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December Retiree's Corner

Maj. Gen. T. Eston Marchant, Jr. presents awards.

Maj. Gen. T. Eston Marchant, Jr. presents awards.

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina -- Our November luncheon produced around 70 folks, a good number, but as always we can do better. We had four first-timers, they were Wallace Reese, Jimmy Ewing, Dixie Jenkinson (Boyd's wife), and a guest, Van Price, who is the South Carolina National Guard Association's Executive Director. It was good to see them and I hope they will make a return visit. I said, 'we can do better' because I missed a lot of people who normally come.

We had two outstanding speakers, Col. Boris Armstrong, the new Vice Commander, who provided us with a strong power point presentation with a different aspect on the economics of being in Afghanistan. We also had Ms. Pam English, Chief of the Managed Care Division at Moncrief Army Hospital. She spoke about Moncrief and what they can and can't provide to us retirees. Also, she fielded questions about Medicare and Tri-Care for Life. So in my opinion it was a dynamic meeting. There were handouts for phone numbers to call when a loved one, particularly a SCANG retiree dies, to start the process. There was also a great flyer produced by Capitol Tours about a pending trip, that I hope will materialize next spring, to New Orleans and many other interesting stops. So it was an action-packed meeting.

McEntire History: We are honoring our final increment of 2006 retirees, they are as follows: Chief Master Sgts. James Griggs and James Johnson; Senior Master Sgts. Lola Banks, Keith Williams, James Watterson, and Russell Taylor; Master Sgts. David Opsahl, Paul Birchmore Jr., Richard Bradshaw, Susan Douglas, Kenneth Hendrix, Kevin Keith, and Burley Kennedy; Tech. Sgts. Mark Warren, William Solanes, and Christel Wilson. As always, I ask if you were a 2006 retiree, and did not see your name in the last three issues, please let me know.

I failed to mention last month that the 110th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron deployed in Nov. 1951. The unit was formed up at the beginning of the Korean War, and when deployed they were sent to Donaldson Air Force Base, just out of Greenville. They were absorbed with other squadrons from Ohio and Fla. to form a new unit, the 155th Tactical Control Group. They prepared to be shipped overseas to Korea, but instead ended up in Germany, and in some cases France. After war's end, the unit came back to Congaree and was dissolved with the members assimilating into the existing units on base. Lest we not forget, Congaree/McEntire has an anniversary this month. It will be 67 years ago in December when our 'forefathers', all 50 of them, formed the South Carolina Air National Guard under the auspices of Adjutant General James C. Dozier. He did this by recruiting initially Maj.Robert H. Morrell and Sam Finklea then shortly after that, Lt. Col. Barnie B. McEntire. Gen. Dozier ordered them to recruit enough people so he can tell Washington that 'we were ready'. So they did, and started with the initial 50 men, 14 officers and 36 enlisted with the first formation on Dec. 9, 1946. I would like to see the reaction to those folks if they could see what McEntire Joint National Guard Base looks like now?

Our next luncheon will be Dec. 3. For now, we will stay at the Fort Jackson NCO Club and start the proceedings at 12:00 p.m. Again for now, we will keep the Tuesday meeting time based on the Fort's schedule. It appears to be working fine, we stay away from the families who infiltrate the installation every Wednesday and Thursday, and who can blame them. They are there to see their sons and daughters graduate from Basic Training.

If I don't see you at the luncheon, please have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year. They are rolling around all too fast? In January, I plan to memorialize those who passed this past year. This has now become a tradition, so keep this in mind as well. If anybody would like to talk to me, you can email me at rbarkalow@sc.rr.com or call me on my home phone 803-936-0680.