Sunday, September 19, 2021

The Ga. ANG in the C-124 Globemaster Era: 1966-1974

By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

 

The C-124 Globemaster was assigned to the Ga. ANG in December 1966 replacing the C-97 Stratofreighter. Stratofreighters are visible
to the left in this image from Dobbins AFB. Georgia National Guard Archives.

On Sept. 19, 1974, the last two C-124 Globemaster aircraft in service departed Savannah Municipal Airport bound for Tucson Arizona and the vast mothball fields of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. The aircraft, assigned to the Georgia Air National Guard’s 165th Military Airlift Group, had logged a combined 10 million miles and more than 25,000 flying hours each while assigned to the Georgia Air National Guard. The delivery of the last C-124s to storage marked the end of a nearly eight-year chapter in the history of the Ga. Air National Guard


Prelude: The Air Transport Mission Begins

By 1960, the Georgia Air National Guard encompassed fighter interceptor aircraft stationed at Dobbins Air Force Base and Travis Field in Savannah under the 116th Air Defense Wing and the subordinate 116th and 165th Fighter Groups. [1] On April 1, 1961, the Ga. Air National Guard’s 116th Air Defense Wing was reorganized as the 116th Air Transport Wing (Heavy).[2] Pilots of the 116th began delivering their F-86L fighter jets to the California Air National Guard in February and March and started the training to transition from single-engine jet aircraft to the double-deck multi-engine C-97 Stratofreighter. Flight crews and maintenance personnel completed training in May 1961 at Randolph, AFB, Texas and the 128th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, redesignated the 128th Air Transport Squadron received the first four C-97s in June.

Through the remainder of 1961, 31 pilots and 29 flight engineers had undergone home-station training on the C-97. Subsequently the Ga. Air National Guard announced that the Savannah-based 165th Fighter Group would also convert to the heavy transport mission. The 165th received its first C-97 in 1961 and was redesignated the 165th Air Transport Group on April 1, 1962.[3] The Georgia Air National Guard flew the C-97 Stratofreighter for more than five years.


Transition to the Globemaster

The Georgia Air National Guard’s 116th Military Airlift Group became the first Air National Guard unit in the nation to receive the C-124 Globemaster Dec. 7, 1966.[4] The Globemaster was praised by Ga. ANG pilots for its cargo capacity its range and for the comfort and proximity of crew rest positions to the flight deck.

On January 23, 1967, just six weeks after receiving its first Globemaster, the Ga. ANG began its first over-water mission flying 26,000 pounds of equipment to Antigua. By March 10, four additional flights had been completed to Antigua all by the 128th Military Airlift Squadron.[5] The enormous range of the C-124 soon allowed the Ga. ANG to support a Joint Chiefs of Staff mission to Spain March 21, 1967. On April 1, 1967, a C-124 crew completed the first of many flights bearing cargo to Vietnam.[6] The 14-day round trip flight from Dobbins AFB carried more than 20,000 pounds of cargo from Travis AFB, Calif. to Da Nang in South Vietnam and returned with 17,000 pounds of cargo.

On April 1, 1967 a Ga. ANG C-124 made the first of many flights to Vietnam. Georgia Air National Guard crews had previously flown air transport missions
to Vietnam with the C-97 Stratofreighter. Georgia National Guard Archives.


On July 1968, the 165th MAG executed an airlift of 402 Soldiers of the 170th and 176th MP Battalions from Fort Stewart to Dobbins AFB. Seven C-124 Globemaster aircraft transported the Soldiers along with 35 military vehicles.[7]

Over the years, the Ga. Air National Guard would continue to rack up historic firsts in the C-124. In December 1969, a Georgia C-124 crew became the first in Air National Guard history to fly completely around the South American continent. The feat was accomplished while supporting a special assignment airlift mission in support of Operation Deep Freeze 1969.[8] The Guardsmen flew more than 50 military and civilian scientists along with three tons of scientific instruments to Punta Arenas, Chile where a Coast Guard icebreaker was waiting to transport them to Antarctica.

Georgia Air National Guard C-124 Globemasters deliver more than 400 Ga. ARNG Military Police and 35 vehicles during an airlift exercise from
Fort Stewart to Dobbins AFB July 9, 1968. Georgia National Guard Archives.


