Monday, November 1, 2021

Profiles In Georgia National Guard Leadership: Brig. Gen. Wyont Bean, Longtime Ga. ARNG Artillery Officer

By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia Army National Guard


A 1939 image of 1st Lt. Wyont Bean of Company F, 122nd Infantry Regiment is flanked by original brass insignia of the 122nd and 179th
Field Artillery Regiment to the eft and the distinctive unit crest of the 179th FA to the right. The 122nd Infantry was reorganized as the 179th FA July 1, 1939. 

Colonel Wyont Bean, retired from the Georgia Army. National Guard November 1, 1962, after a 38-year military career. Upon retirement, Bean was elevated in rank to brigadier general.

Wyont Battle Bean was born November 11, 1905, in Orangeburg, S.C. to Perry and Hattie Bean. Bean’s father worked as a railroad roadmaster to support Bean and his six siblings of whom Bean was the third.

Insignia of the 122nd Infantry Regiment.

After graduating from Tech High School in Atlanta, Bean began his career in the Ga. Army National Guard Feb. 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.

On May 24, 1929, Bean married Agnes Estes. At the time, Bean was employed as an engineer by the city of Atlanta. In 1933, the couple welcomed their first child, a daughter named Patricia.

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 Georgia National Guard marksmanship team at Camp Perry, Ohio 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.

Howitzers of the 179th Field Artillery in 1939. Photo by Pfc. Matthew Starnes.

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 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.

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.

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. Following his retirement, Bean continued to serve as a planning engineer with the City of Atlanta until retiring from civilian employment in 1966. That year, his son, Captain Bean commanded Battery D, 179th Field Artillery Battalion.

Brigadier General Bean died July 26, 1970. He rests in Crest Lawn Cemetery in Atlanta.


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