Adjutant General's Corps Regimental Association

Adjutant General’s Corps Regimental Association: The Origins Story

By COL (Ret) Steve Shappell
VP, History, National Executive Council (NEC), AGCRA

What’s the difference between the Adjutant General’s Corps, the Adjutant General’s Corps Regiment, and the Adjutant General’s Corps Regimental Association?  While they are not interchangeable terms for the same entity, they are three separate but mutually supporting organizations.

The Adjutant General’s Corps is virtually as old as the Army itself.   On June 16, 1775, the Continental Congress resolved that there be an Adjutant General of the Continental Army.  The very next day they selected Horatio Gates, former British Major, as the first Adjutant General of the Continental Army with the rank of Brigadier General.  This appointment marked the birth of the Adjutant General’s Corps and established the Adjutant General branch as the oldest Combat Service Support branch of the Army.

Yet, it would not be until more than 200 years later that the Adjutant General’s Corps Regiment came into existence.

In 1981 the US Army introduced the Regimental System into its manning construct.  Initially limited to Combat Arms, the purpose of the Regimental System was to affiliate Soldiers with a regiment throughout their careers, in order to foster a sense of belonging and unit identity. In addition, the system sought to perpetuate the history, lineage, and honors of the regiments.  With multiple battalions in a regiment, and the battalions stationed at various places around the world, in theory, a Soldier could rotate between the continental United States and overseas assignments without leaving the regiment.  Several years later, Combat Support and Combat Services Support branches were added to the Regimental System, with each branch or corps becoming a single regiment.

In December 1985, the Chief of Staff of the Army approved the Adjutant General’s Corps Regimental Implementation Plan.  An estimated 54,000 Active component Soldiers were integrated into the Regiment, in addition to over 53,000 Army Reserve and Army National Guard Soldiers.  The actual activation of the Regiment took place on June 17, 1987, at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana.   Two training battalions and eight reception battalions were redesignated and activated in the Regiment on the same day.  The Army designated Fort Benjamin Harrison, as the regimental home.  The Institute of Heraldry designed the Adjutant General’s Corps Regimental Crest and Colors, as well as the colors and crest for the redesignated battalions.

It was unfunded requirements associated with the regimental activation and unit redesignations that initially drove the need for the creation of the Adjutant General’s Corps Regimental Association.  The regimental activation required the regimental crests for distribution to the Soldiers of the Regiment, as well as the funding of activation events at the Adjutant General School and the installations on which the redesignated units resided.  These expenses were costs that had not been projected beforehand and thus were not in the School’s budget.

For this reason, the Adjutant General School leadership established the Adjutant General’s Corp Regimental Association as a non-profit organization whose primary purpose was to support the aims and objectives of the Adjutant General’s Corps Regiment.  The Association’s intent was to fund regimental projects through the sale of Adjutant General’s Corps memorabilia.

There were 199 founding members of the Adjutant General’s Corps Regimental Association, including Major Generals Verne L. Bowers, J. C. Pennington, Kenneth G. Wickham, and William G. O’Lesky; and Brigadier Generals Ronald E. Brooks, R. Lex Dilworth, James A. Norell, Mildred E. Hedberg, and Jack T. Pink.  Also present as founding members were several officers who would later go on to be General Officers of the Adjutant General’s Corps, including Captain Reuben D. Jones, Lieutenant Colonel Neil N. Snyder III, Colonel Frederick E. Vollrath,  and Colonel Arthur T. Dean.

As initially envisioned, the Adjutant General’s Corps Regimental Association was a worldwide organization based at Fort Benjamin Harrison.   Much of the early activity of the Association was thus focused on Fort Benjamin Harrison.   The first Chapter of the Adjutant General’s Corps Regimental Association, the Gold Vault Chapter – based at Fort Knox, Kentucky, was activated on December 5, 1988, and has been in continuous operation since that time.   One month later, the January 1989 edition of “1775,” The Journal of the Adjutant General’s Corps Regimental Association, announced the commencement of a worldwide Chapter program.  The next Chapter activated was the Iron Mike Chapter at Fort Bragg, activated on June 24, 1989.

