Chapter 19

Inaugural of President Eisenhower


      Following the annual New Year's Day reception in 1953, the membership was busily engaged with preparations for the Inaugural Ceremonies at Washington for General of the Armies, Dwight D. Eisenhower who was to succeed President Harry S. Truman.

      At 11 p.m. on January 19 Major Swanson led the Command to the New Haven Railroad Station where they entrained aboard eight sleeping cars to which had been added a baggage car. The Guards arrived in Washington at 8 a.m. on January 20.

      In the line of march Connecticut was led by the First Company following which, in an open car, were Governor Lodge and his Adjutant General, Frederick G. Reincke. Just behind the Governor's conveyance Major Swanson led the Second Company, about 200 strong, down Pennsylvania Avenue and past the new President in the reviewing stand. A float depicting the "Spirit of 76" escorted by the Chester Fife and Drum Corps in early Continental Army uniforms followed the Second Company. After the parade the Guards were entertained at the Hotel Statler by the Connecticut Society of Washington. The Company entrained for home at 2 a.m. January 21, arriving in New Haven at 7:45 a.m.

      At the Powder Day ceremonies held on April 20, 1953 the Command honored two of its most enthusiastic admirers of many years, Major General Thomas E. Troland, U.S. Army (Ret.), Judge of the Superior Court, native of New London and World War II Commander Frederick J. deRohan, U.S. Army, stationed in Hartford as Senior Army Advisor of Connecticut troops, was also accorded this distinction.

      On September 21, 1953 the Company paraded in Middletown during a homecoming celebration for Arthur J. Connell, National Commander of the American Legion. On November 15, 1953 the entire Veteran and Active Membership gathered in the Lounge and tendered a surprise reception to Major Swanson and his Lady on the occasion of their Thirtieth Wedding Anniversary.

      It was during this time that Staff Captain Albertus K. Boardman had reached the statutory age limit of 64 years at which time his name was withdrawn from the active rolls of the Company. He continued to serve the Foot Guard as an associate member and Senior Medical Officer rarely missing an assembly or meeting. The Command voted unanimously to tender Captain Boardman the rank of Honorary Major. His letter of acceptance and gratitude was read at a meeting held on November 2, 1953.

      The year 1954 brought added impetus to social events within the Company. This was due, to the return of many members to the active rolls who had been released from State Guard Service and had resumed their places in vacant files within the ranks. It was also partly due to the lessening of the rigid military requirements imposed on the Company during the period of Korean hostilities. Although the Governor's Guards were traditionally represented in every war of our Nation, by individuals or by units provided from its members, the Command itself remained in its historic role as escort and security troops to the Governor of Connecticut. This unique continuity of service remains unbroken and is a tribute to the devotion and patriotism of the personnel.

      At the Powder House Day Ceremonies, April 26, 1954 the Mayor of New Haven, Richard C. Lee, was made an Honorary Member of the Command. He had been a friend of the Foot Guards for many years and was warmly acclaimed by the membership at a banquet that evening.

      In a special election held on December 13, 1954, to fill the Line Officer vacancies, Sergeant Major Louis B. Hardy was elected Second Lieutenant and Staff Captain Ephrom J. Davidson as Ensign, both with Honorary rank as Captain.

      Thus at the close of 1954 the line of Officers of the Command were:

                        Major Carl G. Swanson, Commandant
      (Captain)    1st Lt. James T. Fleming, Adjutant
                        Captain Alexander W. Gilliland, Quartermaster
                        Captain A. Allen Johnson, Executive Officer
      (Captain)    1st Lt. William A. Murray, Co. C
                        1st Lt. Roy E. Eck, Co. B
      (Captain)    2nd Lt. Louis B. Hardy, Co. D
      (Captain)    Ensign ephrom J. Davidson, Co. A
                        Sergeant Edward Schoeck was appointed Sgt. Major by the Commandant.

      On January 5, 1955 the Second Company participated in the Inaugural of Abraham A. Ribicoff as Governor of Connecticut. In the evening the members were the guests of the First Company at the gala Inaugural Ball in the Hartford Armory.

      At the Annual Reception and Ball held on February 25, 1955 in honor of the Governor an estimated 2,000 people were in attendance coming from all sections of the State. Staff Captain Thomas J. Amatruda, Chief of Staff, acted as toastmaster at a dinner preceding the ball which was highlighted by a presentation to the Command, by Major General Thomas E. Troland, of two ancient military prints of historic interest. One print depicted the Battle of Lexington to which the Company marched in 1775 under its first Commandant, Benedict Arnold. The second print vividly portrays the Battle of Bunker Hill.

      During the early months of 1955 it was decided to renovate and refurbish the Foot Guard Armory. In fact, the entire structure with the exception of the Lounge was redecorated under the direction of Staff Captain Floyd D. Hitt and a volunteer detail of 35 members. The result was so successful that Captain Hitt entertained his "work crew" and their Ladies at an elaborate buffet dinner at his Mount Carmel home on May 22.

      Powder House Day, April 25, 1955 was ushered in by torrential rains, which lasted throughout the day so it was decided to cancel the parade and outdoor exercises. A fair replica of Center Church was set up in the Main Armory and services conducted there. An Armory exit served as the entrance to City Hall from where the keys were demanded from Mayor Lee. The drill floor was then cleared for a review of the troops and although the proceedings required imagination on the part of the participants the affair was a success. At the banquet held in the Grill Room in the evening. Governor Ribicoff was presented with Honorary Membership in the Command.

