Among the first Laurens County service men to reach the war zone, except those who found themselves in battle in December 1941, were Lt. James Graves, who reached Australia in mid-March. Leo Kight, of Lovett, Georgia, joined Graves in Australia along with Sgt. Luther Word, Jr.
At the top of most Laurens Countians minds was the effort to establish a Naval advanced training base in Dublin. The effort was led by the powerful Congressman Carl Vinson of Millegeville, who was chairman of the Naval Armed Services Committee in the House of Representatives. Locally, Dublin-Laurens Chamber of Commerce President, Wilbur S. Jones built a legion of supporters.
The Dublin site was high on the list of possible sites, behind an expanded base in Atlanta and a new base in Montezuma, but when cost estimates of $11,000,000.00 were released, the Dublin project was dropped.
Conservation was the watchword on the minds of Laurens Countains. At the end of March, all service stations in the county curtailed their hours to close on Sundays and open on other days from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m..
L.L. Howell, chairman of the Laurens U.S.D.A. War Board and Harry A. Edge, County Agent, led the effort to educate school children on the need for collecting scrap materials for the war effort. On March 7, designated as “McArthur Day,” a statewide effort to collect scrap took place around the county.
P.M. Watson & Co., the county’s largest scrap dealer, called on all patriotic citizens to collect iron, metals, rags, paper and rubber by saying, “Certainly every citizen, young and old, will rally to a call for waste materials, things we would naturally throw away if the government needs them and a market is right here at their door.”
In the first two months, more than 2,366,400 pounds of scrap metals were delivered to Watson, who shipped it out to foundries in Alabama for melting. A reporter for the Laurens Citizen observed about 5o tons of plow parts and 55 tons of stove parts piled in the Watson scrap yard.
In early March, the staff of the Laurens County Defense Corps was fully staffed with O.F. Ludwig as the new air raid warden for Dublin, along with T.C. Keen as comptroller, M.A. Rogers personnel officer, T. Coke Brown as property officer, and J.A. Middleton, as billeting officer.
The chiefs of staff were: Martin Willis (Chief of Fire Fighters,) Dublin Police Chief J.W. Roberston (Chief of Police Workers,) W.P. Tindol (Chief of Air Raid Wardens,) Dr. R.G. Farrell, Jr. (Chief of Emergency Medical Services,) and E.B. Mackey (Chief of Public Works and Utilities.) Dublin attorney Eugene Cook, who would later go to serve as Georgia’s Attorney General and a justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, was selected to service as vice chief of air raid wardens.
Dublin Mayor Dee Sessions commented on the corps leaders by saying, “The fine co-operation of the people as a whole is very heartening in our efforts to be prepared should disaster strike us.”
By the end of the month, more than 450 persons in the county were undergoing civilian defense training under the overall command of Freeman O’Neal. At least 213 more persons were waiting to begin their training.
Included in the totals were 75 men and 25 women as air raid wardens, 171 men as auxiliary firemen, 136 as auxiliary police, 5 men and 25 women as emergency medical personnel, 10 men and 1 woman as members of the local defense staff corps. Twenty men were about to begin training for demolition and clearing crews, while 10 women were listed for future duties in the emergency food and housing corps.
Civilian Defense officials were looking to form a central operations, other than the old post office site on East Madison Street. Final plans were being formulated to complete the early warning system and procedures for blackouts.
“Interest in civilian defense training is exceptionally good,” said O’Neal, who was grateful for all of the persons who attended class at considerable personal sacrifice.
“It is that spirit that assures the people of this country adequate protection and service in case of emergency,” O’Neal proclaimed.
One of the most feared enemy attacks was the use of poisonous gas. A meeting was held at Saxon Heights School to plan for training volunteers as well as the public in case of a gas attack.
A critical element of the civilian defense effort was the establishment of an ambulance corps. The 33-man, Red Cross-trained unit was headed by L.H. Holland, of Holland-Dowell Funeral home, Ralph Fountain, of Adams Funeral Home, Corporal J.A. Reynolds of the Georgia State Patrol, Delmas Knight and James Townsend of Townsend Funeral Home.
Other members of the unit were Arthur Adams, Cordie Adams, Spright Dowell, Jr., Joel Lord, Ray Bell, W.S.Drew, E.T. Brigham, Guy V. Cochran, U.S. Wynn, Viola Neal, Mrs. J.W. Robertson, Mrs. J.L. Smalley, Gertrude Pritchett, Frances Parkerson, Elizabeth Brinson, Mrs. E.T. Brigham, Mrs. Blue Holleman, Sara Orr Williams, Louise Orr Howard, Mrs. J. Marion Peacock, Mrs. Cordie Green, Mrs. Carl Gettys, Mrs. E.L. Hatcher, Mrs. Frank Hodges, Mrs. Hyrell Kendrick, Mrs. Evelyn Rawls, Mrs. Joe A. Middleton, Mrs. Gray Reese, Mrs. Guy V. Cochran and Maybelle Stith.
Captain George T. Powers, III, son of Mr. and Mrs. George T. Powers of Dublin and a graduate of the United States Military Academy, was promoted to major and assigned as the Adjutant of the 36th Field Artillery Regiment. Powers was elevated to the rank of Major General during his tenure as commander of Fort Bliss, Texas during the 1960s.
As the spring thaw began, the spring of 1942 would see more action and sadly the beginning of the dying.