Friday, September 8, 2023

The Georgia National Guard Response to Hurricane Dora, September 1964

By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia Army National Guard


Collage: Left: Storm total rainfall map of Hurricane Dora during September 1964. David Roth, Weather Prediction Center, Camp Springs, Maryland Right:
Base Operations at Travis Field, Savannah, Ga. Nearly 70 families sought shelter from Hurricane Dora at the 165th Air Transport Group Headquarters.
Georgia National Guard Archives.


On September 10, 1964, Hurricane Dora made landfall just north of St. Augustine Florida drenching South Georgia with rain. The Georgia National Guard response to Hurricane Dora in 1964 provides insight into how the Georgia Department of Defense approaches hurricane response operations in the 21st Century. Just days after the Georgia National Guard prepared for possible response missions to Hurricane Idalia, Hurricane Lee is brewing in the Atlantic. While the Ga. DoD of 2023 has the advantages of satellite coverage, internet and cellular phone communications, a review of the actions in 1964 demonstrate that many of the key response tasks of the Georgia National Guard have not materially changed since 1964. During recent hurricane responses such as Irma, Matthew and Michael, Georgia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have deployed on debris clearance missions, staffed points of distribution, retrograded aviation assets and provided power generation capabilities to civil authorities as they did in the wake of Hurricane Dora in 1964. The Georgia National Guard has managed these domestic response missions with Soldiers and Airmen mobilized across the globe in support of geographic combatant commands. While technology may have changed, the fundamental role of leadership and mission command in domestic response operations has not.

Dora’s Approach

On September 1, 1964, reconnaissance aircraft investigating a tropical depression in the Caribbean discovered a growing tropical storm. The next day, the storm reached hurricane strength and was designated Hurricane Dora.[1]

The Civil Defense Division Situation Board at the Ga. DoD Headquarters, Atlanta. Georgia Guard Archives.

The Civil Defense Division, Forerunner of GEMA

Meanwhile, at the Georgia National Guard Headquarters in Atlanta, Maj. Gen George Hearn, Georgia’s Adjutant General, monitored the storm’s approach and discussed courses of action with his civil defense directors. In 1964, the Ga. Department of Defense was comprised of two divisions – the military division with the Georgia Army and Air National Guard, and a civil defense division. The Georgia Civil Defense Division was established through the Civil Defense Act of 1951 with the primary responsibility of preparing for the possibility of nuclear attack. Gradually, the role of the state civil defense divisions broadened to include other domestic emergencies, notably, hurricane response. In November 1978, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was established through the merger of several federal agencies that had a roll in emergency response. Accordingly, On July 1, 1981, Georgia’s Defense Division was redesignated the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.[2]

C-97 Stratofreighters of the Georgia Air National Guard's 165th ATG on the runway at Travis Field. Georgia National Guard Archives.

The Georgia DoD Response

As the days ticked away through the first week of September and impact to Savannah appeared increasingly likely, Hearn ordered the 165th Air Transport Group to begin assisting civil authorities with evacuation of hospital patients and long term care facilities in the Chatham County area. On September 8, the 165th ATG began transporting patients with Air National Guard jeeps and buses. That same day, the 165th ATG dispatched its inventory of C-97 Stratofreighters to Nashville to wait out the approaching hurricane.

Colonel Bill Kelly, Base Detachment Commander, Travis Air Field (second from left) with C-97 Stratofreighter. Georgia National Guard Archives.

By September 9, Hearn had directed Col. Bill Kelly, base detachment commander at Travis Field, to be prepared to set up field kitchens to provide food services following hurricane impact. Kelly also dispatched Ga. ANG generators to vital infrastructure locations including police, fire and medical facilities. Nearly 70 families of service members living at Travis Field were housed at the headquarters of the 165th ATG. Among those seeking shelter were three expecting mothers.

Families take shelter at the headquarters of the Georgia Air National Guard's 165th ATG. Georgia National Guard Archives.

