Friday, June 25, 2021

The Georgia National Guard and the Korean War

 By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia Army National Guard


Georgia Air National Guard pilots killed in action in Korea:  Left to Right:  Capt. Barney Casteel, Lt.
James Collins, Capt. David Mather, Capt. John Thompson, Lt. William White. Georgia National Guard Archives.

Three Blissful Weeks in June

In June 1950, with summer approaching, Soldiers and Airmen of the Georgia National Guard were preparing for annual training. The 128th Fighter Squadron of the Georgia Air National Guard’s 116th Fighter Group received its first jet-powered aircraft, the F-84 Thunderjet, replacing the World War II-era F-47 Thunderbolt. The 128th was the second squadron of the Ga. ANG to field jet aircraft after the 158th FS replaced its F-47s with the F-80C Shooting Star in 1948. The first of the 26 Thunderjets assigned to the 128th was flown to Dobbins Air Force Base in Marietta, Ga. by Capt. Barney Casteel, a 27-year-old native of Atlanta. A 1948 graduate of Georgia Institute of Technology, Casteel flew 81 combat missions over Germany in World War II and was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross.[1]

Captain Barney Casteel at the controls of the first F-84 Thunderjet assigned to the 128th Fighter Squadron. Photo by Sgt. J. C. Templeton.


As Casteel was winging his way to Dobbins, State Senator Roy LeCraw was ensconced in his Atlanta office. The former mayor of Atlanta and World War II veteran additionally served as commander of the 216th Air Services Group and personnel officer for the Georgia Air National Guard. Colonel LeCraw was anticipating a busy annual training season, not knowing he would soon be called to active duty, along with Casteel, to serve as the executive officer of the 116th Fighter Bomber Wing.

Col. Roy LeCraw Ga. National Guard Archives.
Halfway between Atlanta and Savannah, the Georgia Army National Guard’s Battery D,
101st Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion spent their June drill at their armory in Waynesboro preparing for annual training which was to be held at Camp Stewart August 6 to 20. The battalion would compete with its rival, the 250th AAA Battalion, in crew drills and firing efficiency for bragging rights as the top guns in the Savannah-based 108th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Brigade. First Lieutenant Paul Stone, a 25-year-old platoon leader and business owner, born and raised in Waynesboro, had already gained a reputation as an effective officer. A veteran of the Air Corps in World War II, Stone left the Air Corps Reserves March 13, 1949 to serve with his hometown Guard unit. As he finished up paperwork from the June drill, Stone prepared to return to his civilian job and looked forward to the hot humid annual training at Camp Stewart.

War

Just weeks later, on June 25, 1950, North Korean Army units backed by Soviet and Chinese equipment and assistance advanced in force into South Korea. In response, the United Nations Security Council authorized the formation of the United Nations Command. On July 5, elements of the 24th U.S. Infantry Division moved to engage forces of the Korean People’s Army near Osan. Lacking anti-tank weaponry, the U.S. force was overwhelmed by North Korean armor. The 24th fell back steadily. Over the next seventeen days of constant combat, the American units suffered more than 30 percent casualties.

Protecting the Homeland

With the action unfolding on the Korean peninsula, Georgia National Guard leaders began to prepare their units for possible mobilization. Brig. Gen. Joseph Fraser, commander of the 108th AAA Brigade was faced with the prospect of serving in his third war. He served in France during World War I and had commanded the Ga. ARNG’s 101st AAA BN in the Pacific during World War II. His present command encompassed the 101st as well as the Augusta based 250th AAA BN which had also served in the Pacific during World War II.

Fraser’s executive officer was Col. George Hearn of Monroe, Ga. Like Fraser, Hearn had commanded an anti-aircraft unit in the Pacific during World War II. Returning home from the war, Hearn had been elected mayor of Monroe and was preparing to begin his term as the commander of the American Legion in Georgia in 1950.