The Globemaster continued to serve as the workhorse of the Ga. ANG into the 1970s beginning in May when civil unrest in Augusta, Ga. prompted the governor to activate the Georgia National Guard. Three Ga. ANG C-124s delivered the 2nd Battalion 214th Field Artillery under the command of Col. John McGowan to Augusta May 12, 1970.[9]

On Aug. 26, 1970, C-124 Globemaster 52-1049 of the Georgia Air National Guard’s 165th Military Airlift Group crashed into the side of Mount Pavlof while en route from McChord Air Force Base, Wash. to Cold Bay, Alaska with a cargo of satellite equipment. The crashed killed all seven crewmembers.[10]


From Globemaster to Hercules

Military maneuvers of the 30th Division in Tennessee in 1972 saw the C-124s called to transport Ga. ARNG personnel and equipment to training sites. By that time, the age of the Globemaster frame and scarcity of available parts weighed heavily in the decision to seek a new airframe for Georgia. Governor Jimmy Carter and Maj. Gen. Joel Paris, Georgia’s Adjutant General, along with senior leaders of the Ga. ANG met with National Guard Bureau and U.S. Air Force officials regarding possible aircraft or mission changes. The preferred course of action was to retain the MAT mission with C-130s phasing in. But the C-130 was in short supply and the Air Force Reserve’s 918th Military Airlift Wing based at Dobbins AFB had already been allocated C-130s the previous year.[11] National Guard Bureau preferred to convert the Ga. ANG to fly the F-100 Super Sabre effective April 1973. [12] Enlisting the aid of Georgia’s congressional delegation Carter and Paris successfully negotiated to maintain the airlift mission for the 165th.[13]

A C-124 Globemaster delivers vehicles and personnel to Tennessee for maneuvers of the 30th Division in 1972. Georgia National Guard Archives.


Final Flight

Two years would pass before the arrival of the C-130 Hercules. The first C-130 arrived in Savannah Aug. 8, 1974.[14] The following month, two veteran C-124 crews led by Lt. Col. Arthur Eddy, safety officer of the 165th and Lt. Col. Edgar D. Benson, 165th MAG Air Force advisor delivered the last two C-124 Globemasters to Davis-Monthan they went into mothball storage. It would be Benson’s last flight as he was set to retire the following spring. Among the veteran crew members was flight engineer SMSgt. Thomas L. Davis who was the last survivor of the Bataan Death March of World War II still in uniform.

Georgia Air National Guard SMSgt Thomas L. Davis (Center) was the last survivor of the Bataan Death March still in uniform. He retired following
the final flight of the C-124 Globemaster. Georgia National Guard Archives. 


By Dec. 10, 1974, the 165th had completed the conversion to the C-130 with eight aircraft assigned.[15] The 165th Airlift Wing continues to fly the C-130 airframe supporting missions across the globe.

 


[1] “Russell Praised in Wing Reorganization.” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, Jan Feb 1960, 4.

[2] “First C-97 Stratofreighters Arrive for ANG.” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, June 1961, 4.

[3] “Kuhn’s Fighter Gp in Historic Switch to Transport Role.” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, January 1962, 1.

[4] “Ga ANG First to Get C-124s; 116th MAG Conversion Began 7 Dec.” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, January 1967, 3.

[5] “Global Missions Begin for C124” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine,” Feb-Apr 1967, 6.

[6] “Lt. Col. C. J. Perkins, Ga. ANG Crew Take First C124 Mission to Vietnam.” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, Feb-Apr 1967, 3.

[7] “Ga. Emergency Operations Headquarters Conducts Successful Airlift of MP’s.” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine. May-Aug 1968, 4.

[8] “Col Perkins’ ANG Crew Flies to Southernmost City in World; Mission Supports Polar Expedition.” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, Sept Dec 1969, 6.

[9] “Governor Sends 2,000 Ga. Guardsmen to Augusta and Athens to Restore Calm in Wake of May Civil Disturbances.” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine. Apr.-Jun. 1970, 8-9.

