Former Utah National Guard member turns 100

By Ileen Kennedy | Utah National Guard | Jan. 21, 2021


Lt. Col. (retired) Wallace Bassett Gatrell was born on Jan. 25, 1921. He has lived through 20 U.S. presidents, served through World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars, and into the Cold War, serving a 34-year career in the military.

Gatrell’s family wanted to celebrate with him for his 100th birthday, but they had to do it safely during the pandemic. So, they held a drive-by birthday parade past his home in Farmington, Utah in his honor. 

Utahns who have turned 100 in the last year are welcomed into the Governor's Century Club. Another honor that will be bestowed upon Gatrell. A common question asked of club members is what’s the secret to making it to 100-years old? Gatrell shares his secret to longevity, “Waking up one more time than you go to bed, and doing it for 100 years!” 

On his 100th birthday, Gatrell also shared a bit of wisdom for others by simply saying, “Buy low and sell high.”

Gartell was born in Salt Lake City, and grew up on Green Street.  He attended West High School, where he enrolled in Junior ROTC.  After he graduated, he joined the Utah National Guard in June 1938. With the exception of a brief gap after World War II, he served in the U.S. military until 1972.  He served as a cadet, enlisted soldier, warrant officer and commissioned officer, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.  His first unit in the Utah National Guard was Battery D, 145th Field Artillery, part of the 65th Artillery Brigade and the 40th Infantry Division.  He spent more than 20 years in the Artillery Corps. 

 He took part in the Kwajalein, Saipan and Tinian campaigns, and participated in the liberation of the Philippines. 

Upon returning to the United States aboard a ship that docked in Seattle, Gatrell said he called Ruth Josephine Barton while she was in Salt Lake City, and asked, “When are we getting married?”  

Ruth answered, “I’m free next week.”  

They were married in the Salt Lake Temple on July 18, 1945. They were together for more than 72 years.  She died Sept. 15, 2017.

Gatrell’s family recorded a written military history of some of his experiences serving. Part of that record reads:    

When the Korean War broke out, the 2nd Infantry Division was the first stateside unit sent there.  Wallace arrived there during some of the darkest days of the war.  He ran ammunition convoys, was in firing batteries, and served as a forward observer.  On November 26, 1950, during the American retreat after the Chinese poured into Korea, he was wounded near the Chongchon River.  He personally rescued a soldier who had been wounded and fell off the tank his team was riding on, and ensured all his soldiers were cared for before getting treatment for his own wound.  A fragment had gone in and out his lower side toward his back, fortunately missing his spine.  The doctor opened up the wound, then cleaned it out in both directions “like shining shoes” using antiseptic-soaked gauze and an instrument like a cleaning rod. Wallace spent about two weeks in the hospital, then rejoined his unit.  

Gatrell received the Purple Heart for injuries he sustained in Korea. His leadership and bravery during those difficult times was also recognized by the award of the Silver Star, the nation’s third highest award for valor in combat and two awards of the Bronze Star with “V” device, for acts of heroism. He also earned four battle stars in the Pacific, and four more in Korea.

When asked what it meant to him to receive these awards, he simply said, “Well, I was honored.”

Gatrell retired from active duty April 7, 1972, receiving the Meritorious Service Medal.  He worked for the Utah Department of Health for another 25 years, retiring from there in 1997.





Your Career Starts Here

Photo of 1959 National Guard Members at the Fillmore Armory. Note style of windows and doors in the background. (Courtesy photo)
Fillmore Armory: A perfect way to bring a community together
By Jamie Brand | March 4, 2021
The first dance on the new, much anticipated, hardwood floor occurred on Memorial Day 1938. The newly constructed Fillmore Armory (Millard County) was a perfect way to bring a community together, built for both military...

Utah National Guard medical teams administer COVID-19 vaccinations
By Ileen Kennedy | Feb. 10, 2021
The Utah National Guard, in cooperation with the Utah Department of Health, expanded its support of the COVID-19 mission in January by administering vaccinations to Guard members and the civilian population...

Capt. Jeffrey Dallin Belnap snaps photo of Jupiter, a stuffed animal that belongs to his daughter at home, behind the U.S. Capitol building during a Utah National Guard mission to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 15, 2021. National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from several states traveled to Washington, D.C. to supplement federal and district authorities responsible for securing the U.S. Capitol for the 59th presidential inauguration. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Jeffrey Dallin Belnap)
Jupiter Capit-Owl
By Sgt. Jordan Hack | Feb. 10, 2021
Capt. Jeffrey Dallin Belnap, Public Affairs Officer with Utah’s 128th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, has been serving in Washington D.C. as one of the Utah National Guard’s 350 Soldiers sent to the nation’s Capitol to help...

The Utah National Guard, in cooperation with the Utah Department of Health,  has expanded its support of the COVID-19 mission providing vaccinations and monoclonal antibody infusions to patients living in long-term care facilities throughout Utah.
The Utah National Guard’s Monoclonal Infusion Strike Team works hard combating COVID-19
By Ileen Kennedy | Feb. 3, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to one of the longest activations of the Utah National Guard in the state. The Utah National Guard has provided the state with support in COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and medical supplies...

