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ISSUE NO: 05 / SPRING 2014

close THE LOOP Emergency Response Team Formed

First Security Brigade, 110th Battalion at a Department of Homeland Security training facility in March. With assistance of 117th Company Trainers, the day’s scenario consisted of rendering first aid and removing victims from derailed cars. White SFC Webster SGT Moody participate in March rescue drill. PICTURE: Anthony Q. Richardson.

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From the editor

IN THIS ISSUE From the Commander - p.3 From the Command Sergeant major p. 3 Deputy Commnder’s Time p. 4 From the Desk of the G-1 p. 6

With this edition of Close the Loop, I’m passing the baton to our new MSSG Public Affairs Officer Captain (MS) Denver Mullican. I’m confident that CPT Mullican will continue to publish entertaining, meaningful, and relevant issues of Close the Loop, and, we all, as members of the Mississippi State Guard, will be proud to be associated with such a great publication. As I depart, and head off to my new assignment in the 3rd brigade, I want to thank everyone that helped develop and provide content for each issue of Close the Loop. Without those folks, there would be no newsletter for the MSSG. For those that provide content for Close the Loop, please join me in helping ensure that CPT Mullican continues to get those entertaining, meaningful, and relevant stories that have made our newsletter so successful. I have thoroughly enjoyed my assignment as the MSSG PAO and I hope that I am leaving it better than I found it. I look forward to my new challenges and I will be offering my complete support to CPT Mullican, as he begins his new adventure. -Jeff Kennedy, CPT (MS), MSSG

Start Your Basic MEMS Qualification at AT p. 7 Second Brigade News p. 8



McElreath, Brigadier General (MS), MSSG

Third Brigade News- p.9 COMMAND SERGEANT MAJOR –

New Medical Detachment Formed p. 12

Isaac Moore, Command Sergeant Major (MS), MSSG DEPUTY COMMNDER – Jimmy

In Memoriam Col Weeks p. 15

Shows, Colonel (MS), MSSG CHIEF OF STAFF– Hilliard C.

LTC Hall, 50 years of service p. 16

Lackey, Colonel (MS) MSSG

Crossways - p. 17

G1-Jimmie Lindsey, Colonel (MS) MSSG

State Guard Association p. 19


First Brigade News: SERT Team Formed - p. 20 1904 Destruction of Yazoo City - p.23


Mary-Lou Ayers Nathan Barber John Brown Harold Dawley D. Adrian Doss Jack Gardner Doug Hayhurst Steve Kaminski Jeff Kennedy John Lambert Pat Masters Patrick McCrossen Leisa McElreath Carolyn Parker Anthony Q. Richardson Jerry Singleton Dean Thompson Ricky White

Copyright 2014, State Guard Association of Mississippi, P.O. Box 4395, Jackson, MS 39296. Phone: 601-313-6276 - Contributions for Close the Loop may be emailed to Opinions expressed herein are those of the editor or columnist, and are not necessarily those of the State Guard Association of Mississippi or the Mississippi State Guard. Publication of advertisements does not imply endorsement by the State Guard Association of Mississippi or the Mississippi State Guard of the products, service or offers advertised or profiled. The website for the Mississippi State Guard is www. Applications to join may be found on the website.

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This is an exciting time to be a member of the Mississippi State Guard and I am honored to serve with each of you. Our

ranks continue to grow not just with Mississippians, but also with new members from our neighboring states of Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana. There is clearly an excitement across the command. As we grow each of our brigades and battalions, we expect to activate additional companies and platoons in communities across the State, so recruitment and training of quality personnel an important priority for each of us. Our monthly training remains both challenging and rewarding. Our operational capabilities continue to improve. It is certainly a

From The Command Sergeant Major CSM MOORE

Greetings MSSG Members, We are now at over 300 strong and still growing so congratulations for that. With these awesome numbers we have the power to do some great things for our communities and state. However, as we all know, “with great power comes great responsibility”. Senior NCO’s have the responsibility to train their subordinates and the duty to prepare them for the next rank. We all owe it to ourselves to strive to be the best we can because not only do we represent the MSSG; we represent our families, communities, state, and all those who have served before us. Keep this in mind not only when you wear the uniform but also when you’re not. It is an honor and privilege


great time to be a member of the Mississippi State Guard. We will soon join together for annual training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi and I am sure each of you will enjoy our training package. Annual training provides us that unique opportunity to come together to practice and enhance our skill sets. As we look forward, it is our hope that our State will be free of the events that warrant the activation of either the National Guard and the Mississippi State Guard, but if an event does occur, I have full confidence that the Mississippi State Guard stands ready to accept and perform any assigned mission. Again, I am very honored to serve with you.

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Deputy Commander’s Time BY COL SHOWS DEPUTY COMMANDER The Mississippi State Guard (MSSG) has begun to grow at such a fast pace, our Command Staff is being tasked to look at new training opportunities where we might be able to offer specialization in areas that will benefit the citizens of our state in a substantial way. Our new CERT team is such a unit. These members have to meet army physical standards and must have specific civilian job skills (and will train hard). I want to say to all of these new members a special welcome aboard. This special welcome is also extended all new members. I see professors, teachers, doctors, lawyers, prior service 0fficers and Enlisted joining our ranks every day. I am so proud of all of you. You are willing to give to our state the expertise, education, and training you have worked so hard to attain. Even to the new young people who are coming in, fresh out of high school or some still attending School, your wiliness to serve is a credit to you, and to our state. Thank you all for your service. Our 2014 Annual training (AT) is fast approaching. I have already begun my yearly-weeks-before AT preparation ritual. One of the first things that I do is to sit down, and prepare a list of what I think I will need to take. I consider my working day, my off-duty times and my sleeping times. As I take this I approach my planning activities are worked thru each hour of the day and night. I look at what I might need during these times, and write it down. This gives me a pretty good idea of what I have or might need as each occasion arises. I look at my uniforms now, if I need to purchase additional patches or have items sewn on, now is the time to do this. Playing the ole’ wait until the last minute game will not only stress you out, but may cause you to suffer some embarrassment if caught without needed items or equipment. Remember we are a military organization and when attending AT, our minds and resources should be to learn [and have a little fun doing so] and not worrying or running around fretting over things that should not be or we do not have. With this advance planning on my part, and a written list, usually I have all I need to enjoy the company of so many great men and women, the members of the Mississippi State Guard. I receive calls each week asking me; how do we do this or that procedure, or bring a person into the MSSG, or to promote an individual, as well as other questions. I understand you may see a SOP or sentence in the MSSG Regulations in a different light that I, or other leaders do. Please continue your calls to me if you have doubts, or questions. I want all of our rules and regulations written clearly and orderly so there can be no doubt of the meaning. Saying this, we have the MSSGR 10-4 and 670-1. These regulations state how the Adjutant General of our state wants us to do our business; the SOP’s set these regulations in motion. Hopefully most of our procedures are covered, if not, call me. All members [especially Commanders] should know these regulations, if not, go to our website and read them. I wish every member a safe and fun Annual Training. We will work hard, learn well and be the best the State of Mississippi can offer to our fellow citizens when called to assist in any emergency.