Since the commencement of the worldwide Chapter program, the Adjutant General’s Corps Regimental Association has established over 55 Chapters worldwide.  Some of these, like the Morning Calm Chapter in the Republic of Korea, activated on November 9, 1989, remain in operation today.  As Chapters are located in places where the Army has Soldiers, some of these Chapters have ceased to operate as the Army has closed bases in the United States and around the world – permanently closed Chapters include the Greater Atlanta Chapter at Fort McPherson, Georgia (activated July 11, 1992); the Horatio Gates Chapter at Fort Benjamin Harrison (activated November 17, 1989, and inactivated Jun 23, 2003); and the Gateway Chapter at St. Louis, Missouri (activated October 28, 1998, and inactivated November 17, 2008).  Today, the Adjutant General’s Corps Regimental Association includes, in addition to installation-based Chapters, two Virtual Chapters (Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF Chapter) and the Military Entrance Processing Command (Freedom’s Front Door Chapter)).  Additionally, in recent years Army National Guard focused Chapters have been activated, including the Volunteer Chapter (Tennessee National Guard) on August 12, 2015, and the S.H.I.E.L.D Chapter (Oregon National Guard) on December 9, 2017.

Due to the relocation of the Adjutant General School from Fort Benjamin Harrison in 1995, on July 14th of that year, the Adjutant General’s Corps Regimental Association officially moved its operating location to the new site of the School at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

The position of the Commandant of the Adjutant General School, as the Chief of the Adjutant General’s Corps, traditionally carried with it the subsequent election as President of the Adjutant General’s Corps Regimental Association.   Additionally, members of the National Executive Council were traditionally drawn from the schoolhouse staff.  Through this connection, the Adjutant General’s Corps Regimental Association, while a private association, operated the Regimental Sutler Store on the premises of the Adjutant General School – first at Fort Benjamin Harrison and later at Fort Jackson. It was the proceeds from this store that, primarily, enabled the Regimental Association to fund activities in support of the Adjutant General School and the Adjutant General’s Corps Regiment.

Over the years, activities funded by the Adjutant General’s Corps Regimental Association have included an annual Scholarship Program, speaker honorarium, and ball sponsorships.

The Adjutant General’s Corps Regimental Association is, and has always been, a private organization in support of the Adjutant General’s Corps Regiment and the Adjutant General School.  As such, the Association has always had to be mindful of the Army regulations concerning the operations of private organizations on Army installations [1].  In 2016, it became apparent to the National Executive Council that operations of the Adjutant General’s Corps Regimental Association, headquarters on Fort Jackson and remaining in compliance with Army regulations, were no longer conducive to Association operations.  Thus, the Association moved all of its operations off post (including the Sutler Store) and determined that the Association leadership would no longer be automatically drawn from the Adjutant General School.

Colonel Neil McIntyre, Commandant of the Adjutant General School, resigned as Association President, and Colonel (Retired) Rob Manning, a former Commandant of the Adjutant General School and former President of the Association, was once again elected by the National Executive Committee to serve as Association President.  Moreover, this move off of the Army installation enabled the National Executive Council to expand its aperture for board members who are now drawn from around the world.

For historical purposes, the Adjutant General’s Corps Regimental Association has retained the term “Regimental” in its title as the Association was founded in 1987.  However, the re-publication of AR 870-21, The U.S. Army Regimental System, on 13 April 2017, officially dropped the term “Regiment” for the Adjutant General’s Corps.  The Adjutant General’s Corps is now listed as a separate “Corps” within the regulation.

Earlier this year – mindful that the flag traditionally associated with the Adjutant General’s Corps Regimental Association is in fact the flag designed by the Institute of Heraldry for the Adjutant General’s Corps Regiment – Colonel (Retired) Manning authorized a flag design contest to develop a visual representation to show that the Association is an organization distinct from the Adjutant General School and the Adjutant General’s Corps Regiment (now officially called the Adjutant General’s Corps).

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[1] Primarily Army Regulation 210-1, Private Organizations on Department of the Army Installations

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