August 29, 1995
This will be the final installment (for now) concerning Perry's National Guardsmen in the days just before the U.S. was drawn into World II. The previous column contained the names of officers and enlisted men on the roster of Battery C, 158th Field Artillery, 45th Infantry Division, as well as members of the Regiment's Band Section, Service Company, in 1938. Most of the men on those rosters were from Noble county, and many of them went with the Battery to fight the Axis armies.
Following is a "factual history" of Battery C from the 1938 "Historical Annual of the National Guard of the State of Oklahoma." My thanks to Shirley Roads Emde of Stillwater for furnishing this information. Here's the account:
"In 1926, when the 158th Field Artillery (Horse) was allotted Colorado, 'Uncle Charley' Barrett, by one of the 'judicious swaps' for which he is famous, succeeded in obtaining Battery 'C' of the 158th Field Artillery, then stationed at Pueblo, Colorado. Many Oklahoma cities were clamoring for Field Artillery units but it was determined that Perry, Oklahoma, should have priority and on January 14,1927, 65 embryo Field Artillerymen, recruited by Capt. Howard R. Cress, First Lt. William Z. Blake and Second Lts. Ralph H. Noah and Edward Q. Brengle, stood their formation for Federal recognition.
"The formation was held in an empty store, on Courthouse Square. The Federal government was represented by First Lt. John W. Beck, U.S. Army, while State authority was represented by Capt. Elmo Flynt, of the Adjutant General's staff. One of the highlights of this ceremony was occasioned by the fact that the unit had been meticulously coached, for days preceding the formation, in the execution of 'Open ranks, march,' being assured that this would be their first command. Imagine the amazement of the Inspecting Officer, upon taking command and giving 'Right dress,' to see the entire unit studiously and faultlessly executing 'Open ranks.'
"Only two changes in commissioned personnel have been made in the eleven and one-half years of this organization's existence. Capt. Howard R. Cress is still functioning as Battery Commander, while Edward Q. 'Quine' Brengle, one of the original Second Lieutenants, was promoted to First Lieutenant December 2, 1929, and is still Battery Executive. All four of the present Battery officers are charter members of the organization.
"The principal 'turnover' has been in Second Lieutenants, Lt. Ralph H: Noah being required to move from Perry shortly after organization and Lt. John A. Samuelson, his successor, being compelled, for business reasons, to resign in November 1931. Lt. Otho R. Powers and Lt. Floyd R. Laird (present Band Leader) were appointed to fill the vacancies but were succeeded, in 1931 and 1935, respectively, by the present junior officers, Second Lt. Harold Roads and Second Lt. Myrl A. McCormick.
"The record of this unit is one of continued progress. It has served as a model, for many years, for other units of the Regiment in the matter of care and storage of property. Every year since organization the Battery has received the highest rating authorized on annual Armory inspection reports. The report for the 1938 inspection, conducted by Capt. Stephen Y McGiffert, F. A., U.S. Army, concludes with the following 'remark.': 'For the purpose of emphasis I am obliged to state that I consider this Battery the best trained and commanded unit of all units inspected by me in this regiment'."
Let me elaborate just a bit on part of the above. The location of that first formation on January 14, 1927, was the old Davis Furniture building on the south side of the square, according to an account in The Perry Daily Journal of that time. The building has been leased for Battery C and it was to be used as an armory. The Journal said that building provided more space than the former location, the building previously occupied by the Union Billiard Parlor. The newspaper also said uniforms failed to arrive for the first formation but were expected here in a few days.
It's easy to see why Perry people in particular and Noble county folks in general felt such a close relationship to Battery C. Many of our sons, brothers and fathers served with distinction in that unit during World War II and the years preceding it. As this history shows, Perry had to fight to win the Battery when it was organized in 1927, and when it was federalized for full-time Army service in September 1940, it was tough to bid them goodbye.
After the war, the role of the 45th Division was radically changed and Battery C was not reassigned to this city. In its place, an Infantry Company was organized. When the Korean conflict came along, we again sent our young men to war. Now the National Guard has been reshaped and that Infantry Company no longer belongs to Perry, but this community still heartily supports the Guard by encouraging our young people to serve as part of the nation's military preparedness effort.
Pray that circumstances will never again require the mustering of a Noble county National Guard unit into Federal service to face another enemy somewhere around the world, but be thankful that those young men from previous generations left us with this fine tradition of gallant service and faithful commitment to duty.