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The Mississippi State Guard approaches each and every event or undertaking with serious conviction and commitment to render it successful and effective. The 2014 Annual Training exercise at Camp Shelby, however, draws even more attention. Pre-registration forecasts record attendance and participation. It would not be a surprise to have over 300 MSSG troops for AT on premise at Camp Shelby April 9-13. Therefore, our commitment to excellence is definitely more intense. There are several dynamics at play ushering in a new era for the State Guard. That era is one where MSSG is being viewed by those who count the most as a viable and useful organization to render service to the state during times of need especially in the wake of a natural disaster or severe weather such as a hurricane. The Recruitment Command is bringing in new recruits at an ever-increasing pace. There is effective and visionary leadership at headquarters and leading the three brigades. There is more. The relocation of State Guard Headquarters from the Joint Forces Headquarters trailer on Riverside Drive to spacious offices at the National Guard Armory on Raymond Road aids and abets not only accommodations but morale as well. The authorization to wear the Army Combat Uniform currently worn by troops in the Army National Guard, the Army Reserve and the United States Army marks the first time in over 30 years that the State Guard uniform has been authorized to be in step with uniforms of the other divisions of the State Military Department. In years past, the State Guard was always one uniform behind contemporary uniforms of fellow troops in other divisions. That is no longer the case. MSSG is now authorized to wear the ACU the same as other divisions. This is a huge step forward and those having negotiated the authorization are commended. This privilege of looking like our fellow troops in other divisions within the state also carries with it an awesome responsibility. State Guard personnel will of course honor the uniform by confirming to standards of wear, conduct and appearance. While on premise, every effort is being made by the G-3 shop and related shops (G-1, G-2, G-4, G-5, G-6 and G-7, etc.) to maximize time, training, and resources to meet the objectives of rendering MSSG mission ready in all aspects. In the event anything goes awry, participants are urged to use the chain of command to rectify or resolve missteps. While en route to, at, and on the way from Camp Shelby, members of the Mississippi State Guard will as usual comport themselves in the highest standards of appearance, conduct and professionalism. That is a proud legacy to perpetuate. Be safe. Be sharp. Be productive.


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From the Desk of the G-1 AT is just a few days away and we have lots of changes in store. This year instead of signing in at Annual Training you will be issued a Bar Coded ID Card and scanned in. You will use this card to scan in each day for the morning report and at all meals. For last minute members who come to AT we will issue you a card there. You will need to keep up with these cards. Anyone who loses or damages their card will have to pay $5.00 for it to be reissued. I want to ask everyone to go to our web site and fill out and print a new medical locator card.

You will need to bring the Locator card to AT and turn in. We have made some important changes to the Locator card and need to update our records for your safety if an emergency were to arise. We have finally gotten the go ahead to pick up the ACU Uniforms. We should have them at AT for purchase. The cost will be $5.00 for the blouse, $5.00 for the Pants, and $10.00 for Boots. We are limiting each member to a maximum of 5 Sets that will be allowed to be purchased. Be sure and bring some extra money if

you are planning on getting some uniforms. For the members who were unable to take the Survey last month and the new members who have just joined our ranks. Be sure and make plans to take this survey if you have not done so. The National Guard requested this and we want to have 100% participation. The link is here and on our website. https://www.surveymonkey. com/s/MSSG-AT Looking forward to seeing everyone at Annual Training.

The Cost of Freedom This cost, of America’s freedom, has been paid with American blood. In almost every country in the world, white-washed tombstones stand as silent testimony of how valued freedom is to every American. Listen carefully to the words spoken, in this special presentation, regarding every period of war, from World War One, called the war to end all wars, to the present conflict. Every Airman, Seaman, Soldier and Marine proves this fact every day; that our freedom is precious, even more so than our own lives. This special tribute, covering the past one-hundred years of our great nation, is given to the men and women of the American military. Those who have answered the call to serve their country in time of war, along with so many others who have spent their own blood, so that you and I might remain a free people. To view a special preview of this moving video, please visit: DVD.html There you will able to print an order form or order directly from our store.


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Would you like to earn the Military Emergency Management Specialist (MEMS) Badge? Major John Brown, Academy State Director for Mississippi, will help you reach this goal. “The MEMS qualification is recognized nationwide. The badge can be worn on your uniform, and it is an indication that you have completed a curriculum of online classroom training and a practicum. As the Academy Director for Mississippi, my goal is to help you earn this qualification,” said Brown. At the upcoming Annual Training you may be able to complete one of the qualifications for the Basic MEMS Badge. “We may have an exercise at Annual Training that will qualify for the practicum portion of the Basic MEMS Qualification. For some, this is one of the more difficult aspects of obtaining the Basic Badge. The practicum has to be completed while you are a member of the State Guard. We have many members who have extensive experience that would qualify for the practicum, unfortunate-

ly this was done before they joined the State Guard, so it does not qualify, “ said Brown.

for promotion to E6 and for all officers. IS100 Introduction to Incident Com-

Brown stressed that the practicum did not have to be only with the State Guard.

mand System IS200 Basic Incident Command System IS775 Emergency Operations Center

“If you are a member of the State Guard and also volunteer for another organization, such as the Red Cross, experience with an organization like this can often qualify,” He said. He will have information on ways you can complete the practicum on the first day of annual training. However, you can start on the academic portion of the qualifications now. “Many of the courses required by the State Guard also can be used to qualify for the Basic MEMS badge,” He said. The MEMS Academy Program is comprised of three qualification levels: Basic, Senior, and Master. The coursework for MEMS Basic parallels that for the Mississippi State Guard requirements with the following courses being required for the Basic MEMS qualification and


IS701 Multi-agency Coordination Centers IS700 National Incident Management System IS800b National Response Framework IS 75 Military Resources

In addition to the practicum, for the Basic Qualification

an after action report or narrative is required. The requirements are outlined on the State Guard Association website www.sgaus. org but Brown encouraged State Guard members to contact him if they have any questions. “I am here to help you earn your MEMS badge. Please feel free to contact me at Annual Training with any questions you may have”, said Brown.

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Second Brigade News The 2nd Brigade has had a very productive start to 2014 reaching our recruiting goals and breaking the century mark in our ranks. This could not have been accomplished without the effort from all our current members spreading the word and the stellar efforts from our 2nd Brigade area recruiter CPT Eddie Parvin. While numbers alone don’t tell the whole story, I am ecstatic in the quality of personnel joining our ranks – from prior military to non-prior – but with extensive civilian experience and education.. People just want to serve our fellow citizens of Mississippi. As we get the word out about the state guard our future is limitless.

We held a brigade drill at Camp McCain in February and received CERT training from one of our own SSG Jason Motz the training NCO with our 210th Battalion in the north part of the state. SSG Motz is a certified trainer for CERT and many other disciplines that bring great possibilities for the MSSG. We were able to certify 45 personnel in this extensive two day training event. Our personnel are better equipped to respond when called upon by the Governor as well as be more valuable citizens in the communities where they live. Members of the second brigade also participated in a major exercise conducted by the Tupelo airport at the beginning of March.

Agencies from every areas including the TSA, Tupelo SWAT, Tupelo Fire and North Mississippi Medical Center were all part of the exercise. The premise of the exercise was a hijacking of a commercial airliner by terrorists. With the help of ground crews in the originating city of Greenville two armed terrorists boarded a flight bound for Atlanta with a stop in Tupelo. Three additional terrorists were to board the plane with an IED in Tupelo. The IED was detected by TSA and all emergency procedures were put into place. Our MSSG personnel played the part of the terrorists and provided great training for all agencies involved as they all learned valuable lessons that will be put in place in the event of a real need. .

Second Brigade Drill, Camp McCain, February 7-9. Members of the 210th Battalion trained in firefighting, first aid and other disaster related skills under the FEMA Community Emergency Response Team Program (CERT). Pictured are Lt. Brinkley, Private Riley, SSG Motes, OCS Masters, Major Finger .Photos: Pat Masters


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Third Brigade News Big Changes in the 3rd Brigade The Mississippi State Guard’s 3rd Security Brigade, headquartered in Hattiesburg Mississippi, is excited to announce a few fundamental changes that have taken place over the past few months. First, the 3rd Brigade commander, Colonel (MS) Chris Clements, reorganized the brigade by consolidating its membership, from two battalions, one located in Hattiesburg, MS and the other located in Gulfport, MS, to one battalion; the 310th MP BN that will be headquartered and will train in Hattiesburg. The 320th MP BN, in Gulfport, was not removed from the TDA, but rather, all the members of the 320th were simply moved to the 310th. In addition to the consolidation of the two battalions, the 310th battalion consolidated its two companies to one; the 315th MP Company. Once the membership of the 315th reaches an adequate threshold, the 317th MP Company will be manned. “This reorganization will help us shift our major focus to the individual soldier. To make sure that they are receiving all of the appropriate training to be a qualified and experienced military police unit,” said 3rd brigade commander COL Clements. Major (MS) Johnny Kisner, the commander of the 310th MP BN, said “The consolidation of the units is a best practice when dealing with under strength units. I believe that this reorganization will help to consolidate training and recruiting efforts and will result in a more motivated pool of volunteers. I can’t help but think that this will lead to a surge in membership and will greatly affect the Third Brigade’s mission capability.”