From left to right, Tech. Sgt. Keith Mecham, 142nd Military Intelligence Battalion (Linguist) RINGGOLD noncommissioned officer in charge; Mr. Terry Wilson, Utah training coordinator; and Mr. Nathaniel Hancock, language coordinator.
NSA 2020 Learning Excellence Award for Learning Organization of the Year
By | Feb. 1, 2021
The Utah National Guard is home to two units who are renowned for their "excellence in language." The service members of the 151st Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Group and the 300th Military Intelligence...

Gov. Elect Spencer Cox officially became Utah’s 18th governor after Justice Paige Petersen administered the oath of office during his inauguration ceremony at Tuacahan Center for the Arts in Ivins, Washington County, Utah on Jan. 4, 2021,.

Cox and his lieutenant, Deidre Henderson, took the oath of office against a backdrop of red rock cliffs at the Tuacahn Center for the Arts Amphitheatre in Ivins. The date also marks Utah’s 125th anniversary of statehood. 

Members of the Utah National Guard supported the inauguration with the Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Michael J. Turley as the master of ceremony; the Utah National Guard Honor Guard presentation of colors; members of the 2nd Battalion; 222nd Field Artillery fire a 19-gun cannon salute; a four aircraft flyover by members of 2nd Battalion, 211th General Support Aviation Battalion; members of the 85th Weapons of Mass Destruction—Civil Support Team and other support personnel.
Utah Guard supports Gov. Spencer J. Cox inauguration ceremony held in St. George, Utaah
By Ileen Kennedy | Jan. 5, 2021
Gov. Elect Spencer J. Cox officially became Utah’s 18th governor after Justice Paige Petersen administered the oath of office during an inauguration ceremony at Tuacahan Center for the Arts in Ivins, Washington County, Utah...

Lt. Col. Jeremy Stevenson, commander of the 141st Military Intelligence Battalion, speaks during the farewell ceremony for a detachment of 24 Soldiers from the 141st MI at the Utah National Guard’s Orem Readiness Center Dec. 10, 2020, as they prepare to depart for an overseas deployment. The deploying detachment is comprised of human intelligence and counterintelligence Soldiers and tasked to provide force protection support to ground forces during a 12-month deployment in the U.S. Central Command area of operations.(U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. 1st Class John Etheridge)
Utah National Guard’s 141 MI Battalion hold farewell ceremony for Soldiers deploying to Middle East
By Sgt 1st Class John Etheridge | Dec. 16, 2020
In a scaled back event due to COVID-19 precautions, 24 Soldiers from the 141st Military Intelligence Battalion, 300th Military Intelligence Brigade, said a final farewell during a ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at the Utah National...

There is nothing better than starting your day with a good old fashioned ruck march. Going where and how far you ask? The snipers wondered that themselves as they started off on foot to ranges of unknown distance headed to obstacles of unknown difficulty. Fatigued and unfamiliar, each team races against time and instability to attain as many targets as possible in the allotted time given on ranges at Fort Chaffee Joint Maneuver Training Center, Barling, Arkansas, December 5, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard photos by Sgt. Israel Sanchez)
50th WPW and 30th AFSAM Sniper Championships ~ Colorado, California National Guard Win Sniper Championships
By Maj. Theresa Austin, National Guard Marksmanship Training Center | Dec. 16, 2020
Staff Sgt. Nick D. Hardin and Master Sgt. Richard T. Weems, Utah Army National Guard, earned 3rd place overall for the 50th Winston P. Wilson Sniper Championships and the Winston P. Wilson Precision Engagement Team Champions...

2nd Lt. Blase Barker teleworks in his home office in Salt Lake City contacting people after they receive a positive COVID-19 test. The Contact Tracing and Investigation team’s goal is to first educate and inform people who have tested positive for COVID-19 on the proper precautions they should take.  Secondly, to stop the spread by identifying, contacting, and educating those who came into contact with a morbidity (COVID-19 Positive) case.
UTNG’s Contact Tracing and Investigation Team works tirelessly to protect local communities
By Cpt. Brad Herkimer | Dec. 8, 2020
The ongoing mission of the Utah National Guard Contact Tracing and Investigation Team is to reduce the spread of COVID-19 through morbidity investigations, and methodical contact tracing within 24 hours of a positive test...

Lt. Col. Lorin Bodily, chief of operations for the 20th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, studies a large “sand table” map prior to a combined arms rehearsal at Fort Carson, Colo.(U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Nathaniel Free)
From NCO to Virtual Commander
By Sgt. Nathaniel Free | Dec. 4, 2020
The 204th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade and many of its subordinate elements traveled from Utah to Fort Carson, Colorado, to conduct a sweeping division-level combat simulation called a “warfighter exercise,” held in October...