Brigadier General Joe Frasier (second from left) and Col. George Hearn (second from right) brief Maj. Gen. Ernest Vandiver, Georgia’s Adjutant General
(center) on mobilization of the 108th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Brigade at Fort Bliss January 1951. Georgia National Guard Archives.


On August 14, 1950, the 108th AAA was activated for federal service. In addition to the 101st and 250th AAA Battalions, the 178th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Operations Detachment and 420th Signal Radar Maintenance Unit rounded out the brigade. With a combined strength of just over 1,000 men, the 108th was dispatched to Fort Bliss Texas and assigned to the 8th U.S. Army. In November 1951, the 108th was dispatched to the Midwest with the 250th arriving at Fort Custer, Michigan and the 101st garrisoned at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin. From these bases of operation, the Georgia Guard batteries were independently assigned to cities and industrial areas from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania to provide anti-aircraft capability against the threat of Soviet missile and aircraft attacks. First Lieutenant Stone’s battery of 90 mm guns was assigned to protect the skies over Chicago.

In December, Maj. Gen. Ernest Vandiver, Adjutant General of Georgia, dispatched the state’s C-47 cargo aircraft to bring Georgia Guardsmen home for Christmas from Camp McCoy and Fort Custer. While the Georgia Guardsmen of the 101st were able to rotate home for Christmas, cold weather prevented the Guardsmen of the 250th AAA from rotating home from Fort Custer.

Georgia National Guard Soldiers of the 101st Anti-Aircraft Artillery 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.


Brig. Gen. Paul Stone, commander of the
Ga. ANG, 1963-1971.
The guns of the 108th AAA remained on station through the spring of 1952 before receiving the order to rotate home. The Waynesboro Battery remained in position
through April 1952 with Stone rising to command the battery. After demobilizing at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, the 101st AAA Gun Battalion returned home. Over the next seven years, the Waynseboro battery earned six consecutive superior ratings and Stone received the Georgia Distinctive Service Medal and promotion to major. After a brief tenure on the staff of the 108th AAA, Stone transferred to the Ga. ANG. He retired in 1971 as a brigadier general having served eight years as commander of the Georgia Air National Guard.

Brigadier General Joe Fraser was appointed to command the Ga. ARNG’s 48th Infantry Division in March 1952 but did not return from mobilization until May. He saw the 48th through its transition to armor and served as the first commander of the 48th Armor Division. Fraser retired as a lieutenant general in 1956.

George Hearn was promoted to brigadier general and succeeded Fraser in command of the 108th AAA. In 1954 he was appointed to serve as Georgia’s Adjutant General. He served two non-consecutive terms as adjutant general for a total of 15 years and retired in 1971 having served the longest of Georgia’s Adjutants General.

Ga. ANG Pilots in Early Action in Korea

On Oct. 5, 1950, the Georgia Air National Guard’s 54th Fighter Wing was activated along with Col. LeCraw, Capt. Casteel, and other Ga. ANG pilots of the newly redesignated 116th Fighter Bomber Wing. As had happened to the Ga. ARNG units in the early months of World War II, many of the pilots of the Georgia Air National Guard were individually selected for other units. Among those was 1st Lt. James Lawrence Collins of the 128th Fighter Squadron. Like Casteel, Collins had served in World War II and was a 1947 graduate of the University of Georgia. He left his advertising job with the Atlanta Journal Constitution to deploy with the 128th. On May 8, 1951, Collins was on a mission with the 49th Bomber Wing over North Korea. While maneuvering his F-80 into position for a dive bomb run, Collins was hit by antiaircraft and crashed. He was declared missing, later killed in action. He was 26.

1st Lt. William White

Captain John Franklin Thompson of the 54th Fighter Wing was another Georgia ANG pilot and World War II veteran to see service over Korea with the U.S. Air Force. On June 11, 1951, while flying with the 18th Fighter Bomber Wing on his 75th mission, Thompson, having expended all his ammunition, was flying at low altitude attempting to locate targets. His P-51 Mustang was struck by enemy groundfire which caused it to hit the ground and explode, killing Thompson on impact.