The next day, Dora reached Category 2 strength while its track had leveled westward thus sparing Travis Field a direct impact.[3] Just after midnight on September 10, the eye of Hurricane Dora made landfall north of St. Augustine Florida, approximately 120 miles south of Brunswick, Ga. That day, nearly 80 Soldiers of the Brunswick-based 3rd Battalion 118th Field Artillery were activated by Georgia’s governor to assist city and county police in navigating debris-strewn roads. Brunswick’s streets were flooded to a depth of three feet while trees and powerlines were down throughout the region.[4] Guardsmen throughout the impact area were also stationed at businesses to prevent looting. Meanwhile, the Georgia Air National Guard’s 224th Radio Relay Squadron on St. Simons Island dispatched emergency power generators to Brunswick and St. Marys, Ga.  

Airmen of the St. Simon's Island-based 224th Radio Relay Squadron prepare to set up an antenna during a unit training assembly in April 1957.
They are, left to right: Airmen Peyton M. Harrison, Harris T. Mincher, William H. Reynolds, Hershel C. Buchan and Johhny M. Mullins. The 224th was
redesignated the 224th Mobile Communications Squadron March 16, 1961 and provided emergency backup power generators during the response to
Hurricane Dora in 1964. Georgia National Guard Archives.

After moving westward and downgrading to a tropical storm, Dora tracked north at the Georgia, Alabama border and began a northeasterly transit of Georgia passing between Savannah and Augusta and dropping from five to ten inches of rain across southeast Georgia.[5] Dora dissipated over the Atlantic but not before causing upwards of 250 million dollars in damage in Florida and Georgia.[6]

1964 Tracking map of Hurricane Dora. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


Governor Carl Sanders, speaking to the National Guard Association of Georgia annual convention in Augusta September 12, 1964 praised the work of the Georgia National Guard and its adjutant general.

"It is fitting that I take this opportune moment to extend the gratitude of all Georgians to our most capable Adjutant General, George J. Hearn, who sprang immediately into action at the first sign of this recent crisis to provide the guidance and to exercise unified control over the civil defense activities within our State. This essential coordination and clear-thinking once again turned a time of crisis into a time of victory.”[7]


[1] “Hurricane Dora Calmed by Georgia Guardsmen.” Georgia Guardsman Magazine. September 1964, 12.

[2] “Civil Defense Changes Name to GEMA.” Georgia Guardsman Magazine, March/April 1981, 16.

[3]Hurricane Dora - September 7-15, 1964.” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

[4] Horace S. Carter. Preliminary Report on Hurricane Dora. United States Weather Bureau (Report). Athens, Georgia. Sept. 11, 1964, 1.

[6] Dunn, Gordon E; Staff (March 1, 1965). "The hurricane season of 1964" (PDF). Monthly Weather Review. 93 (3): 177. Bibcode:1965MWRv...93..175D. doi:10.1175/1520-0493-93.3.175

[7] “NG Association Installs Rhodes, Names McKenna President Elect. Georgia Guardsman Magazine, September/October 1964, 6.

Friday, September 1, 2023

The 265th Chemical Battalion

By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia National Guard


Soldiers of the 265th Chemical Battalion at Fort Stewart, Ga. following annual training in April 2022.

The organization of Headquarters Company of the 265th Chemical Battalion began in August 2018 with the unit based on Dobbins Air Force Reserve Base.[1] The Army federally recognized the unit September 1, 2020.[2]


In addition to a headquarters element, the 265th has six attached units which provide the 265th with unique mission sets and capabilities for its state and federal mission. Among these units, many of whom served under Joint Task Force 781, are the Marietta-based 138th Chemical Company and 248th Medical Company. The remaining units are strategically located across the state with the 202nd Ordnance Company in Waynesboro, the Swainsboro-based 810th Engineer Company, and the 1177th and 1160th Transportation Companies based in LaGrange and Rome respectively.


Soldiers of the 265th Chemical Battalion participate in a chemical response exercise in the Country of Argentina as part of the Georgia National Guard’s
state partnership program December 9, 2021. Photo courtesy of Maj. Stephen Pritchard.

While relatively new as a battalion structure, the subordinate units of the 265th Chemical Battalion have a long and diverse history.


