Monday, February 22, 2021

The Career of Brig. Gen. Wyont Bean, longtime Ga ARNG Artillery Officer

 

By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

 

Lt. Col. Wyont Bean
with Battery F, 179th FA in 1952.
Georgia National Guard Archives

Brigadier General Wyont Bean began his career in the Ga. Army National Guard February 22, 1924 upon enlisting in Company C, 200th Infantry Regiment at the age of 18. His captain was Thomas Lamar Alexander who would command the regiment after it was redesignated the 122nd Infantry. 

Bean rose through the enlisted ranks to serve as company first sergeant before accepting an appointment as a 2nd lieutenant in the same company, then designated Company C, 122nd Infantry Regiment. A graduate of Tech High School in Atlanta, Bean qualified as an expert rifleman in the 1933 rifle matches at Camp Perry, Ohio. On Sept. 21, 1936 Bean transferred to Company G, 122nd Infantry Regiment and accepted promotion to 1st lieutenant. That year he again scored as an expert rifleman at Camp Perry.


The Ga. National Guard rifle team at Camp Perry, Ohio in 1937. Georgia National Guard Archives


On July 1, 1939, the 122nd Infantry Regiment was redesignated the 179th Field Artillery beginning Bean’s long association with the field artillery of the Ga. National Guard. Shortly before entering federal service, Bean was promoted to captain. Bean entered active federal service February 14, 1941 and remained on active duty for five years during which he participated in the Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns. Bean commanded the 694th FA Battalion and served as the intelligence officer of the 472nd Field Artillery Group, 9th Army. 

Upon leaving federal service, Lt. Col. Bean served in the Officers’ Reserve Corps until May 2, 1947 when he assumed command of the newly reactivated 945th Field Artillery Battalion of the Ga. ARNG’s 48th Infantry Division Artillery. The following year, the unit was redesignated the 179th FA BN and received the Croix de Guerre with Palme from the French Government during a ceremony at the State Capitol.

 

 Lieutenant Colonel Wyont Bean leads the 179th Field Artillery Battalion during the Army Day
Parade in Atlanta April 6, 1949. Georgia National Guard Archives.

Bean commanded the 179th for ten years. In 1953, Bean’s son, Wyont Bean Jr., enlisted in the Ga. ARNG and Lt. Col. Bean administered his oath of office. Four years later, Bean swore his son into the Ga. ARNG as a second lieutenant. Lieutenant Bean transferred to the Iowa National Guard in 1959 to attend Palmer College of Chiropractic but rejoined the Ga. ARNG after his 1963 graduation.

Lieutenant Colonel Wyont Bean swears his son, Wyont Bean Jr. into the Georgia National Guard in September 1953 while Col. Roy Norvell, commander of the 122nd Infantry Regiment observes. Georgia National Guard Archives
Upon the retirement of Maj. Gen. Patrick Seawright, commander of the 48th Armor Division in 1957, Bean was promoted to colonel and assigned as the executive officer of the 48th AD Artillery. He served as president of the National Guard Association of Georgia in 1960.

Bean retired from the Ga. ARNG November 1, 1962 and was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. As a civilian, Bean served as a planning engineer with the City of Atlanta until his retirement in 1966. That year, his son, Capt. W. Bean, commanded Battery D, 179th Field Artillery Battalion.

Brigadier General Bean died July 26, 1970 at the age of 64.

 

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Friday, February 12, 2021

Sixty Years of Service for the Wesley D. Willingham Armory in Forsyth, Ga.

By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

Left: Officer Candidates of the Georgia Military Institute Officer Candidate School Class One parade in formation in front of the Forsyth Armory in 1961. Georgia National Guard Archives. Right: Governor Brian Kemp speaks to Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers of the Forsyth-based 2nd Battalion 121st Infantry Regiment Jan. 15, 2021 at the Forsyth Armory. Photo by Maj William Carraway
 

The Forsyth armory of the Georgia Army National Guard was dedicated during a ceremony Sunday, Feb. 12, 1961. Major General George Hearn, Georgia’s Adjutant General delivered the dedicatory address for the $116,000 armory which was named in honor of Col. Wesley D. Willingham, a World War II veteran and longtime member of the Georgia National Guard. Willingham commanded the Forsyth-based 30th Tank Company at the start of World War II and later commanded the 190th Tank Battalion, part of the 48th Infantry Division and commanded the 160th Armor Group upon the conversion of the 48th to an armor division in 1955. At the time of the armory dedication, Willingham commanded Combat Command C of the Macon-based 48th Armor Division.

Colonel Wesley D. Willingham speaks at the 
dedication of the Forsyth Armory Feb. 12, 1961.
Georgia National Guard Archives.

The Georgia National Guard contracted the construction of the Forsyth Armory in 1956 and construction was completed later that year. The Forsyth Armory served as the first home of the Ga. ARNG’s Georgia Military Institute, the state officer candidate school that took its name from the GMI campus founded in Marietta in 1851. The first 83 officer candidates enrolled in Class One January 21, 1961. Today GMI is located at the Clay National Guard Center less than three miles from the original site of the GMI. 

Over the years many Ga. ARNG units have called Forsyth home. The city has served as  headquarters for the Combat Command C; HHC of the 2nd Brigade, 48th AD; HHD, 176th Military Police Battalion and HHC, 148th Brigade Support Battalion. The armory is currently home to the 2nd Battalion 121st Infantry Regiment.