Thursday, March 19, 2020

Georgia National Guard Responds to Water Crisis


By Maj. William Carraway
Historian, Georgia Army National Guard


In this 1956 photo, Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers of the Atlanta-based 201st Ordnance Company load up pipe in response to a water crisis in Loganville. Four years later, the unit would respond to a water crisis in Unadilla. Georgia Guard Archives.
 What would happen if a town in Georgia was suddenly without water? This was the situation that confronted the citizens of Unadilla Georgia in March 1960 and the Georgia National Guard Soldiers who sped to their rescue.

On the morning of March 24, 1960, the 1,200 residents of Unadilla Georgia, an agricultural community approximately 45 miles south of Macon went about their normal routine showering for work and filling glasses of water for breakfast. Within hours, that routine was plunged into uncertainty with the collapse of the town’s water system. With the well yielding an undrinkable sandy mixture, city officials requested assistance. Receiving the call, the Georgia National Guard dispatched the 201st Ordnance Company from Atlanta. The 201st loaded trucks with pumps and pipe and prepared personnel for departure. Meanwhile, in Columbus, engineers of the 560th Armored Engineer Battalion dispatched Soldiers and vehicles to transport tanks and filtration systems.

Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers of the Columbus-based 560th Engineer Battalion set up a pumping station and filtration system in Unadilla, Ga. March 24, 1960 after the city's water well failed. Georgia Guard Archives.
Citizen Soldiers from Columbus and Atlanta converged on the scene in Unadilla and were joined by officials from the Georgia Department of Health. Working through the morning of March 25, the Soldiers installed a pump and filtration system to provide the citizens of Unadilla with drinking water while the Ga. DPH and other Guardsmen worked with city officials to repair the well. The units had responded to a similar water crisis in Loganville four years earlier, and Columbus engineers set up the sediment retention tanks and filtration systems while the 201st Ordnance Company installed more than half a mile of pipe.

By 3:00 the morning of March 25, the first pump became operational and by dawn, a second pump was providing drinking water for the city. The Guardsmen remained on duty in Unadilla until March 29, when the city was able to restore the production capability of an older city well.[i]



[i] "Unadilla Well Fails; Columbus, Atlanta NG Supplies Water." The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, April 1960, 16.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

60 Years Ago, This Month: Crippling Snowstorm Prompts Georgia Guard Response


By Maj. William Carraway
Historian, Georgia Army National Guard


A column of vehicles stages at the Atlanta headquarters of the Georgia National Guard March 9, 1960 prepared to travel to Gainesville, Ga. following heavy snowfall across north Georgia. Georgia Guard Archives.


On March 9, 1960, a snowstorm dropped as much as eight inches of snow over north Georgia. By the time the snow began to fall March 9, many areas of North Georgia were still heavily covered by ice from frozen precipitation that fell the previous week. Temperatures had remained below freezing, thus the falling snow added to the weight of previously accumulated ice. This proved devastating to the poultry region of north Georgia. Approximately 400 chicken houses collapsed under the weight of the ice and snow. Highways became impassable and school buses were unable to bring children home from school.

Aerial reconnaissance conducted by Georgia Army National Guard helicopters revealed wide devastation across north Georgia following a March 9, 1960 snowstorm. In this image, five poultry houses have collapsed from the weight of accumulated snow and ice.  Georgia Guard Archives.
Already pressed by calls for assistance from the previous-week’s ice event, the communications office of the Civil Defense Division of the Georgia Department of Defense was flooded with requests from farmers, ranchers and citizens across north Georgia. With need concentrated in Hall County and its abundant poultry farms, Maj. Gen. George Hearn, Georgia’s Adjutant General, dispatched a convoy of nearly two dozen 2 ½ ton trucks to Gainesville. Departing the Atlanta headquarters of the Georgia National Guard on the afternoon of March 9, the vehicles, under command of Lt. Col. Emmett Plunkett, state maintenance officer, arrived in Hall County that evening. Plunkett established a response headquarters in the Hall County Jail. The Guardsmen, members of the Atlanta-based 201st Ordnance Company, 1st Rocket Howitzer Battalion and 248th Signal Battalion were joined by Soldiers of Gainesville’s Company C, 878th Engineer Battalion who had spent the previous week responding to emergencies prompted by the March 2 ice storm. Elberton’s Headquarters Battery, 4th Gun Battalion provided additional Soldiers and five-ton heavy trucks.

Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers receive a mission brief before conducting emergency response operations n Gainesville, Ga. March 10, 1960. Georgia Guard Archives
The Guardsmen fanned out into Hall County and neighboring Lumpkin, Dawson, White and Habersham Counties rescuing trapped motorists and delivering them to warming shelters. Guard vehicles also assisted in conveying doctors and patients to local hospitals. The Guard’s winch-equipped heavy trucks pulled countless vehicles out of snow drifts in an effort to clear roads. Nevertheless, with commercial trucks bogged down by the wintry conditions, by the night of March 9, Guardsmen began delivering feed from local mills to farms isolated by the snowfall. Through the darkness, the Guardsmen traveled over treacherous mountain roads in freezing temperatures to reach sparsely populated agricultural communities.[i]

Within the first 24 hours, the Guardsmen had conducted more than 200 missions. They continued 24-hour operations through March 11 when they were relieved by a convoy of vehicles and Guardsmen from the Newnan and Jackson armories of the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron. That evening, additional snow fell adding to the urgency of the response operations. Doctors accompanied Guard patrols in rural areas to treat patients who were unable to travel to hospitals and clinics. Food, heating oil and gasoline were transported continuously by Guard vehicles while the Gainesville armory provided hot meals and cots delivered from Atlanta.

In Toccoa and Canton, Guardsmen from local armories made emergencies calls to residents, delivering groceries, feed, hay, medicine and other essentials to remote county residences. Georgia Guard trucks delivered chickens to processing plants, transported live eggs to hatcheries and delivered feed to sustain livestock and poultry populations.

Through relentless effort and coordination with the Georgia State Patrol and first responders, Georgia Guardsmen mitigated human suffering and reduced overall economic impact to the poultry industry. At the height of the operation, Guardsmen operated more than 80 trucks traveling more than 45,000 miles over treacherous roads. More than 900 missions were executed in the Gainesville area alone. Incredibly, despite thousands of hours on the roads, no accidents or injuries were sustained by responding Guardsmen.







[i] "Frigid March Weather Brings Ice & Snow Storms – Crippling Power, Transportation." The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, April 1960, 8.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Georgia Military Institute Officer Candidates Experience Lessons of the Past During Civil War Staff Ride


By Major William Carraway
Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

Major William Carraway, historian of the Georgia Army National Guard, leads officer candidates of the Georgia Military Institute's Officer Candidate School Class 59 in recreating the charge of Col. Dan McCook's Federal brigade during a staff ride at the Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield March 6, 2020. Photo by Capt. Shannell Chappell.
Officer candidates of the Georgia Army National Guard’s Georgia Military Institute’s Officer Candidate School Class 59 conducted a staff ride at the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield in Kennesaw, Ga. March 6, 2020. The staff ride, which covered the actions of the Atlanta Campaign during the American Civil War was facilitated by Maj. William Carraway, historian of the Georgia Army National Guard.

Officer candidates of the Georgia Military Institute's OCS
Class 59 receive a block of instruction on Civil War rifle 
muskets from Maj. William Carraway, historian of the 
Georgia Army National Guard. Photo by Sgt. Elisel Jimenez.
The purpose of the Kennesaw Mountain Staff Ride was to draw parallels between combat in the American Civil War and implications to the modern battlefield. The future officers began the learning process for the staff ride months ago with reading assignments and research objectives designed to make them subject matter experts in a particular aspect of Civil War combat, such as artillery, small-arms, logistics, transportation, intelligence and terrain analysis. The officer candidates learned the strategic and operational objectives of the 1864 campaigns and applied principles of war in the analysis of courses of actions available to the Federal and Confederate commanders. Additionally, candidates considered how weather and logistical concerns factored into the decision-making process that resulted in the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain.

