Sunday, May 8, 2022

The 116th Army Band: A History

By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia Army National Guard


Left: CAMP COTTON, El Paso, Texas - Sergeant Theo Barber and Soldiers of the Georgia National Guard's 5th Georgia Infantry Regiment
on duty on the Mexican Border in 1916. In 1917, the 5th Georgia was redesignated the 122nd Infantry Regiment. Photo courtesy of Tom Barber.
Right: Sergeant Dominiqui Green and the 116th Army Band provide musical support to the adjutant general change of command ceremony
Jan. 26, 2019 at the Clay National Guard Center. Photo by Maj. William Carraway.

Early History

The 116th Army Band carries the lineage and honors of the Gate City Guard which was organized in Atlanta January 8, 1857 and received its charter from the Governor of Georgia in 1859. On March 18, 1861, the Gate City Guard was mustered into Confederate service for one year as part of the 1st Georgia Infantry Regiment.[1]

As one of the earliest militia units to tender its services, the Gate City Guard adopted the motto First In War. Upon the end of their term of service in March 1862 many of the Soldiers of the Gate City Guard reenlisted and served in separate units.

First Lt. William H. Moncrief, asst. surgeon
of the 2nd GVI. Georgia National Guard Archives.

With the reorganization of the Georgia Militia following the American Civil War and reconstruction, the Gate City Guard reformed July 24, 1874 as an element of the Georgia Volunteers, Atlanta Battalion. The Guard was reorganized as a separate unit April 16, 1890 and on June 10, 1896 was reorganized and redesignated Company L, 5th Infantry Regiment, Georgia Volunteers.

During the Spanish American War, Georgia organized three volunteer regiments. Elements of the 5th Infantry Regiment were consolidated with other Georgia Guard units to form the 2nd Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment. The 2nd GVI was mustered into federal service In May 1898 at Griffin, Ga. The regiment advanced to Tampa, Fla. May 21, 1898.[2] Less than a week later, the 2nd was assigned to the Seventh Army Corps commanded by former Confederate Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee. The 2nd initially received orders to deploy to Cuba then Puerto Rico, but ultimately, transportation was not available by the time the war ended. The volunteers of the 2nd GVI returned to Georgia and were mustered out of federal service in November along with the 1st GVI and Georgia Light Artillery.[3]

World War I Era

In July 1916, The Gate City Guard and other units of the Georgia National Guard were mobilized to Texas in response to unrest along the southwest border. The 5th Georgia served at Camp Cotton, El Paso Texas where its Soldiers conducted patrols and manned sentry posts along the border with Mexico, Returning in March 1917, the Soldiers remained on active federal service due to the declaration of war against Germany. The 5th Georgia, along with other elements of the Georgia National Guard, was sent to Camp Wheeler in Macon for premobilization training. On October 1, 1917, the 5th Georgia was redesignated the 122nd Infantry Regiment with the Gate City Guard forming Company L.

CAMP WHEELER, Macon, Ga., February 5, 1918 – The 121st and 122nd Infantry Regiments of the 61st Brigade, 31st Division on parade.
National Archives Records Administration.

The 122nd Infantry Regiment departed for France as part of the 31st Division. Arriving too late to take part in large scale combat operations, the 122nd returned to the United States and was inactivated at Camp Gordon, Ga. January 14, 1919.

With the reorganization of the Georgia National Guard, the Gate City Guard reformed as Company F, 1st Infantry in Atlanta March 25, 1921. The company underwent several redesignations over the next three years culminating with its redesignation as Company F, 122nd Infantry Regiment June 9, 1924. That year, the 122nd Infantry Regiment modified the motto of the Gate City Guard to serve as the regiment’s motto: “First In Peace and in War.”

