Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Georgia Air National Guard Airmen Mobilize to France for NATO Mission


By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

When France withdrew from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1966, President Charles De Gaulle ordered all military installations in France be removed by March 31, 1967.[1] This deadline created an urgent need for U.S. personnel to assist in the dismantling and transport of military infrastructure. Georgia Air National Guard Airmen of the Macon-based 202nd Ground Electronics Engineering and Installation Agency volunteered to assist with the herculean effort which was dubbed Operation Fast Race. The 202nd GEEIA was among 17 National Guard units from 13 states sent to France.[2]

The 202nd was organized in October 1952 as the 8226th Air Base Squadron and reorganized as the 202nd Communications Maintenance Squadron later that year. The 202nd was again reorganized as the 202nd GEEIA in November 1966 and within days of the reorganization its Airmen were mobilizing to France.[3]

Lt. Coll. George Smith (right), commander of the 202nd GEEIA bids good luck to Airmen of the 202nd bound for France in 1967. Georgia Guard archives.
The first group of seven airmen departed November 16, 1966 arriving at Etain Air Base and Phalsbourg Air Base in France. A follow-on group celebrated Thanksgiving en route to France. By the middle of January, Georgia Air National Guardsmen had constituted three additional mobilizations to support efforts in Chambley, Chaumont and other air traffic control facilities. Lt. Col. Paul Kerr of the Oklahoma Air National Guard served as the project chief for the operation.

The Airmen of the 202nd labored to remove electronic equipment from multiple military installations in France. Among the more challenging efforts was the disassembly of more 20 separate microwave sites in Northern France which had been used as communication relays between bases throughout the country.

The deputy commander of U. S. European Command, Gen. D. A. Burchinal, praised the efforts of the National Guard personnel.

“The responsiveness of the Guard personnel in adapting to the demanding environment of our accelerated withdrawal and the professionalism demonstrated by these men deserve the highest credit,” said Gen. Burchinal.[4]

Major General George Hearn, Georgia’s Adjutant General also praised the multi-state Air National Guard effort.

“Operation Fast Race brought the Air National Guard’s communication role to the public’s attention as never before,” said Hearn. “…and demonstrated conclusively that Air Guardsmen can be depended upon to contribute far beyond their normal service when emergencies arrive.”[5]

The 202nd continues in service in the Georgia Air National Guard today as the 202nd Engineering Installation Squadron.

[1] “202nd Airmen Volunteer for Duty in France to Remove US NATO Gear.” The Georgia Guardsman, January 1967, 7.

[3] William E. Ridley. Georgia Air National Guard History, 1941-2000. (Charlotte, N.C.: Fine Books, 2000), 301.

[4] Macon’s 202nd GEEIA Sqdn Cited for ‘Fast Race’ Role.” 11.

[5] Macon’s 202nd GEEIA Sqdn Cited for ‘Fast Race’ Role.” 11.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

The History of the Clay National Guard Chapel

By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Ga. Army National Guard

The Dobbins Air Reserve Base chapel is slowly moved the two miles across the runway at DARB to the Clay National Guard Center.
U.S. Air Force photo by Don Peek.

The morning of March 17, 2013, was crisp and the air over Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia was clear. Presently, like so many mornings, the radio at the base air traffic control tower crackled to life.

“Tower, this is Chapel 1950, request permission for engine start-up,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Timothy Tarchick, commander of the 94th Airlift Wing. From his position on the taxiway. The air traffic controller replied:

“Chapel, this is Dobbins Tower, you are cleared for taxi on Alpha Crossing Runway 27. Thank you for your service and God-speed.”[1] Instead of the customary crescendo of turboprop engines preceding the takeoff of an Air Force Reserve C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft, the diesel engine of a front-end loader strained and began to inch onto the runway with a 1940s-era military chapel in tow as the Dobbins Chapel began rolling nearly two miles to its new home on the Clay National Guard Center.

Construction plans for the Dobbins Chapel - Regimental Chapel Type CH-1 dated Sept. 3, 1941. Georgia National Guard Archives.