310th MP Battalion Change of Command A change of command ceremony for the 310th MP battalion, of the 3rd security brigade, Mississippi State Guard was held on 8 March 2014, where Major (MS) Johnny Kisner took command from Lieutenant Colonel (MS) Robby Breland. Outgoing commander, LTC Breland, said that he has never been so proud as to command the 310th and he knows they are being left in good hands. LTC Breland has accepted a position in the G3 shop at MSSG headquarters. Major Kisner said that he is honored to have the opportunity to serve as the commander of the 310th and looks forward to building upon the foundation left by LTC Breland.

About the new 310th BN commander: MAJ Kisner is a Military Police officer who entered military service as a United States Marine in August of 1987. His Marine Corps service included 18 months of sea duty where he served in a humanitarian role during Hurricane Hugo in Charleston, South Carolina. A veteran of Operation Just Cause in Panama, MAJ Kisner was assigned to I CO (Raider), Third Battalion, First Marine Regiment, First Marine Division, at Camp Pendleton California.


Major (MS) Johnny Kisner

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3RD BRIGADE NEWS (CONT.) I Co 3/1 was part of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade and participated in Operation Desert Storm. MAJ Kisner’s platoon, along with other 1st MarDiv elements, air assaulted into Kuwait and faced enemy resistance at Al Wafra. Following Operation Desert Storm, MAJ Kisner enlisted in the United States Army as an infantryman in 1992. After completing Airborne School, MAJ Kisner was assigned to the John F Kennedy Special Warfare Training Center for Special Forces Assessment and Selection. After SFAS he was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division’s Long Range Surveillance Detachment (LRSD) for two years and then served as Training NCO with HHC,101st ABN DIV. MAJ Kisner left active service in 1996 as a Sergeant and became an Army ROTC cadet at the University of Southern Mississippi. He served in the Mississippi Army National Guard’s 20th Special Forces Group and as a Mechanized Infantry Platoon Leader in C CO, 2d Battalion, 155th Infantry while completing the ROTC program. MAJ Kisner is a Distinguished Military Graduate of the USM Class of 1999 and was commissioned as an Infantry officer in the US Army Reserve. After an injury sustained on active duty, MAJ Kisner joined the Mississippi State Guard in May 2005 and branch transferred to the Military Police Corps. Following service as a company executive officer, he led MSSG volunteers during Operation Katrina on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, during and after the impact of Hurricane Katrina. MAJ Kisner commanded the 383d Military Police Company after redeploying from Katrina, served for 18 months as the S-3 for the 402d Military Police Battalion, followed by 18 months of service with the Second Brigade as the Brigade Assistant S-3. MAJ Kisner is a criminal investigator in Vicksburg MS, working for the United States Army Corps of Engineers. His wife, Amanda, is a graduate of the Mississippi College School of Law and home schools their children. The Kisners have a 10 year old daughter and 3 sons, ages 4 and 5 years and a 6 month old. The Kisners live in Byram MS. MILITARY EDUCATION: Marine Corps Basic Training, Marine Infantry School, Marine Corps Security Forces Battalion School, Marine Mountain Warfare Training, Airborne School, Air Assault School, Combat Lifesavers Course, Primary Leadership Development Course, Infantry Officer Basic Course and the Military Police Officer Basic Course (MSG), Military Emergency Management Specialist (Basic), US Army Military Police Investigators Course, Anti-Terrorism Officers Course. DECORATIONS: Airborne Badge, Air Assault Badge, Expert Infantryman’s Badge, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Marine Corps Combat Action Ribbon, Army Good Conduct Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, The Navy Combat Efficiency “E” Ribbon, Marine Corps Expeditionary Forces Medal, National Defense Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Non Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Liberation of Kuwait (Saudi Arabia) Liberation of Kuwait (Kuwait), The Navy Unit Commendation, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, Mississippi Emergency Service Medal, and the Military Emergency


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3RD BRIGADE NEWS (CONT.) Management Specialist Badge. MAJ Kisner is a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment Association and the Association of Certified Fraud of the 310th MP BN, said “The consolidation of the units is a best practice when dealing with under strength units. I believe that this reorganization will help to consolidate training and recruiting efforts and will result in a more motivated pool of volunteers. I can’t help but think that this will lead to a surge in membership and will greatly affect the Third Brigade’s mission capability.”

315th MP Company Unfurls New Guidon The 315th MP Company, of the 310th MP Battalion, 3rd Security Brigade, Mississippi State Guard unfurled a new guidon in a flagging ceremony held on 8 March 2014. Company Commander, Captain (MS) Jeff Kennedy said, “Having our own guidon will provide a source of inspiration and pride for the company, and will give us just one more reason to train and work even harder, so we can display this guidon with pride , wherever we go.”

Captain (MS) Jeff Kennedy receives a new guidon for the 315th MP Company from new 310th commander Major (MS) Johnny Kisner

315th MP Company Conducts Convoy and I.E.D. recognition training at Camp Shelby Members of the 315th MP Company, 310th battalion, 3rd brigade, Mississippi State Guard had the opportunity to conduct convoy and Improvised Explosive Device (I.E.D.) recognition training at Camp Shelby. These simulators are a network of sophisticated vehicle and weapons simulators that provide a 360 degree view of the surroundings and offer a very realistic experience of driving through an enemy controlled area. These simulators are used to train US troops preparing to deploy to the battle fields in Afghanistan. Captain (MS) Jeff Kennedy, the 315th’s commanding officer said “The 315th is very grateful for the opportunity to experience this type of training. Although it is very unlikely that we’ll ever experience an enemy threat of roadside I.E.D.s, this training does give us an introduction to driving military vehicles in a military convoy, which we could be call upon to do, during a state emergency.” Camp Shelby offers many other opportunities for the 3rd brigade to experience, and to participate in different types of training. Many of which are the same training that members of the active duty military conducts, prior to overseas deployment.


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New Medical Detachment Formed

The Mississippi State Guard announced in March that it has established a new unit in Southern Mississippi. Third Brigade Medical Detachment will begin regular training at the Wooddale Center of Pearl River Community College this summer and is looking for volunteers, Mississippi State Guard spokesman Patrick McCrossen, the detachment commander, said. The Mississippi State Guard is the state’s volunteer military agency. The 3rd Brigade, led by Colonel Chris Clements (MS), will be the home of the Medical Detachment. “This is about Mississippians helping Mississippians,” McCrossen said. “We accept members from 17 to 67 years old. This will be a great experience for those who join. We have training opportunities, especially for those who might want to go into emergency management.” Members undergo a criminal background check. The mission of the Third Brigade Medical Detachment is to provide mission-ready military medical forces assisting the 3rd Brigade, state and local authorities in times of emergencies, disasters and for special events. The Third Brigade Medical Detachment will train for mass care sheltering, emergency communications, special needs evacuation tracking, emergency supply distribution, and field medical care for Mississippi State Guard members. The Third Brigade is recruiting for members in the counties of of Lamar, Forrest, Perry, Greene, Pearl River, Stone, George, Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson. The Mississippi State Guard can be contacted at