[10] William Carraway. “Remembering the Ga. ANG Airmen of C-124 Globemaster 52-1049” History of the Georgia National Guard. Sept. 5, 2020. http://www.georgiaguardhistory.com/2020/09/remembering-ga-ang-airmen-of-c-124.html

[11] “Dobbins Units to Get C130s” The Atlanta Constitution. April 7, 1917, 8.

[12] “Georgia Air Guard Getting Supersonic Fighters.” The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. Sept. 4, 1972, 14.

[13] “Switch to Fighters Stirs Guard Debate.” The Atlanta Constitution, October 24, 1972.

[14]“Savannah’s 165th MAG Has New Mission Now That the C-130s are in.” Georgia Guardsman Magazine, Jul Aug 74, 10

[15] State of Georgia Department of Defense. Annual Report 1975. 

Monday, August 30, 2021

History and Tradition Celebrated at Granite Battalion Change of Command Ceremony

By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

The 1st Battalion 214th Field Artillery Regiment at their home station in Elberton Aug. 29, 2021. Photo by Maj. William Carraway. Inset: Maj. Gen. George Hearn,
 Georgia's Adjutant General speaks at the dedication of the new Elberton Armory May 21, 1960. Georgia National Guard Archives

 

The Georgia Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion 214th Field Artillery bid farewell to Lt. Col. Nathaniel Knight and welcomed Lt. Col. Davis Mitchum as its new commander during a ceremony at the unit’s headquarters in Elberton, Ga. Aug, 29, 2021.

Left: Lt. Col. Nathaniel Knight. Right: Lt. Col. Davis Mitchum. Photos by Maj. William Carraway


“Today is another chapter in the long lineage of the Granite Battalion,” said Knight addressing the assembled Soldiers. “It is a celebration of what you have and will accomplish.”

Georgia Army National Guardsmen with the Elberton-based 1st Battalion, 214th Field Artillery Regiment conduct movement during the Kansas National
Guard's Big Bow, a brigade artillery exercise featuring Guardsmen from Kansas, Missouri and Georgia at Fort Riley, Kan., on June 11, 2019. The battalion
conducted three weeks of active-duty training focused on combined fire capability with other National Guard units. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class R. J. Lannom Jr.


Knight, who assumed command of the Granite Battalion in February 2019 recalled pivotal events over the course of his command tenure. He narrated battalion exercises and achievements from the Big Bow exercise at Fort Riley, Kansas under the Kansas National Guard’s 130th Field Artillery Brigade June 1-19, 2019 through civil support missions in 2020 and culminating with fire missions in Morocco in support of Exercise African Lion from June 7-18, 2021.

A U.S. Army M109A6 Paladin howitzer with the Ellenwood-based Charlie Battery, 1-214th FA, observes fired artillery observation rounds during African Lion
2021, at the Tan Tan Training Area, Morocco, June 13, 2021. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class R.J. Lannom Jr. 


“I look back over the past 20 years and I have loved every minute of it,” said Mitchum. “This is my battalion; I have always thought of it as my battalion, and I cannot tell you how happy I am to be back.”
In his first remarks as commander of the 1-214th, Mitchum echoed the theme of history observing that he began his National Guard career nearly 20 years ago when he walked through the doors of the Elberton Armory Sept. 8, 2001.

The Granite Battalion’s history encompasses service in the American Civil War as well as overseas service in World War I in France and World War II in the European and Pacific Theater of Operations. Units of the 214th performed active-duty service during the Korean War and as part of Operation Noble Eagle in 2003. Units of the 1-214 also mobilized to Iraq and Afghanistan where the battalion was awarded the Meritorious Unit Citation.  

 

 

Specialist William Mance of Battery B, 1-214th FA adjusts a howitzer tube bracket during maintenance annual training at Fort Stewart, Ga. July 12, 1986.
Georgia National Guard Archives.


Sunday, August 22, 2021

Changes of Command for Historic Georgia National Guard Infantry Battalions

By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

 

1st Battalion 121st Infantry Regiment Feb. 22, 2021 in Winder, Ga. and Feb. 1, 1918
at Camp Wheeler, near Macon, Ga.

 

Citizen Soldiers of the Georgia National Guard’s historic 121st Infantry Regiment welcomed new leadership in change of command ceremonies this weekend.