Following a sand table brief in which the candidates role-played Generals William Sherman, Joseph Johnston and their staffs, the candidates travelled to Kennesaw Mountain to observe the terrain considerations that confronted the contending armies. The candidates ascended to the top of Kennesaw Mountain and observed the direction of approach of the Federal Armies from the summit. From the top of the mountain, the candidates could survey the ground before them and understand how Confederate commanders had a clear picture of the Federal commander’s intent and maneuvers.

Returning to the base of the mountain, the candidates visited the ground that was held by Georgia troops and stood on the picket line that was held by the 63rd Georgia Infantry Regiment. The candidates experienced the nine steps required to fire an original civil war musket and practiced the loading process in an attempt to achieve a firing rate of three rounds per minute. To demonstrate the effective engagement distances of American Civil War battlefields, Carraway marched off the distance a Soldier could travel in the time it took a Soldier to load and fire a musket. He then told the candidates to reload, fixed a bayonet to the musket and charged their position to demonstrate the psychological impact of a massed charge.

Georgia Army National Guard Officer Candidates of the Georgia Military Institute's OCS Class 59 practice the nine steps required to fire a Civil War-era musket during a staff ride at the Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield March 6, 2020. Photo by Capt. Shannell Chappell.

The staff ride culminated with the candidates recreating the charge of Col. Dan McCook’s Federal brigade on Cheatham Hill. The candidates were put through crash-course of Civil War-era drill and practiced moving from a column of march to a line of battle. They then advanced from the Federal assembly position, through the woods, crossed two creeks and emerged at the base of Cheatham Hill where they beheld the objective before them. The candidates moved from a column to a line of battle and began the slow ascent of Cheatham Hill while Carraway called out musket volleys and artillery barrages that would have reaped gaps in their lines. Reaching what they thought was the crest of the hill, the candidates collapsed exhausted only to learn that the actual Confederate line was nearly 50 meters further.

As a result of their hands-on experience with Civil War weapons systems on the original battlefield, the officer candidates received invaluable exposure to historic combat conditions and the lessons that resonate for the modern battlefield. A key takeaway of the learning experience was that whether planning an extended campaign in 1864 or a 72-hour platoon operation in Afghanistan, there are similarities, and a study of military history is vital to the success of today’s military leader. 
Georgia Army National Guard Officer Candidates of the Georgia Military Institute's Officer Candidate School Class 59 stand at the Illinois Monument on Cheatham Hill after recreating the charge of Col. Dan McCook's Federal Brigade during a staff ride at the Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield March 6, 2020. Photo by Sgt. Elisel Jimenez.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

60 Years Ago, This Month: The Georgia Guard Responds Following Devastating Winter Storm


By Maj. William Carraway
Historian, Georgia Army National Guard


Ice-choked roads and downed trees greeted Georgia Guardsmen of Calhoun's Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 108th Armor Regiment in Rock City, Ga. March 3, 1960 following a severe ice storm that impacted Georgia. Georgia Guard Archives


Hurricane and winter emergencies in the past decade have brought the domestic response role of the National Guard to the forefront of national attention. But this mission is not of recent invention. In March 1960, hundreds of Georgia National Guards Soldiers and Airmen responded in the wake of severe ice and snow accumulation in North Georgia, part of a crippling winter event that gripped the southeastern United States.


