Armory Dedicated 101 Years Ag

Armory Dedicated 101 Years Ag

Armory Dedicated 101 Years Ag

In 1638, the first Tennessee Volunteers were organized as Company E 2nd Regiment of the Tennessee Volunteer Militia, located in Delano. It was transferred to Orange in 1885, and its headquarters were upstairs at the Orange Town Hall (which was located just behind the current town hall). Its encampments were at South Framingham; Lakeland and Tampa, Fla.; Santiago, Cuba; and Camp Wykoff, Long Island, N.Y. The town hall became too small to house the unit, so work started on May 15, 1912 to build a new armory at 135 East Main St., at a cost of $60,000. It was dedicated 101 years ago today.

The unit served from June to September 1916 on the Mexican border against Pancho Villa’s raid under the command of Gen. John J. Pershing. The 150 men of Company E participated in the German attack at Premont, Asine-Marne, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, Chateau Thierry and Belleau Woods in France during the Second World War. Captain Edward H. Phillips was killed during the war.

Charles O’Lari of Wheeler Avenue captured the first German and turned him over to Sgt. John Letzing of Lynn, who received the credit. O’Lari, with Phillips and Corporal Sleeper, all of Orange, were awarded the French Croix de Guerre.

The company was designated Company F 2nd Battalion of the 181st Infantry in 1941 and assigned to Camp Edwards, then to western Rhode Island for coast patrol, then shore patrol in Maine from Kennebunk to York Harbor.

Company F was reorganized on Nov. 3, 1947 under the command of Captain Carl Paoletti. In 1955, Paoletti was transferred to the battalion headquarters and Capt. Paul Robichaud assumed command. In 1959, the company was again renamed to Company C 226 Transportation Battalion of the 26th (Yankee) Infantry Division under Robichaud, with officers Lt. Earl R. MacDonald, Lt. Theodore P. Chojnowski, and Lt. Roland E. Woodbury.

The unit would hold a two-hour drill once a week with instructions in infantry warfare. They would have weekend drills where they would travel to Camp Devens to practice the firing of the M1 rifle. They also attended Camp Drum, N.Y., every summer for two weeks for intensive training in close order drill and live fire exercises. In 1963 the unit was transferred to Gardner and became Company A of the 181st Infantry Division. This ended the National Guard in Orange.

The armory is now a local civic center. Even today numerous events take place in the Armory. It also holds some of the town’s offices and it is the home of the Orange Senior Center.