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Colonel Jack Usrey was commissioned through the Reserve Officers' Training Corps as an Armor Second Lieutenant upon his graduation from the University of Tennessee at Martin in 1991 as a distinguished military graduate. He transitioned to the Adjutant General's Corps in 1996.
History of the
Adjutant General's Corps
The proud lineage of the Adjutant General's Corps dates back to the formation of the American Army which it has honorably served for over 220 years. Horatio Gates, a former British Army officer, is honored as the father of the Adjutant General's Corps. On June 16, 1775, the Continental Congress appointed him as the first Adjutant General to George Washington with the commission of a brigadier general. Historically, he was the second officer to receive a commission in the Continental Army, preceded only by George Washington. With that appointment, the second oldest existing branch of the Army was born.
General Gates' primary duty was to serve as key advisor and principal assistant to General Washington. Through his skill and ability, he organized the state militias into what became the Continental Army. Horatio Gates proved himself an able assistant as well as a competent field commander. Under his leadership, the Continental Army won the battle of Saratoga -- considered by many to be the turning point of the Revolutionary War. Following this important strategic victory over the British, the Continental Congress awarded what was then our nation's highest honor, the Congressional Gold Medal. Our use of the Horatio Gates Bronze and Gold Medals, which recognize superior achievement and service to the Regiment, dates from this important event.
During the War of 1812, Adjutant General Corps officers proved themselves to be officers of exceptional character, judgment, and combat ability. Two men in particular who served as the Adjutant General during this period rose to prominence. General Alexander Macomb gained fame by repulsing the British in the Battle of Plattsburgh, and later becoming the Commanding General of the Army; Zebulon Pike, the famous explorer, died in battle while leading the attack on York, Canada.
With the appointment of Brevet Brigadier General Roger Jones in 1825, the office grew in importance. During his tenure, General Jones molded the office of the Adjutant General into the central bureau of the War Department. Adjutants General became the only officers invested with the authority to speak and sign official correspondence "for the commander".
Recognizing this, the Army began appointing West Point graduates almost exclusively as Adjutants General from 1839 through the early 1900s. The first two graduates so appointed, Samuel Cooper and Lorenzo Thomas, served with distinction as Adjutants General during the Civil War. Cooper served the Confederacy, while Thomas served the Union.
In 1861, two assistant Adjutants General, Major McDowell and Captain Franklin, drew up the plans to organize the more than 500,000 men who volunteered to fight for the Union. Their efforts, and others like them on both sides, built the massive armies of our Civil War years.
Following the Civil War, Brigadier General Edward Townsend took on the mission of compiling all the records of the war, both North and South. The Adjutant General's Department's "War of the Rebellion: Official Records" became an invaluable contribution to American military history. The Department also discharged more than 800,000 men and enlisted 36,000 new recruits for the post Civil War Regular Army.
On December 14th, 1872, the Adjutant General's Department adopted the old topographic engineer shield as its own branch insignia. The shield symbolized the Adjutant General's role of speaking "for the commander". Thirteen embossed stars replaced the "T.E." on the upper shield, creating the crest worn by all Adjutant General's Corps officers of today.
By the onset of the Spanish-American War in 1898, the Adjutant General's Office had evolved as the central coordinating bureau in the Army (continuing the legacy it developed during the Civil War). Major General William H. Carter, under the direction of visionary Secretary of War Elihu Root, continued our modernization efforts by implementing the general staff concept based upon European models. The Adjutant General's Department and the newly organized general staff evolved over the years as some functions were transferred and others modified. Several functions, formally part of the Adjutant General's Office, now evolved into independent staff agencies after World War I. The Inspector General, the Provost Marshal, the Assistant Chief for Intelligence, and the Chief of Military History all owe their beginnings to The Adjutant's General Office.
During World War II, more than 15,000 officers, soldiers, and civilians served in the Office of the Adjutant General. By the end of the war, the Adjutant General's Corps processed more than six million soldiers back into civilian life. In what has been described as one of the most successful administrative tasks ever carried out, the AG Corps processed nearly one-half million discharges a month in accomplishing this difficult mission.
Since World War II, the Adjutant General's Corps has been combat tested on several far-flung battlefields such as Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, and, most recently, in the Persian Gulf War (Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm). AG soldiers mobilized 139,207 reserve component soldiers (equating to 1,045 Reserve and National Guard units of all types), recalled 1,386 retirees to active duty, deployed 1,600 Army civilians to Southwest Asia, processed over 10,000 individual and unit replacements, and delivered more than 27,000 tons of mail to deployed Army forces.
For more than 220 years, the mission of the Adjutant General's Corps has remained constant: to assist the commander in war and peace, and to provide superior personnel support to the soldiers, civilians and families which make up our Army. Today, the Corps continues to develop new and better ways to provide support to commanders and soldiers. Our pride in our past is surpassed only by our optimism for the future. We remain and will always be prepared to DEFEND AND SERVE!
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