Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Connections in History: The U.S. Marine Corps Birthday and the 48th IBCT

 By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia Army National Guard


Left: The United States Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va. Photo by Ben Stanfield. Right: Brigadier General Holden West,
commander of the Ga. ARNG and United States Marine. Georgia National Guard Archives.

What does the United States Marine Corps birthday and the Georgia National Guard’s 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team have in common?

On November 10, United States Marines around the world celebrate the birth of the United States Marine Corps, established by the Continental Congress in 1775. According to Marine Corps tradition, there is no such thing as a former Marine.[1]

Company C, 121st Infantry Regiment, Georgia Army National Guard in 1939. Private Holden West is center, 3rd row. Private 1st Class
Andrew McKenna, future commander of the Emergency Operations Center, forerunner of the 78th Troop Command kneels third from left.
Georgia National Guard Archives.

On January 16, 1939, Holden West of Bolingbroke, Ga. enlisted in Company C, 121st Infantry Regiment at the age of 18.[2] In March 1942 he transferred to the Marine Corps Reserve and was activated July 1, 1943 upon graduating from Mercer University. West participated in the amphibious assaults on Tarawa and was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant before landing with his unit on Iwo Jima.[3]

Colonel Holden West observes annual training in 1971 with Maj. Gen. Ernest Vandiver, Georgia's Adjutant General and Governor Jimmy Carter.
Georgia National Guard Archives.

In the reorganization of the Ga. ARNG following the war West rejoined the 121st. In 1973 he became the first commander of the 48th Infantry Brigade and two years later was appointed to command the Georgia Army National Guard.[4] West died in 2001 at the age of 79 and is buried in Riverside Cemetery in Macon, Ga.


Georgia Governor George Busbee swears Brigadier General Holden West in as Georgia's Assistant Adjutant General-Army Jan. 15, 1975 during a
joint session of the Georgia House and Senate. Georgia National Guard Archives.

[1] “Once a Marine, always a Marine.” United States Marine

[2] Secretary of the Army. Official National Guard Register (Army) 1 January 1953. Washington D.C. National  Guard Bureau 1953) 1188.

[3] “West Promoted.” Georgia National Guard Magazine. March-April 1973, 10.

[4] “B.G. Holden West is Asst. AG, Army.” Georgia Guardsman Magazine. January 1975, 2.

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