The lineage of the 251st Coast Artillery Regiment (Anti-Aircraft) of the California National Guard traces all the way back to parent units organized on September 16th, 1916 as companies of the 1st Coast Defense Command of the Coast Artillery Corps (CAC). The 250th Coast Artillery Regiment located in San Francisco was similarly organized.
Elements of these organizations were called into federal service on August 5th, 1917 and were sent to France where they served during the Meuse and Argonne Campaigns. As noted in the Regiment's coat of Arms description, Battery B of the 251st CA was a direct descendant of Battery F of the 250th CA, hence the French fleur-de-Lis in blue and gold on the regimental insignia.
The original 251st was demobilized on February 2th, 1919 and was not reorganized as part of the Coast Artillery Corps until 1922. Then, in December of 1924, it was redesignated as the "251st C.A. Regiment (Harbor Defense)". However; on January 1st, 1930, the designation was changed to the currently more familiar title, the "251st C.A. Regiment (Anti-Aircraft)"
Little authoritative information is available about the period following demobilization after World War I. However, the following extracts from an informal summary written around 1938 by Lt. James B. Willey of Battery B, presents some information about that period- but only after an interesting and sometimes amusing narrative about the Regiment dating back to its very beginning:
"..... Fifty-one years ago (1887) this coming 12th of October, the first forerunner unit of the Regiment was organized. In those days it was an Infantry outfit, and the men worn blue uniforms. It was more of a social organization in those days and the drills were attended irregularly. The men elected their officers and non-commissioned officers and the selections were made on a basis of popularity. The Armory was a center of social functions and the papers of those day chronicle the gay times that the dashing soldiers had.
Later on in 1889, this Company B of long ago was not doing so well. The result was that it was consolidated with company A of the 9th (California) Infantry....... These were post-boom days in San Diego and depression had settled upon her citizens. It is reported that there were weeks when no one showed up at the Armory.
More or less to put new life into the organization, and so far as is known for no other good reason, the Company was redesignated Company B. This was in 1895, when there began to be talk of a war with Spain. There was more interest taken in the Armory than in many a day. Drill attendance picked up to the point where there were some weeks when more than fifty percent of the men were either in ranks or "around the Armory some place".
Finally, the war with Spain was on. There was great consternation in the ranks. Activity of all kinds was going on. Men marched up and down the street. The Company was recruited to full strength. Men kissed their wives and sweethearts goodbye. Everything was in readiness to leave. But noting happened. The war ended and the seething activity of war-time gave way to humdrum events of peace.
Along about the middle of 1909, it was decided that the West Coast needed more protection in the way of heavy artillery. So, on the 29th of June, this oldest Company of the Regiment was redesignated 5th Company, 1st Coast Defense Command, Coast Artillery Corps
On May 11th, 1910, another Company was organized which was known as the 8th Company, 1st Coast Defese Command. On the 12th of April, 1917, it was redesignated as the 6th Company of the Coast Defenses of San Diego.
Later; it was redesignated Battery B of the 65th Coast Artillery Regiment. It served in France with that unit, This is the Battery which went to war without any guns and with no weapons on ammunition....... when they arrived in France, they were trained behind the lines for too short a time.
Then they were put in two of the toughest spots on the front- the St. Mihel and the Meuse-Argonne. They were mustered out of federal service on February 28th, 1919.
........The next few years were fast and furious in civilian activities, but National Guard activities were temporarily in abeyance. Not until 1921 were several Guard Units again mustered in this time as 5th Company of CAC on March 15th. Then, what we know as battery B was recognized as 6th Company of CAC on the same day.
The next month, what we know as Service Battery was organized and designate the 7th Company CAC. On May 11th, what we know as Battery A was organized and designated as 8th Company.
Just before Christmas of 1921, the 9th Company of CAC was organized at Long Beach. In January of 1922, these companies were redesignated as the 463, 464, 465, 466 and the 467th respectively. In April, the San Pedro Battery was organized and designated the 468th CAC. These were all part of the San Diego Fort Command of the 1st CDC,
On the sixth day of 1923, all six companies were redesignated Batteries in the 2nd Battalion 250th Coast Artillery Regiment (Harbor Defense). On the 1st of November, 1924, the battalion was reorganized and expanded into the 251st Coast Artillery Regiment.
In the latter part of 1929, it was found that the crying need of the Western part of the United States was protection against enemy aircraft. This was soon rectified by the War Department designation the best Regiment in California to protect the western coast against enemy aircraft. On January 1st; 1930, this Regiment became the 251st CA (AA)........."
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