Warrant officer history in Kentucky

By John Trowbridge, Kentucky National Guard

The 123rd Cavalry Band on the steps of the Capital in Frankfort, Ky., circa 1930. The first warrant officers in the Kentucky National Guard were band leaders, with the first being appointed in 1922. (Photo courtesy of the Kentucky National Guard eMuseum)

July 2018, marks the 100th Anniversary of the U. S. Army’s Warrant Officer Corps.

An act of the U. S. Congress in 1918 established the Army Mine Planter Service as part of the Coast Artillery Corps. Implementation of the act by the Army was published in War Department Bulletin 43, dated July 22, 1918. Forty warrant officers were authorized to serve as masters, mates, chief engineers, and assistant engineers on each mine planting vessel. Although only one rank of warrant officer was authorized by Congress, in effect, three grades were created because of the varying levels of pay authorized for masters, first mates, second mates, and corresponding levels of marine engineer personnel.

It was not until 1921, that the Kentucky National Guard received its first allocations of warrant officers. The first two positions authorized were for regimental band leaders assigned to the 138th Field Artillery and 149th Infantry.

138th Field Artillery Regimental Band.

Harry Sherman Currie, Band Leader, Service Battery, 138th Field Artillery Regiment in Louisville. Currie was the first warrant officer in the Kentucky National Guard. (Photo courtesy of University of Louisville Ekstrom Library)

The first warrant officer appointment in the Kentucky Guard was Harry Sherman Currie, Band Leader, Service Battery, 138th Field Artillery Regiment in Louisville. Currie was appointed March 6, 1922 and served in the position until June 7, 1923.

The Band Section was gradually brought into existence through the efforts of Currie. At his resignation, in October of 1923, the band was taken over by Lt. Joseph H. Hillebrand. In April, 1925,  Hillebrand resigned and C. E. Norman was appointed warrant officer [May 20, 1925].

Clarette E. Norman resigned in November 1, 1926, and would eventually be replaced by Lynn William Thayer Dec. 16, 1937. Thayer would serve as the band’s leader until its disbandment and reorganization of the 149th Infantry Regiment at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, in March 1942.

149th Infantry Regimental Band.

On June 14, 1924, Daniel Webster Cline, would become Kentucky’s second warrant officer appointed as band leader, Service Company, 149th Infantry Regiment at Bowling Green. Cline served in the position until his resignation May 6, 1925. He would be followed by Calvin Nay Cooke, in August of 1925, who resigned the position in February, 1928.  Joe Herndon Rust assumed the duties of band leader, a position he held until the regiment was reorganized at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, in February 1942.

123rd Cavalry Mounted Regimental Band.

In 1929, Kentucky received an additional position for a warrant officer band leader for the newly organized 123rd Cavalry Regiment. Edward Simpson Pedigo, was appointed warrant officer and leader of the Band Section, Headquarters Troop, 123rd Cavalry Regiment, at Glasgow, Kentucky, March 29, 1929. Clayton (Clyde) Simmons would follow Pedigo as the band leader. Wayne E. Tyree, would be the final band leader of the 123rd Cavalry. The 123rd Regimental Band was the last mounted band to serve in the U.S. Army. On November 1, 1940, the regiment was converted and re-designated as the 106th Separate Battalion, Coast Artillery.

The following remarks concerning the 123rd Regimental Band come from the 1939, Military History of Kentucky:

Headquarters Troop and Band Section, 123d Cavalry, Glasgow, was Federally recognized April 1, 1929. Its officers at the time of recognition were . . . Warrant Officer Edward S. Pedigo.

Edward Pedigo was promoted to first lieutenant and assigned to the Regimental Staff. Sgt. (Clyde) Clayton Simmons was promoted to warrant officer and directed the band for about three years. When Simmons resigned he was replaced by Sgt. Wayne E. Tyree, who is the present warrant officer and band director.

These first three Kentucky Warrant Officer positions and their regimental bands were removed during reorganization of National Guard units at the time of mobilization for World War II. Following the war and the reorganization of the Kentucky National Guard, one of the first units established was the 202nd Army Ground Forces Band, under the command of Warrant Officer Frank J. Prindl, Jan. 30, 1947, in Lexington, Kentucky. Today, the 202nd is still under the commanded and direction of a warrant officer.

The traditions and legacy established by these first Warrant Officers of the Kentucky National Guard is carried on by 172 highly trained and professional Warrant Officers serving in 31 military occupational skills in 14 different branches.