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Bardstown Armory

Bardstown Armory
A Brief History of the Kentucky National Guard In Bardstown
The Bardstown Armory is named in honor of former Adjutant General BG G. Lee McClain
The Bardstown Armory is named in honor of former Adjutant General BG G. Lee McClain

The current building serving as the Bardstown Armory was originally built to house and repair military vehicles in 1948. Prior to renovation of the 1948 building, an armory was located at 206 W. Broadway. This building was used until 1962, when the renovations of the 1948 building were completed. The front of the building is a two-story white weatherboard structure while the drill hall area in the back is one-story and composed of concrete block. The 113th Ordnance Company was stationed at the old Bardstown armory in the 1930s, and was moved to St. Matthews in 1957-1960 before Company C of the 2nd Howitzer Battalion of the 138th Field Artillery was brought to Bardstown. Adjutant General G. Lee McClain was instrumental in bringing the National Guard and the first armory to Bardstown, and the new armory was named the G. Lee McClain Armory in honor of him. The additions made to the building in 1962 cost $86, 876. The interior of the maintenance shop was wired for electricity and had a gravel floor, but was otherwise a wide open space before the additions and changes were made.

Bardstown's Battery C, 2/138th Field Artillery saw active combat in the Vietnam War and suffered five casualties. Five soldiers were killed when a surprise attack on Fire Base Tomahawk occurred. The experiences of Company C, 2/138th Field Artillery from Bardstown have been published in a book entitled The Sons of Bardstown by Jim Wilson. The 2/138th Field Artillery in Kentucky was one of only two National Guard Battalions in the country to go to Vietnam. The other Battalion was called up from West Virginia. Along with Bardstown, units from Carrollton, Elizabethtown, and Louisville also served in Vietnam.

Besides seeing active duty in Vietnam, the National Guard from Bardstown has seen federal service in other major wars. Battery C of the 138th Field Artillery went to France during World War I. The 113th Ordnance Company was called to active duty in World War II (1941). The 113th Ordnance Company was called into Federal service again in 1951 due to a national emergency, and the unit trained at Camp Breckinridge in 1955. The unit was not activated for Desert Storm, but about 10-15 volunteers went overseas with the 1/623rd Field Artillery.

The 2nd Battalion of the 138th Field Artillery is one of the most decorated units in the United States. The Battalion has 57 streamers on its colors, which is more than many other Regular Army or Army National Guard battalions. The 113th Ordnance Company, which was stationed at Bardstown before the 138th Field Artillery, received the Meritorious Unit Commendation Award for its service in World War II.

Besides its service in previous wars, the Bardstown National Guard unit has participated in state active duties such as the floods of March 1997, tornadoes, and snow duties. The unit is also active in the community - they provide water for local car shows, participate in Memorial and Veterans Day salutes, and the Relay for Life, a cancer fund-raiser. The armory is used for Boy Scout meetings and the Boy Scout Jamboree. Other non-profit groups hold functions there (these groups are not charged a fee), and basketball leagues are also conducted. The Guard helps with many programs at Bardstown High School, including career workshops, drug demand reduction workshops, and gun salutes at the football games. The Bardstown National Guard participated in an inaugural salute for the governor when he was sworn in.

About The Bardstown National Guard Armory
Old Bardstown Armory
Old Bardstown Armory

The current building was constructed in roughly 1947-48 for use as a maintenance and vehicle storage site. An older armory, built in 1938, housed the National Guard until 1962. The storage building was slated for use as a new armory, as the National Guard had outgrown the old one and needed more space. Interior walls and a new front addition were added to the existing storage building. Classrooms, a kitchen, supply and equipment rooms, locker and shower rooms, and a day room were all added. The new front addition houses offices and a lobby.

McClain Monument at Bardstown Armory 
McClain Monument at Bardstown Armory

The Bardstown Kentucky National Guard Armory was rededicated to BG G. Lee McClain during a ceremony on May 27, 2002. The pedestal sits near the flag pole and the entrance to the armory.

Credits

Photos and information courtesy Kentucky Heritage Council -- Report No. 25" Inventory and Evaluation of National Guard Armories in the State of Kentucky" - 1999 by Kate Carothers.

 

Last Updated 8/30/2007
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