Nine days later, a Georgia Air National Guard pilot scored his eighth kill. Lieutenant J. B. Harrison, formerly of the 128th Fighter Squadron, shot down a Russian Yak 9 fighter over Korea June 20, 1951 adding to seven confirmed kills he had received in World War II.

On June 21, 1951, 1st Lt. William Clyde White of the 8th Bomber Group had taken to the skies over North Korea in his F-80. The 32-year-old native of Savannah was a World War II veteran of the Pacific Theater who had flown the B-29 Superfortress. White had served in the 158th Fighter Squadron before his transfer to the 8th FB Group. Coming under heavy antiaircraft fire near Twijae, White maneuvered into a dive and struck a ridge. His aircraft exploded on impact.

The 116th Deploys

The remaining Georgia Air National Guardsmen, except those assigned to the 128th Fighter Squadron, departed for Korean service in July 1951 aboard the aircraft carriers Sitkoh Bay and Windham Bay and reached Japan July 27 where Col. LeCraw served as commander of the 116th Air Base Group. The Guardsmen provided air defense for Japan until December when the units were ferried to Korea to participate in missions in the skies over North Korea.

Barney Casteel in 1948.
Captain David J. Mather, a former member of the 128th Fighter Squadron and native of
Atlanta was one of the pilots of the 116 to enter combat over Korea. While conducting an armed reconnaissance mission following a dive bombing of enemy supply lines near Sairwon North Korea Jan. 12, 1952, Mather’s F-84 was hit by ground fire. He was seen to crash and was listed as missing, later killed in action.

On Jan 21, 1952, while assigned to the 136th Bomber Wing, Capt. Barney Casteel was conducting an armed reconnaissance mission north of Pyongyang. While strafing vehicles, Casteel’s F-84 aircraft was hit by ground fire. Casteel was unable to free himself from the aircraft seat and was killed on impact. He was the last Georgia Air National Guard Pilot killed in Korea.

The following month, the Ga. ANG units returned to Japan and began demobilizing to the United States. By July, all the units of the 54th had returned to Georgia. The 128th Fighter Squadron was briefly mobilized to France in 1952 but did not see service in the skies over Korea. Nevertheless, many of its pilots, such as Capt. Glenn Herd, were brought into service with the U.S. Air Force in Korea. Herd ultimately flew more than 100 missions before returning home to serve as operations officer of the 128th Fighter Squadron under Major, and future Adjutant General Joel Paris.

Major Joel Paris, commander of the Ga. ANG’s 128th Fighter Squadron confers with Capt. Glenn Herd, operations officer of the 128th.
Georgia National Guard Archives.
Colonel Roy LeCraw returned home to a hero’s welcome. On July 19, 1952, LeCraw learned that he had been awarded the Bronze Star for “exceptionally meritorious service for distinguishing himself by performing outstanding administrative functions connected with the activation, reorganization and command of Air Force Units.” Major General Ernest Vandiver, Adjutant General of Georgia, presented the Bronze Star to LeCraw during a ceremony honoring Korean War Veterans in January 1953.



[1] “Capt. B. P. Casteel, Atlanta Jet Pilot, Killed in Korea. Atlanta Constitution, Jan. 25, 1952, 19.



Thursday, June 24, 2021

The Life of Brig. Gen. Joseph Van Holt Nash, Pre and Post WWI Adjutant General of Ga.

