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.


 


 


 


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