Thursday, November 10, 2022

Nov. 10, 1952: Citizen-Soldiers of the Georgia National Guard Respond to Wildfires

By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia Army National Guard


Left: The cover of the November 1952 edition of the Georgia Guardsman Magazine depicts Citizen-Soldiers from Canton battling wildfires near Ellijay.
Right: The units dispatched to fight the wildfires of 1952 currently serve in the Calhoun-based 1st Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment.

For more than 100 years, the Georgia National Guard has served overseas and at home in times of emergency. Whether responding to natural disasters, providing personnel for overseas contingency operations or participating in the state’s coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia’s Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen have responded in time of need.

In 1952, following six weeks of severe drought wildfires erupted in north Georgia. Fueled by high winds, the fires scorched more than 60,000 acres. By November, the fires were burning out of control and the Governor of Georgia turned to the National Guard for assistance. Citizen-Soldiers of the Dalton-based Company H, 122nd Infantry Regiment and Company G, 122nd Infantry based in Canton reported to their home armories and rushed to the scene of the wildfires November 6. Major General Ernest Vandiver, Georgia’s Adjutant General also activated medical units in Calhoun and Atlanta to be prepared to provided treatment for Soldiers and civilians.

The Dalton-based Company H, 122nd Infantry Regiment, 48th Infantry Division, Georgia Army National Guard at annual training at Fort Jackson
July 23 to August 6, 1950. Today, the unit is designated Troop C, 1st Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment. Georgia National Guard archives.

Assisting State Forestry Department officials, the Guardsmen labored to construct firebreaks to prevent the spread of the fires. Additional personnel manned mobile kitchens preparing meals for the Guardsmen, state employees and volunteers.

On November 10, the fires were brought under control. After four wearying days the Guardsmen returned to their armories and resumed their civilian jobs.[1]

Today, Canton and Dalton are home to Troops B and C of the 1st Squadron 108th Cavalry.


First Sgt. William Bookout holds a formation for the Canton-based Troop B, 108th Cavalry Nov. 26, 2018. The following month
the unit deployed to Afghanistan with the 48th IBCT. Photo by Maj. William Carraway

[1] “122nd Guardsmen Fight Forest Fires in North Georgia.” The Georgia Guardsman. November 1952, 10.