This weekend, former soldiers of the 1035th Maintenance Company will gather for a reunion, celebrating the rich history of a military organization that once had strong ties in Central Missouri.
Additionally, in recent years, some of the soldiers associated with this Missouri National Guard company have been bestowed great honors, fortifying a proud legacy that continues to inspire soldiers serving in the St. Louis area.
"The 1035th Maintenance Company (Headquarters in Jefferson City and Detachment 1 in DeSoto) has served Missouri and our nation with pride since the mid-20th Century," noted a company historical record printed in the early 1980s.
The birth of the Missouri National Guard company came with the organization of the 735th Ordnance Company at Fort Leonard Wood in 1947. Demonstrating their unparalleled competencies in the repair and maintenance of military vehicles and equipment, the National Guard's State Maintenance Shop -- along with the 735th -- was moved to Jefferson City.
The next transition occurred on Nov. 2, 1952, when the company was federally recognized as Company B, 735th Ordnance Battalion. For the next several years, the soldiers of the battalion attended their drills and annual training, the latter of which often occurred at locations such as Camp Ripley, Minnesota, and Camp McCoy, Wisconsin.
According to a "Lineage and Honors" from the Department of the Army dated 1969, Company B was "reorganized and redesignated (April 1, 1963) as 1035th Ordnance Company." On Jan. 15, 1968, it became the 1035th Heavy Equipment Maintenance Company after being merged with the 106th Ordinance Company, dropping in authorized strength from 216 to 212 soldiers.
Soon, it was redesignated the 1035th Maintenance Company and remained located in Jefferson City with a detachment being stationed in DeSoto.
"The 1035th has the mission to provide (general support) maintenance on major pieces of equipment to include automotive, armament, construction, materials handling, instrument and fire control items," according to the company historical. "The unit provides for its own Class IX (repair parts) resupply and can supplement DS (direct support) units. Direct exchange for rebuilt or repaired parts is provided to those DS units they serve."
Fittingly, the company's motto is "Service, Supply, Salvage."
After spending more than four decades in Jefferson City, the 1035th Maintenance Company was relocated to Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis in 1995, with Detachment 1 of the company remaining at DeSoto. Between 2005 and 2006, the company deployed to Iraq.
In the years following their return from the Middle East, the detachment in DeSoto was dissolved. In 2014, the 1035th Maintenance Company moved to a facility at Lambert International Airport, where it is currently housed.
The Missouri National Guard Hall of Fame inducted its inaugural class of six honored Guardsmen during a ceremony in Kirksville in 2021; two of the inductees were former members of the 1035th Maintenance Company.
One inductee, Wilburn Rowden, was a member of the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. After his aircraft was shot down, he was captured and held for several months as a prisoner of war by Germany. He later joined the Missouri National Guard and served several years in the 1035th Maintenance Company.
The late Col. Mark Randazzo enlisted in the 1035th Maintenance Company as a private and went on to attend Officer Candidate School, becoming an officer. He accompanied the company on its move from Jefferson City to Jefferson Barracks in 1995, and later served as the company commander. He died unexpectedly in 2011.
This past spring, the Combined Support Maintenance Shop at the Missouri National Guard Headquarters in Jefferson City was named in tribute to Col. Randazzo.
"The 1035th has had many homes and a lot of soldiers have passed through its ranks during the years," said Danny Verslues, a retired warrant officer who served in the U.S. Army and later joined the Missouri National Guard.
"A lot of those people that served in the company when it was in Jefferson City are no longer with us, and we wanted to have this get-together as soon as possible ... because none of us are getting any younger," he said with a chuckle. "Down the road, we hope to have one in the St. Louis area as well."
The 1035th reunion will be held from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday at the American Legion Post 5 in Jefferson City. Attendees are encouraged to bring mementos from their service with the company to share with those attending. Verslues stated they also welcome soldiers from any units who may have supported the 1035th during past military assignments.
"The 1035th Maintenance Company has a very impressive history and it is amazing how many great people have been a part of it," Verslues said. "We look forward to catching up with some those we served with and meeting others who are keeping the company's legacy going."
Jeremy P. Ämick writes on behalf of the Silver Star Families of America.