f/8 and Be There
Fred Lynch

National Guard test alert 1960

Posted Wednesday, March 4, 2015, at 12:00 AM

Feb. 18, 1960 Southeast Missourian

This group of National Guardsmen was drawing rifles from the Cape Girardeau armory shortly after reporting Wednesday night for a surprise alert. Handing out the weapons is Sp4 Robert Hawn. In rear, from left, are: Sgt. Bobby Jones, Sgt. Floyd Smith, PSG James Fortner, Sp4 Robert Greaser, Sp4 Willard Springer. In front, from left: Sp4 Richard Withers (receiving rifle) Pfc. Arthur Houck, Pfc. Danny Moore, Sgt. Curtis Kelly, Sgt. Eugene Golightly. (G.D. Fronabarger photo)

National Guard Holds Test Alert

A practice alert, unannounced in advance, drew National Guardsmen of the First Battle Group to their armories Wednesday night in a movement that staff officers today termed successful.

A chain of telephone calls, announcements on the air, theater announcements and other contacts were used to inform the Guardsmen, who began to arrive at their posts within minutes.

At the First Battle Group headquarters here first arrivals were on the scene within five minutes after the alert was sounded.

Speed Noted

Within a half hour enough were present for first roll call and by 8 o'clock, an hour after the alert was announced, a large percentage of the men in the Combat Support Co. and Headquarters Co. were on hand.

The alert counted as a regular drill period for the battle group units. After roll call at 8 o'clock, the Cape Girardeau companies broke into smaller groups for regular classroom instruction. A future drill will be canceled.

Members of the battle group staff moved out to armories under command of headquarters here to observe the alert as it developed in those places. They reported in to headquarters here later in the evening with their summary of the movement.

Officers said considering the number of men who were at work and who acknowledged the alert but could not attend, the response was excellent. In a real emergency, it was pointed out, these men would leave their jobs and report for duty.

Several of the men had dates and had to leave them to report for duty. At Farmington a Guardsman was playing basketball. He acknowledged the call and continued to play with his team with battle group approval. Some men drove as much as 40 miles to report.

Most Men Contacted

Maj. Lewis Conley, adjutant, said while assembling the troops was important, purpose of the alert was to determine how effective it was. "We feel there were very few people who were not reached," he said.

In case of emergency, the officers explained, the men would be moved to critical points within an hour after the alert was sounded. He noted, for example, that even before full strength was on hand, small groups of early arrivals could be placed as guards at the bridge, telephone company, utilities company, and other strategic points as needed.

All of the men, upon arrival at the armory, immediately went into uniform and reported with full field equipment.

Other units participating in the alert were: Co. A, Farmington, commanded by Capt. Clyde G. Blackwell; Co. B, Perryville, commanded by Capt. Austin G. Harter; Co. C, Fredericktown, commanded by Capt. Willard J. Huskey; Co. D, Charleston, commanded by Capt. Richard L. Sutherland; Co. E, Jackson, commanded by Capt. Thomas K. O'Loughlin.


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