MISSION:"To Support Engineer Operations within a Corps Area by accomplishing sustainment engineering tasks."
The 861st Engineer Company, Rhode Island Army National Guard, is located in the Sun Valley Armory, 2841 South County Trail, East Greenwich, Rhode Island 02818. The 861st is the parent organization of Organizational Maintenance Shop #4, also located in the Armory. Soldiers in this unit are trained as truck drivers, heavy equipment operators, mechanics and other engineering support jobs.
The 861st was organized in 1865 as the Emmet Guards in the City of Providence. The unit was reorganized at East Greenwich in 1920. It was formed as the 16th Company, taking that number from the 16th Company, State Guard, from which most of its personnel was recruited. It is fostered by an Independent Company called the Varnum Continentals, whose armory they occupied, and from whom they derived considerable help. Mustered and given Federal recognition on June 30, 1920, as the 16th Co., C.A.C., R.I.N.G., in 1921 it was redesignated as the 3rd Co., C.A.C., R.I.N.G. In 1922 it was redesignated as the 347th Co., C.A.C., R.I.N.G.
In 1923, all Coast Artillery units were organized into a Regiment designated as the 243rd Arty., (CAC). The 347th Co. became Btry I, 243rd Arty., (CAC). In 1924, the 243rd Arty., (CAC) was redesignated as 243rd C.A., (HD). In 1940, I Battery was redesignated as Searchlight Battery, 243rd C.A., (HD).
On September 15, 1940, the 243rd C.A., (HD) was inducted into Federal Service and stationed at numerous forts comprising Narragansett Bay Harbor Defenses, in Rhode Island. Soon after entry into Federal Service Searchlight Battery was redesignated as K Battery, 243rd C.A., (HD).
On August 15, 1947, B Battery, 705th AAA Gun Battalion was formed at East Greenwich and federally recognized. In August of 1948 the unit attended its first full field training period at Camp Edwards, Mass. At nearby Camp Wellfleet, the 90MM guns were fired for the first time.
On August 14, 1950, B Battery, was inducted into the active military service of the United States at East Greenwich, R.I., with the 705th AAA Gun Battalion.
It was ordered to proceed to Camp Gordon, Georgia by rail. The rail movement and subsequent unloading of thirty-four flat cars of equipment was accomplished entirely by the personnel of the unit in such an excellent manner as to earn the praise of the Post Transportation Officer. This officer, an old railroad man himself, referred to the personnel of the battalion as looking like “old railroaders”. The unit then moved to Camp Stewart, Georgia by motor on 10 October 1950. The move of 130 miles was accomplished without a single vehicle dropping out and with the unit arriving exactly on schedule, to the minute. Brigadier General Charles C. Curtis, Commanding General 51st Antiaircraft Artillery Brigade, commended the unit for being the only one in the Brigade to accomplish the move in such excellent fashion. While the unit was stationed at Camp Stewart, Georgia it received three commendations from general grade officers.
The battalion arrived at Naha, Okinawa on 15 November 1951 aboard the USNS General Morton. The bulk of the battalion equipment was waiting on the dock, having arrived ahead of the troops. Early on the morning of 16 November 1951 the units debarked and immediately moved into field positions which had been previously selected.
The period of November and December 1951 was a busy one in view of the fact that the positions had never been previously utilized for antiaircraft artillery purposes. It was during this period that the officers and men were called upon to display their initiative and imagination in improving tactical and living conditions.
The 1st AW BN, 243 Artillery was created in 1959 from the conversion of the 705th AAA Bn (90mm). The 243d was reorganized and redesignated as the 1st Automatic Weapons Battalion (SP) and the 2nd Missile Battalion (NIKE-Ajax), 243 Artillery, as part of the CARS (Combat Arms Regimental System) reorganization of the ARNG on 1 April 1959. The 1st AW BN used half-track mounted AAA. Stationing of the battalion was as follows:
HHB - Providence Armory; A Battery - Newport; B Battery - East Greenwich; C Battery - Pawtucket Armory; D Battery - Westerly Armory
On 1 May 1962, the battalion was disbanded and it's assets used to create the 243d Engineer Battalion, with this unit being designated as Company B.
On 1 May 1968, the unit was redeignated as the 861st Engineer Company and relocated to the Sun Valley Armory at the same time. This move ended their almost 50 year association with the Varnum Continentals.
One of the next major state activation's came in 1978. The "Blizzard of '78" crippled the state and forced all units to be called to duty from 6 - 16 February 1978. The 118th performed traffic control to allow the engineers to perform snow removal. MP's were stationed throughout the downtown area to prevent looting. There had not been a statewide call up since the "Hurricane of '38", thirty-nine years earlier.
In December 2004, the unit was mobilized and inducted into Federal service for Operation Iraqi Freedom. After months of training as Combat Engineers, the unit arrived in Iraq in June 2005. The mission of the 861st while depolyed was to assist in the security of the Ar Ramadi Province with each platoon performing the following: [HQ] Command and Control; [1st] MSR security; [2nd] combat engineer and security missions with the 172nd Armor; [3rd] overwatch of MSR, combat support engineer and force protection. The unit performed approximately 2000 missions. Missions included roving security, observation post, LOG PACS, cordon and search, cache searches, ECP's, foot patrols, FOB improvements and force protection. Soldiers earned 246 awards (to include 74 Combat Action Badges and eight Bronze Stars). The unit returned home in June 2006.
This Unit earned battle streamers bearing the names:
Today, the citizen soldiers of the 861st Engineer Company, Rhode Island Army National Guard, continue to carry on the proud traditions of their forefathers and stand ready to answer the call to defend the nation or provide emergency services to the State of Rhode Island and its residents.