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Benefits of the Mississippi State Guard ďď  General military training: o Military training uses a variety of methods to enhance the learning experience and provide the right training at the right time to service members. Often, a blended-learning approach is used to provide students with the benefit of more than one mode of instruction, including online, classroom, and on-the-job field training. ďď Advanced training in military police MOS (military occupational specialty): o You will be trained to provide a wide range of diverse support and challenged to adapt to any mission or environment. This training is designed to transform a civilian into a Soldier and to provide the necessary expertise needed to be a Military Police Soldier. ďď Incident Command System courses that are provided by FEMA: o All State Guard personnel are required to complete several Incident Command System courses that are provided by FEMA. These courses are all online and will prepare you as Guardsman to be able to work with MEMA and FEMA during a major emergency situation. ďď Self defense and martial arts training: o Various martial arts for self defense are taught that will help you protect yourself in life-threatening situations. You will learn the basics, up to the more advanced types of striking and grappling that will enable you to incapacitate or disarm your enemy. ďď Free or low cost emergency medical, law enforcement, firefighting, and Hazardous Material technician training, offered through state and private agencies: o Members of the MSSG have the opportunity to train with other agencies in the fields of emergency medical, law enforcement, and firefighting and often this training earns official state certifications that can be used to help start or enhance careers in those fields. ďď Substantial tuition discounts at Belhaven University: o Members of the MSSG are eligible for significant tuition discounts at Belhaven. ďď Pride in serving something bigger than ourselves: o There is great pride and satisfaction in patriotic, honorable, and noble service. ďď Commissioned and non-commissioned officers receive advanced training in leadership: o Military leadership is based on a concept of duty, service, and self-sacrifice. Our obligation to subordinates is viewed as a moral responsibility, and defining leadership as placing subordinates needs before those of the leader. ďď Military camaraderie: o The friendships and personal relationships that you gain, through military service can be some of the most valuable benefits that you get from being a part of a military unit. You really do make friends for life. ďď Military discounts: o Can save you hundreds of dollars a year, in military discounts. ďď Great enhancement on your resume: o State Guard training can be a true benefit for you personally and can be a great enhancement on your resume when looking for a new job. Most employers value military service and the training that military members receive. Being a Mississippi State Guardsman may the thing that gives you that competitive advantage over someone else when competing for a job.


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The first known widespread volunteer emergency responder program was implemented and developed by the Los Angeles Fire Department in 1985. CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) was created in 1993 by the Citizen Corp and funded in part by the Stafford Act. The Federal CERT program is administered by a local sponsoring agency, which receives Stafford Grant Funding, and provides standardized training and an implementation framework to the community’s volunteer members. The goal is to create an organization of volunteer emergency responders who have received specific training in basic disaster response skills, and who agree to supplement existing emergency responders in the event of a major disaster. This mission of volunteers helping their community in emergencies is where the MSSG comes in. We first started using and certifying Ham Radio Operators back in 1995 for emergency communications.

During Katrina our MSSG Ham Operators worked with the National Guard and other agencies. The communications truck was used to call in Medevac Missions and to help the citizens make outside calls to loved ones. The vision our command staff has was to expand our missions for the Mississippi National Guard (MSNG). We have assigned a MSNG Task number for the mission, completed an SOP and implemented training schedules. We were also looking at getting to know our Local EOC’s in each of our Brigade Areas. To see what areas we could train with them and receive training and certifications. We wanted to be able to interact with our Local Emergency Agencies in case of an Emergency. Since we started this program, it has become an exciting tool for recruiting. Col Hayhurst, CSM Peush and SSGT White have been instrumental in getting qualified personnel for the CERT Teams. It is going to be valuable asset for not only the MSSG but also for the MSNG and the State of Mississippi.

Laurel Gun Show has Sixteen Sign Up The Mississippi State Guard was represented at the Laurel Gun Show on March 22cd and 22nd. A special thanks to Big Pops Gun Show, David Chancellor for donating use of a table. The table was manned by personnel of the 3rd Brigade, 315 MP. Members who were present were CPT Carolyn Parker, Chaplain Lambert, LTC Combs, SFC Hentges, OC Bedwell, OC Blanchard, and PV Savage and CPL Keith. These members obtained three completed enlistment packages and had 16 sign up to be contacted for more information. Brochures and other literature were handed out to many individuals who previously were not aware of the State Guard. It was a highly successful mission and the results of this endeavor are made obvious by the new enlistee applications.


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“I personally had many veterans shake my hand and thank me for my service. I was immediately humbled and promptly thanked them as they are the ones who bled and lost their friends for our freedom,” said CPL Keith. God Bless the USA and God Bless The MS State Guard! Chaplain John Lambert, also reflected on his experiences, “ I had the privilege to meet many veterans of the wars in Korea and Vietnam, as well as folks who served in Desert Storm and Iraq and Afghanistan. The common thread that I saw among them was surprise that we existed, and in many, a glowing ember of them wanting to serve again.” CPT Parker, of HQ Recruiting/Retention Command, also thanked the volunteers for this event, “Many thanks also to Chaplain Lambert, LTC Combs, SFC Hentges, OC Bedwell, OC Blanchard, and PV Savage for a great effort! Several of you had to drive many miles to help.”

in memoriam Taps: Colonel Pervie LaDale “”Dale”” Weeks 1937 - 2014 Colonel Pervie LaDale Dale Weeks, who served in the 2nd Brigade, died March 4, 2014, at North Mississippi Medical Center in Eupora. He was born May 31, 1937, in Slate Springs to Leroy Weeks and Ouida Latham Weeks. He was a retired chief investigator for the State of Mississippi. He was a member of Bethany Baptist Church and a veteran of the Vietnam War. He was the current mayor of Slate Springs and a current colonel in the Mississippi State Guard. Active in his community, he was a member of the American Legion and the Masonic Lodge in Slate Springs. He was past president of the Calhoun County Shriner Club and past president of the Calhoun County Woodmen of the World. Colonel Weeks will be greatly missed. 15

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LTC Charles Hall: Fifty Years of Uniformed Service BY CAROLYN PARKER CPT (MS) MS STATE GUARD

Recruiting and enlisting new members is the lifeblood of the Mississippi State Guard. Equally as important is retaining those members who most probably have been involved in many hours and years of military training. In December 2013, LTC Charles Hall celebrated 50 years of uniformed service . . . most of it in the military and many years in the Kentucky State Militia and the Mississippi State Guard.

Dressed in his Army Blue Dress Mess uniform, a special moment for LTC Hall was when his daughter, CPL Ariel Hall, transitioned from the MS State Guard into the MS Army National Guard, and he participated in her swearing in.

As a youth, he was a member of the Boy Scouts, Kadets of America, Sea Scouts, and Junior ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) in High School. LTC Hall began regular military service in 1964 when he joined the US Army and after three years joined the US Army Reserve. He also served in AGR (Active Guard and Reserve) and IMA positions in the US Army. He served in IRR/RR (Individual Ready Reserve/Ready Reserve) of the US Army Reserve. He joined the Kentucky State Militia in 1996 and joined the MS State Guard in 2004. Other uniformed service includes the American Red Cross, Civil Air Patrol, Senior ROTC, and Chaplain for the Wounded Warrior Project at Fort Buchanan in Puerto Rico. 1


LTC Hall is an ordained minister currently serving as Associate Youth Pastor with the Disciples of Christ Christian Church in Hattiesburg MS. He has also served as Missionary/Chaplain for the United Protestant Church in Manila-Cebu-Mindanao, Republic Philippine. He is a licensed professional counselor.


On the humorous side, LTC Hall stated an advantage of always wearing a uniform is weight control . . . you know if your uniform gets snug, it is time to watch your weight! LTC Hall is currently serving in the G-4/Logistics position at HQS and has been busy making final arrangements for a successful Annual Training at Camp Shelby in April 2014. .