      Brigadier General Joseph P. Houley (Ret.) was awarded Honorary Membership at the Charleston Medal Drill held on May 16, 1955.

      The night of August 18-19, 1955 was a night of horror and tragedy. One of the worst disasters in the history of the State struck with malevolent force in the form of floods. The ravages of the waters pouring from swollen streams and rivers caused loss of lives, homes and inestimable damage to cities, villages and countryside alike. The entire National Guard was in the stricken areas for many days performing relief and rescue missions and the Second Company was placed on alert status for any needed reinforcement of the harassed troops.

      In the aftermath it was discovered that two members of the Command had lost their homes, furniture, clothes and even part of the land on which their homes stood. It is noteworthy and a testimonial to the esprit of the membership that each member, other than those affected, contributed promptly and generously toward a relief fund which was added to the contributions from the Treasury, the N.C.O. Association and the proceeds from the Harvest Dance.

      Following the New Year's Day reception in 1956 and the annual reception and Ball on February 24, the Command took part in the St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 17. This parade, revived after some four decades, was held in New Haven. This has been conducted annually and has proven one of the largest and most colorful pageants of recent years.

It has been the custom of many years to gather around the piano following drills and assemblies and harmonize on the popular songs of the day and yesteryear. Sometime in June 1956 the Second Company Barbar Shop Chorale was organized. Led by the Adjutant, Captain Fleming and consisting of some 30 voices, this group was in demand at civic affairs for their musical excellence.

      During the period, September 20-22, 1956 the First Company of Hartford celebrated the 185th Anniversary of the granting of their charter by King George III in 1771. Seventeen visiting units of the Centennial Legion took part including the Second Company. Governor Ribicoff, a Connecticut Congressional Delegation, State Officials and Military Dignitaries of all services participated in the observance and at the banquet closing the festivities, representatives of the British and French Embassies conveyed the greetings of their nations.

      On December 10, 1956 the Command assembled at the Goffe Street Armory for the presentation of State and Company "Long Service Medals." Awards of State Medals were made to 32 members covering periods of 10 to 25 years. Twenty-three Company Medals were awarded representing service to the Second Company over periods ranging from 10 to 45 years. Presentation of the 25-Year State Medal to Colonel Joseph A. Weibel and Major Albertus K. Boardman were outstanding features of the ceremony.

      President Dwight D. Eisenhower was inaugurated to his second term on January 21, 1957 and again the Second Company entrained for Washington as escort to Governor Ribicoff and to represent Connecticut, together with the First Company Foot Guard and details from the First and Second Companies of the Horse Guard. A float in the rear of the Connecticut delegation depicted the First War Office of the United States, established in Lebanon in 1775. Following the parade a reception was held for all the Nutmeg participants at the Hotel Statler. Numbered among those present were Governor Ribicoff, former Governor John Lodge, United States Senators Prescott Bush and William Purtell and the Ambassador to Italy, Clare Booth Luce.

      At the ceremonies commemorating the 182nd annual observance of the Charter Grant to the Second Company and the departure of the Command to Cambridge in 1775, held on April 22, 1957 on the New Haven Green, the Command was destined to add another gallant soldier to the ranks of Past Commandants. Major Swanson's retirement from the Active Company became effective as of midnight on that date. During the review on the Green, Governor Ribicoff awarded a 35-Year Medal to Major Swanson, and General Reincke presented a Commission as Brigadier General on the retired list of the Armed Forces of Connecticut, and Mrs. Swanson came forward to pin the Stars of the new rank on broad shoulders. On April 29, 1957 Captain James T. Fleming, who had served as Adjutant for many years was unanimously elected as the 55th Commandant and presented with the Georgette, official badge of Office. Second Lieutenant, Ensign Ephrom J. Davidson to Second Lieutenant and Sergeant J. Dinnean to Ensign.

      Brigadier General Joseph P. Nolan, Property and Procurement Officer of the State Military Department, was honored by a review on the occasion of his retirement from that post on June 17, 1957. All units of the Connecticut National Guard and Organized Militia participated in the ceremonies at the Hartford Armory. The Second Company made the trip to the Capitol City in full strength to pay their respects to General Nolan who had completed 44 years of Military Service dating from his enlistment in 1913.

      On September 30, 1957 Major John B. Carvalho, of the First Company with his entire Command were the guests of the Second Company in New Haven. This was one of a series of visits between the two Commands, inaugurated during Major Swanson's administration, in which the staffs worked out military problems and the troops engaged in joint drills and exercises. Word was received about this time that the Centennial Legion Flag, carried by all member Units was thereafter to be known as "The Washington Battle Flag."

      Captain Robert B. Derbacher had retired as Bandmaster following many years of devoted service. At a Company meeting held on September 9, 1957 Captain Anthony R. Teta was introduced as the new Bandmaster. Major Fleming remarked on the fortunate circumstances which enabled the Company to obtain the services of this experienced and accomplished musician who had recently retired as leader of the 102nd Army Band following service with that organization during World War I and through the years including World War II.

Chapter 20