Col. Randall A. McIntire, right, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade commander, hands Lt. Col. Aaron Roth, the new commander of the 1st Battalion, 62nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, a flag during the battalion’s activation ceremony Tuesday morning at Fort Hood’s Cameron Field

By Rose L. Thayer
Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD — Colors were uncased and soldiers were reviewed Tuesday, officially activating the 1st Battalion, 62nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.

The new Patriot battalion, known as the Skystrikers, was activated to provide stronger air defense within the Army, said Col. Randall A. McIntire, brigade commander. It’s the second air defense battalion to activate within five years.

“It’s your turn to carry the torch and defend the nation,” said McIntire to the soldiers who specialize in Patriot missiles.

There are now 15 air defense battalions in country — of those only seven are Patriot battalions and four of those are currently deployed to the Middle East.

“Now comes the hard part — building from the ground up,” said McIntire, addressing the battalion. “You have to hold together as a team to ensure your success.”

Lt. Col. Aaron Roth was selected from his position as commander of 1st Battalion, 362nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 5th Armor Brigade, 1st U.S. Army, Fort Bliss, to serve as battalion commander.

About 580 soldiers make up the six batteries of the battalion. Three of those batteries were activated on Fort Hood in June.

Roth said he was proud to see the regimental and battalion colors spring back to the forefront.

“We are rearmed and refit for Fort Hood,” he said.

The battalion already is scheduled to deploy to the Middle East in winter 2012, and McIntire said the soldiers have a year of serious training ahead of them.

“I challenge you to learn your team’s and your enemy’s strengths and weaknesses,” he said. “Become masters of your specialty.”

The battalion’s regimental history spans more than 200 years, beginning as artillerists and engineers in April 1798. The unit deactivated in September 2005 after serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan.