Thursday, January 10, 2019

A Century of Support to the Governor of the State of Georgia

by Maj. William Carraway
Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

On January 14, 2019, Brian Kemp will be sworn in as the 83rd Governor of Georgia. Soldiers and Airmen of the Georgia National Guard along with volunteers from the Ga. State Defense Force will take part in inaugural activities as they have for decades. In this article, the Georgia National Guard History office looks back at how the Georgia Guard has participated in the inaugurations of past commanders in chief.

1915: Ga. Guard Secures Inauguration

June 21, 1915, just six days before he left office, Governor John Slaton commuted the death sentence of a convicted murderer who had been condemned by a jury decision that subsequent historians and legal scholars largely consider erroneous. Ensuing riots and threats of violence against Slaton prompted the activation of the Georgia Guard. Brigadier General J. Van Holt Nash, Georgia’s Adjutant General, mobilized the 5th Infantry Regiment; Troop L, Second Cavalry Squadron and Battery B, 1st Battalion Field Artillery.[i] Colonel Orville Hall, commander of the 5th Infantry dispatched two companies to provide security for the governor.[ii] Arriving at the governor’s house, the companies of the 5th Infantry were confronted by a crowd of 2,000 angry citizens who had barricaded the gate to the house. The troops had to fight their way onto the grounds. Several Guardsmen were injured by rocks or broken bottles hurled by the mob. By the morning of June 22, the Guardsmen had successfully dispersed the mob. For the next several days, Guardsmen rotated through security shifts repelling occasional assaults and arresting citizens who failed to disperse.[iii]

Governor Nathan Harris (right) with Brig. Gen. Walter
Harris, commander of the 1st Brigade, Ga. National Guard
reviews troops of the 2nd Ga. Infantry Regiment (now the
121st IR) in El Paso, Texas in 1916. Photo courtesy of the
Vivian Roberts Collection and Mrs. Tonie Maxwell
On June 27, 1915, The Georgia Guard Soldiers participated in the inauguration of Governor Nathaniel Harris providing security and firing a 17-gun salute.[iv] At the time of Harris’ inauguration the Georgia Guard was composed of 3,045 Soldiers.[v] In 1916, Harris became the first Georgia Governor to visit troops of the Georgia Guard mobilized outside the state when he visited the 1st Brigade encampment at Camp Cotton, El Paso. Harris observed a review of the Georgia Guard units including those who had helped secure his inauguration.

1955: A Tale of Two TAGs
In 1955, two former Adjutants General were inaugurated as the Governor and Lt. Governor of Georgia.  Marvin Griffin was inaugurated as the 72nd Governor of Georgia. Griffin commanded the Georgia National Guard’s 101st Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion in the Pacific theater for 31 months during World War II and served as Georgia’s Adjutant General from 1944 to 1947. Former adjutant general Ernest Vandiver was sworn in as Georgia’s third lieutenant Governor.[vi]

Colonel Roy Hogan leads the 121st Infantry Regiment during
the inaugural parade for Gov. Griffin. Georgia Guardsman, Jan
1955, 5.
More than 2,500 Georgia National Guardsmen paraded down Peachtree Street before the governor’s reviewing stand. The Governor reviewed the Soldiers, tanks and artillery of the Macon-based 48th Infantry Division, the guns of the 108th Antiaircraft Artillery Brigade and Georgia Air National Guard floats depicting aircraft engines and an oscillating radar antenna of the 129th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron. Poor weather conditions prevented a scheduled fly-over by Georgia Air National Guard F-84 Thunderjets, but the streets echoed to the rumble of twelve tanks 14 howitzers and nine antiaircraft guns. The 48th Infantry Division Band provided music along with the 30th Infantry Division Band and 530th Air Force Band from Dobbins Air Reserve Base.[vii]

Soldiers of the Ga. ARNG's 201st Ordnance Company fires a 19
gun inaugural salute to Gov. Ernest Vandiver from the capitol
grounds. Georgia Guard Archives
1959: Former Guardsmen Succeed Griffin
In 1959, former Adjutant General Ernest Vandiver was inaugurated as the 73rd Governor of Georgia. Vandiver, a World War II veteran, was appointed Adjutant General of Georgia by Gov. Herman Talmadge in 1948 and served as TAG for six years. He achieved the rank of Major General in the Air National Guard becoming the youngest person to reach that rank.[viii] His Lieutenant Governor, Garland T. Byrd, was an active member of the Ga. Guard serving as the judge advocate for the State Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment. A World War II Veteran, Byrd received the Silver Star for leading his troops on a raid more than 50 miles behind German lines.[ix]
Following Governor Vandiver’s swearing-in ceremony A thundering 19-gun salute echoed from the western lawn of the State capitol where two 75 mm cannons were manned by Guardsmen of the 201st Ordnance Company. Six F-86 fighter jets flown in tight formation by the 128th Fighter Interceptor Squadron streaked overhead as musical salutes by the 530th Air Force Band saluted the new governor.[x]

