|The 115th General Support Group was "born" in Roseville on 29 January 1968 with Colonel George B. Borchers, a former enlisted member of Company E, 115th Quartermaster Regiment, as its first commander. Its nine companies were organized into three battalions, the 161st and 749th Maintenance Battalions and the 217th Transportation Battalion. The headquarters now had statewide logistical responsibilities. The missions of the assigned units included direct and general support levels of maintenance, transportation, supply and services, and aircraft repair. There was even a band. The group was spread out between Roseville in the north to Long Beach and Barstow in the south. |
The first AT occurred during June of 1968 and a task force under the flag of the 161st Maintenance Battalion was formed to provide logistical support to the units training at Fort Irwin, California. This was to set the pattern for annual training that lasts to the present day. Task forces formed under one of the battalions to provide "real world" logistical support to units training in the field. In addition to the Headquarters Detachment of the 161st (Long Beach), the task force consisted of 118th and 123rd Maintenance Companies, 349th Supply and Service Company (DS), 1113th Transportation Company (Car), and the 2632nd Transportation Company (Light).
1969 found the unit participating in a wide variety of missions. The 349th Supply and Service Company, 147th Quartermaster Detachment (Bath) and the entire 161st Maintenance Battalion was designated as Selected Reserve Force (SRF) units. SRF (pronounced "surf") units were high priority units that required higher levels of readiness and more training time. Also that year, the group would provide support to the 4,000 Guardsmen at the "Peoplesâ€™ Park" disturbance at the University of California at Berkeley for two weeks. Later in the year, the unit would participate in the first of what would be a long series of high profile exercises out of state, LOGEX-69 at the Army Quartermaster School, Fort Lee, Virginia.
In 1971, the 223rd General Support Group was formed and the Headquarters Detachment of the 161st Maintenance Battalion, 147th Quartermaster Detachment (Bath), 428th Maintenance Company, and the 1114th and 1498th Transportation Companies were transferred to the new command. Also the 749th Maintenance Battalion was redesignated as a Service Battalion. Of special note was the assumption of command by Colonel Robert Nimmo. After his command, Colonel Nimmo went on to become a distinguished state senator from San Luis Obispo County and the Director of Veterans Administration under President Ronald Reagan.
In 1973, one of the more unusual events in the groupâ€™s history occurred. On 28 April, a munitions train traveling through the Southern Pacific Railroadâ€™s Roseville yards caught fire and 22 carloads of 250-pound aerial bombs exploded. When it was all over four days later, the town of Antelope was flattened and parts of the railroad cars and shrapnel from the bombs had fallen into the wide area between North Highlands, Citrus Heights and Roseville. Soldiers from the group Headquarters Company provided assistance to civil authorities in northern Sacramento and southern Placer Counties during the disaster and clean up.
1974 was to prove to be a busy year for the group staff. With the disbanding of the 223rd Support Group and the formation of other units, the group structure and strength radically changed. It had gone from 11 companies and detachments totaling 1200 soldiers to 23 similar sized units and double the strength. The groupâ€™s units which had been limited to Roseville in the north to Atascadero in the south, now stretched from Eureka and Susanville back down to Barstow and Long Beach. The 161st Maintenance Battalion returned to the group and two new battalions were added, the 579th Engineer and the 185th Transportation Battalion. The 217th Transportation Battalion, with the 1112th Transportation Company, which were aircraft repair units, were transferred to the 76th Aviation Group. During 1975, along with other structural changes, the 59th Army Band returned and the 170th Military Police Detachment (Criminal Investigation) was attached. In the late 1970â€™s the group was responsible for commanding combat service support operations at both Fort Irwin and Camp Roberts. This usually involved back to back incremented ATs conducted over a six week period. In 1977, after a long drought, one of the worse fire seasons in the stateâ€™s history struck. Group units were deployed to all of the major fire areas, providing maintenance, quartermaster and transportation support to military and civilian fire fighting forces alike. Â
1980 was the start of a decade of transition. For the first time, Group units were training overseas, something that is considered common now. That year, the 123rd Maintenance Company performed it annual training in Karlserue, Germany. Also that year, the group headquarters sent its first cell to Europe for Exercise ABLE ARCHER. It was also the year that the group established the partnership relationship with the 593rd Area Support Group during its annual training at Fort Lewis, Washington. This special relationship continues through this day and both units have benefited greatly from these ties. The next year was one of considerable support to civilian authority. The highlight was Operation MEDFLY, Governor Jerry Brownâ€™s effort to eradicate the Mediterranean Fruit Fly without the use of pesticide. Also that year was the large, but extremely peaceful protest at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Station just outside the city of San Luis Obispo. In both cases group staff and elements were used extensively to provide logistical support where needed.
1984 was another year of firsts. It was then that the first Exercise LASTING RESPONSE was conducted. This command post exercise (CPC) brought over 500 soldier from the 115thâ€™s wartime structure to Camp San Luis Obispo to train on the "real world" war plans. The most unique feature of this exercise was the inclusion of members of the German Territorial Army. This is another special relationship that has blossomed over the years and it is hoped, that despite recent mission changes, many friendships will be maintained well into the 21st century.
