VFW honors members of first National Guard Company

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 10, 2007

DEMOPOLIS &8212; Following &8220;a date that will live in infamy,&8221; on Dec. 8, 1941 the United States of America declared war on Japan and entered World War II as a combatant nation.

But the U.S.

Army wasn&8217;t caught completely unaware by the inevitable declaration. An increase in tensions, beginning in 1931 with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, then in 1937 with the invasion of China and finally in Europe with the 1939 German invasion of Poland, prompted the army to take measures to ensure its preparation should its services be needed.

One of the pioneer groups to meet those preparation needs was the first National Guard Company of Demopolis, organized on Sept. 8, 1940 and federalized on Nov. 25 that same year and sent to camp Blanding, Fla., on Dec. 13. The group was composed of 54 individuals, who volunteered to defend their company during unstable times should their country be sucked into the worldwide violence.

Warren said the group started out training on the ball field across from what is now Demopolis Middle School, which was Demopolis High School at that point. When the company was moved down to Florida, Warren, whose brother-in-law was part of the unit went down to visit during the summers.

Warren said the company was a quartermaster unit, who took the camp from an encampment to a supply depot and training facility for soldiers. He said the camp supplied 15,000 troops and, once the war started, trained infantry units.

Warren said many in the company returned to the area after the war was over and settled down and had families. Warren said the monument, which was installed by members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5377 and financed by private donors, is a way to recognize those 54 individuals who stood at the forefront of the war effort and to continue their legacy.