The morning of March 2, 1960 dawned with the temperature near freezing across Georgia and neighboring states. A cold front moving south from Canada brought heavy precipitation which clung to trees and powerlines. As temperatures plunged, ice accumulated swiftly, as much as four inches thick in places.[i] The rapid accumulation of heavy ice snapped power poles and trees blocking roads and coating road surfaces with treacherous ice. With telephone lines down across north Georgia radio calls from amateur radio operators poured into the Georgia State Patrol and State Department of Defense Headquarters. The Georgia DoD and its Civil Defense Division, precursor of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, went to 24-hour manning, receiving messages and updates and relaying desperate pleas for help to state and federal agencies. Georgia’s Governor, and former Adjutant General, Ernest Vandiver authorized the Ga. National Guard to immediately provide all possible support to alleviate human suffering.[ii]

In the early hours of the response, the Civil Defense Division staffed nearly 40 rescue teams and prepared to respond. Facing massive power outages and with emergency power generators running out of fuel at hospitals, radio stations, fire and police stations, Maj. Gen. George Hearn, Georgia’s Adjutant General ordered, teams to deliver generators and fuel to hospitals and shelters from Carrollton and Villa Rica in the west, to Jackson in the south, and to Rome, Cave Spring in the north. Air National Guard generators from Dobbins Air Force Base were transported by military vehicles over treacherous ice-slicked roads and were in place by the early morning hours of March 3. By then, the temperature had plunged to zero degrees in Chattanooga and throughout North Georgia.[iii] The Georgia Army National Guard armory in Rome opened its doors to citizens and provided hot meals cooked on field stoves. Meanwhile, Rome Guardsmen, led by Capt. Lewis Varnedoe, commander of Company A, 2nd Battalion 108th Armor, fanned out to survey damage and rescue ice-bound citizens.[iv]
Georgia National Guard Soldiers of the Rome-based Company A, 2nd Battalion, 108th Armor Regiment under the command of Capt. Lewis Varnedoe, inspect a generator installed at a school in Cave Spring, Ga. March 3, 1960 following a severe ice storm that impacted Georgia.  Georgia Guard Archives.


Georgia Army National Guard helicopters mobilized to deliver supplies to stricken North Georgia counties. Major General Hearn accompanied one of the first flights and observed damage from the air. These aerial surveys over Calhoun and Rome helped direct relief efforts. Guardsmen of Calhoun’s Headquarters, 2-108th Armor were dispatched north to Rock City, one of the hardest hit areas where hundreds of homes were without power. The Guardsmen patrolled the streets with radio-equipped jeeps. One of these patrols located a remote home which had been completely isolated by shattered trees and ice. Finding the home without power or heat, the Guardsmen evacuated the family and transported a child to a hospital in Chattanooga for treatment of pneumonia. 
Georgia Army National Guard helicopters on the ground in Rock City, Ga. March 3, 1960 following a severe ice storm that impacted Georgia. Georgia Guard Archives.

Impact was not isolated to North Georgia. In Atlanta, the power failed at the Georgia National Guard headquarters and an emergency power generator was required to maintain the vital communications center which continued to receive calls for assistance. Guardsmen transported more than 400 cots to a shelter facility in Covington.

Subfreezing temperatures continued for a week, complicating efforts to clear roads and reach desperate citizens. On March 9, the situation became even more desperate as a snowstorm dropped from four to eight inches of snow over north Georgia on March 9. This snowstorm, following closely on the heels of the devastating effects of ice would prompt second response which will be chronicled in a follow up article.




[i] Lee, Laurence G. A Review of the Record-Breaking Snow and Persistent Cold of February and March 1960. §. Accessed March 2, 2020. https://www.weather.gov/media/gsp/localdat/cases/2010/Review_Feb-Mar_1960.pdf.
[ii] "Frigid March Weather Brings Ice & Snow Storms – Crippling Power, Transportation." The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, April 1960, 6.
[iii] Shearer, John. “Big Ice Storm was 50 Years Ago This Month.” The Chattanoogan, March 6, 2010. Accessed March 1, 2020. https://www.chattanoogan.com/2010/3/6/170459/Big-Ice-Storm-Was-50-Years-Ago-This.aspx
[iv] Guardsman, 7.