Guard unit to hold reunion

Published 1:23 am Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sixty years ago, a group of young men met to board a train bound for Fort Jackson, S.C. On Saturday, many of those same men will gather once again to reminisce of that day long ago and how it affected their lives.

Members of that group will meet at 10 a.m. at the Brewton Civic Center for lunch, followed by fellowship.

On Jan. 16, 1951, a group of men in the Alabama National Guard left their homes to make the journey which would lead some of them into harm’s way, while others would be lucky enough to serve their time in the United States.

Company F, 200th Infantry of the 31st Division in the Alabama National Guard found out they were being activated in the last part of 1950 and would be leaving by train to go to Fort Jackson and then parts unknown. A war was being fought overseas in Korea that called many young men to leave their homes — just as the current National Guard unit, the 1165th, has recently done as it prepares to travel to Afghanistan.

Some of the members of the 31st (known as the Dixie Division) were older and more experienced, but there were those who left their high school behind and answered the call to duty.

First Lt. Bascom Tippin, commander of “the Brewton Rifles” led his team, whose names will be familiar even today.

“Some of them were fresh out of high school, and some were soldiers from World War II,” said Ray Langham, who was a recruit in the group and who had dropped out of high school to join. “They signed up for three years of active duty. Some of them went to Korea, but most of them didn’t. In the 60 years since, they have scattered all around, and of course some of them are no longer living.”

Saturday’s reunion will be the first for the group, said Langham, who was among the roughly 25 Guard members who were later sent to combat in Korea.

“We have around 29 already signed up for the reunion, and anybody that doesn’t know about it should come on and join us,” Langham said. “Many of these men never returned to Brewton. Some of them met and married girls from near Fort Jackson, and some stayed there.”

Only one member of the unit, Don Bryant, was killed in Korea. The local National Guard Armory is named after Bryant, who was killed by a sniper.

In the days that followed the men’s departure, there were rumors that the whole unit had been hospitalized for pneumonia and that Chester Sowell’s foot had frozen. Lt. Tippin wrote to The Brewton Standard that none of it was true. James R. Lynn and Coleman F. Kent were hospitalized with the flu, while Sowell had blisters on his feet that got infected.

One interesting story is that of Dalton Lonzo “Duck” Ivey of Castleberry. Ivey left his farm and family and came to Brewton to join the men who were leaving.

Ivey had received a discharge from the Army in 1946, but he said, “My outfit was going off again, and I figured I ought to go with it,” according to a January 1951 issue of The Brewton Standard.

In addition to Lt. Tippin, they were: 2nd Lt. Raymond F. Mize, Clarence R. Luttrell, Edward L. Smith and James F. Mitchell. Warrant officer was Joseph T. White Jr., and 1st Sergeant was A.D. Clark. Other sergeants were Robert M. Ezell, Robert L. Gay, James P. Luttrell, Wilbert M. Halford, Myron J. Brackin Jr., James R. Clark, Ralph H. Crawford, Claude R. Dawkins, Bernard Evans, James W. Harris, James H. Halford, Billy F. Irwin Enoch Joyner, Clarence Lee, Michael Lehosky, Edward R. Lovelace, Maxwell W. Morgan, Hugh D. McCall, Harold J. Rhodes, Ben Allen Smith, David A. Smith, Clarence J. Shell, Horace J. Travis and Hubert B. Wall.

Corporals were Wilber R. Andrews, Roy Cobb, Claudis G. Beasley, Henry H. Beasley, Vivian D. Bryant, Charles R. Daniels, William A. Dantzler, Aubrey S. Durden, James C. Faircloth, Ellis W. Fuqua, Leroy Jackson, McCoy Jackson, Robert Jackson, William E. Jernigan, Martin L. Kirkus, William H. Pugh, John L. Still, James A Smith and James M. Wilson.

Privates First Class were Charles H. Browder, William Burkett, Ralph K. Burnham, Melvin Crutchfield, Carl D. Foster, Leroy Fuqua, Robert E. Fuqua, James E. Franklin, Griffin Goolsby, William H. Harden, Samuel Johns, James R. Lynn, John I. Marchand, Eubie Nelson, Ethie E. Nolan, Charles D. Reaves, Thomas N. Stevens, Benjamin F. Suggs, Owen M. Taylor, Earnest L. Thomas, and Bruner Wilson.

Privates were Willis D. Baker, L.D. Boyett, Robert E. Butts, Clyde R. Carroll, Wiley C. Cardwell, James W. Cutts, Everett M. Evans Jr., Gordon L. Evans, Marvin Fuqua, Holland P. Grantham, Mann J. Haveard, Charles Haveard, James E. Hoomes, Leon L. Joyner, Richard E. Jackson, Claudis C. James, John L. Kendall, Coleman E. Kent, Kenneth Kent, Charles G. Minchew, Mason O. Nelson, Leonard L. Peevy, Lyman F. Peevy, Ed Leigh Schad, Robert Smiley Jr., Hubert C. Solomon, John L. Southwell, Thomas E. White, and Floyd Wilson.

Recruits were Charles D. Blair, Jas. H. Barnett, Bruner L. Blair, Olllie Cooper, James M. Davis, Delmas E. Dubose, James H. Evans, James H. Gay, T.J. Grantham, Graham Janes, Clarence R. Langham, Isaac C. Anderson, Adolph Nelson, Leonard E. Nelson, Leroy Raines, Lewis M. Roland, Lester A. Smithart, Manford E. Travis, Carl F. Thomas, Hubert A. Thomas, Levernor E. Thompson, Tom J. Watson and Eugene Worthington.

Inactive members were Sergeant Raymond L. Weaver, Corporals Carvin J. Madden and Floyd L. Kent. Privates First Class were Ben L. Martin, James T. Brooks and Clyde O. Minchew.

Privates were Gordon R. Hall, Williamson H. Nelson and Robert H. Wyatt. Recruits were John E. Robinson and Frank R. Smith.