The Honorary Colonels Corps was organized by Brigadier General Lewis T. Ellsworth, President of Surety Life Insurance Company, who donated personal funds to create the organization in 1958. Major General Maxwell E. Rich was the Adjutant General of the Utah National Guard at that time. Original membership consisted of 17 individuals. General Ellsworth remained commander of the Corps for approximately 25 years.
Ellsworth was succeeded as commander by Mitchell Melich, Chris Johnson, Jake Garn and the present commander is, Maj. Gen. (retired) Brian Tarbet.
Major General Michael Turley is presently the adjutant general and may act as the chairperson of the HC Corps when necessary. Former commander, Brig Gen (Ret) E. J. “Jake” Garn is an emeritus member.
The HC Corps was created as a civic organization for the purpose of creating good will and social welfare for the state and promoting the interests of the Utah National Guard. It supports the objectives and actions of the National Guard to help further the best interests of the state. The HC Corps also works with the governor of Utah on such affairs and projects as appropriate.
The HC Corps is a non-profit organization, and no part of the net earnings goes to benefit any individual. The HC Corps does not attempt to influence legislation nor participate in any political activities. At the present time, dues are $200 per year and no additional fund raising is conducted.
Members include individuals who have distinguished themselves in the fields of government services, military affairs, business, the arts, the sciences, or other worthwhile fields of endeavor. Governors are automatically inducted as members of the HC Corps and remain in the Corps after they leave office. At the present time, we also have numerous retired general officers of the Utah National Guard and mayors as HC Corps members.
The HC Corps sponsors an annual Awards Banquet to recognize community leaders who have supported the National Guard or who have been active in promoting programs in the public interest throughout the state and nation.
The HC Corps provides financial support to Freedom Academy held at Camp Williams each year. The program is designed to instill patriotism and democratic principles in student-body officers and other selected students from high schools throughout the state. After a week with their peers, students are encouraged to return to their respective schools and organize Freedom Week activities for the benefit of their student bodies.
The HC Corps sponsors the annual Veterans Day Concert where the Utah National Guard's 23rd Army Band joins with the Granite School District choirs to present a free concert to the public.
The HC Corps joins in Governor's Day activity in September of each year where tribute is paid to the governor/commander in chief and the men and women of the Utah National Guard.