On August 21, the Soldiers of 3rd Battalion 121st assembled at their armory in Cumming, Ga. as Lt. Col. James McKnight relinquished command to Maj. Christopher Roberts. McKnight commanded the Pathfinder Battalion since Jan. 11, 2020.

Lieutenant Colonel James McKnight(right) transfers the colors of the 3rd Battalion 121st Infantry to Col. Anthony Fournier,
commander of the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Aug. 21, 2021 at the Cumming Regional Readiness Center to symbolize his relinquishing
of command of the Pathfinder Battalion. the incoming commander, Maj. Christopher Roberts stands left. Photo by Maj. William Carraway


Joining the Georgia National Guard in 2012, Roberts commanded Headquarters Troop of the Calhoun-based 1st Squadron 108th Cavalry. He has additionally served as chief of operations for the Macon based 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team during the brigade’s deployment to Afghanistan in 2019.

Lieutenant Colonel Wesley Eminger receives his first salute as commander of the 1st Battalion 121st Infantry Regiment during a change of command ceremony
 in Winder, Ga. Feb. 22, 2021. Photo by Maj. William Carraway

On August 22, the 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry bid farewell to Lt. Col. Matt Johnston and welcomed incoming commander Lt. Col. Wesley Eminger during a ceremony at Winder-Barrow High School in the battalion’s hometown of Winder, Ga. Eminger, whose most recent assignment was with the 3rd Infantry Division Main Command Post Operational Detachment has spent many years in the 121st Infantry Regiment during which he mobilized twice to Afghanistan.  

Major General Tom Carden, Georgia’s Adjutant General and Brig. Gen. Dwayne Wilson, commander of the Georgia Army National Guard confer with
Lt. Col. Matt Johnston, commander of the 1st Battalion 121st Infantry Regiment in Forsyth, Ga. Jan 15, 2021 as units of the 48th IBCT prepare to
support inauguration security operations in Washington D.C. and Georgia. Photo by Maj. William Carraway


McKnight and Johnston both assumed battalion command in January 2020 just months after the 121st returned from Afghanistan, and both led their battalions through unprecedented domestic operations. Within weeks, the Soldiers of 1st and 3rd Battalion were again deployed, this time in support of the coordinated response to the Coronavirus pandemic in Georgia. The battalions provided personnel to staff infection control teams which disinfected long term care facilities across the state to improve the odds of survival for the elderly. Their Soldiers also embarked on medical support team missions augmenting operations at hospitals such as Northeast Georgia Medical in Gainesville and Athens Regional Medical Center. 

An infection control team comprised of Soldiers from 3-121 completes a disinfecting mission at a long-term
care facility in Gainesville, Ga. April 23, 2020. Photo by Sgt. Lauren Garrison


As civil unrest gripped the nation in May, Soldiers of the 121st Infantry augmented law enforcement at multiple locations around the state. Many of these same Citizen Soldiers would again be called to duty in the wake of unrest in Washington DC January 6.

Lieutenant Colonel James McKnight, second from left, briefs Soldiers of 3rd Battalion 121st Infantry Regiment on expectations during security operations at
Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta  May 30, 2020. Photo by Capt. Edner Julien
The events of 2020-2021 are just the latest chapter in the storied history of the 121st Infantry Regiment. Units of 121st Infantry served overseas in World War I and later in World War II where the Regiment earned the Presidential Unit Citation. The 3rd Battalion inactivated from 1968-2016. In the interim,  Soldiers of 1st Battalion mobilized to Iraq, Bosnia and Afghanistan. In 2018 the 121st Infantry Regiment deployed overseas with three battalions for the first time since 1944 and returned home the following year.

Soldiers of the 121st Infantry Regiment provide security in support of inauguration preparations Jan. 19, 2021. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class R. J. Lannom.





