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Lucien Abraham (1902–1960)

Lucien Abraham was an Arkansas educator and military officer who rose to the rank of adjutant general of the Arkansas National Guard, serving in that position from 1953 to 1955.

Lucien Abraham was born on February 1, 1902, in Arkadelphia (Clark County), the youngest of seven children of longtime Clark County sheriff James Howard Abraham and Lucinda Virginia Golden; he had the distinction of being born in the Clark County Jail. He graduated from Arkadelphia High School and entered what is now Ouachita Baptist University in 1918, where he earned letters playing football, baseball, and track, and served as a cadet major in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program. He graduated in 1922. The U.S. Army denied him a commission because he was too young but awarded him a “certificate of capacity.” A year later, he received his commission as a second lieutenant in the Army Reserve.

After clerking in Arkadelphia and Hope (Hempstead County), Abraham moved to Batesville (Independence County) in 1925, where he married Mary Adeline Brown of De Queen (Sevier County); they had a son and a daughter. He joined Company L of the 153rd Infantry Regiment of the Arkansas National Guard in 1926 and was captain and company commander by 1928. By 1932, he was principal of Batesville Junior High School, also working as head football coach and assistant professor at Arkansas College (now Lyon College). While coaching, he convinced the college to drop its football program for lack of qualified players.

Abraham was ordered to active duty when the National Guard was mobilized in 1940 and was commanding the Third Battalion of the 153rd Infantry Regiment when sent to Alaska with Company L in 1941. He took command of the Second Battalion of the 153rd while there, earning promotion to major, and commanded the battalion during the landings at Kiska in the Aleutians in 1943. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel following the Kiska action, and he was a full colonel when demobilized in 1946.

He returned to civilian life as superintendent of Batesville schools in 1946 but was named commander of the 153rd Infantry Regiment as the National Guard reorganized that year. He left the Batesville superintendent position in 1953 after Governor Francis Cherry promoted him to brigadier general and named him adjutant general of the Arkansas National Guard. Abraham told a reporter that he applied for the adjutant general position reluctantly at the urging of other Guard officers, saying, “I gave up a better job to take this job….I don’t see how there can be any permanence in this job for any man. You have to resist political pressures too often.” As adjutant general, he oversaw construction of a $1.3 million base at Fort Smith (Sebastian County) for the 184th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron and urged the Arkansas General Assembly to significantly increase Guard funding to leverage federal funds for armory construction and to establish additional units. Abraham was replaced as adjutant general in 1955 following Cherry’s loss to Orval Faubus in the 1954 gubernatorial election.

Following his stint as adjutant general, Abraham returned to duty as a colonel in the Guard at the State Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment. Faubus awarded him the Arkansas Distinguished Service Medal on March 21, 1960. Abraham died on June 11, 1960, following a lengthy illness, and is buried in Oaklawn Cemetery in Batesville. At the time of his death, he was serving as superintendent of the school in Desha (Independence County).

For additional information:
“Federal Funds Offered to State for Armories.” Arkansas Gazette, December 16, 1954, p. 1B.

“Guard Receives Funds for Air Base at Fort Smith.” Arkansas Gazette, March 5, 1954, p. 1B.

Harris, Sam G. “Lucien Abraham: Arkansas’s Citizen Soldier.” Arkansas Gazette, May 17, 1953, p. 5F.

“Lucien Abraham Dies.” Arkansas Democrat, June 11, 1960, pp. 1, 2.

“Lucien Abraham Dies; Former Adjutant General.” Arkansas Gazette, June 12, 1960, p. 4C.

Mark K. Christ
Little Rock, Arkansas

Last Updated 11/30/2018

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