Originally built in the 1940s as one of countless modular houses of worship, the Georgia Air National Guard acquired the chapel because the briefing room of the 128th Fighter Squadron  became too small to host combined services for the Ga. Air National Guard units.[2] U.S. Army Brig. Gen James Hugh O’Neil, deputy chief of chaplains, dedicated Dobbins Chapel on Oct. 5, 1950.[3] As the chaplain of the Third Army, O’Neil composed the famous prayer for fair weather for Lt. Gen. George Patton during the Battle of the Bulge.[4] Less than one month after the dedication, the first wedding was held at the chapel.

Chaplain Maj. Robert Pooley and his assistant TSgt. Wendell Baggett welcome Airmen of the Georgia Air National Guard’s
116th Fighter Interceptor Wing to service at the Dobbins Chapel with coffee and donuts in May 1958.
Georgia National Guard Archives.
Through the years, the doors of the chapel welcomed worshippers from the National Guard, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps as the base shared space with a Naval Air Station and, eventually, the headquarters of the Georgia National Guard. But in 2005, the chapel was in danger of demolition due to maintenance costs and land use requirements imposed by post September 11 force protection measures. Not content to see the chapel bulldozed, several community members, Air Force personnel and the Georgia National Guard came together to find alternatives. The Dobbins Chapel Foundation, established in 1998, solicited funds for repairs. The Adjutant General of Georgia agreed to emplace the chapel on the Lucius Clay National Guard Center opposite the newly dedicated Joint Force Headquarters of the Georgia Department of Defense. Just two weeks short of the demolition deadline, the Foundation received an anonymous donation to make necessary repairs and fund the delicate work of loading and transporting the chapel to its new home.

On April 27, 2014, after more than a year of renovation, Dobbins Chapel was rededicated as the Clay National Guard Center Chapel with a service provided by State Chaplain Col. Michael Summers.[5] Just days later, Chaplain Lt. Col. Blair Davis held the first service in the renovated and rededicated Clay National Guard Center Chapel.[6] The historic building has once again served as a site of worship, hosted weddings and provided a spiritual home for Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen of the Georgia National Guard.

The Clay National Guard Center Chapel blanketed in snow just weeks before its April 2014 rededication. Georgia National Guard Archives.

[1] Elizabeth Van Patten. “Holy Roller Dobbins Chapel Taxis Across Runway” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, April 2013, 14.

[2] “Unit News” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, December 1949, 1

[3] Richard Ashworth. “News of Georgians Serving in the Armed Forces.” The Atlanta Constitution. Oct. 9, 1950, 5.

[4] James H. O’Neil “The True Story of the Patton Prayer” The New American, January 12, 2004, 35-39.

[5] James Branch. “Foundation Rededicates Base Chapel.” April 28, 2014.

[6] Greta Jackson. “Let’s All Go to the Chapel.” The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, May 2014, 3.

Monday, March 15, 2021

The Post-WWII Reorganization of the Ga. National Guard and the Birth of the 48th Infantry Division


By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

The 1948 MTOE of the 48th Infantry Division. Note the military symbols for Quartermaster and Ordnance from FM 21-30:
Conventional Signs, Military Symbols and Abbreviations
, War Department, October 1943. Table by Maj. William Carraway

For as far as most currently serving National Guard personnel can recall, National Guard units have been activated for federal service, deployed overseas in support of named operations and returned to state service as the same unit. This was not the case in the wars of the early and mid-20th Century. When the Georgia National Guard was mobilized for World War I and World War II, units and personnel were accepted into federal service and often reassigned or reorganized Effectively, the Georgia National Guard ceased to exist as an organization with the deployment of these forces and state guard organizations were organized to fill the vacuum.

Brig. Gen. Marvin Griffin, Georgia's Adjutant
General, 1944-1947. Ga. National Guard 

On March 15, 1946, former Georgia National Guard officers, combat veterans of World War II, gathered in Macon to lay the foundation for a new National Guard organization in the state. Brigadier General Marvin Griffin, Georgia’s Adjutant General and future governor, addressed the gathering and observed that the National Guard had very nearly passed out of existence in favor of federal forces. Griffin credited The National Guard Association for the survival of the Citizen Soldier concept.

