251st Air Defense Artillery Regiment

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251st Coast Artillery Regiment
251st ADA coa.png
Coat of arms
  • 1924 - 44
  • 1959 - ?
Country  United States
Branch California Army National Guard
Type Air defense
Garrison/HQ San Diego[1]
Motto(s) "We Aim to Hit"
Distinctive Unit Insignia 251st ADA DUI.png

The 251st Coast Artillery was a coast artillery regiment in the California National Guard, constituted in 1924 as a harbor defense regiment and redesignated in 1930 as an antiaircraft regiment. It served in World War II in that capacity.


Constituted 1 November 1924 in the California National Guard as the 251st Coast Artillery (HD)(Coast Artillery Corps) as follows-

  • HHB from ?
  • 1st Battalion HHB from new
  • A Battery from E Battery 250th Coast Artillery
  • B Battery from F Battery 250th Coast Artillery
  • C Battery from H Battery 250th Coast Artillery
  • D Battery from new
  • 2nd Battalion from new

Redesignated and reorganized as 251st Coast Artillery (AA) 1 January 1930.

  • inducted into Federal service 16 September 1940 at home stations[3]
  • boarded ships for Hawaii on 17 November 1940, arrived at Fort Shafter, Hawaii on 23 November 1940,[3] said to be the first National Guard unit shipped overseas in World War II[4]
  • moved to Camp Malakole, HI on 27 January 1941, assigned to the air defense of Pearl Harbor[3]
  • engaged during the attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941
  • departed Hawaii for Fiji 22 May 1942[4]
  • 3rd battalion constituted 27 May 1942 at Nadi, Fiji Islands

Arrival of the regiment in Fiji was reported on 1 June 1942,[3] 'more than doubling the anti-aircraft defences of Fiji.'[2]

Regiment broken up 1 March 1944 as follows-

  • HHB as HHB 251st Antiaircraft Artillery Group[5][4]
  • 1st Battalion as 746th Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion[4]
  • 2nd battalion as 951st Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion[4]
  • 3rd Battalion as 140th Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion (Gaines and Stanton list 3rd Battalion as disbanded 1 March 1944, Stanton lists 140th AAA Gun Battalion as existing stateside 10 July 1943 to 25 January 1945)[3][4]

The individual battalions were also broken up and redesignated.

746th Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion inactivated 15 January 1946 at Camp Stoneman, California.

Later the regiment became an air defense regiment, and was equipped with the Nike-Hercules missile. Elements which were to become part of the 251st Air Defense Artillery were under control of the Regular Army's 47th Artillery Brigade (Air Defense), part of Army Air Defense Command. The brigade's command post was at the Fort MacArthur Direction Center. In May 1959, the 720th ADA Battalion was redesigned as the 4th Missile Battalion (Nike-Hercules) 251st Artillery, California Army National Guard.[6]

The lineage of the regiments headquarters company continues on in the form of the headquarters company of the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.[5]

Distinctive unit insignia[edit]

  • Description

A Gold color metal and enamel device 1 18 inches (2.9 cm) in height overall consisting of a shield blazoned: Or, six pallets couped Gules, a ship of Cabrillo’s time Argent; on a canton Azure a fleur-de-lis encircled by a garland of laurel of the first. Attached below and to the sides of the shield a Red scroll inscribed “WE AIM TO HIT” in Gold letters.

  • Symbolism

The shield is red for Artillery. The six pallets couped produce a diminished bordure effect on the shield and represent the six batteries comprising the Regiment at the time of its organization. The ship is a representation of the ship of Don Juan Rodrigues Cabrillo, a Portuguese, who discovered San Diego Harbor. The charges on the canton, the fleur-de-lis encircled by a garland of laurel, are taken from the coat of arms of the 250th Coast Artillery, as Batter B of the 251st Coast Artillery, California National Guard, is a descendant of Batter F of the 250th Coast Artillery, California National Guard which served during World War I as B Battery of the 65th Coast Artillery (US).

  • Background

The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for the 251st Coast Artillery (Harbor Defense) on 9 January 1928. It was amended to add the motto on 16 June 1928. It was redesignated for the 746th Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion on 7 January 1952. The insignia was redesignated for the 251st Artillery Regiment on 16 February 1961. It was redesignated for the 251st Air Defense Artillery Regiment on 10 July 1972.[7]


In 1936, the regiment was awarded the Coast Artillery Association Trophy.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "251st Coast Artillery Regiment (Anti-Aircraft)". California State Military Museums. California Military Department. 23 June 2017. Retrieved 18 April 2018. Headquartered in San Diego with elements in Long Beach, San Diego and San Pedro. 
  2. ^ a b "We Aim to Hit". California State Military Museum. California State Military Department. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
    Goolsby, Denise (7 December 2013). "Emotions still vivid for Pearl Harbor survivor". USA Today. The Desert Sun. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
    Jeffrey J. Gudmens (2005). Staff Ride Handbook for the Attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941: A Study of Defending America. DIANE Publishing. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-4289-1644-9. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Gaines
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Stanton, p. 417
  5. ^ a b Jeffrey J. Clarke (18 March 2011). "Headquarters, 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team". Center of Military History. United States Army. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  6. ^ S.E. Stokes; M.A. Berhow (2013). "The 47th Artillery Brigade at Fort MacArthur 1952-1969". Batter Osgood-Farley Historic Site. The Fort MacArthur Museum Association. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  7. ^ "251st Air Defense Artillery Regiment". Institute of Heraldry. United States Army. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  8. ^ McFarland, George C. (May–June 1936). "Vivisection of the 251st C. A." (PDF). Coastal Artillery Journal. Fort Monroe, Virginia: Coastal Artillery Training Center, United States Army. Retrieved 18 April 2018. 

Further reading[edit]

  • James A. Sawicki, Antiaircraft Artillery Battalions of the U.S. Army (Volumes 1,2) 1991, ISBN 0-9602404-7-0

External links[edit]