December Retiree's Corner
By Robert (Bob) W. Barkalow, Jr., Master Sgt. (Retired)
/ Published November 24, 2015
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- We had a larger and lively crowd for the November Luncheon with about 60 folks, including two first-timers- Allie Bacon and Robert (Bobby) Miles and his wife. It was good to have them, and I would love to add some more. So first-timers come on, don't be bashful to come see us. We had Lt. Col. Akshai Gandhi, the 157th Fighter Squadron commander, give us a synopsis about what McEntire folks were doing, particularly their efforts helping out with the flood. He also spoke about what is in store for future McEntire events and the multitude of upcoming functions/deployments. It has become a joy to have the good leaders of McEntire come address us every month. We also feel there is a mutual bonding between the 'old and current' members.
We had our quarterly raffle in which Bob Fancher won and he generously donated most of his winnings to our fund.
McEntire History: Let's start off with the 69th Anniversary of Congaree/McEntire coming December 9th. Sixty-nine years ago, 50 men stood up for the first ever formation. Prior to that during WWII, land was 'acquired' from 21 landowners and then turned over to the U. S. Army, who plowed up the land to make an airfield. It was then turned over to the Army Air Corps and then later turned over to the Marine Corps, which most people are more familiar with. At that time, it was called Congaree Marine Corps Air Station. After the war was over, the name was shortened to Congaree Air Station. There was a total of 2201.74 acres that comprised Congaree Air Station. Later, there was another 100 acres or so added to help lengthen runways. After witnessing two great wars, General James C. Dozier, the Adjutant General of S.C. at that time, had the foresight to see into the future and he was aware of the backgrounds of both Barnie McEntire and Bob Morrell, aviation-wise, as well as Sam Finklea, who joined in 1947. He asked those three to become the initial corps of the S. C. Air National Guard. They started recruiting with very little incentives to offer and had the first muster December 9, 1946. The 50 men comprising of 14 Officers and 36 enlisted, not mentioning two guys who had joined but were absent from the first muster, Staff Sgt. Robert H. Moore and Sergeant John Wessinger. Not quite a year later at the first annual training held at Congaree Air Station, there were about 175 men reporting for duty, so the recruiting was on-going and has been since.
May I suggest early on, if through politics and Base Realignment and Closure and the base survives six more years, there should be a 75-year extravaganza event celebrating 75 years of the S. C. Air National Guard.
Beginning 2016, I am honoring all the Korean War/Conflict call-ups and will begin publishing their names and rank at the time of call-up. I register a total of 321 men. I will try to break this up into an 18 month recognition timeframe, which means roughly 18 folks every month. It is interesting to me to see the names of people that are either still around or have passed on, yet we can recognize many of their names.
Please mark December 1st on your calendar. This is our December Luncheon and final 2015 Luncheon. Sure would like to see a lot of Holiday participants! As always, we will be at our ole haunt, the Fort Jackson NCO Club, beginning at high noon, or 12:00. If we are unable to see you then, have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!