 

By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

Brig. Gen. J. Van Holt Nash in 1913. Georgia National Guard Archives.
Governor Thomas Hardwick announced the reappointment of Brig. Gen. Joseph Van Holt Nash as Georgia’s Adjutant General June 24, 1921 on the day he assumed office as the 63rd Governor of Georgia. Nash had previously served as adjutant general from 1913 to 1917 when he entered federal service for World War I. He was reappointed March 1, 1919 becoming only the second Adjutant General of Georgia to serve two non-consecutive terms (Brig. Gen. Daniel Newnan became the first in 1937). During his second term as Adjutant General Nash was described by the Atlanta Constitution as “One of the most prominent men in military affairs of the South.”[1]

Nash was born April 11, 1868 to Joseph Van Holt Nash Sr. and Margaret Nash of Petersburg, Va. The elder Nash was a successful merchant who had served as a major on the staff of Maj. Gen Fitzhugh Lee during the Civil War. The younger Nash was the second of five children and the oldest son.

The Nash family moved to Atlanta where Nash Sr. became the southern division manager of the American Book Company.[2] Nash Jr. was educated at Richmond Academy and enlisted in the Atlanta Rifles August 3, 1886 upon the unit’s organization and over the next five years would rise through the ranks to the position of first sergeant. He was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant Sept. 17, 1891 and promoted directly to captain July 5, 1892.[3] The younger Nash was by then in the4 employ of the American Book Company.

Nash married Josephine Hoyle of Atlanta Nov. 9, 1917. On August 29, 1894, their daughter Lida was born. Josephine died Sept. 3, 1895 leaving the grieving Nash to raise his daughter along.

On May 13, 1898, following the United States declaration of war on Spain, Nash entered federal service at Camp Northen in Griffin, Ga. as captain of Company C, 2nd Georgia Volunteer Infantry.[4] On week later, the 2nd GVI advanced to Tampa, Fla. where it staged awaiting transport to Cuba. The 2nd was swiftly assigned to the Seventh Army Corps, commanded by former Confederate Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee with whom the elder Nash had served during the Civil War. Over the next two months, the 2nd was transferred from one brigade to another. The Georgians sweltered in the Tampa heat as U.S. troops landed east of Santiago Cuba and engaged the enemy at Las Guasimas June 24, 1898. The Georgians were still awaiting orders when Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders charged up Kettle Hill and San Juan Hill July 1.

Sketch of Capt. Nash. Sept 23, 1898. Atlanta Constitution.
More than three weeks later, on July 23, 1898, The Secretary of War directed the 2nd GVI be
dispatched to Santiago Cuba, along with the 5th Maryland Volunteers and 1st Florida Volunteers. Two days later, land operations began in Puerto Rico and the 2nd GVI, still in Tampa, was ordered to proceed to Puerto Rico instead. By July 30, the regiments had yet to depart, and no further orders were issued for their movement. 

Hostilities ended August 12, 1898 following the destruction of Spanish naval squadrons in Manila Bay and Santiago de Cuba and the successful persecution of the land campaign in Cuba. On August 18, the 2nd GVI finally departed Tampa. Rather than Cuba or Puerto Rico, the 2nd arrived August 21, 1898 in Huntsville, Ala. Nash and the volunteers of the 2nd GVI returned to Georgia and were mustered out of service in November along with the 1st GVI and Georgia Light Artillery. Of the regiments with which the 2nd GVI were brigaded at Tampa, only the 1st District of Columbia Volunteer Infantry reached Cuba where they saw service during the Santiago campaign.[5]

Nash left federal service and was appointed lieutenant colonel and Aide de Camp to the Governor of Georgia. For nearly fifteen years, Nash served at state headquarters as inspector general and assistant chief of ordnance before his appointment as Adjutant General January 1, 1913.[6]

In June, 1916, the Georgia National Guard was activated for federal service on the Mexican Border. Nash coordinated with the state and War department for the establishment of a training camp near Macon, which would be called Camp Harris. The Guard mobilized to El Paso, Texas in October and on Thanksgiving, Nash accompanied Governor Nathan Harris to view the troops.

Nash follows Brig. Gen. Walter Harris, commander of the Georgia Brigade and Governor Nathan Harris on Thanksgiving, 1916 to address the
assembled troops of the Georgia National Guard at Camp Cotton, El Paso Texas. Photo by Lt. Vivian Roberts, 2nd Georgia Infantry Regiment.