F86L Sabres of the 128th Fighter Interceptor Squadron provided an inaugural fly over for incoming Ga. Gov. Ernest Vandiver. Georgia Gard Archives
1963: Armored Reception
Georgia Guardsmen of the 878th Engineer Battalion pass the reviewing
stand of Gov. Carl Sanders. Georgia Guardsman Magazine, Jan 63, 2.
A mile-long inaugural parade honored Governor Carl Sanders following his January 1963 inauguration. Maj. Gen. George Hearn, Adjutant General of the Ga. Guard served as the grand marshal of the parade which incorporated tanks and howitzers of the 48th Armor Division as well as engineering equipment from the 265th Combat Engineer Battalion in Statesboro, home of first lady Betty Sanders. As in 1959, Guardsmen of the 201st Ordnance Company fired a 19-gun salute while C-97 Stratofreighters of the 128th Air Transport Squadron flew overhead.[xi]

1967: Salute and Security
For the January 1967 inauguration of Gov. Lester Maddox, the 19-gun salute was upgraded to 105 mm howitzers fired by the 648th Maintenance Battalion. Security for the inauguration was provided by the 48th Military Police Company.

This Ga. ARNG helicopter delivered Gov. George Busbee
to his inauguration at Philips Arena. Georgia Guardsman
Magazine, Jan. 1975, inside cover 
1971: Vandiver Returns
During inaugural ceremonies for Governor Jimmy Carter in January 1971, Carter appointed Ernest Vandiver to serve for a second time as Adjutant General of Georgia. Vandiver became the fourth TAG to serve two separate terms along with Maj. Gen. George Hearn and Brig. Gen. Charles M. Cox and J. Van Holt Nash.[xii]

1975: Workhorse
Governor Elect George Busbee was transported to his January 14, 1975 inauguration in a Georgia Army National Guard UH-1 helicopter designated as Workhorse. The 116th Army Band and 530th Air Force Band provided musical entertainment for inaugural ceremonies while military police of the 190th Military Police Company provided security.[xiii]

The Modern Era
The Georgia Guard continued to support the inauguration of Governors through the most recent administrations of Governors Sonny Perdue and Nathan Deal. For the first time since World War II, during Perdue’s inauguration, a Georgia Governor entered office with troops overseas. Collectively, Governors Perdue and Deal observed all four of the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat team’s deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Governor Nathan Deal, followed by Maj. Gen. William T. Nesbitt, Georgia’s Adjutant General; and Col. Bill Hitchens, Ga. Department of Public Safety
Commissioner reviews a formation of Ga. Army and Air Guardsmen and Ga. State Troopers inside the state capitol shortly after being sworn into office as 
Georgia’s 82nd governor Jan 11, 2011. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Roy Henry

[i] Report of the Adjutant General, State of Georgia for the Year 1915. Atlanta, GA: Byrd Printing Company, 1916, 97-99.
[ii] Report of the Adjutant General, State of Georgia for the Year 1915. Atlanta, GA: Byrd Printing Company, 1916, 100.
[iii] Report of the Adjutant General, State of Georgia for the Year 1915. Atlanta, GA: Byrd Printing Company, 1916, 113-117.
[iv] Report of the Adjutant General, State of Georgia for the Year 1915. Atlanta, GA: Byrd Printing Company, 1916, 106.
[v] Report of the Adjutant General, State of Georgia for the Year 1915. Atlanta, GA: Byrd Printing Company, 1916, 3.
[vi] "Marvin Griffin Becomes Georgia's Chief Executive and New Commander in Chief of the Georgia NG." The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, January 1955, 2.
[vii] “2500 Georgia Guardsmen Display Their Military Power before 200,000 Georgians in 2 1-2 hour Inaugural Parade.” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, January 1955, 10.
[viii] “Gov. Ernest Vandiver Assumes Office with Background of Nat’l Guard Service.” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, January 1959, 5.
[ix] “Lt. Governor Byrd Active Guardsman.” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, January 1959, 5.
[x] "Ernest Vandiver Becomes Guard’s Commander-in-Chief." The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, January 1959, 6-7.
[xi] "Mile-Long Inaugural Parade Hails New Commander-in-Chief as Components Salute Gov Sanders" The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, January 1963, 2.
[xii] Georgia Department of Defense Annual Report 2013. Marietta, GA: 2014, 46.
[xiii] “George Busbee Sworn in As Governor of Georgia.” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, January 1975, 4-5.

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