1950's - 1960's
/15th - Fort Wainwright, Alaska

15th Field Artillery Regiment


2/15th FA photos - 1960's
B Battery, 2/15th FA -1950's article
2/15th FA photos - 1950's


2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery
Fort Wainwright, Alaska
During the 1960's

15th FA photos - 1960's

These images were provided by Dennis Defrain,
host of the November 2001 reunion
in Phoenix, Arizona

[Click thumbnail images to enlarge]

Ft. Wainwright in winter

Flood of 1967

Ft. Wainwright in
winter of 1966


Flood of
August 1967


GrantHall.jpg (33831 bytes)

Pickett Hall

Grant Hall


Pickett Hall


Parade grounds at Ft. Wainwright

Entrance to Ft. Wainwright

Main Parade


Entrance in


Grant Hall housed all four batteries of the
2nd Battalion/15th Field Artillery

Headquarters Battery
A Battery - 105 SP
B Battery - 105 Towed
C Battery - 155 SP  

Winter maneuvers took place in the
Yukon Command Maneuver Area

LTC Johnson

LTC "Green pen"
Russ Johnson

Old news clipping

February 2002

The Sam Johnson of the 18th Century was said to have the greatest mind and memory in the English speaking world.  The Russ Johnson of 2002 has both children and grandchildren who insist that I not only forget things but also remember things that didn't happen at all. This should give you a backdrop for my "vivid" memories  of 37 years ago.

Our mission was certainly to develop and maintain the ability to provide artillery support in an arctic environment, but to appreciate that you have to understand the meaning of COLD. Once for 35 days the temperature never went above 40 below, and that's straight thermometer reading; wind chill often off the charts. Think of that in terms of vehicle maintenance; forget the complicated stuff, just try starting your vehicle up. Fortunately, we had on board the most talented maintenance officer I have seen at any level, WO John Gronwald. He viewed the whole thing as a personal challenge and developed and taught techniques that beat the environment.

The 2/15 in Alaska was a fun loving, competent, "team" kind of a group. This was largely because the environment provided a real enemy. If young leaders did not think their actions through, men got frostbite or worse; equipment broke or became non-operational. If lighter moments were not provided, families were exposed to what was called " cabin fever" during the never ending darkness of the winter months. It was an "us against nature" thing that made command at all levels relatively easy.

During 1965-66, a fire broke out close to Fairbanks, and for no particular reason the battalion was called out around 10 PM  to put it out. What started as a seemingly minor mission turned out to be months of fire fighting with the city of Fairbanks in danger. Since we were the first unit on the scene, additional support units from the Army, Air Force, and Bureau of Land Management were satellited onto us. The commanding general and even the governor were visitors to our small command post.

Fire, like everything else in the arctic is different. Fire breaks don't work because the fire can travel under ground in the tundra. We even fired artillery at it. Once B battery was asked by the Air Force to form a human arrow pointing at a particular hot spot so fire retardant could be dropped. The RED retardant missed and landed on the men in the battery. That evening the battery commander, John Dewey, asked if the men with the red fatigues could keep and wear them, and they became their "Red Badge of Courage." Eventually the fire was under control ( rain finally put it out ) and the battalion, by the skill of WO Gronwald returned  to Fort Wainwright with ALL VEHICLES OPERATIONAL.

Murphy Hall

Murphy Hall
First stop on Post!

M108 in YCMA

Frozen streams?

M108 in YCMA


Frozen streams?


On to Anchorage!

How does Florida compare?

May 1967
On to Anchorage!


Bill Stover and FO
crews -- How does
Florida compare?


Thanksgiving Day Menu

CO and staff in 1965

Thanksgiving Day


CO and staff
in 1965


  Dennis DeFrain

  2/15th Alaska - Contact

(623) 535-3102

Postal Address
3761 N. 156th Drive
Goodyear, AZ  85338-8576

Electronic mail


2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery
LADD AFB, Alaska
During the 1950's

Bravo Battery, 15th FA
By: Ozzie Santilli

During the years 1956-1958 most of the units from the 2nd Infantry Division served in Alaska. My unit 'Bravo' Battery, along with C Battery of the 15th FA, later reorganized and became the 2nd Armored Field Artillery Battalion.

Bravo Battery, along with the 9th Infantry Regiment, was stationed at LADD AFB in support of our airbase there. Charlie Battery was stationed at Eielson AFB nearby before merging with us.

Alpha Battery of the 15th was stationed at Fort Richardson, located in Anchorage, Alaska. We also had some 2nd Infantry units stationed at Elmendorf AFB and at Fort Yukon, Alaska.

I believe the Army portion of LADD AFB was designated as Fort Wainwright during the 1960's. Perhaps all of LADD AFB has been renamed Fort Wainwright. In any event, when we were there it was called LADD AFB.

A significant aspect of the 15th and all of the 2nd Infantry Division during the years 1956-1958 was that it was mobilized under the Army's new "Gyroscope Program" at that time. We were the first to do so under this new program and what it did was to form the entire division with new men. Aside from cadre, the majority of the division's troops reported to Fort Lewis after completing Basic Training (from posts all over the USA). Thus we were able to serve the majority of our tour together and it made for a highly trained division at the ready.

This all took place before the building of our nation's DEW Line (Distant Early Warning System) to protect our air bases in Alaska and to provide a warning system to the USA from hostilities by the Russians. In fact, we were being recruited to work as civilians on the DEW Line when our tour in Alaska was coming to an end. The pay was $1,000 a month with free room and board. That was a lot of money in 1957 and 1958. Those interested had to sign a one year commitment and some did. Tensions were high between the USSR and the US, and it was believed that if an invasion were to take place it would be from the north. Thus we needed the DEW Line. We felt privileged to be assigned to America's northern border for that reason. That may have been what the Pentagon had in mind when they came up with the idea of the Gyroscope Program.

15th FA photos - 1950's
Credit for the following images: Ozzie Santilli

[Click thumbnail images to enlarge]

Bravo Battery "Firing Team" -- Alaska 1956

Alaska.... the 49th State?

B Battery "Firing Team"
during a field exercise
Alaska 1956


Alaska was not
a state in 1956.
The 49th State(?)


Ozzie on maneuvers

Fire Direction Center in M-59 personnel Carrier - 1956

Ozzie on maneuvers


Fire Direction Center
in M-59 Personnel
Carrier -- 1956


1956 at Ladd AFB, Alaska in our barracks

First reunion of the men of Bravo battery (1955-1958) taken forty years later.

Ladd AFB, Alaska.
Note the mukaluks
worn when temps
were below 35 degrees

First reunion of the
men of Bravo battery
(1955-1958) taken
forty years later

More of Ozzie's pictures from this Era can be found in this slideshow.




15th Reunion Pages

  Reunion Homepage

  1992 Reunion - Pittsburgh, PA

  1995 Reunion - Clarksville, TN

  1998 Reunion - Louisville, KY

  7/15th Mini-Reunion - Kenosha, WI

  2001 Reunion - Ft. Sill, OK

  2/15th Reunions, Fort Wainwright

  2003 Reunion - Ft. Bragg, NC


  Fort Greely - Gerstle River Test Site