The training year of LASTING RESPONSE exercises, as well as major CPXs in Europe (i.e., REFORGER, WINTEX-CIMEX, CRESTED EAGLE, etc.) became the routine for the 115th throughout the 1980s. In these and other areas, the group excelled and in 1986 and 1989 the 115th Area Support Group was considered the best support group in the 21st Theater Army Area Commandâ€™s (TAACOM) wartime structure. But, as busy and filled with accomplishments as the 1980s were, they would pale to the events that took place in late 1989, 1990 and 1991.
At 17:04 hours on 17 October 1989, most of Northern California was sitting down in front of their televisions to see the opening game of the World Series between the San Francisco Bay area. Immediately the National Guard sprung into action. The entire 112th Engineer Company was mobilized for work in the Santa Cruz Mountains in support of the 579th Engineer Battalion. Other units provided power generation teams, contact maintenance teams, laundry and population. While most of the groupâ€™s unit had returned to normal standing by the end of the year, laundry and shower teams were to remain deployed in the Redwood Estates are until February 1990.
1990 opened pretty much as any year did at the 115th, planning for exercises and cells to Europe, and conducting the business of the National Guard. But there were to be differences, major and serious differences. It started with annual training in May of that year. At the end of a successful Exercise LASTING RESPONSE, Generalmajor (Major General) Frank Schild, Commanding General of Wehrbereichkommando (WBK) V, presented the Fahnenband des Landes Baden-Wurttemburg (Streamer of the State of Baden-Wurttemburg) to the 115th Area Support Group on behalf of the Ministerpresident and people of the German State of Baden-Wurttemburg in recognition of their commitment to the defense of Germany and Western Europe. Since its inception, this award had only been awarded ten times, all to units of the Bundeswher (the German Federal Armed Forces). It was also the first time that a unit based in the United States (to include Regular Army and other reserve component units) received a unit citation from any of the German states. With the reduction of forces in Europe, it is doubtful that any other unit, reserve or active, will be so honored. The black and gold streamer attached to the flagstaff of the groupâ€™s colors has secured the 115th Area Support Group a unique place in the history of the American military presence in Europe.
But the units of the 115th would not go to Europe or Korea for their next action, they would go to sands of the Middle East. On 2 August 1990, the Soviet trained and equipped Iraqi Army crossed their border with Kuwait and over ran the small oil rich emirate in a matter of hours. Within days, the 1113th and 2668th Transportation Companies were placed on alert for mobilization. This was followed later by the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment of the 185th Transportation Battalion. The 185th and 1113th were attached to units of the newly formed 22nd Support Command while the 2668th was attached to 101st Corps Support Group, 1st Corps Support Command (Airborne). During Operation DESERT SHIELD and later DESERT STORM, the 1113th had the mission of bringing up supplies from the ports, air fields, and supply depots up to the Corps Support Commands of the III and VII Corps, and XVIII Airborne Corps.
When the ground war started the 185th, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Chambers, and with its attached regular Army, National Guard, and Army Reserve units made the "end run" right behind the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) and the other units of the VII Corps. While they made military logistics history performing their duties in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq, the most important statistic came out after the shooting had stopped. For the first time in the history of the California National Guard, all of the soldiers who went into the active combat theater of operations, came back alive. This was not only true for the units of the 115th, but also those of the 49th Military Police Brigade and the 175th Medical Brigade. This was the best news that came out of the Persian Gulf War.
When all of the units came back, the group wound up with one more unit than it sent over. The 224th Transportation Detachment (Movement Control) was attached to the 115th Area Support Group immediately upon is demobilization. This too was a unit of "firsts" that should fit well within the traditions of the 115th. The unit was the first unit called up for the war, the first to deploy, and the first unit in the history of the California National Guard to be commanded in a war zone by a woman, First Lieutenant Margaret Perez.
Finally, with the relaxation of East-West tensions in Central Europe, and the possibility of former enemies joining NATO, new missions ere sought. In 1993, the tenth and final Exercise LASTING RESPONSE was conducted. New primary missions are being contemplated and nation building tasks in Central America are being planned for. During those years that the group had its focus on Europe, it built a reputation there as being one of the best in the Army. It was constantly used as a test unit for new training systems and logistics systems. It performed the missions it was given by the 21st TAACOM with success and was consider the model reserve component Area Support Group. It is expected that this tradition of excellence will continue.
As we enter the era of cutbacks in the mid-1990s, we have lost units that have been with the 115th since its organization as a support group. Units like the 2632nd Transportation Company from San Bruno or the old 349th Quartermaster Supply Company in Benicia. Some units, like the 1113th Transportation Company, also traced their roots back to the old 184th Infantry Regiment and carry the same campaign honors on their guidon that we carry on our colors. Some mourned the passing of the 185th Transportation Battalion when it becomes a Quartermaster Battalion. But, they forget that along time ago it was the 185th Infantry Regiment, and later the 185th Armor Group. Our system of lineages and honor will somehow keep these regimental honors alive. It can be fully expected that twenty, fifty, or a hundred years from now, some part-time unit historian will be hunched over his or her computer writing the "regimental" history of a National Guard unit in Roseville. Today, we can only imagine what type of unit it will be. We hope that they and the members of that future unit know and understand the legacy that we in 1994 are leaving them