With the March 1917 return of the Georgia National Guard, Nash was again involved in the establishment of a training camp which would become Camp Wheeler in Macon where the 31st Division would train for service in World War I.

The summer was not completely consumed by military affairs. On August 24, 1917 Nash’s daughter Lida married Lieutenant Robert Stuart Brown of Atlanta. In the coming war, Brown served with the 157th Depot Brigade at Camp Gordon. He left federal service in January 1919 as a captain.[7]

Nash himself entered federal service for World War I as a major Nov. 27, 1917 at Fort Oglethorpe, Ga. He was initially assigned as a battalion commander with the 157th Depot Brigade at Camp Gordon before receiving his permanent assignment to the War Plans Division in Washington D.C.[8]

Returning home from Washington in 1919, Nash married Alberta Swift, widow of Frank Meador Smith.

On the evening of Oct. 20, 1920, Nash was riding in a car driven by Lt. Harry Heins of the Gate City Guards with Lt. H. M. Butler and Major Charles Cox, a future adjutant general of Georgia. The party was returning to Atlanta from a barbecue given by Maj. George Mallet, the state quartermaster. While en route, about two miles outside of Griffin, Heins moved the vehicle to the side of the road to allow another car to pass. The car’s tires caught loose dirt on the side of the road causing Heins to lose control of the vehicle which rolled over twice. Nash was killed instantly, his neck broken, and Butler suffered fatal injuries. Cox was severely injured suffering a broken collar bone, three broken ribs and internal injuries. Heins, who was thrown clear of the vehicle was not injured.[9]

Atlanta Constitution Oct. 22, 1922. 

By order of the governor, Nash’s body lay in state at the Georgia capitol October 22. He was buried with full military honors Oct. 24, 1922 in Westview Cemetery, Atlanta.

The body of Brig. Gen. J. Van Holt Nash is born from the capitol by pall bearers of the Georgia National Guard. Atlanta Constitution, Oct. 24, 1922.


 



[1] ”Engagement of Lieut. Robert Brown and Miss Lida Nash.” The Montgomery Adviser, Aug. 24, 1917, 6.

 

[2] Franklin M. Garrett. Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of Its People and Events, 1880s-1930s. (Greece: University of Georgia Press, 2011) 794.

 

[3] Annual Report of the Adjutant General and Official Register of the National Guard for the Year 1920. (Atlanta: Chas. Byrd 1921) 134.

 

[4] Annual Report of the Adjutant General and Official Register of the National Guard for the Year 1920. 134.

[5] William Carraway ”The Georgia Volunteers in the Spanish American War.” Georgia National Guard History http://www.georgiaguardhistory.com/2018/04/the-georgia-volunteers-in-spanish_25.html

 

[6] Annual Report of the Adjutant General and Official Register of the National Guard for the Year 1920. 134.

[9] “Cox Near Death Following Crash at Griffin, Ga.” The Atlanta Constitution, Oct. 22, 1922, 1.

Friday, June 11, 2021

June 11, 2011: The Georgia National Guard’s 201st RSG Assumes Agribusiness Development Mission in Afghanistan

 

By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

 

The 201st Regional Support Group Agribusiness Development Team 1 stands information beside the Nevada National Guard's ADT at FOB Shank
June 11, 2011. Photo by Spc. Christopher Hall.

