4th Missile Bn
517th Artillery
Canal Zone


Col. Victor Fernandez (Ret.)


Recollections From Col. Victor Fernandez (Ret.) 


Sorry to take so long to respond to this query. First the holidays, and then I had to look through old records. Unfortunately, I couldn't find much about the History of the 4/517 ADA. I don't know when the battalion went to Panama, however, I was under the impression it had been there since WWII. I know nothing about a HOM number. Lee Lewis and Charles Kindrick, did command the batteries you noted, but I don't have any history that indicates they were the first commanders of those HAWK batteries. A and B batteries were Twin 40 M-42 armed. I don't know who the first battalion commander was, but two different commanders had the battalion during my time in the battalion. The commander I remember was Lt Col. John DeCamp, and the second was something like Lt Col Butler...but my memory is not certain about it.

My first job in the battalion after being Aide de Camp to Maj Gen Theodore F. Bogart, (CG USARCARIB/USARSO), was as S-2/Assistant S-3. When I completed my command time with Battery D at Ft. Sherman, I became the Battalion S-4. I turned down the job as S-1/Adjutant. I served four years in Panama I also commanded a HAWK battery in Viet Nam. I then went back to Field Artillery. My highest Field Artillery command was with the 1st Battalion 2nd Field Artillery in the Eighth Infantry Division in Germany. I had three jobs as a Colonel. One of which was as Deputy Commander of the Third ROTC Region at Ft. Riley (eight states, 92 Colleges and universities, 235 JROTC programs).

The HAWK was never, to my knowledge, towed by the Dusters. We did not train at Rio Hato. We fired our missiles off a Pina Beach on the Atlantic side, near the mouth of the Chagres River.

The two Duster Commanders I remember were 1LT Harold B. (Hal) Smith, Battery A at Ft Davis, and Captain Alvin E. (Al) Schiessl, Battery B at Ft Clayton. Al is now deceased. He retired as a Major. Hal Retired as a Lt Col, and was last known to live in Coure d Alene Idaho.

Sorry I couldn't be of more help, but I can't locate much from my time in 4/517.

Best of Luck,