Tuesday, January 28, 2020

History of the 59th Infantry Brigade

By Maj. William Carraway
Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

The insignia of the Macon-based 59th Infantry Brigade. Author's Collection

The 59th Infantry Brigade was a subordinate unit of the Macon-based 30th Division from 1923 to 1941. From its Macon headquarters, the 59th encompassed the 121st Infantry Regiment of the Georgia Army National Guard as well as the 118th Infantry Regiment of the South Carolina National Guard.

The 59th Infantry Brigade was established Jan. 8, 1923 under the command of Brig. Gen. Henry D. Russell. Russell commanded the brigade until 1932 when he was promoted to major general and placed in command of the 30th Division, which was comprised of National Guard units from Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.

This Signal Corps photo depicting the 30th CRT is captioned 
"Infantrymen of the U.S. Ninth Army, 19th Corps, 30th 
Infantry Division poised for action atop an Army 
Reconnaissance Car, enter the burning town of Bonn, Germany
...April 13, 1945"
The Headquarters Company of the 59th Infantry Brigade was the Macon Volunteers, a storied unit whose lineage traced back to 1825 and continues today as headquarters of the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.  

In September 1940, the Georgia National Guard was placed in federal service and the 59th Infantry Brigade was dispatched to Fort Jackson, South Carolina for initial training.[i] The 59th participated in the Tennessee Maneuvers and Carolina Maneuvers before returning to Fort Jackson in September 1941 whereupon, a reorganization of Army divisions reassigned the 121st Infantry Regiment to the 8th Division.[ii] February 24, 1942, Headquarters Company, 59th Infantry was redesignated as the 30th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop.[iii] Three Georgia Guardsmen received the Bronze Star Medal for actions with the 30th CRT in Europe: Staff Sgt. James R. Chester, Staff Sgt. Edwin J. Deedrick and 1st Sgt. Louis Stuart.[iv]

Three Georgia Guardsmen of the 59th Infantry Brigade Headquarters Company are known to have been killed in action while serving in other units following the 1942 reorganization.[v] A brief biography of each Soldier follows:

James W. Mathis Jr. enlisted in the Macon based Headquarters Company, 59th Infantry Brigade September 25, 1939 at the age of 15. After arriving at Fort Jackson, S.C. in 1941, Mathis was transferred to the 143rd Infantry, 36th Division.  He was commissioned a second lieutenant. He was killed in action December 15, 1943 in Sicily and is buried in the Sicily Rome American Cemetery.
James Mathis

Private Jack Moseley enlisted in the, 59th Infantry Brigade Headquarters October 2, 1939 at the age of 16. Moseley volunteered for service in the Army Air Corps and was assigned to the 33rd Bomb Squadron, 22nd Bomb Group as a bombardier on a B-26. On January 7, 1943 Moseley’s aircraft took off from Port Moresby on a bombing mission against a Japanese convoy. The aircraft was intercepted by enemy aircraft and hit by anti-aircraft fire in the left wing and engine. The aircraft ditched. Unable to escape the aircraft Moseley drowned. He is listed on the Wall of the Missing in Manila.

Jack Moseley

Charles R. Wheaton joined the Headquarters Company, 59th Infantry Brigade and, by October 5, 1939, had reached the rank of master sergeant. Wheaton was commissioned a second lieutenant and stationed at Camp Barkley, Texas. He was mortally wounded and died from the effects of his wounds November 16, 1944. He is buried in Macon Memorial Park.
Charles R. Wheaton

[i] Military Department of the State of Georgia, General Order No. 13, Oct. 7, 1941.
[ii] Hewett, Robert L. Work Horse of the Western Front: The Story of the 30th infantry Division. Washington Infantry Journal Press, New York, NY, 1946, 5.
[iii] Center for Military History, Lineage and Honors Certificate, Headquarters Company, 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
[iv] Hewett, 290, 294, 326.
[v] Carraway William. Fallen Soldiers of the Georgia Army National Guard, ND.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Sixty Years Ago: The Georgia Air National Guard Enters a New Decade on High Alert

By Maj. William Carraway
Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

Two F-86L Super Sabers of the Georgia Air National Guard’s 158th Fighter Squadron scramble from Travis Field during an alert exercise in January 1960.
Georgia Guard archives.

The sun had not yet risen on the first day of 1960 when the Savannah-based 158th Fighter Squadron was put on alert status and prepared to scramble fighter interceptors at a moment’s notice. The 158th was one of 21 Air National Guard Squadrons across the nation to participate in a readiness exercise designed to test the ability of National Guard pilots and aircraft to take to the air in response to the detection of incoming enemy aircraft. Additionally, the alert tested the ability of Air National Guard units to conduct sustained operations against a possible enemy attack.[1]
Captain Kenneth Davis and Capt. Harry Morrow
of the Georgia Air National Guard’s 158th Fighter Squadron
 sprint to their F86L Super Sabers during a high alert
exercise at Travis Field in January 1960.
Georgia Guard archives

With the sound of a siren, two Georgia Air National Guard pilots, Capt. Kenneth Davis and Capt. Harry Morrow sprinted from the ready room at Travis Field in full flight equipment and boarded two rocket-armed F-86L Saber Jets that had been prepped and started by dedicated crew chiefs. Within seconds of reaching the Saber Jets, the pilots taxied the aircraft to the runway then rocketed at full afterburner over the Atlantic Ocean. The response was so rapid that the pilots did not receive their approach vectors until after take-off. The 702nd Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, based at the nearby Hunter Air Force Base, provided the pilots with their initial mission briefings by radio. The pilots then used their Saber Jets’ internal radar to close the distance on the target aircraft. Moving into firing position, the Guardsmen identified the aircraft as friendly or hostile, a hostile intercept resulting in simulated launch of pod-mounted 2.75-inch rockets. At the completion of the intercept, the pilots returned to Travis Airfield for debriefing.

Throughout the exercise, the squadron’s fighter pilots served 10 to 14-hour shifts as did the aircraft ground crews. On January 16, the Marietta-based 128th Fighter Squadron had joined the 158th on alert status. Pilots and ground crews of the 128th conducted 24-hour operations scrambling aircraft to meet potential threats emanating from South Georgia.[2] More than 1,000 Georgia Air National Guard personnel participated in the exercise, including members of the 116th Tactical Hospital which was charged with evaluating and evacuating simulated casualties.  
Georgia Air National Guard TSgt. Swain and MSgt. Way load rockets into an F-86L Super Saber’s rocket pod during alert operations at Travis Field
in January 1960. Georgia Guard archives.
At the conclusion of the alert exercise, Col. G. D. Campbell Jr., United States Air Force Inspector, praised the Georgia Air National Guard noting particularly the in-commission state of aircraft and the rapid rate of turnaround for aircraft upon returning from missions.[3] These two factors demonstrated that the Georgia Air National Guard was indeed capable of rapidly responding to threats in an increasingly uncertain world.
Captain Kenneth Davis of the Georgia Air National Guard’s 158th Fighter Squadron descends from an
F86L Super Saber at Travis Field following a mission in January 1960.
Georgia Guard archives.

[1] Georgia National Guard Magazine Jan, Feb 1960, 2.
[2] Ibid, 6.
[3] Ibid, 7.