On a blisteringly hot day at Forward Operating Base Shank in the heart of Afghanistan’s Logar Province, nearly 60 Georgia National Guard Soldiers of the 201st Regional Support Group Agribusiness Development Team-1 officially assumed the mission of helping Afghan Farmers and communities from the Nevada National Guard June 11, 2011

“We are honored and privileged to be the first,” said Col. Bill Williams, III, commander of the first Georgia ADT to mobilize to Afghanistan. “We look forward not only to continuing Nevada’s Work, but passing on what we learn to the two Georgia Agribusiness Development Teams that will follow in our footsteps.”[1]

Colonel Bill Williams III, commander of Georgia’s 201st ADT-1, and his senior enlisted leader, Command Sgt. Maj. Randall Parker, mark the first day of
Georgia’s assumption of the agribusiness mission from the Nevada National Guard’s ADT in a ceremony at Forward Operating Base Shank in
Southeastern Afghanistan. Photo by Spc. Christopher Hall

Agribusiness Development Teams, or ADTs, were specially trained units comprised of National Guard Soldiers with backgrounds in agriculture who mentored Afghans in farm practices, food storage and preservation, animal health and many other fields. The first Army National Guard ADT deployed to Afghanistan in February 2008 and augmented provincial reconstruction team efforts in Jalalabad.[2]

University of Georgia professor and entomologist Keith Delaplane (right) educates Soldiers of the 201st and 265th ADTs on beekeeping techniques
and honey production in Athens, Ga. Feb 25, 2011. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Roy Henry

The journey of ADT-1 began in 2010 as the unit initiated an extensive and diverse training regimen in topics as varied as combat operations to irrigation practices. The team was comprised of infantry, engineers, veterinarians, scientists and Soldiers with civilian experience in farming. In the months leading up to deployment, ADT-1 received instruction from the University of Georgia College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. The UGA training included beekeeping practices, animal care, horticulture and other related subjects. The Soldiers had high praise for the training provided by UGA and CAES staff.

“Because of what they provided us, we’re afforded a great opportunity to show the world that not only do we operate on the battlefield as combatants but that we are humanitarians seeking to help our fellow man make a better place for himself, his family, community and nation,” said Col. Williams during a Feb. 18, 2011 block of instruction.[3]

Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers of the 201st RSG ADT-1 move down a steep hill into the Khoshi valley in November 2011.
Photo by Sgt. Christopher Hall


While the team’s agriculture specialists trained to help Afghan farmers, Soldiers of the ADT’s security platoon trained to provide security for team operations. Many of the Soldiers of the SECFOR platoon had recently returned from combat operations in Afghanistan with the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team or had previous experience in Iraq. For others, it would be their first overseas deployment. Under the leadership of 2nd Lt. William Westrip, the SECFOR platoon drilled in marksmanship, close-quarter engagement techniques and stress-fire drills administered by Staff Sgt. Matthew Rice.[4] The training was conducted to ensure that regardless of previous combat experience, all team members would perform proficiently in coordinated security operations.

While the 201st RSG provided a core of Soldiers for the mission, many of ADT’s members came from units across the state. Sergeant Carmen Benson, a technical engineer with the 877th Engineer Company was selected to serve as a soil specialist. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Benson combined her background in agricultural education and her technical engineer training in field and laboratory testing in anticipation of assisting the team with questions about soil conservation methods.

Georgia National Guard Sgt. Carmen Benson, horticulture specialist Ga. ADT-1 demonstrates one method of seed germination as extension agents and
agricultural line directors watch and replicate the procedures Sept. 21 2011 in Maidan Shar, Afghanistan. 

In addition to combat and mentor training, Soldiers of the ADT completed 80-hours of cultural training and language emersion at the Georgia Army National Guard Language Training Center in January 2011. The Soldiers were introduced to the languages of Dari and Pashto as well as Afghan food, customs and culture by instructors of the Language Training Center and Defense Languages Institute.[5]

Soldiers of the 201st RSG ADT-1 prepare to raise a University
of Georgia flag that was presented to the team by the UGA CAES. 
On April 25, 2011, ADT-1 departed Fort Gordon, Ga.  on the first leg of their deployment. Prior to ADT’s departure, CAES Dean J. Scott Angle and Assistant Dean for Extension Dr. Steve Brown presented the team with a UGA flag to remind them of home while they were in Afghanistan.[6] The Riverdale-based VFW Post No. 3650 in Riverdale, presented the command team of Williams and  Command Sgt. Maj. Randal Parker with a Georgia flag flown over the capitol in Atlanta in honor of the ADT.