The 810th Engineer Company at home and overseas. Left: Soldiers encamped in the remote Vaziani Training Area of the Country of Georgia to conduct
combat engineer training with a Georgian engineer company during Exercise Noble Partner 2017. Right: Soldiers assess and clear debris from a simulated
collapsed building site in Georgetown, S.C., March 8, 2015, during Exercise Vigilant. Photos by Capt. William Carraway.

The 810th Engineer Company was organized and federally recognized December 18, 1947 in Swainsboro, Ga. as Battery C, 101st Antiaircraft Automatic Weapons Battalion.[3] Over the decades, the unit has served as an antiaircraft artillery, infantry and engineer company. Throughout its history, the 810th has mobilized overseas to Iraq and Afghanistan and provided crucial response capabilities for domestic emergencies such as Hurricane Matthew in 2016. In 2017, Engineers of the 810th mobilized to the country of Georgia for exercise Noble Partner.[4]

Specialist Airyana Khaiphanliane, a motor transport operator with the LaGrange-based 1177th Transportation Company receives a visitor at a mass
vaccination site in Savannah, Georgia April 13, 2021. Photo by Capt. Bryant Wine.

The 1177th Transportation Company was organized and federally recognized April 27, 1948 in LaGrange, Ga. as the 48th Mechanized Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop, an element of the 48th Infantry Division.[5] In addition to its original reconnaissance mission, the unit served for a time as an engineer unit before receiving its current designation as the 1177th Transportation Company in 1996.[6] Troops and trucks of the 1177th TC participated in Exercise Golden Cargo in May and June 1999. The 1177th TC was ordered into active federal service January 30, 2003 in support of Operation Noble Eagle. In 2011, the 1177th TC was again ordered into federal service in support of Operation New Dawn. The unit deployed to Qatar in October 2010, and returned in November the following year.[7]


Left: Specialist Sally Farnham, a combat medic for the search and extraction team, 248th Medical Company, during a decontamination exercise September
12, 2012. Georgia National Guard Archives. Right: Private 1st Class Loran Jones, a combat medic with the Marietta-based 248th Medical Company updates
patient medical records at Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center in Atlanta, Ga. May 12, 2020. Photo by Pfc. Isaiah Matthews.

Federally recognized in 1977, the 248th Medical Company has deployed multiple times to Iraq and the Sinai, most recently in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in 2020. Personnel of the 248th Medical Company provided crucial support to hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Left: REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala., June 28, 2014 - A Soldier of the 202nd Ordnance Company, reels out detonation cord during an exercise scenario at
Ravens Challenge VIII. Photo by Staff Sgt. Mike Perry. Right: Soldiers of the 202nd Ordnance Company are recognized as the 2019 Top Overall Team at
the Annual Andrew Sullens Marksmanship Competition at Fort Stewart, Ga. March 15, 2019. Photo by Spc. Tori Miller.

With a 2012 Afghanistan deployment and 2021 mobilization in support of Operation Spartan Shield, The 202nd Ordnance Company is also well traveled. Federally recognized in 1987 and based in Waynesboro, the 202nd conducted an overseas training mission in Panama in 1999 and mobilized in 2002 as part of Operation Noble Eagle.[8] In addition to maintaining proficiency in their core mission tasks, Soldiers of the 202nd were recognized for marksmanship, capturing first place in the team category of the 2019 Andrew Sullens Marksmanship Competition.[9]


Left: The Sibert Award. Right: The 138th Chemical Company cases its guidon May 22, 2022 at Camp Humphreys signifying a successful finish to their
deployment to the Republic of Korea. Photo courtesy of the 138th Chemical Company.

The 138th Chemical Company provides chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear surveillance and decontamination for the 265th Chemical Battalion. Authorized September 1, 2006 in Decatur, Ga., the unit relocated to Kennesaw where it was federally recognized January 18, 2008. [10], [11] In 2014, the 138th was established in its present location on Dobbins ARB.[12] Later that year, the138th received the Maj. Gen. William L. Sibert Award which recognizes the best Chemical Company in the National Guard.[13] Members of the 138th played a prominent role during Georgia’s coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic with Soldiers staffing the first infection control team. From this initial team’s experience, ICTs composed of units from across the state disinfected nearly 2,500 facilities and exported the training protocols to other states. Soldiers of the 138th were also among the first Georgia Guardsmen mobilized to protect public safety in Atlanta following civil unrest in May 2020.[14] The unit deployed to Korea in July 2021 and returned from overseas duty in May 2022.


