Always First: The SC Air National Guard, Part 3 - Cold War / Milestones
Colonel Robert Hanley Morrell became chief of staff after McEntire's death. Morrell was a colorful character who could have been Southern Conference boxing champion before his Army Air Corp and Air Guard careers. He was also a traveling companion of famed novelist John Steinbeck, having worked with him as a technical advisor when Steinbeck was doing a special book on the Air Corps.
General Morrell's leadership skills were put to task when the Cold War began. Because of the intense political climate in Europe, the entire South Carolina Air Guard was activated in October 1961. About half the unit was sent to Morón, Spain. After eight months in Europe, the South Carolina troops returned home to McEntire Air Base.
A few milestones over the next few years include:
In 1963, Master Sergeant Alton G. Cox became the first person to retire from the South Carolina Air National Guard. Jack Moak became the first officer to retire, also in 1963.
In 1964, Sergeant John Watson enlisted in the unit and became the first African American member.
The first female enlisted member of the Guard was Sergeant Alice Lown of Chapin. Lieutenant Jean Clark, a nurse, had been the first woman in the South Carolina Air Guard back in 1958.
In 1971, the South Carolina Air National Guard celebrates its 25th anniversary.