After saying goodbye to family and friends. The Soldiers flew to Camp Atterbury, In. where they trained for more than month before deploying to Afghanistan. Over the course of two weeks, ADT-1 trained with the Nevada National Guard’s ADT at FOB Shank before assuming responsibility for the mission June 11.

The 201st ADT swiftly put their training to the test reaching out to the Afghan people in Logar Province. In Kabul, 1st Lt. Clair Cvetkovski of the ADT’s Women’s Initiative Training Team met with the Logar director of Women’s Affairs to discuss upcoming projects and team capabilities. By August ADT personnel joined USAID personnel and Afghan farmers for the inaugural meeting of the Mohammad Agha Wheat Seed Association which was established to improve crop yields.

First Lt. Claire Cvetkovski, officer-in-charge of the ADT Women's Initiative
 Training Team meets with the Logar director of women's affairs. 
In the waning months of summer, ADT-1 developed training programs to assist the Bamyan Directorate of Agriculture and Livestock. Captain James Partamian, the ADT engineer operations officer provided training in map reading for DAIL officials while other ADT members conducted a ribbon cutting ceremony for a cool-storage facility in the Baraki Barak district. The facility was of vital importance to the district as provided a means for farmers to store crops for months after the harvest and provide food security through the harsh winter.

In September 2011, Benson conducted a seed quality class for 25 Afghan farmers. Reflecting on the experience, Benson observed that the Guard had provided her the opportunity to blend her military and civilian experience.

“The great thing about the Guard is that I could still go to college and study agriculture and begin my career while serving in the military,” said Benson in a 2012 interview with Georgia Neighbor’s Magazine.[7]

By October, Logar’s mountains were showing signs of snow heralding the approaching winter. Nevertheless, the Soldiers of the ADT continued to work with Afghan farmers and agencies. The team’s Women’s Initiative Team had trained local women on jarring fresh fruits and vegetables. The Afghan women who had participated in the training then reached out to other communities to share the knowledge they had acquired.

Colonel Bill Williams III and Command Sgt. Major Randall Parker, command team of ADT-1 serve Christmas dinner to Georgia National Guard Soldiers in
Logar Province on Christmas Day 2011. Photo by Sgt. Christopher Hall


Christmas day found ADT Soldiers gathered for fellowship miles from family and home. Col. Williams and Command Sgt. Major Parker served hot meals and the Soldiers emptied the contents of stockings that had been arranged around a Christmas tree. A candlelight service featured carols and hymns as well as fellowship, part of the age-old tradition of service in foreign lands far from home that has been the mark of military service for centuries.

A patrol of Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers of the 201st RSG ADT-1 moves out in Logar Province in February 2012. Photo by Sgt. Christopher Hall


Snow did not stop the 201st ADT, but it did provide happy diversions in the form of snowball fights, sledding down inclines at the FOB and the building of snowmen. On Feb. 10, 2012, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff visited FOB Shank, spoke with Soldiers and presented awards. Among the Soldiers recognized was Georgia Army National Guard Spc. Robert Schrader of Dallas, Ga. who received the Army Commendation Medal from Dempsey. Schrader was recognized for his actions on Sept. 10, 2011 when a vehicle borne improvised explosive devise detonated outside his combat outpost causing extensive damage. Schrader rushed to the impact area and began assisting wounded personnel. 

Georgia Army Guard Spc. Robert Schrader Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff presents Spc. Robert Schrader with 
the Army Commendation Medal in Kabul Feb 10, 2012 for his actions following a VBIED attack at Combat Outpost Sayed Abad in September 2010.