1-3: LTC Hall over his fifty years of service 4. LTC Hall and LTC Mark Eckman 5. LTC Hall, his daughter, CPL Ariel Hall, who has now joined the Army National Guard, and LTC Robbie Breland


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Chaplain (COL) (MS) Nathan L. Barber

The Mississippi State Guard was privileged to host a Chaplain School, which was sponsored by the State Guard Association of the United States at the Combat Readiness Training Center in Gulfport, MS. Chaplain (COL) Fred Glazier, Chief of Chaplains for SGAUS, did an exceptional job as the overall Leader and Planner for the Chaplain School.

As the Command Chaplain for the MSSG, I had the oppor-

tunity to work closely with Chaplain Glazier. It was my responsibility to take care of getting the logistics set up for the Chaplain School. The Combat Readiness Training Center proved to be a great place for a meeting such as the Chaplain School. The hospitality extended to us by Commander Ladner and his entire Team was nothing short of the Red Carpet Treatment! Everyone in attendance reported that it was the best welcome and accommodations they had experienced. Below you will see a number of pictures with captions taken during the Chaplain School. It was a busy time of classes and developing relationships with the attendees from seven states.

Military Funeral Rehearsal at the Chaplain School.

Participants at Chaplain School in Mississippi gather for Certificate Ceremony under the famous Friendship Oak that dates to before the discovery of America in 1492.


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Mississippi State Guard has Catholic Chaplain Eight members of the MSSG attended the ordination of Chaplain Candidate John Lambert on March 15 at Danforth Chapel on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi. Father Lambert is believed to be the first Catholic Priest to serve as Chaplain in the MSSG. Fr. Lambert’s order was founded in The Netherlands in the 1800’s. “I look forward to serving the men and women of the Mississippi State Guard,” said Chaplain Candidate Lambert, who added, “I pray that God guides my words and my actions, and that my service will be meaningful. I will be there for the men and women of the MSSG regardless of denomination.” Father Lambert is an Associate Professor of International Business at

the University of Southern Mississippi. He is a member of 310th Military Police Battalion in the Third Security Brigade. Members of his Brigade that were in attendance were Corporal (MS) Robert Riley, Corporal (MS) Henry Russel, SGT (MS) Cindy Lambert, SSGT (MS) Richard Moore, SSGT (MS) Ronald Hentges, CSM Kenneth Williams, MAJ (MS) Johnny Kisner and Chaplain (COL) (MS) Nathan Barber. “Third Brigade is excited to have John T Lambert aboard as a newly ordained chaplain. Chaplain (Lieutenant) Lambert is currently the only Catholic Chaplain serving in the MSSG. I feel that the diversity that Chaplain Lambert brings to the table will be essential

during times of crisis on the Mississippi Gulf Coast where a much larger percentage of our population is Catholic. Chaplain Lambert brings to the table a lifetime of leadership and business experience along with his sense of patriotism and service to the State. I believe that the volunteers of our brigade and battalion are extremely lucky to have such a well rounded and dedicated minister to help us through the tough times that come with our mission in support of the State,” said Major Kisner, of the 310th MP Battalion.

Captain Jack Gardner wins National Service Award Jack Gardner, Captain in the MSSG and Chief of Staff for the G-6 shop, is one of a select few of AT&T employees to be honored this year not only by Bill Smith, President of AT&T but also by President Barack Obama. Gardner is one of the finalists of the President’s Volunteer Service award for his volunteer work in our community. He and his fellow award winners were listed in the March 26 edition of USA Today. Gardner who in addition to his work with AT&T, his position as a Professor with the University of Phoenix and his volunteer service with the State Guard – is also an ordained


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minister. Though he has been active in community service for most of his life, he was surprised to be a recipient. “To receive this award you have to be nominated by your organization, I wasn’t aware I had been nominated – so I was very surprised when I received a letter from Bill Smith, President of AT&T announcing I was a finalist for this year,” Gardner said. Gardner will be receiving another letter very soon from President Obama thanking him for his service. “I enjoy helping my community,” said Gardner, “It is nice to receive an award, but the real benefit I get is the knowledge that my volunteer work makes our community a better place.”

Corporate Sponsors who have invested in their Communities by donating to the State Guard Association of Mississippi American Legion Post # 1776 P. O. Box 1101 Cleveland, MS 38732 601-582-4616 Entergy Mississippi, Inc P. O. Box 164 Jackson, Ms 39215 601-969-2401 Equinox Services, LLC P. O. Box 31213 Jackson, MS 39286 601-982-5588

Marriott Downtown 1200 Hampton St Columbia, SC 29201 803-771-7000 Penske Truck Rental Columbia, SC 29201 1-800-526-0798 Sam’s Club of Pearl #4790 90 Bass Pro Dr. Pearl, MS 39208 601-939-6442

Walmart Supercenter # 2939 200 Marketplace Dr. Richland, MS 39218 601-939-0538 Walmart Supercenter # 365 5520 US Highway 80 East Pearl, MS 39208 601-939-0218 Walmart # 2755 5341 MS Highway 25 Flowood, MS 39232 601-919-0210

State Guard Association

Major General (MS) Bill Lee Annual Training for the MSSG will soon be here. Camp McCain has been a superb venue for Annual Training for the past several years and Camp Shelby will serve equally well with a change of scenery. I am overwhelmed with the progress that has occurred within the Mississippi State Guard in the time that Brigadier General McElreath has been in command. General Mac has invited me to A.T. to spread the word in regards to the State Guard Association of Mississippi. We have a great deal of work to accomplish in order to set the association in the direction that will achieve its best purpose. Our goal is to arrive at and maintain a 100% enrollment for present and past members of the MSSG. There is a link on the MSSG website for the State Guard Association, http://, where you may download a copy of the application. I look forward to working with all of you to establish the finest state association in the U.S.A.


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First Brigade News: State Emergency Response Team Formed

A new team has been formed in First Brigade – the State Emergency Response Team (SERT). This team is a first for the MSSG and is designed to assist in both natural and manmade disasters. “What differentiates the SERT team from other units is the level of experience and backgrounds of the members. The team is comprised of volunteers from medicine, law enforcement, firefighting, hazardous material mitigation, and others who operate as a synergistic team,” said Lieutenant Colonel Steve Kaminski. Planning for this team started over a year ago in conversations concerning CERT among Colonels Doug Hayhurst, Gerald Singleton and Dean Thompson. SERT was an outgrowth of this initial conversation with Sergeants Michael Peusch, James Meyers and Ricky

White developing the team concept, conducting the research and recruiting team members. “We knew that we were prepared for hurricanes, but there were other events in Mississippi where there was a need for a coordinated response by volunteers. Sergeant Peusch and I researched FEMA’s CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) programs and developed the SERT Team concept based on this. We then presented it as a potential new program and soon gained support from many areas. We were especially grateful of the support and encouragement of General McElreath and Colonel Shows”, said Ricky White, First Sergeant on the SERT Team. “Command Sergeant Major Peusch, and Sergeants Meyers and White worked tirelessly 24/7 to put togeth-


er this SERT team concept. They did the research, they worked hard to implement it and they are dedicated to making this team a success”, said Kaminski. In Mississippi’s 340-mile length disasters can range from hurricanes on the coast, tornados through the mid section to the edge of an earthquake zone in the north. Running through all of this are roads, waterways and rail lines. In March, the SERT Team addressed potential rail disasters at a two-day training at a Department of Homeland Security facility. On arrival at the facility, the team was a presented disaster scenario with a real overturned passenger car and a passenger vehicle stuck by train engine. Kaminski explained what happened next, “We combined members of the 117th and 115th companies of the 110th Battalion


This was a team effort with members bench pressing underneath while

S.E.R.T (CONT.) under the direction of Command Sergeant Major Peusch, Sgt. White and Sgt. Myers.