Left: Guidon of the 1160th Transportation Company. Right: Private 1st Class Elijah West and Spc. Keithan Jones provide a class on the Enhanced
Container Handling Unit to Soldiers of the 1160th TC during annual training at Fort Stewart, Ga. April 4, 2022. Photo courtesy of the 1160th TC.

Federally recognized in 2012 and based in Rome, Ga., the 1160th Transportation Company is perennially in high demand for its response capabilities following natural disasters. Additionally, the 1160th has supported military training missions, notably at the Joint Readiness Training Center in 2019. Soldiers of the 1160th also supported Georgia’s COVID-19 response with logistics support and staffing and healthcare facilities.


[1] Georgia National Guard, Permanent Order 242-001, Marietta, Georgia, August 30, 2018.

[2] National Guard Bureau, Organizational Authority 180-20, Washington DC, September 20, 2020.

[3] Department of the Army, AGAO-I 325, Washington DC January 23, 1951.

[4] William Carraway, “Operation Noble Partner,” Georgia Guardsman Magazine, 3rd Quarter 2017, 9.

[5] U.S. Army Center of Military History, Lineage and Honors, 1177th Transportation Company, Washington DC.

[6] National Guard Bureau, Organizational Authority 57-96, Washington DC, April 2, 1996.

[7] Alert Order 1A-10-244-001 (A1

[8] “EOD is an Explosive Business,” Georgia Guardsman, Summer 1999, 8.

[9] Tori Miller, “Andrew Sullens Marksmanship Competition 2019,” Georgia Guardsman, Q1 2019, 6-7.

[10] National Guard Bureau, OA 128-04, Washington DC, June 9, 2004.

[11] National Guard Bureau, OA 59-08, Washington DC, April 3, 2008.

[12] National Guard Bureau, OA 232-14, Washington DC, April 29, 2014.

[13] Will Cox. “138th Chemical Company Receives Sibert Award,” The Georgia Guardsman, July 2014, 10.

[14] William Carraway, “The Georgia National Guard’s 138th Chemical Company: A Brief History,” January 18, 2022,

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

The Berlin Crisis: Georgia Guard Signalmen Mobilized by President Kennedy

By Maj. William Carraway, historian, Georgia National Guard


Left: FORT MEADE, Md., March, 1962 – Specialist 4 Russell Terry and Pvt. Jerry Blanton of the 111th Signal Battalion operated a SB-22 Switchboard
as part of their active duty training during the Berlin Crisis. Photo by 111th Signal Battalion. Image courtesy of National Guard Educational Foundation,
Washington, D.C. Right: BUSH FIELD, Augusta, Ga., August 9, 1962 - Capt. Buddy Ouzts, commander of the Sandersville-based Company A,
111th Signal Battalion receives a citation from Maj. Gen. George Hearn, Georgia's Adjutant General upon the return of the 111th Signal Battalion
from active duty.

The Georgia Army National Guard of 2023 is a veteran organization with more than 200 mobilizations involving nearly 21,000 Soldiers over two decades of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Members of the Georgia Army and Air National Guard are presently deployed in support of operations in six geographic combat commands spanning the globe from the Pacific to Europe and Africa. The Guard has served as a seamless operational force for so long that it is easy to forget that this has not always been the case. Despite major combat deployments in the World Wars and mobilization of Air National Guard units to Korea, by the 1960s, the number of Georgia Guardsmen who had experienced a combat rotation or domestic mobilization was dwindling. That all changed with the Berlin Crisis of 1961.


Before the Mobilization: The Waynesboro-based Company B, 111th Signal Battalion becomes the first Georgia National Guard unit to receive a live
telecast during training November 30, 1959. Major General George Hearn, Georgia's Adjutant General, and Brig. Gen. David P. Gibbs, commanding general
of the Signal Training Center conducted the telecast from Fort Gordon.

