Veterans History Project: John Lack - - Jackson, MS

Veterans History Project: John Lack

By Jennifer Martin - email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - John Lack was about to start his sophomore year at Co-Lin when he joined the MS Army National Guard in July 1959. He started training immediately after graduation.

"I came back, making weekend drills and all. When I was still an EM, we got called out when they put Meredith at Ole Miss so I was involved with that for a week. We were federalized. Got over that and then Operation Chlorine, when those tanks sunk in the river down there at Natchez, they put us on state active duty and we went down there and at that time I was still a state officer candidate and they appointed me as a food officer for the whole thing.

In 1968, they reorganized the guard in MIssissippi and they changed us from an engineer to an MP unit.  So I started taking all the courses and I qualified in the branch service of MP. And I ended up serving as platoon leader there, and executive officer. Then they made me company commander. Got promoted to captain.

Right after I got promoted, Camille hit the coast in '69. When we got there, we dropped our bags and they started putting us on duty. The SP for the 112th Headquarters. He said some of y'all go to Highway 90, some of you to Pass Road and start diverting traffic down in there that's so tangled up.

We were down there three weeks. And after we got that moving, we were watching for looters and all. And we caught some. But them decaying bodies that they hadn't found... the SeeBee's was down there uncovering stuff...  Human body decaying, there ain't another smell in the world like it. And they'd find them and we'd call the SeeBees and go in there and uncover and help them move the bodies out."

Through the 1970's and early 80's he served with several different units.

He eventually transferred to the 184th Transportation Brigade in Laurel to work in personnel and administration.

"While I was there, Reforger '87, in Germany, came up. And they put out a list that needed some help for the 114th Area Support Group in Hattiesburg. So I volunteered."

Just before they would go, he was sent out on another mission.

"We went to Germany with a 20 man cell which I was in charge of for an exercise over there. One of my scariest things was, while I was there, they gave us a bus tour of the German border.  There was a big transfer truck, one of them double trailers.  He lost control.  He missed the front but he hit the bus right behind me and tore the whole side out of it. And there was stuff all over the highway and I looked back and I thought there was bodies out there.

About a half dozen men went to the hospital. He was back just one day before he would have to report for Reforger. His work there impressed his superiors so much, he got an unexpected reward on the plane back home.

"Col. Farregut got the microphone so he could talk to the whole plane load and he announced that he was leaving the 114th.

And he was going to turn it over to Col. Redmond.  He turned around and he said 'Lack, I'm recommending transfer to the 114th as the Executive Officer of the group.' And that's a big outfit."

He decided to work for the guard full time in 1988. Eventually became the Director of Logistics for the state of MS. Once he reached 30 years in service, he retired as a Brigadier General.

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