 

Saturday, August 7, 2021

August 7, 1956: Tragedy Strikes the 128th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron

By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

 


Two Georgia Air National Guard pilots of the Atlanta-based 128th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron were killed in a midair collision during an annual training flight over the Atlantic Ocean Aug. 7, 1956. First Lt. James S. Bonner Jr. and 1st Lt. Robert A. Barr, both of Atlanta, were killed when their F-84 Thunderjets collided while flying as part of a four aircraft formation fifty miles from Savannah. Within minutes of the collision, air-rescue units were dispatched but were only able to locate wreckage.[1]

The accident occurred just after 8:35 a.m. as the four Ga. ANG aircraft were flying at 25,000 feet prior to initiating target runs. The first aircraft banked to engage a target towed by another plane. Climbing high, the first pilot was out of position to witness the collision of the second and third planes in formation. The only witness, the pilot of the fourth plane, reported an explosion and was unable to see any parachutes deployed.[2]

James Shepherd Bonner Jr. was born in Nashville, Tenn. Feb. 3, 1929 and grew up in Atlanta where he played football for North Fulton High School. A 1951 graduate of the University of Georgia, Bonner served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. He enlisted in the Ga. ANG Feb. 2, 1953 and commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in April. He was a partner in a building supply firm as a civilian.

Just weeks before the fatal accident, Bonner survived a night bailout over Macon. On May 6, Bonner and 1st Lt. Charles Cox were enroute to Jacksonville, Fla. at night in two F-84 Thunderjets when Bonner’s instruments started spinning rapidly indicating a possible loss of equilibrium. He struggled to regain control of the aircraft as it descended at the maximum indicated rate of 6,000 feet per minute. At Cox’ urging, Bonner jettisoned the aircraft canopy and ejected. Bonner had just freed himself from his seat and deployed his parachute when he hit the ground in a Kaolin mine. He slept in his parachute and in the morning walked to a nearby road where he was able to hitch a ride to a farmhouse. He was then conveyed to Robins Air Force Base.[3]

Robert Andrew Barr was Born Feb. 18, 1925 in Evanston, Ill. He served as a pilot during World War II and the Korean War. Married with three children, Barr was a partner in an Atlanta-based commercial art firm.

At the time of the accident Bonner and Barr had each flown the F-84 for three years compiling more than 600 combined flight hours. They were memorialized at Marietta National Cemetery. The Atlanta Constitution extended sympathies to the families of the pilots observing “The two Atlanta officers died in the line of duty as surely as if the nation had been in a state of war.”[4]

On August 10, 14 pilots of the 128th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron took to the skies in a flying tribute to Bonner and Barr.[5] The Guardsmen dropped flowers into the sea as a final salute to the fallen pilots.[6]

 

Pilots of the 128th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron prepare for a flight to honor 1st Lt. James Bonner and 1st Lt. Robert Barr at Travis Field Aug, 10, 1956.
Georgia National Guard Archives.

 



[1] “Jets Collide High Above the Atlantic.” The Baltimore Sun, Aug. 8, 1956, 3.

[2] “2 Atlanta Guard Jet Pilots Killed in Fiery Crass High Over Atlantic.” The Atlanta Constitution, Aug. 8, 1956, 1.

[3] “Night Bailout over Macon Saves Georgia ANG Pilot” The Georgia Guardsman, May 1956, 5.

[4] “They lost their Lives in the Nation’s Cause.” The Atlanta Constitution, Aug. 9, 1956, 4.

[5] “A Pictorial Review of 1956 Field Training,” The Georgia Guardsman, Sept. 1956, 0.

[6] “Services at Sea Set for 2 Fliers.” The Atlanta Constitution, Aug. 9, 1956, 35.

Monday, July 19, 2021

The National Guard and the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games

By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

 

Left: Georgia Army National Guard Sgt. Shane Obanion, pauses for a picture with a patriotic citizen before participating in the Olympic Torch Relay
near Fort McPherson. Obanion is  member of the National Guard marathon team.  Photo by Spc. Jeff Lowry. Right: Opening ceremonies of the
Atlanta Centennial Olympic Games. Photo by Sgt. Thomas Meeks.

