All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
In a couple of weeks I will be 73 years old (don’t forget). Last Sunday Edgefield celebrated 75 years of association with The Army National Guard. I feel fairly certain that I was conceived, after drill, one Monday night in 1947. The family legend is that I immediately took to camouflaging my diapers and was given a set of lieutenant colonel insignias for my first birthday to pin them up with. Dad and Uncle Frank were members of the unit headquartered in Edgefield and their fellow Guard soldiers were like family to me. Heck, one of them became my father-in-law. (he also coached me in football) A goodly number of the unit complement had served in World War II and told war stories worthy of documentation. As years passed I quit camouflaging diapers and took to playing football (my first ever football coaches were Bill Connelly and Buddy Morgan, both National Guardsmen). Buddy was my Sunday School Teacher. We practiced football on the front lawn of the Headquarters building and I came to find out that most of my team mate’s fathers and uncles were members of the unit. I remember my first encampment as a uniformed member of The Cub Scouts of America. Yep, we dressed right dressed Guard pup tents in front of the armory and ate rations prepared by Guard members and played games under the direction of another generation of National Guard Soldiers. There was Theo, who picked at me unmercifully, and I cherish his attention to this day. John, who became one of the best senior NCOs I ever worked with, active or reserve. Yes, worked with. After a brief residence at The Citadel I took a couple of side trips as an Infantry lieutenant before finding myself looking for a home in the U.S. Army. The search did not take long culminating with Richard Culbreath taking me in the 122nd Engineer Battalion, Edgefield, South Carolina early in my 25th year. The next quarter century flew by as men, too numerous to name, served our town, county, state and nation professionally and took me along for the ride. Thank you Bill, Pete, Charlie, Johnnie, Billie, Elliot, Kenneth, and so many more. It is important that all know about these soldiers and their contribution. Oh yes, I did get to command the Engineer Battalion.
Jack Reece Brigadier General (retired) SCARNG