Griffin laid out a bold plan for the reorganization of the Georgia National Guard.

“The zoning of Georgia (is) to carry out the War Department’s general plan for an over-all balanced defense of the nation,” said Griffin.[1] Under the plan unveiled by Griffin, units would be organized geographically to maximize training and supervision. At the same time, the state would strive to perpetuate the lineage of Georgia National Guard units, some of which pre-dated the American Revolution. Macon would become the home of the reorganized 121st Infantry Regiment. A new infantry regiment was proposed with headquarters in Atlanta. While this unit was initially to be the 292nd Infantry Regiment, Georgia opted instead to reinstate the 122nd Infantry Regiment which had existed from 1917 to 1939 before converting to form the 179th Field Artillery Regiment. In place of the 179th, Atlanta would receive the 945th Field Artillery Battalion. These and other units would form the 48th Infantry Division which would also contain units of the Florida National Guard.

In addition to the infantry division, Georgia would receive an anti-aircraft artillery brigade. These units would be based on Georgia’s coast and Savannah River Valley with the primary mission of providing air cover for Atlanta and its industrial capacity. This brigade would become the 108th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Brigade, whose numerical designation would honor the former 108th Cavalry.

Charles Bowden, mayor of Macon welcomed the assembled veterans, many of whom were in the Army Reserve and considering service in the Georgia National Guard. Macon had served as the headquarters of the 30th Division prior to World War II, and its former commander, Maj. Gen. Henry D. Russell, himself a resident of Macon, also addressed the gathering.

Maj. Gen. Henry D. Russell (seated 1st to the left) and the division staff of the 30th Division during the Desota Maneuvers of 1938. Future
Ga. Air National Guard Colonel and Atlanta Mayor can be seen kneeling fifth from the left. Ga. National Guard Archives.
Under the initial reorganization the following cities were identified to host Georgia National Guard units:

Albany, Americus, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Bainbridge, Barnesville, Brunswick, Calhoun, Cedartown, Cordele, Covington, Dalton, Dublin, Eastman, Elberton, Forsyth, Gainesville, Griffin, Hawkinsville, Hinesville, Jackson, Jesup, LaGrange, Louisville, Macon, Marietta, Milledgeville, Monroe, Moultrie, Newnan, Perry, Rome, Savannah, Springfield, Statesboro, Swainsboro, Thomaston, Thomasville, Thompson, Toccoa, Valdosta, Washington, Waycross, Waynesboro and Winder.

General Order No. 17 of the Military Department, State of Georgia dated, December 31, 1946, established the allotment of troops for the state to include the 48th ID and 108th AAA Brigade. The total allotment of ground forces was 11,270 Soldiers. Additionally, the Air Corps was allotted and organized under the 54th Fighter Wing.[2]

The 48th ID was headquartered in Macon with Russell as its first commander. In its original structure, the 48th ID was comprised of three Infantry Regiments, the 121st and 122nd of Georgia and the 124th of Florida. The Division Artillery Headquarters was split between Florida and Savannah with three field artillery battalions, the 118th and 230th of Georgia and the 149th of Florida, armed with 105 mm howitzers. The Atlanta-based 945th FA provided division artillery with the heavy punch of 155 mm weapons.

Special troops were also split between the states with Georgia providing the band, signal and MP companies as well as a reconnaissance troop. Georgia’s 560th Engineer Battalion provided engineering capability to the 48th ID while Florida supplied the 202nd Medical Battalion, 748th Ordnance Company and 48th Quartermaster Company.

In 1948, changes to the modified table of equipment for infantry divisions[3] saw the addition of an organic tank and anti-aircraft artillery battalion, [4] 190th Tank Battalion and the self-propelled 101st Anti-Aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion.

