Sunday, December 1, 2019

The Creation of the 48th Brigade and its Shoulder Sleeve Insignia

By Maj. William Carraway
Historian, Georgia Army National Guard
The United States Army Institute of Heraldry final approved design of the shoulder sleeve insignia for the 48th Infantry Brigade. Georgia Guard Archives

The Macon, Ga. based 48th Brigade was established in the Georgia National Guard by National Guard Bureau Reorganizational Authority 153-73 effective December 1, 1973. That same day, Brig. Gen. Holden West, of Bolingbroke, Ga., was appointed as the first commander of the 48th.[1] 

The designation of the 48th Brigade echoed the history and heritage of the 48th Infantry Division which existed from 1946 to 1955 and 48th Armor Division whose tanks thundered across Fort Stewart, Ga. from 1956 until its January 1968 inactivation whereupon several of the 48th Armor Division units were reorganized to form the 3rd Brigade, 30th Infantry Division. For the next five years, the Soldiers of these units would wear the patch of the 30th Infantry Division.

FORT STEWART, Ga. June 7, 1972- Governor Jimmy Carter prepares to fire an M60 machine gun during a visit to
Ga. Army National Guard troops undergoing annual training at Fort Stewart. The Soldier of the 1st Battalion 121st Infantry Regiment
assisting the Governor wears the patch of the 30th Infantry Division. Georgia Guard Archives.

The 48th Brigade was formed from existing elements of Georgia’s 3rd Brigade, 30th Infantry Division as well as other elements within the Ga. ARNG’s existing structure. The allocation of an independent brigade brought an increase of 278 Soldiers to the Ga. ARNG.[2]

Initial Structure of the 48th Brigade

Several veteran Ga. ARNG units remained intact from their previous designations in the 3rd Brigade. Among these were the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 121st Infantry Regiment; 1st Battalion, 108th Armor Regiment; and 1st Battalion 230th Artillery Regiment. Joining these units were the Griffin-based Troop E, 348th Cavalry Regiment and the Douglas-based 848th Engineer Company, which was organized from the former Company B, 878th Engineer Battalion.[3] The 148th Support Company, headquartered in Macon, was organized from previously established units.[4] The original strength of the 48th Brigade was 3,482 Soldiers.[5]

The 48th Brigade Shoulder Sleeve Insignia

The Department of the Army Institute of Heraldry authorized the shoulder sleeve patch for the 48th Brigade April 16, 1974. It was described as follows:

On a light blue shield, rounded in base 3 ½ inches in height and 2 ½ inches in width overall, two right oblique bars throughout; the upper blue and lower scarlet, both edged white and surmounted over-all by a left oblique yellow lightning bolt all within a 1/8 inch white border.[6]
On January 15, 1975, Brig. Gen. Holden West, commander of the 48th Infantry Brigade was appointed Assistant Adjutant General of the
Ga. Army National Guard by Governor George Busbee. This is the earliest known published image of a uniformed Georgia Guardsman with the
48th Infantry Brigade shoulder sleeve insignia. Georgia Guard Archives.

The design elements in the shoulder sleeve insignia were all symbolic of the design of the 48th Brigade itself. The light blue represents the infantry which is the basic structure of the brigade. The colors of the state flag of Georgia: scarlet, white and blue are represented in the patch with scarlet additionally symbolizing the artillery element of the brigade. The yellow of the lightning bolt symbolized the armor while the lightning bolt itself characterizes the mobility and effectiveness of the combined forces present in the brigade.

Wearing the Boar in 74

While the 48th Brigade’s patch was approved in 1974 it had not entered production by the time of the brigade’s first annual training. Thus, when West led the 48th Brigade to Fort Stewart to train from July 29 to July 13, he and the nearly 3,500 Volunteers wore the Oglethorpe crest shoulder sleeve insignia prescribed for the Ga. ARNG Headquarters Detachment and non-divisional units of the Ga. ARNG. 
FORT STEWART, Ga., July 1974 - A tank crew from the 1st Battalion, 108th Armor Regiment prepares to conduct live-fire tables during
annual training at Fort Stewart, Ga. Photo by 124th Public Information Detachment

To view more images of the first annual training of the 48th Infantry Brigade, visit

[1] Georgia Guardsman Magazine, November 1973, 8
[2] Georgia Guardsman Magazine, November 1973, 6
[3] NGB ARO-0 207-02-GA Reorganization Authority Number 157-73, 3
[4] 157-73, 3
[5] Annual Report, Georgia Department of Defense 1974, NPN
[6] Department of the Army Institute of Heraldry Memorandum Dated April 16, 1974

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