rd Artilleries armed with the deadly Hawk air defense missile to provide protection against low altitude aircraft. On June 6, 1961 the 30th Artillery Brigade (AD) became the first Allied unit to fire a Nike-Hercules missile outside CONUS.

The year 1968 saw the 44th Ordinance Company (Guided Missile) (General Support) (Direct Support) formed from four direct support platoons and two engineer detachments attached to the missile battalions. At this time there were 16 missile sites, 8 Hawk and 8 Nike-Hercules.

The 30th Artillery Brigade (AD) emerged as a mission-oriented Army team of more than one arm or branch, for it included its own supporting Engineer, Ordinance and Signal elements. In turn, the air defense elements of the brigade, working under the operational control of the 313th Air Division, worked closely with the U.S. Air Force as part of a highly effective multi-service air defense team, protecting Okinawa from possible hostile air attack.

In October of 1969 the brigade was reorganized with the four battalions being reduced in strength and combined into two- one Hawk (8th Battalion, 1st Artillery) and one Nike-Hercules (8th Battalion, 3rd Artillery). The battalions of the 61st and the 65th Artillery were returned to inactive status.

On September 14, 1971, both the 1st and 3rd Artilleries were redesignated as Air Defense Artillery, as a result of the realignment of the Army Artillery Regiments, and on 13 March, 1972, the brigade was redesignated from the 30th Artillery Brigade (Air Defense) to the 30th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.

On November 21, 1969, in a joint communiqué, U.S. President Richard M. Nixon and Japanese Prime Minister Eisaku Sato announced that the Government of Japan and the Government of the United States of America should enter immediately into negotiations for the reversion of the Ryukyu Islands to Japan. After extensive planning, the reversion of the Ryukyu Islands took place on March 15, 1972, terminating over 25 years of United States administration.

Included in the reversion agreements was an arrangement that Japan would assume the responsibility for the air, ground and maritime defense of the Islands not later than July 1, 1973. The Government of Japan agreed to deploy A Nike group (3 batteries), a Hawk group (4 batteries) and appropriate supporting troops to Okinawa to carry on the surface-to-air missile role in the Air Defense Mission. Additionally the Government of Japan agreed to buy the U.S. equipment presently located on site.

A Surface-to-Air Missile Transfer Plan was jointly prepared by U.S. Army, Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) and Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) planners. The Nike missile systems were transferred to the JASDF and the Hawk missile system to the JGSDF.

In accordance with the Transfer Plan, on-site orientation and familiarization took place on Nike sites, with 30th ADA Brigade and JASDF advance party personnel working and living together on site. Brigade personnel manned the sites until transfer was complete.

When all facets of the transfer were completed, one of the significant phases of Okinawa Reversion was finalized. The Brigade is proud to have been a part of such an historic event.

As of July 1973, the 30th Air Defense Artillery Brigade officially ceased to exist as an active unit. Throughout its tenure on Okinawa the Brigade exemplified the highest spirit and tradition of the Air Defense Artillery. It is this spirit and tradition that saw the Brigade through 13 years of unceasing, 24 hour-a-day vigilance in the Ryukyus-13 years of duty best described by the Brigade’s motto:

"Always on Target"

The old Hawk sites didn't just disappear after July 1973, they were all given to the Japanese goverment.   If you check this Web Site's Picture Page 1, you can see that a lot of the Hawk Sites are still in operation.   All these are current photographs from Google Earth and in most cases are only a few months old.   The Japanese National Defense Force is now running them. If you look carefully, you can still make out Hawk missiles at the ready.   Some of the sites, like Site 12 have been converted to other useages.   Also, Site 10's Admin area is gone, but the Tac Site in the ammo dump is still there and active.



This Web site was designed and is maintained by Tom Madracki, US56708259. For further information about this Hawk Missile Web Page, if you have pictures you'd like to see up here, or if you'd like to talk about the good old days, please CLICK HERE to send e-mail to me at tom@madracki.com.

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