World War II Era

On July 1, 1939, the battalions of the 122nd were converted and redesignated. The 3rd Battalion with units based in Elberton, Cedartown and Calhoun became the 2nd Battalion, 214th Field Artillery Regiment. This battalion would see service in the Pacific Theater as the 950th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion. The lineage of the 950th AA AWB is perpetuated by the 1st Squadron 108th Cavalry Regiment.[4]

The 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 122nd converted to form the 179th Field Artillery Regiment which carried the motto of the 122nd Infantry Regiment on its unit insignia. The Gate City Guard comprised Company F of the 179th FA. The 179th entered federal service February 24, 1941. After one week at home station, the 179th was sent to Camp Blanding near Jacksonville, Fla. along with their newly issued 155 Schneider Howitzers to begin initial training.[5]

The 179th remained at Camp Blanding through the winter of 1941 and in March 1942 moved by truck to Camp Shelby, Miss. The trip took the battalion three days to complete. During their stay at Camp Shelby, the 179th participated in the Louisiana Maneuvers and conducted firing drills.

On February 8, 1943, the 179th Field Artillery Regiment underwent its most dramatic transformation since its conversion from the 122nd Infantry four years previous. The 1st Battalion was designated the 179th FA Battalion. The former regimental headquarters constituted the 179th FA Group.[6]The second battalion was designated the 945th Field Artillery Battalion with the Gate City Guard reorganized as Battery C, 945th.

Collar discs and unit insignia of the 179th Field Artillery Battalion and its predecessor, the 122nd Infantry Regiment. Photo by Maj. William Carraway.

Mobilized to the European theater of operations, the 945th and 179th landed at Utah beach August 12, 1944 and fought their way from Northern France to Germany before mustering out of service November 26, 1945 at Camp Myles Standish, Mass.

Service in the 48th Division

With the post-World War II reorganization of the Georgia National Guard, the Gate City Guard was consolidated with Headquarters Battery, 179th Field Artillery Group to form Headquarters Company, 122nd Infantry Regiment, part of the newly activated 48th Infantry Division. The company was federally recognized May 8, 1947. With the conversion of the 48th ID to an armor division, the company was converted and redesignated Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Comat Command C, 48th Armor Division.

Guidon of Headquarters Company 122nd Infantry Regiment, 48th Infantry Division. Photo by Ian Alderman.

An Army reorganization in 1959 brought the inactivation of the 122nd Infantry and the redesignation of the Gate City Guard as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 102nd Signal Depot.

In May 1962, the unit moved to Decatur, and the following year was redesignated as Headquarters Company and Band of the 48th Armored Division Support Command. The unit received its current designation as the 116th Army Band January 1, 1968.

The 116th Army Band, directed by Warrant Officer Joe Maxey, provides music for the dedication of Stone Mountain's Memorial Plaza April 23, 1978.
Georgia National Guard Archives.

In the decades that followed its establishment, the 116th Army Band has been a fixture of ceremonies throughout Georgia. The 116th Army Band has one of the busiest schedules of any unit in the Georgia National Guard as it is frequently in demand for concerts. The 116th also provides ceremonial music for holiday observances, dedications and special events. 

The 116th Army Band performs at the change of command and change of responsibility ceremony for the 12nd Battalion 121st Infantry Regiment
in Forsyth, Ga. March 5, 2022. Photo by Maj. William Carraway

To add to the band’s busy schedule, Soldiers of the 116th were also called to active service as part of Georgia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Sergeant 1st Class Adam Pyper of the 116th Army Band briefs Maj. Gen. Randall Simmons on the assistance Georgia National Guard Soldiers
and Airmen are rendering to theAugusta University Health testing operations center May 7, 2020. On March 22, 2022, Pyper was promoted
to 1st sergeant of the 116th. Photo by Capt. Fred Dablemont.


[1] History and Battle Record of 179 F.A. Bn., 1857-1945. Regensburg, Germany: Frederich Putset, 1945, 1.

[2] Carraway, William. “The Georgia Volunteers in the Spanish American War.” April 25, 2018


[3] Carraway, William. “The Georgia Volunteers in the Spanish American War.” April 25, 2018

[4] Center for Military History. Lineage and Honors Certificate, 108th Cavalry Regiment. N.D

[5] Historical and Pictorial Review 179th Field Artillery. The Army and Navy Publishing Company, Nashville 1941, 18.

[6] War Department, General Order #1, March 3, 1943

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