Georgia National Guard Soldiers of the 3rd Battalion 121st Infantry Regiment during the first annual training of the 48th ID at Fort Jackson, S.C. in 1948.
The Soldiers are uniformed and equipped as in World War II with double-buckle boots. The Soldiers wear the shoulder sleeve insignia of
United States Army Forces Command pending approval of an insignia for the 48th ID. Ga. National Guard Archives.

The shoulder sleeve insignia for the 48th Infantry Division was approved on Feb. 16, 1949.[5] The design incorporated a four-pointed star, one point up, 2 3/8 inches in diameter, with each point divided into white and red halves. The patch incorporated a 1/8-inch green border. The four points of the star alludes to the number "4" and the white and red alternating segments allude to the number "8." The design, therefore, suggests the number of the division.



[1] “Officers Lay Plans for New National Guard.” The Georgia Guardsman. May 1946, 2

[2] Military Department, State of Georgia. General Order No. 17. Dec. 31, 1946.

[3] John B. Wilson. Maneuver and Firepower The Evolution of Divisions and Separate Brigades (Wsshington D.C.: Center for Military History, 1998) 226.

[4] “The New T/O – Greater Firepower Greater Strength.” The National Guardsman, November 1948, 25.

[5] TIOH Dwg. No. A-1-112

Sunday, March 14, 2021

A Brief History of the 177th Engineer Battalion

By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia Army National Guard


The distinctive unit insignia of the 264th Coast Artillery Battalion with the 1914 Drill Regulations for Coast Artillery. Photo by Maj. William Carraway


The Georgia Army National Guard’s 177th Engineer Battalion is based in Statesboro  with Companies A through D based in Glennville, Douglas, Macon and Fort Gillem, respectively. The 177th BEB provides engineering, signal and military intelligence capability to the Macon-based 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

Unit History

Headquarters Company, 177th BEB was originally constituted in the Ga. ARNG in Statesboro, Ga. as Battery A, 264th Coast Artillery Battalion, March 14, 1930.[1] On Oct. 1, 1939, the 264th CAB was reorganized as the 1st Battalion 214th Field Artillery Group[2] with Battery A reorganized as Battery C. The 214th FA Group was mobilized to the Pacific Theater of Operations and underwent reorganization in November 1943. The 1st Battalion 214th was redesignated the 528th Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion with the Statesboro unit redesignated as Battery C. The unit maintained this designation through the war and was inactivated in December 1945 at Camp Stoneman, Calif.


The 528th AAA was reestablished July 11, 1946 by the Allotment of National Guard Ground Force Units for the State of Georgia. In October, the 528th was consolidated into Headquarters Battery, 101st Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion and the resulting unit was designated Headquarters Battery, 101st Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion.[3] The unit was reorganized and federally recognized June 17, 1947 in Statesboro.


On August 14, 1950, the unit was ordered into federal service due to the outbreak of hostilities in Korea. As part of the 108th Antiaircraft Artillery Brigade, the unit was initially mobilized to Camp Bliss, Texas. The 108th provided air defense over industrial areas from Chicago to Philadelphia until released from federal service in April 1952.[4]

Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers of the 101st AAA Battalion stand in the frigid cold of a Chicago Winter while waiting for their C-47 transport plane to refuel and bring them home for Christmas in 1951. Georgia National Guard Archives.

On Oct. 1, 1953, the unit was redesignated as Headquarters Battery, 101st Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion.[5]


On July 1, 1959, the unit was reorganized and redesignated as Headquarters Battery, 2nd Gun Battalion, 214th Field Artillery. This unit was converted and redesignated as Headquarters Company, 265th Engineer Battalion May 1, 1962.


Distinctive unit insignia of the
648th Engineer Battalion

The unit was consolidated with Company A, 265th Engineer Battalion Jan. 1, 1968 and the units were converted and redesignated as Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion 214th Field Artillery.


On Sept. 1, 1993, the unit was converted and redesignated as Detachment 1, 848th Engineer Company. Thirty days later, the unit was expanded, reorganized and redesignated as Headquarters Company, 648th Engineer Battalion.[6] Assigned to the 48th Infantry Brigade the 648th mobilized to Iraq in 2005 and returned the following year.