SERT team members Sergeant Ricky White, Command Sergeant Major Michael Peusch, Sergeant James Meyer, Lieutenant Colonel Steve Kaminski

others guided the board out,” said White.

Team members were briefed before arrival on scene and the situation was assessed by team leaders. After careful review they determined the Response Teams initial course of action. In this scenario the HAZMAT leader determined which members would approach first to survey the scene. Simultaneously, the law enforcement team was put into place to secure the perimeter.

The end result of this exercise is featured on this issues cover of Close the Loop. To become a member of the SERT Team requires physical standards that are higher than many units in the MSSG. Captain Mary Lou Ayers, Company Commander, reviewed what she was looking for in new recruits, “We are using the National Guard standards concerning physical fitness; however, new recruits have six months to meet those standards. However, we are also looking at many other qualities in determining who will be on the team – such as commitment to our community, leadership and skills you bring to the team, or skills you are willing to learn to help the team.”

Team members then analyzed if it was safe for the medical team to begin treatment of the injured, and for the fire fighting team to begin search and rescue.” Since this was a training exercise, the team was also given unexpected challenges. Soon after the team was cleared to enter the train car, Sergeants White and Peusch gave them a new scenario.

Leadership skills, both those that team members have when they volunteer for the program and those they develop on the team, are an important component of the SERT Team. The team also completed a two-day leadership training course at Camp Shelby last month.

“We told them a first responder was down inside the train. We picked a location where it was a 45-degree angle in a cramped area. They had to determine how to get the long board in this area, how to safely remove the first responder and how to protect the team while doing so.


ISSUE N O: 05 / SPRING 2014 S.E.R.T (CONT.) “At Shelby we conducted training to develop leadership and team building skills. The way the team works, you sometimes need to have leadership in small groups and also on the team, “said Sergeant White, who along with Command Sergeant Major Michael Peusch designed the training exercises for the event. Captain Ayers echoed the importance of this training in building teambuilding, but also in helping volunteers not only develop skills for the team, but also for their professions. “Training and leadership exercises like these provide a lot more than ‘guess what I did over the weekend’ stories at work on Monday. They challenge you to look at things in a different way, and also help you expand your skills. These Bryan Gann, Corey Carr and Michael Wilson were sworn in during leadership training at Camp Shelby. are not just skills you can use in the Mississippi State Guard, but skills that can help you in your professional and personal life.” While the SERT Team is filling up, there are still slots available. For those that are interested in cross training, there will be opportunities to do this as the team progresses. “We have many members who are trainers, are who have multiple certifications. One team member has over 300 certifications – that is the kind of volunteer we have applying for this team. We have academy instructors, Fire Chiefs, deputies from multiple counties nurses and paramedics – all willing to share their training opportunities,” said White. Given the skills of the team, and their ability to respond to multiple events, the SERT team can provide support throughout the State on short notice. Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Kaminski commented on the team’s progress over the past two months, “The men and women of the 117th are forming a highly dedicated and capable team second to none. They are experts who are able to detect, identify and advise SFC White SFC Matthew Green SGT Ike Robinson PV2 Forrest practice patient transfer. how to proceed during catastrophic events. They provide training, demonstrations, and conduct missions to maintain both military and unit-specific skills. It is hopeful that all Brigades of the MSSG will have trained SERT teams in the near future. The 117th has learned to ‘expect the unexpected’, and when needed they will respond.” For those interested in joining the SERT Team please go to the website at


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Introduction Throughout history, cities both large and small have been destroyed by fire. In Europe, Rome burned in 64 AD. London burned in 1212 and 1666. In the United States, cities and town have also fallen victim to fires. New York burned in 1777, 1835 and 1845; Charleston in 1838; Pittsburgh in 1845; St. Louis in 1849; Chicago in 1871; Peshtigo, Wisconsin in 1871; Boston in 1872; Seattle in 1889; Jacksonville, Florida in 1901; and San Francisco in 1905. During the War of 1812, Washington was burned by the British. During the American Civil War, the cities of Atlanta and Richmond burned in 1864 and 1865, respectively.

Incendiary Destructiveness in Mississippi Mississippi towns have not been immune to the devastation of fires. During the American Civil War much of Oxford, Mississippi was burned by federal forces. Fires, arising infrequently from both man-made and natural origins, remain a significant danger to Mississippians during modern times. For instance, during January, 2014, the town of New Albany was rocked by multiple explosions at a bio-diesel plant1. Afterwards, fires burned uncontrollably because they were initially too hot for firefighters to approach the incident location2. A decision was made to let the “fire burn itself out.”3 Both the historical Yazoo City incident and the modern New Albany incident show the dangerousness of fire and the susceptibility of society to flammable events. Although much changed societally during the century between these events, one common observation pervades both periods: fire may occur anywhere, anytime. On May 25, 1904, Yazoo City, Mississippi, the Gateway to the Mississippi Delta, was devastated by fire that swept through the town and destroyed the entire business district of 124 buildings, and as many as 200 homes. Surprisingly, in this destruction, none of the city’s residents, estimated to have been from 4,000 to 7,000, were reported killed, although at least one death was reported as the result of injuries inflicted as a building collapsed.4

1 KLTV News. 2014. “Fire Out at New Albany Bio-Diesel Plant,” story/24537661/fire-out-at-bio-diesel-plant-in-new-albany (accessed February 25, 2014). 2 Mohr, Holbrook. 2014. “No One Injured in Early Morning Plant Explosion Near New Albany, Miss.” The Commercial Appeal, jan/22/no-one-injured-in-early-morning-plant-explosion/?CID=happeningnow (accessed February 25, 2014). 3 Davis, Chris. 2014. “Explosions in Your Neighborhood: Evacuations Near New Albany After Plant Fire,” News MS, (accessed February 25, 2014). 4 Horton, Linda. Yazoo City, MS Fire, May 1904. The Lexington Herald, Lexington, KY 26 May 1904. Retrieved on January 5, 2014 from


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Yazoo City, the Gateway to the Mississippi Delta

Downtown Yazoo City at the turn of the Century1 Yazoo City has a rich history. Founded in 1824 with the name Hannan’s Bluff, its strategic location on the river made it a very important location for trading and commerce during the 1800s. Within a few years, the community was renamed Manchester, then changed to Yazoo City in 1841.

The Fire, May 25, 1904 May 25, 1904 began as so many quiet days in a small Mississippi town. The weather conditions were clear, and even the unusually high winds of the day kept the day pleasant. No one could imagine that Yazoo City would be changed forever during the next 24 hours. The original source of the fire has been debated over the last century. One report suggests a young boy playing with matches under his home only a block from the heart of the business district was responsible for the fire2. Some suggest the disaster originated. when a fire began as an electrical fire in a house located on the corner of Mound and Commercial Streets and that this fire quickly engulfed the home and spread to nearby structures. What we do know is that the fire did start in the Wise house located on the corner of Mound and Commercial Streets” and the “young boy playing with matches” is believed to have been Willie Wise. .

1 The History of Yazoo City. (2009) Retrieved on January 5, 2014 from


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YAZOO CITY (CONT.) During the time it took for the local volunteer fire department to respond to the fire alarm, the flames spread by the winds began their devastating journey through the city. One of the eye witnesses, Emma Lee Stubblefield, said she raced from her house and saw “flames leaping through the air three blocks at a time. People were running through the streets screaming like they were wild.”1 What is known is the fire started about 8:30 in the morning and burned until 5 o’clock in the afternoon, destroying about two hundred houses and a major part of the city’s business district. In the business district alone, the fire swept through an area three blocks wide and twelve blocks long inflicting damage estimated at the time to be in excess of $2,000,000


The Remains of the Wise Home, the Origin of the 1904 Yazoo City Fire Photo Courtesy of Ricks Memorial Library, Yazoo City, Mississippi2

The First Responders Like so many towns of that time, the Yazoo City Fire Department relied on manpower consisting of volunteers. Today, even the actual size of the Yazoo City Fire Department at the time is debatable. The 1903 – 1904 National Fire Protection and Water Supply report stated that the Yazoo City Fire Department consisted of one paid member and 119 volunteers3, but reports after the disaster indicate 20 volunteer firemen initially responded to the alarm. As the volunteers raced to get their equipment, the fire was quickly spreading. There is very little question that the responding firefighters did everything in their power to combat the fire. Soon, the sheer number of burning buildings made the efforts of the firefighters almost futile. Using the technology of the day, they quickly discovered that in spite of their heroic efforts the fire would soon engulf major parts of the city.

