Georgia Military College Celebrates Military Heritage Weekend
Over the weekend, Georgia Military College celebrated Military Heritage Weekend, honoring GMC alumni military men and women that serve our great country.
Events kicked off Friday afternoon as Georgia Military College honored COL Tom Torrance, USA (Ret). and his wife, Ellen, for their unwavering dedication to Georgia Military College by unveiling a plaque in our Prep School Annex’s Lower Lobby with their names inscribed. They will forever hold a spot in our beloved school halls.
Also, on Friday was the Military Honors Parade where GMC inducted two new members to the Hall of Heroes, paying tribute to Alumni of the GMC Corps of Cadets who have demonstrated extraordinary service to our nation while bringing honor to GMC. This is the highest recognition for an alumnus of the Corps of Cadets, and either the individual or members of the late individual’s family were invited to the Military Honors Parade to accept the prestigious honor.
The 2022 Hall of Heroes inductees are:
The late Dr. James Baugh
COL Tom Torrance, USA (Ret).
Dr. James Baugh came from humble beginnings and always felt fortunate to attend Georgia Military College. He graduated from GMC High School in 1937 and GMC Junior College in 1939. Dr. Baugh went on to attend the University of Georgia and the Medical College of Georgia. As he was preparing to attend medical school, Dr. Baugh was called to military service. Dr. Baugh served in World War II as a charter member of the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division, which was given the task to arrive into battle by glider. Glider troops provided essential support to the parachute regiments and fought on the frontlines alongside their paratroopers. This storied unit led the way in key strategic engagements during World War II. Dr. Baugh’s unit conducted a glider assault on D-Day plus one landing by glider in Normandy and participated in the invasion of France. The next glider assault for the 325th was during Operation Market Garden, the largest airborne operation ever conducted. During this battle, the 325th landed among German positions that had surrounded other elements of the 82nd Airborne Division. This glider attack helped turn the tide of battle.
Dr. Baugh’s service included the following campaigns: Sicily, Naples-Foggia, Normandy (with arrowhead), Rhineland (with arrowhead), Ardennes, and Central Europe. One of his proudest moments was his combat experience during a glider assault when one of his glider pilots was shot and killed. Dr. Baugh was tasked with safely landing the glider on the ground and ensuring the safety of his fellow glidermen. During World War II, Dr. Baugh was joined in heroic military service by four siblings, three brothers, and one sister, who all survived the war.
In 1997, LTG (then MG) Joseph Kellogg, Jr. recognized Dr. Baugh for his selfless service to the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division and for earning the Bronze Star Medal. He was also a recipient of the European-African-Middle Eastern Theater Service Medal representing the multiple campaigns he participated in during WWII. His regiment also earned the Presidential Unit Citation due to their heroic efforts during Salerno and Operation Market Garden.
Dr. Baugh was part of the official delegation which traveled overseas to Russia to participate in the trial and negotiate the release of U-2 spy plane pilot Capt. Frances Gary Powers who was shot down over Russia while conducting a surveillance mission. Dr. Baugh’s humanitarian efforts greatly assisted in the release of Capt. Powers back to the United States.
After he was discharged from the Army, Dr. Baugh began classes at the Medical College of Georgia. After completing medical school and receiving his M.D., he served in the Medical Corps at Fort Lewis in Tacoma, Washington for one year. Dr. Baugh then completed residency at the Milledgeville State Hospital. His specialty was Family Practice and Industrial Medicine. Dr. Baugh led a notable medical career, practicing medicine in Baldwin County for 52 years and served as Medical Examiner for many years as well.
Dr. Baugh was deeply invested in the Milledgeville community until his passing in 2010. He served on the Board of Trustees at Georgia Military College for 28 years and served as Mayor of Milledgeville for 18 years. In addition, he was on the Century Bank Board and served as President of Sons of the American Revolution. He led the local Democratic Executive Committee as Chairman for 35 years and was a Mason as well. Dr. Baugh was inducted as an honorary member of Kappa Alpha Fraternity at Georgia College and State University. Dr. Baugh was also an active member of the First United Methodist Church in Milledgeville.
Dr. Baugh credited GMC as the greatest influence on his life and the reason for his success. GMC is a Baugh family tradition with over 28 relatives who have attended GMC. Dr. Baugh was committed to giving back to GMC to help the next generation. The James E. Baugh Barracks reflect Dr. Baugh and his wife Beegee’s commitment to enhancing the lives of GMC cadets well into the future. The Baugh Family also established a charitable trust that will benefit GMC beyond their lifetimes.
