Godspeed and Good Luck to the 148th

They are here to serve. They have always been here to serve. As the members of Company A, 148th Forward Support Battalion, 48th Georgia Brigade stationed in Dublin, Georgia, prepare to leave their homes and families to serve our state and our nation, let us took a look back at the history of the National Guard at its predecessors in our community at its long legacy which goes back more than two centuries.

Militia districts in every Georgia county were formed as a means of raising forces to combat Indian forays into our area. During the War of 1812 and the Indian Wars of 1818, each county furnished units to fight the British and unfriendly Indian forces in south Georgia, Alabama and Florida. Some of the same units were reorganized and saw action in the Indian wars of 1836 while others went to Texas to aid that Spanish colony’s war for Independence. After the Mexican War of the1840s, militia companies were primarily used for patrolling roads to insure that slaves were not escaping from their masters.

During the Civil War, militia units were no longer used and each county in Georgia formed their own companies as a part of the Georgia Volunteer Infantry. Laurens County furnished men to five different companies during the war. In the years after the war, militia companies were virtually non existent except in the larger cities of Macon and Savannah.

In 1890, Capt. L.Q. Stubbs led the formation of the Dublin Guards, which were a part of the 4th Georgia Volunteer Regiment. During the Spanish American war, the guards were part of the state troops. While they saw no action, they did train once a week in the old Leitch Stubbs Building on the corner of West Jackson and South Jefferson streets. By 1901, the Guards had disbanded because of lack of interest. The unit was reorganized in 1904 as the Laurens Volunteers. Two years later, their name was once again changed to The Dublin Rifles. After only one year, the Rifles were once again disbanded due to lack of need to protect the country from a foreign attack.

With the beginning of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson called for the
organization of home guard units across the state. During the war, some Laurens County men saw action, but not as a whole unit. On August 28, 1919, Capt. Cleveland Pope was appointed to command Co. A of the First Battalion of the Georgia National Guard, making the Dublin company the first National Guard unit to be organized in the southeast.

By 1921, HQ Co. and Co. K of the 121st Infantry was located in Dublin. The units remained here in Dublin until the beginning of World War II. Between the two wars, national guard units trained and were used sparingly and primarily for riot and strike duty in textile mills and to aid local police in apprehending criminals.

Nearly seventy years ago Europe had been engulfed in a year-long war. The United States, while attempting to maintain a policy of neutrality, began preparing for an eminent war with Germany. The effective troop strength of the U.S. Army had declined for decades. President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the mobilization of the various National Guard units around the country in September of 1940. Roosevelt knew that when war came, the National Guardsmen would help form the nation’s first line of defense.

The people of Laurens County wanted to honor their young men for their military service. So, they gave the men barbecue suppers and free movie tickets. During World War II, the soldiers of the 121st were split into different units. Though many Laurens countians remained in the 121st, known as the Gray Bonnets, the Army did not want a local company to suffer horrific casualties like what had happened during the Civil War.

Fifty five years ago in 1954, a group of men gathered together to formally organize a new National Guard battalion in Dublin. The new unit, designated as the 286th Infantry (Heavy Mortar) Battalion, was a part of the 121st Infantry Battalion. On the evening of January 11, 1954, the battalion was federally recognized and ordered into service.

The original battalion trained with the ground-mounted 4.2 mortar. In November 1955, the battalion was renamed the 160th Tank Battalion. On July 9, 1957, the Guard moved into its new quarters, The Charles E. Stroberg Armory. The new armory was named in honor of Major Stroberg, who was the executive officer from 1954 until 1962. In 1959, the 160th Tank Battalion merged with the 121st Infantry Battalion and the 171st Infantry Battalion to form the 121st Infantry Regiment, the same regiment which was headquartered in Dublin in the days of World War I.

During the Vietnam War era, the National Guard went into storm damaged areas and were stationed to prevent riots after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Month after month and summer after summer, the guard was getting ready, just in case they were needed.

In the summer of 1990, President George Bush issued a directive to begin calling up national guard units across the country in preparation for the impending crisis in Iraq. Members of Headquarters and Headquarters Company in Dublin began preparations for deployment. The 121st Infantry was attached to the 48th Brigade, which was headquartered in Macon. Around New Year’s Day, one transport plane after another ferried the members of the guard, their equipment and 1100 vehicles to Fort Irwin in the Mojave Desert, where they were by sub-freezing temperatures. Although the Gulf War was quickly over, the members of the 48th were still training in California awaiting their call up for duty. The citizens of Dublin turned out to salute the local units in a parade unseen in Dublin since the days of World War II. It was an amazing sight. I looked out from my Calhoun Street home and saw American soldiers marching toward a picnic at Stubbs Park along the oak lined streets adorned with yellow ribbons.

In March of 2001, the 48th Brigade departed from Fort Stewart after a three month training period. Members of the local unit served in Camp Comanche, Dobol, and McGovern in Bosnia from April to October 2001. In the winter of 2004-2005, the local National Guard unit of the 48th Brigade mobilized for service in Iraq. Donning the first 21st Century Army uniforms, the local unit of the Georgia National Guard, went into foreign service in Iraq. Members of the company were featured in a series of articles in the Atlanta Constitution and a six-part documentary American Soldiers on Country Music Television.

Once again, the men and women of the 148th are leaving their homes, their families and the security of their own homes. They go to serve their nation and you. Pray for them daily. Thank God that they are willing to sacrifice their lives for yours. And, when they come home, welcome them back like the real heroes they are.