1 Hambrick, Judd. Yazoo City Mississippi Witch Predicted the Fire That Destroyed the Town. (September 6, 2011). Retrieved on January 5, 2014 from 2 Photo Courtesy of the Ricks Memorial Library, Yazoo City, Mississippi 3


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YAZOO CITY (CONT.) One of the major factors dooming the effectiveness of their efforts was the failure of the city’s waterworks system to provide adequate water pressure to quench a fire at even one house, much less the entire town. At the time of the fire, the city was replacing the old city water system, which had wooden mains, with a modern water system. Eyewitness accounts reported that when pressed into service, the city water system failed. Pipes burst throughout the city destroying any hope of achieving the water pressure needed to effectively abate the flames. The Jackson (Mississippi) Fire Department loaded some of its equipment and firefighters on a special train that rushed to Yazoo City. When the reinforcements from Jackson arrived they found the fire had raged out of control1. Though frustrated, those fighting the fires did not accept defeat. It soon became a question of how much of the city would the fire destroy before some type of fire break could be established to stop the flames. 2 The fire destroyed the entire business district and more than 200 residences on adjacent streets. All but one church was lost, the Bethel A.M.E. Church on South Monroe Street. The courthouse built in 1872, the new library and the unfinished school beside it were spared.

St. Mary Catholic Church on Main Street3 Photo Courtesy of Ricks Memorial Library, Yazoo City, Mississippi According to eye witnesses “the roar of the ever-increasing flames, the confusion of terrorized thousands, the hoarse shouts of the firefighters, and the sound of crashing walls made a scene of awesome horror that remained a fixed picture in the memory of eyewitnesses as long as their lives lasted. Many homes were destroyed, and every bank, every physician’s, lawyer’s and dentist’s office, every hotel and boardinghouse, every meat market and bakery, the newspaper and printing office, all but one church, clubroom, and lodge room, every telephone, telegraph and express office, the depot, the post office, every furniture store, every hardware store, all but one livery stable, all but one drugstore, every barbershop, every tailor shop, every undertaking establishment, and, in fact, nearly every business necessity.”4

1 Fire Protection and Water Suppy, 1903 – 1904. The Spectator Company. (New York). 1904. P. 227. 2 History of Yazoo City. Retrieved on March 3, 2014 from http://cityofyazoocity. org/?page_id=2 3 Photo Courtesy of the Ricks Memorial Library, Yazoo City, Mississippi 4 The Witch of Yazoo City. THA-ASYLUM. Retrieved on January 5, 2014 from http://


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YAZOO CITY (CONT.) As the flames engulfed building after building and street after street, business men and homeowners desperately tried to save what they could. The banks succeeded in saving their money and securities. Government funds in the post-office were also saved. Some business struggled to move as much inventory as possible. Homeowners saved what they could. The race was on to save what could be saved before the flames took their toll. The fire continued on its destructive course for over eight hours. About 5 pm the fire had been halted, but the price to the city was great. Yazoo City was decimated despite valiant efforts to stop the inferno.

Yazoo City After the Fire: A Beautiful City in Ruins1 Photo Courtesy of Ricks Memorial Library, Yazoo City, Mississippi Although the fire disrupted communications outside the city, reports of the inferno were reaching neighboring towns, many of which were making their best efforts to send assistance. Six hours after the fire began, W.T. Bradley, the manager of the Cumberland Telephone and Telegraph Company, re-established long distance telephone service on a street corner. He was also pleading for help and would serve as a valuable link to the outside world reporting the scope of the disaster. Throughout the night, help arrived by train, horseback, and wagon. Recovery began almost immediately. As soon as the area had cooled enough for them to draw close, people sifted through the ashes of their property, and were making plans to rebuild. Early Monday morning, workers began clearing the debris, opening the streets, and assessing the damages.

Yazoo City After the Fire: A Beautiful City in Ruins2 Photo Courtesy of Ricks Memorial Library, Yazoo City, Mississippi

1 2

Photo Courtesy of the Ricks Memorial Library, Yazoo City, Mississippi Photo Courtesy of the Ricks Memorial Library, Yazoo City, Mississippi


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YAZOO CITY (CONT.) It was estimated that over 2000 people were engaged in removing debris and taking the first steps to returning Yazoo City to a somewhat normal life. Recovery would take time, money, and an emotional commitment to bring the city back from the disaster.

Activation of the State Militia to Provide Security Mississippi Governor James Vardaman quickly departed Jackson for Yazoo City by train to personally view the extent of damage and determine appropriate assistance to be provided by the state. The next day, the Adjutant-General Eldridge arrived. Recognizing the extent of the destruction, Governor Vardaman, understanding the value of the military from his service during the Spanish-American War, ordered the activation of the forty-three man Company G, First Mississippi Infantry Regiment headquartered in Greenwood, directing them to travel to Yazoo City, provide security, and assist with the initial recovery efforts. Though there is no report of their activation, Yazoo City was the headquarters of Company D, Third Mississippi Infantry Regiment.1

Mississippi Governor James K. Vardaman Source: The military forces of Mississippi soon arrived in Yazoo City where they significantly contributed to the initial recovery operations, assisted with search and rescue, and provided security as directed. Shock and confusion faded to a serendipitous realization regarding the survivors. Although the disaster had taken a major toll on property, the number of those injured or killed was fortunately small. It was up to each individual to now decide what steps to take next; either one could leave Yazoo City or become part of is recovery and rebirth.

Steps to Recovery The citizens of Yazoo City proved to be extremely resilient. The buildings that escaped the disaster became centers of activity. Almost immediately, businesses impacted by the disaster took steps to resume operations. The post office, a drugstore, and two barbershops opened in the county courthouse. A restaurant, a soda fountain, and a news-stand operated in the courtyard of the courthouse. The newspaper found temporary quarters on the second floor of a surviving building and resumed publishing in the cramped quarters.

1 Horton, Linda. Yazoo City, MS Fire, May 1904. GenDisasters. (11/24/2012). Retrieved on 3/4/2014 from


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Yazoo County Court House, Constructed in 1871 – 1872 That served as a center for the City’s recovery Source: Mississippi Department of Archives and History1 Other businesses opened in any location they could find that was suitable. Some opened under tents, in warehouses, or even in an old railroad boxcar. Attorneys even combined their efforts in reestablishing a law library, replacing the one destroyed in the fire by providing law books from their professional libraries. By early June, it was clear that the citizens of the city were taking bold steps towards recovery. The postmaster received surpluses from secondhand postal equipment whereby mail service was established. Property values in the downtown areas impacted by the fire suddenly increased as both speculators and businessmen moved to take advantage of what they saw as an opportunity to profit in the future of the city that was emerging from the rubble. Construction projects commenced as quickly as laborers and supplies could be obtained. Much of the initial rebuilding was in the commercial areas. By the middle of July, construction activity extended to the residential properties, with houses and small cottages being constructed rapidly. Before the end of the year, approximately 50 new homes would be constructed, making the rapid residential recovery of Yazoo City a remarkable achievement.2 Even with the increased residential construction, the commercial redevelopment had not lost momentum. Main Street was undergoing a major resurgence. By the end of July, it was estimated that as many as 1,000 men were employed working on the commercial buildings and homes damaged or destroyed in just a six block area. By the end of August, the rebuilding of Yazoo City was well underway. With the help and cooperation of the Keystone Lumber Yard and the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley

1 Yazoo County Courthouse. Image recovered 2/28/2014 from http://www.apps.mdah. 2 Cartwright, Paul C. Rising from the Ashes “Sparks from the Fire” Yazoo City may 25, 1904. Edited and compiled from the Yazoo Sentinel, Yazoo Library Association, 2004.