“What I did that day is nothing more than any Soldier should or would do, when faced with the situation we had,” said Schrader following the award ceremony. “I definitely didn’t expect to get an award for my actions. (Command Sgt. Major Parker) is always telling us, ‘Do the right thing. You live the Army Values through your words and through your deeds, so always do the right thing, regardless of the situation in which you find yourself.’ That’s all I was trying to do that day, and all I try to do any day.”[8]

Major George McCommon, veterinarian with ADT-1, demonstrates 
the proper way to trim the hooves on farm animals
in Logar Province. Photo by Spc. Christopher Hall.

Patrols and missions continued despite the cold temperatures and thick blanket of snow. But even as
ADT-I Soldiers shivered against the February cold they were about to receive welcome relief.

On February 22, 2012, the 265th Regional Support Group’s ADT-2 bid farewell to friends and family members during a departure ceremony in Metter, Ga.[9] Georgia’s second ADT, commanded by Col. Craig McGalliard, Arrived in Logar Province in March and trained alongside their fellow Georgia Guardsmen of ADT-1.

On April 12, 2012, the Gymnasium at Fort Gordon was filled to capacity as hundreds of family members, friends and fellow service members welcomed home the Soldiers of ADT-1. For twelve months, the Soldiers of ADT-1 had labored to help improve the quality of life for the Afghan people of Logar province. In the course of their deployment, the Soldiers completed 192 ground missions and 92 air missions without a single casualty.

Major George McCommon, a veterinarian from Macon, Ga. spoke of the thrill of being home while also reflecting on the work ADT-1 had accomplished.

“It’s a bit surreal,” said McCommon. “We had a great time in Afghanistan, and we didn’t stop. The Afghan people welcomed us, and we helped them foster positive relationships with their government.”[10]

Recalling the ADT mission in 2021, Maj. Gen. Tom Carden, Adjutant General of the Georgia Department of Defense, noted humanitarian parallels to current missions of the Ga. DOD.

“The broad civilian and military skill set of Georgia’s Citizen Soldiers made them uniquely capable of performing the ADT mission,” said Carden. “One of the hallmarks of the National Guard is how adept its Soldiers and Airmen are at serving at home and overseas. This was demonstrated by the ADT mission in 2011 and continues to be demonstrated through 2021 and our coordinated response to COVID-19.”

ADT Soldiers render honors to the colors Sept. 11, 2011. Photo by Sgt. Christopher Hall


This article would not have been possible without the efforts of Sgt. Christopher Hall of ADT-1 whose imagery and captions served as the backbone of this narrative.



[1] Christopher Hall. “Georgia Assumes Command of Afghan Agriculture Mission.” The Georgia Guardsman, June 2011, 11.

 

[2] “Agribusiness Development Team (ADT).” 2008 Army Posture Statement, https://www.army.mil/aps/08/information_papers/other/ARNG_Agribusiness_Development_Team.html#top

 

[3] Roy Henry. “Agricultural Development Teams tap UGA for Afghan Mission.” The Georgia Guardsman, March 2011, 9-10.

[4] Roy Henry. “ADT Security Undergoes Stress Fire Training.” The Georgia Guardsman, December 2010, 3-4.

 

[5] Roy Henry. “Georgia AG Team Sharpens Language Skills, Prepares for Afghanistan.” The Georgia Guardsman, January 2011, 8.

 

[6] Merritt Melancon. “Georgia Guardsmen Return to UGA to Present Base Flag.” CAES News, University of Georgia College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, June 12, 2012. https://www.caes.uga.edu/news-events/news/story.html?storyid=4433&story=ADT-I-returns-to-UGA

[7] Jennifer Whittaker. “Ga. National Guard Helping Afghan Farmers.” Georgia Neighbors, Fall 2011, 26 and 30.

[8] Christopher J. Hall. “Georgia Soldier Presented Award by Joint Chiefs Chairman.” The Georgia Guardsman, March 2012, 5.

 

[9] Michael Thompson. “Agribusiness Development Team II Departs for Afghanistan.” The Georgia Guardsman, March 2012, 15.

 

[10] William Carraway “ADT Returns from Afghanistan.” The Georgia Guardsman, May 2012, 5-6.