On July 19, 1996, the opening ceremony of the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta welcomed more than 10,000 athletes from nearly 200 nations.[1]  Nearly 14,000 National Guardsmen from 47 states supported the Olympic Games in the largest National Guard peacetime support mission of the 20th Century.[2] Citizen Soldiers and Airmen of the National Guard worked with civilian volunteers as well as state and federal agencies supporting Olympic events from the Tennessee border to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Lieutenant General Edward D. Baca, chief of the National Guard Bureau addresses Georgia National Guardsmen of the 190th Military Police Company
before the start of their duty day. Photo by Staff Sgt. Gail Parnelle

Securing the Games

Preparations began shortly after the International Olympic Commission announced the awarding of the Olympic Games to Atlanta in September 1990. Initial plans called for the activation of 2,000 to 3,000 Georgia Guardsmen and assignment of 8,000 Army Soldiers to bolster civilian security efforts; however, the Department of Defense General Counsel ruled that the use of active military personnel in security roles might violate the Posse Comitatus Act which limits the use of federal military forces in law enforcement activities.[3] The security gap would ultimately be filled by the National Guard and its Citizen Soldiers and Airmen. Initially, National Guard personnel were to be mobilized in state active-duty status; however, due to myriad state laws, NGB authorized the use of annual training status which cleared the way for all participating states to equally fund their assigned units.[4]

 

Under the direction of Maj. Gen. William P. Bland, Georgia’s Adjutant General, The Georgia National Guard established two task forces: TF Centennial Guard and TF 165.

 

ATLANTA, July 31, 1996 – Sergeant 1st Class Randall Webb of the Georgia Army National Guard’s 121st Infantry Regiment directs visitors to events near the
Georgia Dome during the Atlanta Centennial Olympic Games. Photo by Staff Sgt. Gail Parnelle.

TF Centennial Guard

Aviation support, equipment and facility use, liaison and venue security were key mission elements of TF Centennial, commanded by Ga. ARNG Col. Robert Hughes. Task Force Centennial Guard established military venue officers to liaise with law enforcement and augment venue security. Base support officers helped coordinate support for National Guard personnel from other states who would provide critical support to security operations. Over the course of the Olympic Games, more than 11,000 National Guard personnel were assigned to TF Centennial with a peak strength of 7,000.[5]

 

An air crew of the Georgia Army National Guard’s 148th Medical Company (Air Ambulance). Conducts a medical evacuation training exercise in support of
the Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta in July 1996. photo by Spc. Jeff Lowry.



National Guard aviation assets were key to TF Centennial Guard. Guard aviators provided aerial reconnaissance to help coordinate traffic flow on the ground and stood ready to provide medical evacuation in the event of an emergency. Aviators from Arizona, Indiana, New Mexico and Tennessee joined Georgia Guardsmen in flying more than 600 mission hours in 22 aircraft, in addition to 700 hours in the days preceding the Games.[6]

 

In addition to the federal missions, TF Centennial Guard fielded two missions at the direction of the Governor of Georgia. These state active-duty missions were Team Hotel and TF 121.

 

ATLANTA, July 1996 – Georgia Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Patrick McNaughton of Company H, 121st Infantry,
Long Range Surveillance Unit checks security points and ensures his Soldiers have food and water for the day’s duties
during the Atlanta Centennial Olympic Games. Photo by Staff Sgt. Fred Baker

Team Hotel was a 275-member special unit of Georgia Guardsmen tasked to secure the Olympic Village from July 1 to August 5, 1996. Team Hotel was comprised of Company H, 121st Infantry Regiment, Long Range Surveillance Unit; 178th Military Police Company and the 190th MP Company.[7] 

 

Following the bombing of Centennial Olympic Park, TF 121 was established to augment security at Olympic venues across the state. The task force was composed of more than 450 Georgia Guardsmen of the 48th Infantry Brigade, recently returned from a Fort Irwin National Training Center mobilization. Units of the 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment with units based in Winder, Gainesville, Covington, Lawrenceville, Eatonton and Milledgeville were supplemented by cavalry scouts of the Griffin-based Troop E, 108th Cavalry and received training at the Georgia State Patrol Training Center in Forsyth, Ga. They performed security operations in conjunction with Soldiers of the Indiana National Guard operating metal detectors and staffing baggage check stations.[8]

 