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YAZOO CITY (CONT.) railroads, Yazoo City supplies and materiel flowed in the city. A new city was emerging from the ashes of devastation. Newspapers reported an interesting side note regarding the recovery. Recognizing the possibility of benefiting from the disaster, some carpenters and bricklayers threatened to strike or shift their efforts to other projects that would pay more if their demands for more money were ignored. Each employer responded to these threats individually, but what is known is that the rebuilding of the city continued unabated. As money flowed into the city, prices increased for needed labor and materials. Also, consumer prices increased because of the competition for limited resources as well as businessmen trying to make a profit.

Scope of the Disaster The scope of the disaster was breathtaking. Only one livery stable, one drug store, and one church, the Bethel A.M.E. Church on South Monroe Street were left standing in the entire downtown area. At least 3,000 people, almost half of the town’s population, were directly affected by the disaster as owners, tenants, or employees of the businesses destroyed by the tragedy. A man named Chambliss was killed by falling walls, and Mayor Holmes was badly hurt. 1 By December 1904, a little more than six months after the disaster, Yazoo City had transformed itself. More than 80 businesses were operational, many in newly constructed or significantly renovated facilities. Streets in the commercial district were widened. New public buildings, including a new school, had opened their doors or were well on the way to completion. The new business district was wired for electricity and an electric streetcar line was approved for bid by city officials. It appeared Yazoo City would soon become a model city with all the technological marvels of the new century. Yazoo City made a bold statement by the robustness of its recovery, and it rose from the ashes of destruction like a Phoenix.

The Witch of Yazoo City An interesting side-note regarding the tragedy involves the legend about the Witch of Yazoo City. Following the fire, there were many rumors about its cause. No story was more prominent than that of a mean and ugly woman who lived in carefully guarded seclusion along the banks of the Yazoo River. It was rumored that, on stormy nights, she lured fishermen into her house, poisoned them with arsenic, and buried them in a densely wooded hill nearby.2

1 Davidson, Jim. Witch Way Yazoo? Jim Davidson Column. Retrieved on January 5, 2013 from 2 Horton, Linda. Yazoo City, MS Fire, May 1904. GenDisasters. (11/24/2012). Retrieved on 3/4/2014 from


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YAZOO CITY (CONT.) It was rumored that this witch predicted the devastating fire 20 years before it occurred.1 According to legend, the local Yazoo sheriff discovered two skeletons within her dwelling.2 A posse was formed to apprehend her, but she ran into a swamp where she was caught within a quicksand pit.3 While sinking to her death, she allegedly cursed Yazoo City by stating she would “rise from the dead in 20 years and burn the town to the ground.”4 The Yazoo City fire allegedly occurred 20 years later. Certainly, no evidence exists to support this legend. No one knows whether a woman existed whom such a tale could be spun around. After all, the fire completely destroyed all forms of written records that existed within Yazoo City.5 Thus, there are no written records detailing any aspects of the city before May, 1904. 6

Lessons for the Mississippi State Guard The members of the Mississippi State Guard are prepared and expected to serve during both man-made and natural disasters. Over the last 25 years, the bulk of this service occurred during numerous hurricanes. Thus, the personnel of the Mississippi State Guard have experience, skills, and knowledge that may be quickly employed when storm-related events affect the region. However, given the demographics of Mississippi, deployment of the Mississippi State Guard has not occurred in conjunction with urban or rural firefighting. Neither has deployment occurred regarding wildfires. Thus, the current instantiation of the Mississippi State Guard lacks experience and training within the context of firefighting operations. Such characteristics are not symptomatic of all state defense forces within the nation. Among arid states with significant forestation, dangers persist regarding the threat of wildfire. State defense forces are valuable resources that enhance firefighting efforts against wildfires. For instance, the California State Military Reserve was deployed to support wildfire firefighting operations during the years 2007 and 2008. 7 This deployment of the California State Military Reserve is a grim reminder of the array of natural threats that necessitate the use of state defense forces. Although the majority of the relatively recent deployments of the Mississippi State Guard involved storms, soldiers must avoid or dismiss any beliefs or mindsets that its only deploying occurs in conjunction with weather-related events.

1 Hambrick, Judd. 2011. “Yazoo City Mississippi Witch Predicted the Fire that Destroyed the Town,” (accessed March 2, 2014). 2 Ibid 3 Ibid 4 Ibid 5 Ibid 6 Ibid 7 California State Military Reserve. 2014. “What is the CSMR?” http://csmrsoldier. com/sample-page-2/ (accessed February 24, 2014).


ISSUE N O: 05/ SPRING 2014 YAZOO CITY (CONT.) Instead, the Mississippi State Guard may be deployed for a variety of reasons ranging from man-made happenings at critical infrastructure points in or near Mississippi to natural flooding that occurs periodically along the Mississippi River. Certainly, the Mississippi State Guard may be deployed to support firefighting efforts in both urban and rural settings. When undergoing training exercises, members of the State Guard must realize that training is a preparatory activity to support deployments for a variety of missions – not just hurricanes and other storms. For instance, the ability to establish and maintain the security of an incident location applies to a myriad of natural and man-made incidents, including fires. During the Yazoo City fire, the military forces of Mississippi were deployed expediently for humanitarian purposes. The Mississippians of the day rendered assistance to their fellow Mississippians whom were suffering and were incapable of further helping themselves with immediacy. During modern times, these same characteristics of servitude permeate the Mississippi State Guard. All soldiers must remember that their service is never unappreciated by those who experience and suffer the devastating ravages of natural or man-made calamities.

Note from the Authors The authors would like to express their extreme gratitude to Mr. John E. Ellzey, the Reference & Local History Librarian with the Ricks Memorial Library and to the Ricks Memorial Library itself for the photographs and review of the information contained in this article. Without their assistance, this article would not have been possible.

About the Authors Leisa McElreath is a graduate Phillips Junior College, Copiah Lincoln Community College and the University of Mississippi where she majored in criminal justice with an emphasis in homeland security. A successful business owner, she is also extremely active in her community where she has been very supportive of veterans’ issues. She is a member of the Oxford Lafayette County Crime Stoppers Board, vice president of the Lafayette County Women’s Republican Counsel, vice president of the Mississippi Board of Cosmetology and secretary-treasurer of the National Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology. D. Adrian Doss is a Colonel and serves as the Mississippi State Guard Command Historian and is also an assistant professor with the University of West Alabama. He is the author of numerous textbooks, proceedings, and articles pertaining to homeland security, criminal justice, and information systems. Before entering academia, his professional career consisted of software engineering and analytical positions in the defense and commercial industries. David Hughes McElreath is the commanding general of the Mississippi State Guard and is a professor at the University of Mississippi instructing courses in criminal justice, law enforcement, corrections, homeland security, and emergency management. He is a graduate of University Mississippi, University of Southern Mississippi and the United States Army War College. In addition to other community involvement, he is the past chairman of the Mississippi Crimestoppers Board, currently serves on the Mississippi Veterans Affairs Board and is the chairperson of the University of Mississippi Army ROTC Alumni Board.


ISSUE N O: 05 / SPRING 2014


Close the Loop (Spring 2014)  

MS State Guard Spring Edition of Close The Loop

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