Thursday, August 20, 2020

Mildred Day: First Uniformed Servicewoman of the Ga. DoD

 By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

 On January 24, 1945, Mildred Day of Atlanta became the first woman to serve in a component of the Ga. Department of Defense. Day enlisted in the Georgia State Guard and served in the headquarters section of the Atlanta-based 4th Battalion.

Mildred Day is sworn into the Ga. State Guard by Lt. Col. Frank Fling, commander of the Atlanta-based
4th Battalion Jan 24, 1945. Day was the first uniformed servicewoman to serve in the Ga. State Guard
Georgia National Guard Archives.


In September 1940, General Order 13 of the Military Department of Georgia brought the Georgia National Guard en masse into federal service.[1] To fulfill the domestic response role of the National Guard, the governor established the State Defense Corps, later the State Guard – forerunner of today’s Georgia State Defense Force as an all-volunteer force akin to the home guards established by the War Department in World War I.

The ranks of the newly formed State Guard filled swiftly until the Guard boasted 20 infantry battalions for home defense, and an air squadron. These formations were constituted to handle emergency responses, riot calls and to serve the role of coastal defense and observation.[2]

Atlanta Constitution Jan 12, 1945.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 brought additional gravity to the service of the State Guard. Under the command of Lt. Col. Frank Fling, the Atlanta-based 4th Battalion responded to an ever-increasing mission demand while the recruitable population continued to funnel into the active services. The Battalion was assigned to provide security for vital installations and civil structures in the Atlanta area.

As 1944 drew to a close, the ranks of the State Guard required more able-bodied service members for the war effort in Europe and the Pacific. Faced with a literal manpower shortage, Col. R. W. Collins, commander of the State Guard, issued an appeal for volunteers to bolster the ranks. [3] On January 21, 1945, the Georgia State Guard received approval from the governor of Georgia to organize a women’s division with the mission to provide qualified administrative personnel to the various battalion headquarters across the state.[4]

Day in 1931. 
The Napsonian

Mildred Day was the first to respond to the January call for volunteers.[5] The 32-year-old Day was a 1931 graduate of North Atlanta Presbyterian School[6], which in 1951 became the Westminster School. The daughter of Lemuel and Laura Day, successful printing company owners, Day worked in department store sales and as a stenographer for the Atlanta Police Department before interviewing with Fling about opportunities at the 4th Battalion. On January 24, Fling swore Day in as a member of the Georgia State Guard with the rank of technical sergeant, equivalent to sergeant 1st class in today’s Army.

Day was the first of six women who would assist the fourth department headquarters. The women wore the uniform of the Women’s Auxiliary Corps with the Georgia State Guard Patch on their shoulder.[7]

Shoulder-sleeve insignia of the Ga.
State Guards. Ga. National Guard

The January 1945 directive authorized the enlistment of women for the expressed, and purpose of assisting with clerical work. Despite this, Day and other servicewomen accompanied the 4th Battalion on its April maneuvers at Camp Toccoa, where, in addition to their clerical duties, the women assisted on the firing range by tallying marksmanship scores.[8]

By the end of World War II, more than 100 women had volunteered to serve in the Georgia State Guards; however, the 1946, reorganization of the Georgia National Guard jeopardized the future of the Georgia State Guard and its female volunteers. Brig. Gen. Marvin Griffin, Georgia's Adjutant General, observed that, "Unless plans change, there will be no provision for women enlisting in the National Guard."

Helen Mankin, LOC.

Understandably, this did not sit well with Day’s fellow servicewoman, Tech 3 Edna Harbin, who wrote to her representative in Congress to advocate the position of women in the National Guard. Her congresswoman, Helen Mankin concurred. 

Mankin, the second congresswoman in Georgia’s history, had served as an ambulance driver in World War I. Among those testifying on behalf of Harbin and Day were their former battalion commander, Lt. Col Frank Fling, who noted that the women had performed exceptionally well during their tenure with the 4th Battalion.[9]

The Georgia State Guard disbanded April 21, 1947, and with it, went the authorizations for female service members.[10] It would be nine years before uniformed female service members would rejoin the Ga. DoD, and another 28 years after that before the reestablishment of the Georgia State Guard as the State Defense Force.[11]

Very little is known about Day’s life after her service in the Ga. State Guard. Shortly after the end of the war she married Hencil Ring, vice president of the Roanoke City Mills in Virginia. Ring died in 1947 and Mildred never remarried. She died July 14, 1975 in Clearwater, Fla. and is buried in College Park Cemetery in Atlanta beside her parents.

Midred Evelyn Day-Ring rests beside her parents in College Park Cemetery. Photo by Maj. William Carraway.


[1] GO No. 13, Military Department, State of Georgia Oct 7, 1941.

[3] "Local State Guard Needs Recruits for Replacements." West Point News, April 13, 1944.

[4] "Women to Aid State Guard Under New Plan.” Atlanta Constitution, January 21, 1945, 20.

[6] The Napsonian. Atlanta, GA: North Atlanta Presbyterian School, 1931, 7.

[7] "Guard’s ‘Minute Women’ Face Loss of Jobs Soon." The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, May 1946, 7.

[8] "Guard’s ‘Minute Women’ Face Loss of Jobs Soon." The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, May 1946, 7.

[10] “Thompson Ends State Guard.” Atlanta Constitution, April 20, 1947, 23.

[11] “New State Defense Force will respond to emergencies if Guard mobilized.” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, August 1985, 3.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, the Georgia State Guard had a Transportation Company in Atlanta in 1918, to which 12 female Georgia State Guard members were assigned. This is per the 1981 "U.S. Home Defense Study" commissioned by DTIC for the Undersecretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, so women in uniformed service of the Georgia Department of Defense goes back to at least World War One. Also, there are pictures in the archives of Georgia State University that clearly show nurses in the field with uniform patches that say "Georgia State Defense Corps", putting them in the 1941-1942 era. Also, the Georgia State Guard air unit was not just one Squadron, but an entire 100+ aircraft Georgia State Guard Air Force.


Blog Archive