The 648th  was redesignated as the 48th Special Troops Battalion September 1, 2007.[7] The 48th BSTB was ordered into active Federal service April 21, 2009 at home stations for service in Afghanistan with the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The 48th BSTB was released from active federal service May 25, 2010 and reverted to state control.


Headquarters Company, 48th BSTB was converted and redesignated Sept. 1, 2015 as the HHC, 177th Engineer Battalion, an element of the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.[8]

Soldiers of the 177th BEB accompanied the 48th IBCT during its 2019 deployment to Afghanistan and assisted during the Ga. DOD's coordinated response to the Coronavirus outbreak.

DUI of the 48th BSTB 
and 177th BEB

 Subordinate Units:

  • Company A: Glenville. Federally recognized June 17, 1947
  • Company B: Organized September 1, 2015 in Douglas.[9] Federally recognized December 1, 2015.[10]
  • Company C: Macon. Federally recognized February 26, 2008.
  • Company D: Organized September 1, 1996 in Forest Park as the 248th Military Intelligence Company[11] and federally recognized December 6, 1997. The 248th was activated in March 2005 with the 48th Brigade for Operation Iraqi Freedom. The unit returned in September 2006. The 248th MI Co was redesignated Company B, 48th BSTB September 1, 2007.[12] On September 1, 2015, Company B, 48th BSTB was converted and redesignated as Company D, 177th BEB.[13] 


Local History

 Statesboro has been home to a Georgia National Guard unit since 1903 and the founding of the Statesboro Volunteers.[14] The contract for the Statesboro Armory was awarded May 29, 1961.[15] On May 20, 1962, The Statesboro Armory was dedicated to the late Prince H. Preston, Jr., a former member of the Ga. National Guard and member of Congress from Georgia’s 1st District from 1947 to 1961. At the time of the Armory dedication, Statesboro was home to the 265th Engineer Battalion.[16] In 2006, the armory was rededicated in memory of Brig. Gen. Terrell Reddick, a resident of Statesboro who served as deputy commander of the Ga. ARNG and commander of the 78th Troop Command.

The Statesboro Armory, home of the 177th BEB Sept. 5, 2020. Photo by Maj. William Carraway




War on Terrorism

Campaigns to be determined.


Headquarters and Headquarters Company (Statesboro) and Company A (Glennville) each additionally entitled to:


World War II

East Indies


New Guinea



War on Terrorism[17]

Campaigns to be determined.


                    Company D (Forest Park), additionally entitled to:


War on Terrorism[18]

Campaigns to be determined.




Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army), Streamer embroidered AFGHANISTAN 2009-2010


Headquarters and Headquarters Company (Statesboro) and Company A (Glennville) each additionally entitled to:


Presidential Unit Citation (Army), Streamer embroidered PAPUA[19]


Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, Streamer embroidered 17 OCTOBER 1944 TO 4 JULY 1945[20]



[1] Pictorial Review, National Guard of the State of Georgia, 1939, 215

[2] 214th Lineage and Honors

[3] 214th  

[4] 214th

[5] 214th

[6] Lineage and Honors Certificate, 648th Engineer Battalion

[7] OA 112-08

[8] OA 434-14, Corrected Copy 1, 3 February 2015.

[9] OA434-14 Corrected Copy 1, February 3, 2015

[10] OA 50-16 March 15, 2016

[11] OA 73-96, May 9, 1996

[12] OA 112-08 May 1, 2008

[13] OA434-14 Corrected Copy 1, February 3, 2015

[14] Annual Report of the National Guard of Georgia, 1916

[15] Annual Report of the Georgia Department of Defense, 1962, Sec XIV

[16] Georgia Guardsman Magazine May, June 1962, 6

[17] Earned as HHC, 648th Engineer Battalion.

[18] Earned as the 248th Military Intelligence Company.

[19] (HHC [then HHC 101st Coast Arty BN cited for period 23 Jul 1942 - 23 Jan 1943; WDGO 17, 1945)

[20] (HHC [then HHC 101st Coast Arty BN] cited; DAGO 47, 1950)