I Wuz Just Thinking: Memories of the National Guard Armory

Then came the Vietnam war and the volunteers that worked with the 144th Infantry of the Texas National Guard, were called up.

Some time back, I was sitting in a massage chair supposedly to help with my sciatic nerve problems.  While sitting there, I had full view of the Texas National Guard armory on Stone Road here in Kilgore.

I wuz jus thinkin’ about the times when I was a teenager in high school.  I enjoyed attending parties in that facility, those were happy days.

But then came the Vietnam war and the volunteers that worked with the 144th Infantry of the Texas National Guard, were called up.

Those were sad days filled with fear, as we knew where our Kilgore young men were going. I remember that Mr. Douglas was in charge and one of the young men was his son, Lynn Douglas. Gerald Toney and another friend with last name of Miller, also went with this unit.

They were sent, I believe, to Ft. Polk in Louisiana for continued training.  (Ft. Polk has been renamed Ft. Johnson.)

There were probably other young men, I just don’t recall their names at this time.

I remember the song, “Soldier Boy“.  My sister and many other young ladies were playing this song on the radios and singing along with it.               

Soldier boy…Oh my little soldier boy…
        I’ll be true to you……

Betty Mahurin Baker

Two young men, probably not from this National Guard division,  from our high school graduating class of 1963, were casualties of the Vietnam war.

SPL4 Raymond Roger Poston U.S. Army 1st Calvary Div., gave his life on February 15, 1966 and 2LT. Danny Lynn Gilstrap of HHB, 1ST BN , 8TH artillery, 25th Inf. Div. USARVArmy of the United States, gave his life at Binh Duong on Feb. 22, 1968.

There were others from Kilgore that lost their lives in this war, too.

Earlier years, Frank S. Garrison was Supply Sargeant of the Texas Defense Guard appointed 20th day of May, 1941  He was my father-in-law and I have some papers “certificates” where he had been honored.  I’m thinking he started in 1941 and held that position for many years. Maybe some day I will come across the box that contain this information.

I do not know what all Frank was in charge of, but I do know he was over the protection of the building and contents of this National Guard armory. 

On another thought, Frank’s wife, Marietta Garrison, was the first “dorm mother” for the Kilgore College Rangeretts.  She and Frank lived in the dorm located in the 2 storied Laird house on Henderson Blvd. This house had belonged to the grandparents of Clarence and Verner Laird. 

Later, a new Rangerette dorm was built on the college campus. “Mama” Garrison served in this position until she retired in the late 1960’s.  (That dorm has since been torn down and an even newer updated dorm has been built on the campus that is home to the young ladies.)

“On Dec. 3, 2014, Texas State Guard reactivated Unit in Kilgore.  A ceremony was held to officially mark the reactivation of the regiment and to formally install Maj. Sidney Loggins as battalion commander.”

“The battalion in Kilgore is part of the 19th Civil Affairs Regiment, which includes additional units in Dallas and Greenville. The mission is to provide the Governor and the President of the United states with ready and trained forces in  support of the citizens of Texas and State and Federal civil/military authorities at home and abroad.”

The regiment is to provide mission-ready military forces to assist state and local authorities in times of emergencies and disasters; to include mass care sheltering, emergency communications, special needs evacuation tracking, wide area damage assessment and urban search and rescue.

Back to the Kilgore armory itself, when I was with the Kilgore Police dept., I and my partner, were assigned to provide protection for the automobiles from vandalism while local guests attended the yearly fund-raiser for the East Texas Treatment Center. Part of the monies raised help individuals that may not have funding, be able to receive the treatment they need at the facility

Kilgore’s armory has held many functions for fun times and also used to train the men and women that volunteer when needed to assist after hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, and wildfires, as well as current operations along the southern border.

All these things, concerning the armory, are running thru my mind, as I wuz jus thinking.



, , , , , , , ,

Related Posts