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Albany National Guard Armory renamed to honor Lee County's Billy Manning (VIDEO & PHOTO GALLERY)

Ceremony honors Georgia Guard’s first full-time command sergeant major

The Georgia Army National Guard armory in Albany is renamed Monday for the late Billy Manning of Lee County, who died in November. The Command Sgt. Maj. Billy G. Manning Readiness Center is the new official name for the armory, with Brig. Gen. Joe Jarrard speaking at the ceremony. Manning served 42 years in the Guard, becoming its first command sergeant major.


Georgia Command Sgt. Maj. Phillip Stringfield, left, and Brig. Gen. Joe Jarrard present Pat Manning with a proclamation Monday renaming the Albany National Guard Armory the Command Sergeant Major Billy G. Manning Readiness Center in honor of Pat Manning’s late husband. (Staff photo: Laura Williams)

Georgia Command Sgt. Maj. Phillip Stringfield, left, and Brig. Gen. Joe Jarrard present Pat Manning with a proclamation Monday renaming the Albany National Guard Armory the Command Sergeant Major Billy G. Manning Readiness Center in honor of Pat Manning’s late husband. (Staff photo: Laura Williams)

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Renaming ceremony for Manning Readiness Center, Albany

The Georgia Army National Guard armory in Albany is renamed Monday for the late Billy Manning of Lee County, who died in November. The Command Sgt. Maj. Billy G. Manning Readiness Center is the new official name for the armory, with Brig. Gen. Joe Jarrard speaking at the ceremony. Manning served 42 years in the Guard, becoming its first command sergeant major.

The Georgia Army National Guard armory in Albany is renamed Monday for the late Billy Manning of Lee County, who died in November. The Command Sgt. Maj. Billy G. Manning Readiness Center is the new official name for the armory, with Brig. Gen. Joe Jarrard speaking at the ceremony. Manning served 42 years in the Guard, becoming its first command sergeant major.

ALBANY — It was, perhaps, the words of National Guard Chaplain Capt. Jon Pirtle that best summed up Monday’s renaming ceremony that transformed the Albany National Guard Armory to the Command Sergeant Major Billy G. Manning Readiness Center.

“The scores of people here show the impact that one man in uniform can have,” Pirtle said during a prayer to open the ceremony.

MOBILE USERS: Click HERE to see the video and HERE to see the photo gallery from Monday's ceremony.

A short while later, Brig. Gen. Joe Jarrard and current Georgia Guard Command Sgt. Maj. Phillip Stringfield presented Manning’s widow, Pat Manning, with a proclamation officially changing the name of the 1500 N. Monroe St. armory.

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Friends of the late Billy Manning point out that even if plans to move the Albany National Guard Armory to Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany are carried out, the armory will forever retain its name in Manning’s honor. (Staff photo: Laura Williams)

“This is so overwhelming, I just can’t describe it,” Pat Manning said after the ceremony. “Billy would have been overwhelmed by all of this.”

Jarrard, the commanding general of the Georgia National Guard, gave the keynote address honoring Manning, who was the first full-time command sergeant major in the state. Jarrard noted that Manning used every tactic at his disposal in helping the soldiers under his command fulfill his motto: “Make it happen.”

“Sgt. Maj. Manning was pivotal in transitioning our organization into the professional team it is today,” Jarrard said. “And while I never had the honor of meeting him — which is obviously my loss — I understand Sgt. Maj. Manning was the kind of man who didn’t mind hurting your feelings to save your life.”

Jarrard said after the ceremony that soldiers like Manning are the reason the U.S. National Guard is called upon in times of extreme emergency.

“Sgt. Maj. Manning epitomizes what an enlisted man can be and all that he can do,” the brigadier general said. “Things like this ceremony today are what make us different from the active component of our armed forces. The Guard lives with and works among the people of our communities. That’s part of what makes us so strong.

“How fitting is it that we rename this armory, the place where he began his 42-year career, for Sgt. Maj. Manning.”

Manning’s military career began in 1954 when he enlisted in the Guard shortly after graduating from Lee County High School. He served active duty from 1958 to 1960, and, one day after his active duty ended, he re-enlisted in the Guard as a full-time technician. He served as platoon sergeant, first sergeant, battalion operations sergeant major and battalion command sergeant major before retiring in 1996.

In addition to Manning’s widow, his daughters Mitzi Conners, Veronica Johnson and Monica Miller were present at Monday’s renaming ceremony.