Berlin Call Up, 1961

In 1961, Germany remained divided into two countries administered by the four victorious war powers. The German Democratic Republic, or East Germany was established in 1949 from land largely occupied by the Soviet Army at the conclusion of World War II. Berlin, the former capital of Germany, lay entirely within East German and was administered jointly by the United Kingdom, France, The United States of America and the Soviet Union. Beginning in the late 1950s, the Berlin Zone became the source of increasing agitation between the Soviet block and the West as millions of eastern European refugees took advantage of the considerably more lenient immigration standards in Berlin to escape west. Desperate meetings between U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower and Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev in 1958 and 1959 convinced both parties that Berlin resolution was possible and the two nations agreed to meet in Paris in May 1960 for further talks. But events would push the nations toward even greater crisis.


On May 1, 1960, A U2 aircraft piloted by Captain Frances Powers of the Central Intelligence Agency was shot down more than 1,000 miles inside Soviet airspace by a Soviet surface to air missile. A Soviet MiG 19 was also shot down by the same missile battery. As a result, the May summit did not materialize between the Four Powers. Eisenhower and Khruschev walked out of the proceedings on the first day and little was accomplished beyond entrenching positions.


The Washington, Georgia-based Headquarters Company, 111th Signal Battalion in 1961. Georgia National Guard Archives.

It was not until June the following year that the Soviet leader met with U.S. President John F. Kennedy in Vienna. Testing the new president, Khruschev revealed his intention of undercutting the existing treaty with the Four Powers by establishing a separate treaty with East Germany. Kennedy rebuffed the threat and in July called for six new Army divisions and the activation of Guard and reserve units.


Writing of the potential for Georgia Guard activations, Maj. Gen. George Hearn, Georgia’s Adjutant General assured Georgians that the Guard was ready.


“As the Berlin crisis mounts, your capability to perform your mission becomes of increasing importance,” Hearn wrote in the June 1961 edition of the Georgia Guardsman Magazine. “I feel that all of our National Guard units are in a high state of readiness, and I want to congratulate each of you for doing your part in preparation of your unit for any future contingency.”[1]


The Berlin Crisis and the Adjutant General’s words lent an air of gravity to Army Guard encampments held at Fort Stewart and Air Guard annual training at Dobbins Air Force Base. Georgia Guardsmen trained on their weapons systems and wondered how soon they would be employed to use them.


AUGUSTA, Ga., October 25, 1961 - Boarding their Pullman car for the trip to Fort Meade, Md., the 111th Signal Battalion leaves Augusta's Union Station.
Image courtesy of National Guard Educational Foundation, Washington, D.C.

Escalation and Mobilization

In August 1961, the Soviets blocked the lines of communication into Berlin, isolating the city and on August 13, 1961, construction of the Berlin Wall began. In response, President Kennedy activated 156,000 Guard and Reservists and dispatched two additional Army Divisions to Europe. Among the Guard units called was the 111th Signal Battalion of the Georgia Army National Guard. Commanded by Lt. Col. Erskine B. Wickersham of Washington, the 111th reported for active-duty October 15th and departed by train for Fort Meade, Md. October 25th.[2]

“This will be the end of my business for a while,” observed Wickersham who owned a small surveying company.[3]


2nd Lt. John McCaskill, GMI Class One.

Also mobilizing with the 111th was 2nd Lt. John D. McCaskill of Sandersville. McCaskill was an officer candidate at the Georgia Military Institute’s Class One from January 22 until September 25. On that date, he was ordered to report to the Alabama Military Academy to finish his officer candidate school training in advance of the rest of his class in order to deploy with the 111th. Thus, McCaskill was at once the first graduate of the modern-day GMI, he was its first graduate to mobilize for active duty. Commissioning as a 2nd Lt. October 12, he entered federal service three days later with his unit. McCaskill had previously served in the enlisted ranks, enlisting in 1954 with Company A, 111th Signal Battalion.[4]

The 111th was organized from infantry, armor and artillery units in July, 1959 during the reorganization of the 48th Armored Division.[5] When they boarded the train in Augusta’s Union Station bound for Fort Meade, they became the first Georgia Guard troops to mobilize since the Korean War. Although indications were strong that other units would be called, notably the Atlanta-based 129th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron and Savannah’s 117th AC&W Flight, no additional units were mobilized. Hinesville’s 406th Ordnance Company was placed temporarily on additional training status and drilled twice per month but was ultimately not called to active duty.[6]


FORT MEADE, Md. March, 1962 - SP4 Walter Bull guards the command post tent against possible aggressor attack while his unit, the 111th Signal Battalion,
conducts field training during its tour of duty for the Berlin Crisis.  Photo by 111th Signal Battalion.   Image courtesy of National Guard Educational Foundation,
Washington, D.C.

