The writing and pictures are attributed to the work of J. Dickson Black
In the mid 1950s, Bentonville was going to get a new National Guard Armory. The governor at that time, Francis Cherry, had made the trip to Bentonville for the groundbreaking ceremony. He expressed the importance of preparedness that the National Guard plays in our country, being the link between state and federal government in our defense system. The groundbreaking was held on May 12, 1954 at 9:00 in the morning. The governor turned over the first spade of dirt for the new facility.
Gov. Cherry turns over the first spade at the groundbreaking for the new National Guard armory in Bentonville. With the governor is Maj. Gen. Lucien Abraham, Adjutant General of the state of Arkansas. Also pictured is Edd Moore, commanding officer of the local National Guard.
About a year later, the new armory was competed at a cost of $43,000. On March 17, 1955, the dedication of the armory had a turnout of around 200 people. Adjutant General Sherman Clinger, formerly of Rogers, was on hand to help with the dedication. Activities started at 6:30 p.m. with a dinner sponsored by the Bentonville Rotary and Lions Clubs. The dinner was prepared by the local guardsmen and served army style. For those who wanted to attend the dinner, the cost was $1.50. Lieutenant Don Elliott was the master of ceremonies for the event. Maj. Gen. Clinger presented the keys to the armory to Battery A, 936th Field Battalion Lieut. Don Elliott, who accepted the armory for the unit. A brief history about the 936th Field Artillery was given, talking about its formation in 1923.
The National Guard at that time was made up of men who could train one night a week and make a two week summer camp each year. They were well trained and ready to go to battle at all times. They also took part in many types of rescues each year.
These photos were taken of weekly drills held at the Bentonville Armory
Shown in photo: Eddie Knox, Jack Stamper, Tom ---, ---Bemberg, Unknown, Gerald Edwards, Charlies True, John Murphy(?), John Perkins
The National Guard had a much larger payroll than many other industries in the county. They spent over $125,000 a year in the county for payroll and other expenses. During the summer, most of the guardsmen would head to Ft. Chaffee for two weeks' summer training. During this time they learned how to fight a war to keep our country free.
By the late 1950s, this part of the National Guard had become the 142nd Field Artillery Group. Usually there were about 170 men from Benton County who would attend summer camp. The two week payroll for the summer camp was over $20,000 for the men who went to Ft. Chaffee. The various parts of the 142nd Field Artillery came from Benton County. Battery A 1st Howitzer Battalion was stationed in Bentonville. Battery B 1st Howitzer Battalion was stationed in Rogers, and Battery C 1st Howitzer Battalion was stationed in Siloam Springs.
There were many things to be learned about these artillery guns before they can be fired. The gun crew learned the fastest way to set the gun in place and have it ready to fire. The first week at camp was spent in drills and classroom work, where the men studied new practices in using the 155 mm Howitzer and other equipment used by the unit. There were classes in sighting and aiming the gun, while part of the men learned map reading and plotting targets. The wire section learned new and fast ways to set up phone service. The classes were long and hard, but the men all learned a lot.
The second week of camp was spent out in the field in a bivouac. Here the men lived in pup tents, and were under the rules of troops in a combat area. As soon as the battalion were in their bivouac area, the 155 mm Howitzers were put in place to fire. A command post and other outfits were established. In a very short time they could make an artillery attack on the enemy. The rest of the week was spent trying out what they had learned in the classes. They fired the Howitzers some every day. It cost about $150.00 every time they fired one.