Dr. Baugh and his wife Beegee shared 60 years in marriage. Together they have one daughter, Patricia Baugh Thompson, and five grandchildren.
COL Tom Torrance, USA (Ret) moved with his family as a child back to his father’s hometown of Milledgeville, Georgia and began his journey at Georgia Military College as an 8th grader. He graduated from GMC High School in 1974, joining his father, uncle, sister, and two brothers as graduates of GMC, adding to the estimated 30-plus family members who have graduated from GMC. After graduating from GMC, COL Torrance went on to attend Georgia College and State University. While attending Georgia College in 1976, he decided to join the Army ROTC program and cross-enrolled at GMC to attend ROTC classes and training. On December 15, 1978, COL Torrance commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Field Artillery through the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps Program on the GMC campus.
COL Torrance earned a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree from Georgia College and later a Master of Science in Administration as well. He also earned a Master of Science in Strategic Studies from the U. S. Army War College. Additionally, he is a graduate of the Canadian Forces Command and Staff College, and the British High Command and Staff Course.
During his 30 years of active duty, COL Torrance served in a variety of command and staff positions in the U.S. and abroad. Most notably he held command positions at the Battalion and Brigade levels. After a four-year stint in Germany, COL Torrance returned to GMC as an officer in the U.S. Army to serve as an assistant professor, teaching Military Science to the Junior College Corps of Cadets from 1984 to 1988.
COL Torrance’s combat assignments include Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. In Spring 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom, COL Torrance earned the Silver Star for exceptionally meritorious achievement and valorous service in connection with military operations against a hostile force. He distinguished himself while commanding the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) Artillery (DIVARTY) and serving as the Division’s Fire Support Coordinator. COL Torrance was directly responsible for planning, coordinating, and executing all fire support as the 3rd Infantry Division attacked farther and faster than any other in history. His leadership and expertise helped destroy the enemy’s fire support systems and saved American lives. Through 21 days of continuous combat, he personally led the DIVARTY Headquarters’ convoys to the occupation of the Baghdad International Airport. Throughout Operation Iraqi Freedom, COL Torrance exhibited great personal courage, leadership, and innovation, in keeping with the highest traditions of military service.
COL Torrance continued to serve in the U.S. Army, and led a prolific military career. He served in the Pentagon from 2004-2006 on the Joint Staff in the Directorate for Strategic Plans and Policy for the Middle East. His final assignment on active duty was as the Deputy Commandant at the United States Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He served in that role from 2006 to 2009. COL Torrance’s many military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, and Bronze Star.
After retiring from the Army in 2009, COL Torrance worked for the Northrop Grumman Corporation in Huntsville, Alabama until 2016. He served as the Operations Manager for the Counter Rocket, Artillery, and Mortars Program which supported Army operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When COL Torrance and his wife, Ellen, returned to Milledgeville in 2016, he was eager to find ways to get involved in the community. COL Torrance joined the GMC Alumni Association Board and served as president from 2017-2021. Furthermore, COL Torrance gives back to the school financially through the Torrance Family Scholarship, which provides financial assistance to Prep School and Junior College students.
COL Torrance serves as a member of the Georgia Military College Foundation in addition to several other civic leadership boards. In his spare time, he helps operate a cattle operation at the Torrance Family Farm. COL Torrance is married to the former Ellen Provost of Monroe, Georgia. They have two adult children, Leighann Triplett and Kelly Capozzi. He is the proud Papa to five grandchildren.
Both gentlemen are American heroes who served our Nation well. They are both more than worthy of this honorable distinction and Georgia Military College is proud to call them our own.
Following the Military Honors Parade, Friday night GMC hosted the Grand Tattoo which is a program steeped with history and tradition involving the Prep School, Junior College, and Corps of Cadets, providing entertainment to friends and donors of GMC. During the event, guests got to enjoy the vocal talent of our Junior College Glee Club which is completely made of Cadets from the 143rd Corps of Cadets. The ceremony also included a formal retirement of the Nation’s Colors by a fourteen-member flag detail. The outdoor event was extremely successful as GMC celebrated with over 150 guests.
Both the Hall of Heroes induction and Grand Tattoo were livestreamed on the GMC YouTube Channel and can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtGl89cB1HW3Y2hKVuzijsQ/videos.
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