175th Anniversary of Company's Founding
The Celebration of the 175th anniversary of the Company's founding began on August 24, 1950 and included on that date: registration of guests, assignment of quarters to visiting units of the Centennial Legion, an assembly and roll call at which commemorative medals were distributed following which "Open House" was in effect at the Foot Guard Armory. The next day the visitors were taken on a tour of Yale and the historical spots about the City following which an outing and stag banquet was held for the men at Restland Farms in Northford while the ladies were entertained at dinner in the Racebrook Country Club. The third and most impressive day of the observance started with a buffet lunch in the Hotel Taft, following which a most colorful Military Pageant took place. A parade in which 22 units of the Centennial Legion escorted the Second Company through the center of the city to Center Church, was held. Services were conducted by Chaplain Beach. Following the services the Command, under Major Gerrish, passed in review before its fellow units of the Centennial Legion, Governor Bowles, Mayor William Celentano and other civil and military dignitaries.
En route to the Green the parade halted temporarily at Trinity Church where a Memorial Plaque was unveiled by Major Gerrish assisted by the Rev. Dr. Harris E. Starr, Assistant Chaplain and Historian of the Command, the Rev. C. Lawson Willard, Pastor of Trinity Church, Doctor James Willis Lenhart, D.D., and William J. Foote, Jr.
The plaque read as follows:
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF CONNECTICUT, SITTING IN THE STATE HOUSE NEAR THIS SPOT, ESTABLISHED BY CHARTER GRANT, MARCH 2, 1775, THE SECOND COMPANY OF THE GOVERNOR'S GUARDS AS A DISTINCT MILITARY COMPANY "TO ATTEND UPON AND GUARD THE GOVERNOR AND GENERAL ASSEMBLY AT ALL TIMES AS OCCASION SHALL REQUIRE". IN HONOR OF THAT DUTY FAITHFULLY PERFORMED AND IN TRIBUTE TO COMRADES DEPARTED, THE SECOND COMPANY, GOVERNOR'S FOOT GUARD DEDICATES THIS MEMORIAL AUGUST 26, 1950 TO COMMEMORATE ITS 175TH ANNIVERSARY.
The three day observance was climaxed by a dinner and dance in the Hotel Taft.
On September 16, 1950 the Command repaired to Middletown to participate in the 300th Anniversary Celebration of that town, and on September 29th it paraded in New Britain's Tri-Centennial Celebration. This was Major Gerrish's last public appearance with his beloved command. Following a brief illness he expired on November 1. He was the only Commandant to die while holding that office. A military funeral in which members of the Command took part was held at the First Church of Christ in Woodbridge, followed by burial services in East Lawn Cemetery, East Haven.
During the course of the year 1950 the conflict in Korea had resulted in calling into active Federal service most of the Connecticut National Guard. State authorities found it necessary to activate new State Guard units in order to maintain the minimum of 2500 State Troops required by statue.
Both Foot Guard Companies were called upon to furnish cadres of experienced officers and non-commissioned officers to assist in the organization and training of the new State Guard Units. A rigid physical examination was prescribed for active members of the Company and an intensive training program adopted at which security of vital public installations was stressed.
Acting upon orders issued by Major General Frederick G. Reincke, State Adjutant General, the command met on November 13, 1950 and elected Captain Carl G. Swanson as Major and the 54th Commandant of the Second Company.
On January 3, 1951 the Company entrained for Hartford to participate in the Inaugural Ceremonies for John Davis Lodge, newly appointed Governor of Connecticut. Escorting the Governor-elect and retiring Governor Bowles in the procession from the Hartford Club to the Capitol together with the First Company, Governor's Foot Guard and the First and Second Companies of the Governor's Horse Guard, the Command received many plaudits from the onlookers and the approbation of both the new and retiring Governors. Due to the Korean hostilities Governor Lodge had wisely decreed that the traditional Inaugural Ball and its attendant gayety be cancelled. The Command returned to home station following the Inaugural at the Capitol.
For some 30 years the duties of Secretary and Treasurer had been efficiently performed by Staff Captain Charles W. Tuttle. On March 19, 1051 the active, associate and veteran members of the Command, including four ex-Majors, accompanied by their ladies, assembled in the Grille Room of the Armory and paid tribute to the unselfish services of this devoted officer. Following a testimonial dinner accompanied by speeches, the Command repaired to the drill shed of the main Armory and passed review in honor of Captain Tuttle.
Brigadier General James M. Quinn, Assistant Adjutant General of Connecticut, was presented with Honorary Membership in the Command on May 14, 1951 at the Powder House Day Ceremonies on the Green as testimony to his loyal friendship and guidance over a long period of years.
For many years past the enlisted personnel of the Command had competed annually for the prized "Charleston Medal" originally presented to the Second Company in 1888 by the Gate City Guard in Charleston, South Carolina, as a token of friendship. This resplendent medal has been awarded to the best drilled soldier chosen in competition with his comrades, by a committee of three military officers, not members of the Command.
During the annual competition held on June 4, 1951 a new feature was introduced. Because of a vigorous training program, necessitated by the absence of our National Guard forces in the South Pacific, Germany and other sectors, the four sub-companies comprising the Second Company were perfecting their military skill. In order to further develop this skill in friendly competition, Major General Frederick G. Riencke, Adjutant General for Connecticut, presented a handsome trophy to be awarded annually to the best trained unit of the Second Company, chosen in competition by three impartial judges. Click here to see a list Charleston Medal winners since 1949.
About 150 years before, an historic event that was destined to play an important role in shaping the destiny of our infant nation took place. The first War Office of the United States was established in the village of Lebanon by our first Connecticut Governor, Jonathan Trumbull. It was from here that the plans for organization, training, supplying and order of battle were prepared for General Washinton's neophyte Army.
Members of the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution under the chairmanship of Staff Captain Harry F. Morse, First Company, Governor's Horse Guard, took cognizance of this anniversary by sponsoring a Lebanon Pilgrimage on June 30, 1951 during which Major Swanson's Command played a key role with other military units in re-enacting the activities of their forbears.
At a Company meeting held during 1951, Captain Roger A. Connolly, Managing Editor of the NEW HAVEN REGISTER presented a scrap book of news clippings and pictures pertaining to the 175th Anniversary Celebration.
On January 1, 1952 the membership and ladies gathered in the Lounge for its increasingly popular New Year's Day reception in honor of Major and Mrs. Swanson. This affair was highlighted by the attendance of Mayor and Mrs. William Celentano and State and City dignitaries, both civil and military. The annual reception and ball was held on February 21 and the traditional Powder House Day ceremonies took place on April 21 during which Governor Lodge was presented with Honorary Membership in the Second Company by Major Swanson, followed by a review of the troops on the Green. At the banquet held in the evening the Governor expressed both his personal pride and that of the citizens of the State in the outstanding performance and military efficiency of the Command during this period of National emergency.
During the period of field training at Niantic and the State Rifle Range at East Haven, instruction in the use of weapons was stressed under the direction of Staff Captain William B. Pape. This officer, a former wartime Naval Commander, had rendered outstanding service in the development of championship rifle and pistol teams within the Command. He was ably assisted in these duties by the Lacy brothers, Ordnance Sergeant James E., Sergeant John and Corporal Walter, all of whom were nationally famous as crack rifle and pistol shots.