Showdown in Berlin

Arriving at Fort Meade, October 26, 1961, the 111th relieved an active duty signal battalion for duty in Europe.[7] The next day, the Berlin Crisis reached new heights as U.S. and Soviet tanks faced each other with live ammunition at Checkpoint Charlie, a crossing point between East and West Berlin. Retired General Lucius Clay, special advisor to the President in Berlin recommended sending tanks forward to demolish the Berlin Wall, ultimately Kennedy and Khruschev, speaking through intermediaries agreed to deescalate the situation and the tanks were withdrawn.


Unaware of how close we had come to the brink of war with the Soviet Union, the 111th Signal Battalion settled in to their new environment at Fort Meade. In addition to their regular duties, the 111th trained aggressively for possible deployment, conducted field problems and became more proficient in switchboard operation and the emerging technology of television. While Headquarters Company, Company B and C remained in Fort Meade for the bulk of their mobilization, Company A was dispatched south to Fort Lee near Richmond, Va.

FORT MILES, Del. May, 1962 - An armored personnel carrier assigned to the West Virginia National Guard's 150th Armored Cavalry Regiment drives
through the surf during its landing as part of Exercise Wet Horse II. Photo by the Georgia Army National Guard's 111th Signal Battalion, Photo Platoon.

In May, 1962, the 111th Signal Battalion participated in Operation Wet Horse II, a U.S. Army amphibious assault exercise designed to test the capability of reserve units to conduct large-scale landing operations. Cameras of the 111th Signal Battalion covered the operation as tanks of the 150th Armored Cavalry Regiment drove ashore from landing craft piloted by the U.S. Army Reserve’s 231st Transportation Company. Images of these landings were prominently featured in U.S. and European newspapers and conveyed the resolve of the United States’ position in Berlin.


On August 9, 1962, their mission complete, the Georgia Guardsmen of the 111th Signal Battalion boarded charter aircraft for the flight home. Landing at Bush Field in Augusta, the 111th received a hero’s welcome. Major Gen. Hearn greeted each Guardsman as they departed the aircraft then read a special citation from Governor Ernest Vandiver commending the Soldiers for their” loyalty and sacrifices made in the national interest.”[8]

BUSH FIELD, Augusta, Ga., August 9, 1962 - Georgia Guardsmen of the 111th Signal Battalion return from Fort Meade, Md., where the unit had
been on active duty since October 1961 in response to the Berlin Crisis.

Boarding buses, the Guardsmen of the 111th departed for their home armories in Louisville, Augusta and Washington where additional welcome-home festivities awaited them.


[1] George Hearn, “The Adjutant General’s Message,” The Georgia Guardsman, March/June 1961, inside cover.

[2] “President Mobilizes Georgia Guard’s 111th Signal Battalion,” The Georgia Guardsman, Oct/Nov/Dec 1961, 4.

[3] “President Mobilizes Georgia Guard’s 111th Signal Battalion,” The Georgia Guardsman, Oct/Nov/Dec 1961, 4.

[4] “1st Graduate of GMI Goes With 111th,” The Georgia Guardsman, Oct/Nov/Dec 1961, 1.

[6] “President Mobilizes Georgia Guard’s 111th Signal Battalion,” The Georgia Guardsman, Oct/Nov/Dec 1961, 4.

[7] “111th Signal Battalion To Return 9 Aug.,” The Georgia Guardsman, May/June 1962, 10.

[8] “Signal Battalion Returns to Georgia After Ft. Meade Duty,” The Georgia Guardsman, July/Aug 1962, 8.