Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Brief History of the Ga. ARNG’s 286th Infantry Battalion

The 286th activation ceremony was the cover story of the
Jan. 1954 edition of the Georgia Guardsman Magazine
by Maj. William Carraway
Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

On January 11, 1954 Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 286th Infantry Battalion was activated and federally recognized during a ceremony at the unit’s Dublin Armory. The 286th, commanded by Lt. Col. William Crowley of Dublin, became the 104th Ga. Army National Guard unit activated since the reorganization of National Guard forces following World War II.[i]

The activation ceremony was the culmination of years of effort by the Georgia Guard and citizens of Dublin. National Guard Bureau authorized the organization of the 286th in correspondence dated Oct. 15, 1953, but the authorization did not prescribe the location of the unit. The American Legion Post in Dublin led the way in sponsoring the effort to bring the unit to Dublin providing space and furniture for class rooms and an orderly room. Contributions from citizens and businesses raised enough money to build a supply room and arms room onto the existing American Legion Hall. Local Soldiers of the Ga. ARNG donated time and effort constructing facilities to house the 286th.

Murray Chappel, commander of the Dublin American Legion
(left) stands with recruits from Dublin High School's football
team.  Georgia Guard Archives
 One week prior to the activation of the 286th, Col. Charlie Camp the Assistant Adjutant General of Georgia and several members of headquarters staff and representatives from the 48th Infantry Division traveled to Dublin to welcome and process recruits. Public Affairs Officer and future Assistant Adjutant General – Air Lt. Col. (later Brig. Gen) Homer Flynn and Capt. (later Col) Doug Embry interviewed recruits and photographed the preparatory activities. Long-time Warrant Officer Joseph G. Strange and Maj. (Later Col.) Robert Baird represented the adjutant’s office for the state and 48th Infantry Division, respectively. Over the next several days leading up to the activation, these Soldiers processed seventy applications and completed the enlistment packages of 40 new enlistees. These new recruits received on the spot medical assessments from Capt. George Lane, commander of the 190th Tank Battalion’s Medical Detachment.

Col. Charlie Camp's address to the recruits of the 286th is
 broadcast by WMLT Dublin. Georgia Guard Archives
Dublin radio station WMLT broadcast Col. Charlie Camp’s address to the new recruits of the 286th Infantry Battalion. In his address, Camp thanked the enlistees and their parents and assured them that the new Soldiers were taking positive first step in their military careers and had contributed to the strength of the Georgia National Guard.
On Jan. 11, 1954, 31 of the new recruits were sworn into the 286th. These charter members included five non-commissioned officers and 26 privates.

One month later, Company A, 286th Infantry Battalion was activated in Lyons, Ga. Company B was activated and federally recognized in Sandersville, Ga. April 21, 1954.[ii][iii]

Col. Charlie Camp and officers of Company A, 286th Infantry Battalion stand
with the new recruits at the unit's activation ceremony in Lyons, Ga. Feb. 19, 1954
 Ga. Guard Archives

The 286th perpetuated the lineage and honors of the 86th Chemical Battalion (Motorized) which was constituted May 4, 1943 and activated at Camp Swift, Texas May 17, 1943.[iv] The 86th served in the European Theater of Operations during World War II earning campaign streamers for Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe. Company B and C received the Distinguished Unit Award for actions in the Hurtgen Forest. Company C was additionally cited in the Belgian Order of the Day for actions in the Ardennes and on Elsenborn Crest thus earning the Belgian Fourragere. Company A distinguished itself in the Ardennes and was also cited in the Belgian Order of the Day. The 86th was inactivated Nov. 1, 1946 at Camp Campbell, Ky. and was reorganized Jan. 11, 1954 as the 286th Infantry Battalion.[v]

The 286th Infantry Battalion attended its first and only annual training in August 1955

at Camp McClellan, Ala. Three months later, the 48th Infantry Division was reorganized as the 48th Armor Division. The 286th was reorganized and redesignated as the 160th Tank Battalion effective November 1, 1955.[vi]
FORT MCCLELLAN, Ala. August 16, 1955 - Captain William Salem instructs the men of his command while on field training. Captain Salem commands 
Company A, 286th Infantry Battalion which is based in Lyons, Ga. Photo Courtesy of Georgia Guard Historical Archives

[i] “286th Infantry Bn -HM- Activated in Dublin.” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, January 1954, 6-7.
[ii] NG AROTO 325.4 March 3, 1954 effective 19 Feb. 1954
[iii] NG AROTO 325.4 May 4, 1954 effective April 21, 1954
[iv] AG 320.2 May 1, 1943
[v] Official Statement of Lineage and Battle Honors, 286th Infantry Battalion (Heavy Mortar) Sept. 9, 1954
[vi] NG AROTO 325.4 October 17, 1955 effective November 1, 1955

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