TF 165

ATLANTA, July, 1996 – Georgia Air National Guard Major
Randy Scamihorn goes over security requirements with Olympic volunteer
Debra Johnson. Georgia National Guard photo by TSgt. Rick Cowan
Task Force 165 was commanded by Georgia Air National Guard Col. Steve Westgate, commander of the 165th Airlift Wing. In addition to providing military support for Olympic events in the Savannah vicinity, TF 165 established satellite communication networks in support of events statewide. Leading the communications effort was the 283rd Communications Squadron along with personnel and equipment from the 117th Air Control Squadron and 224th Joint Communication Support Squadron. [9]

 

The Ga. ANG’s Combat Readiness Training Center in Savannah hosted 600 U.S. Coast Guard personnel who supported Olympic marina events. The CRTC and other base camps of TF 165 offered medical, transportation and laundry services 24 hours a day throughout the games.[10]

Perhaps the greatest challenge faced by TF 165 was the approach of Hurricane Bertha which prompted the evacuation of personnel and athletes from the Olympic marina on July 10, 1996. Events were delayed two days until the track of Hurricane Bertha carried it away from the Georgia Coast.[11] 

 

Department of Defense Support

The National Guard Bureau coordinated personnel and equipment resources for the Centennial Olympic Games that were beyond Georgia’s capability. A primary contributor was the 38th Infantry Division with units from Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. Major General Robert Mitchell, commander of the 38th Infantry Division recalled the Olympic mission.

 

“The real value of (the Olympics mission) was the performance of the individual Guardsman,” said Mitchell. “Each was a true ambassador of goodwill representative of the games.”[12] 

 

Colonel Walter Corish, commander of the Ga. ANG, speaks with Army National Guard Soldiers of the 38th Infantry Division during operations supporting the
Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta in July 1996. Georgia National Guard Archives.

The U.S. Army Forces Command established a joint task force to coordinate all federal support to the Olympic Games by the Department of Defense. Commanded by Maj. Gen. Robert Hicks, Joint Task Force Olympics received and approved support requests, provided support to 10 base camps and assisted in the transportation of military personnel from base camps to Olympic venues. The JTFO tasked the Army’s 24th Corps Support Group to convert an abandoned Delta Airlines hangar into a main billeting area for Guardsmen. More than 4,000 Guardsmen and other military personnel stayed at the facility throughout the games.[13] 

 

Major General Hicks praised the efforts of the National Guard at the end of Olympic support operations.

 

“All National Guard members performed superbly,” said Hicks. “The world focused on our country as the host of the Olympic Games, and it was the National Guard Soldiers and Airmen who made it possible to host the largest peacetime event in history.”[14]



[1] Jere Longman. “ATLANTA 1996: THE GAMES BEGIN; In Atlanta, Festivities Touched by Sorrow.” The New York Times, July 19, 1996 B13.

 

[2] Georgia National Guard. After Action Report Operation Centennial Guard: June 1, 1996-August 26, 1996. NP, Dec 20, 1996, 1.

 

[3] Georgia National Guard. After Action Report Operation Centennial Guard: June 1, 1996-August 26, 1996. 5.

 

[4] Georgia National Guard. After Action Report Operation Centennial Guard: June 1, 1996-August 26, 1996. 5.

 

[5] Georgia National Guard. 1996 Olympic Games Executive Summary. ND, NP, 2.

 

[6] Georgia National Guard. 1996 Olympic Games Executive Summary. 2.

 

[7] Fred Baker and Thomas Meeks. “Team Hotel Protects Olympic Athletes.” The Georgia Guardsman, Summer 1996, 19-22.

 

[8] Susan Kirkland. “Bombing Gives Guardsmen Double Duty.” The Georgia Guardsman. Summer 1996, 12.

 

[9] Wendy Thompson. “GSU’s Provide Communication Link.” The Georgia Guardsman. Summer 1996, 28.

 

[10] Wendy Thompson. “Task Force 165 a Huge Success.” The Georgia Guardsman, Summer 1996, 26-27.

 

[11] Georgia National Guard. 1996 Olympic Games Executive Summary. 1.

 

[12] Georgia National Guard. 1996 Olympic Games Executive Summary. 5.

 

[13] Toby Moore. “’A Massive Job’ The Guard’s Olympic Involvement.” The Georgia Guardsman, Summer 1996, 4-5.

[14] Georgia National Guard. 1996 Olympic Games Executive Summary. 5.