This Week in Guard History
January 2, 1991: Amid high security as American and coalition forces prepare to evict Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces from Kuwait, the National Guard Association’s new “National Guard Memorial” is opened in Washington, D.C. Built on the same ground as the first Memorial, opened in 1959, the new facility remains the home of the Association and the National Guard Educational Foundation and its related National Guard Museum. NGAUS is a nonpartisan organization representing nearly 45,000 current and former Army and Air National Guard officers. Formed in 1878, NGAUS is focused on procuring better equipment, standardized training and a more combat-ready force by petitioning Congress for resources.
January 2, 1991: Groundbreaking for the National Guard Memorial was conducted on June 27, 1989. Rep. G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery, D-Miss.; Rep. Mike Parker, D-Miss.; Rep. Chuck Douglas, R-N.H.; Maj. Gen. Charles M. Kiefner, the NGAUS president; and retired Lt. Gen. LaVern E. Weber, the NGAUS executive director, joined several National Guard Bureau general officers and other association leaders to man shovels for the ceremony. Right after the presidential inauguration in January, demolition began on the old building, which was built in 1959. Demar, Inc. constructed the new building on the same site, and doors opened for the NGAUS staff on Jan. 2, 1991. A dedication ceremony took place on Sept. 22, 1991.
January 3, 1777: Following his overwhelming victory over Hessian troops at Trenton just eight days earlier, Gen. George Washington again outwits his British opponents by once more having his army make a long night march to approach where it is not expected. Among his troops are Pennsylvania and New Jersey militiamen, many of whom fought at Trenton. This time he catches two British regiments on a road march near Princeton, N.J., and severely mauls them, causing about 276 killed, wounded or captured for only between 30 to 40 American rank and file killed or wounded. However, several militia commanders, such as Col. John Haslet of the Delaware Regiment, and Capt. Daniel Neal of the West Jersey Artillery Company, were among the dead. General Washington, with the victory at Trenton and having made a good showing at Princeton, moved his army into winter quarters at Morristown, N.J.
January 6, 1777: Morristown, N.J. — In the 18th century it was common for armies to "hole up" for the winter and few campaigns or battles took place. Gen. George Washington broke this mold, with his darling strikes first at Trenton on December 26, 1776, and again at Princeton on January 3. After the Battle of Princeton, his army was in need of rest and reorganization. So he moved it into the Watchung Mountains of northern New Jersey for the winter. Here his men built log huts to keep warm and because of the army's recent successes its ranks grew steady by spring as new recruits joined the cause. Washington selected this area for several reasons, the most important of which was its close proximity to New York City, the main base of the British Army. From here he was able to keep an eye on the enemy while being protected from surprise attack by the high ground he occupied. The local population was very supportive so food was obtained rather easily. And the area had iron works used for weapons repair and other purposes. Washington was so impressed by the benefits offered his army here that he again quartered his troops at Morristown during the bitter winter of 1779 to 1780.
January 6, 2005: Baghdad, Iraq — Six members of Louisiana's 2nd Battalion, 156th Infantry (Mechanized), and one member of New York's 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry were killed when their M-2 "Bradley" fighting vehicle was blown off a road by a bomb. This is the highest number of Guardsmen killed in a single incident since seven members of Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 138th Artillery (Ky.) were killed in a single action in Vietnam in June 1969. The list of the fallen include:
Spc. Bradley Bergeron, 25, of Houma; Sgt. Christopher Babin, 27, of Houma; Pvt. Armand Frickey, 20, of Houma; Spc. Warren Murphy, 29, of Marrero; Spc. Huey Fassbender, 24, of Laplace; Sgt. 1st Class Kurt Comeaux, 34, of Raceland; and Pfc. Kenneth VonRonn, 20, of Pine Bush, N.Y.
January 8, 1815: Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson, himself a former Guardsman from Tennessee, leads a combined force of Army Regulars, volunteer militia from several states, pirates and others in his successful defense of New Orleans from an invading British Army in the last act of the War of 1812. Among his militia troops is a unit from Louisiana rather unique in American military history. Known as the “Battalion of Free Men of Color” its ranks include African Americans, Mulottos, Creoles and Choctaw Indians. Louisiana, then a new state in the Union, had had under its French colonial government a black militia organization, quickly disbanded upon statehood. However, with the current emergency it was reorganized and expanded. The battalion saw action during the campaign, giving a distinguished account of itself; but once the invasion threat ended it was again quickly disbanded. No non-white soldiers would serve in the Louisiana militia until after the start of the Civil War.
January 9, 1945: Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, Philippines — Three of four Army divisions making the assault landing on the main island of the Philippines, site of the nation's capital of Manila, are from the Guard. They are the 37th (Ohio), 40th (Calif., Nev., Utah) and the 43rd (Conn., Maine, R.I., Vt.) infantry divisions. Meeting little resistance on the beaches, the divisions move inland to capture strategic sites. The 40th captured Lingayen Airfield after light opposition but engaged in heavier fighting when it took Storm King Mountain. The 43rd conducted a series of attacks against a determined Japanese defenders on a number of hills on their approach to Fort Stotsenburg, near Clark Airfield north of Manila. The 37th quickly moved south of the landing beaches, capturing Clark Airfield on Jan. 26. Next it moved into the suburbs of Manila, engaging in house-to-house fighting as it worked into the center of the city. After thousands of enemy dead and almost as many civilians, mostly killed by rampaging Japanese troops, the city fell to the 37th (in conjunction with the 2nd Cavalry Division) on March 3.
January 11, 1991: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq — Operation Desert Storm opens with a blistering air assault on key Iraqi command and control, communications and other vital military targets as the war to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation begins. Among the first combat units flying sorties were the Air Guard's 169th Tactical Fighter Group (S.C.) and the 174th Tactical Fighter Wing (N.Y.), both armed with F-16 aircraft. Other Guard units participated in support roles, from in-air refueling to cargo transportation.
January 12, 1942: From San Francisco, Calif., “Combat Team X” sails for Singapore aboard the transport steamer President Coolidge. It is made up of ten North American 0-47 aircraft with crews drawn from several mobilized Guard observation squadrons. With the impending fall of Singapore to the Japanese, the team was diverted to Australia where for a brief period it flew antisubmarine patrols. Each plane carried two depth charges though they spotted no enemy boats. By summer the team was broken up and its men were reassigned to other Army Air Corps units in theater.
January 14, 1952: Taegu, Korea — Despite temperatures often well below zero, airmen of the 136th Fighter-Bomber Wing manage to keep their F-84E Thunderjets serviceable enough to fly and fight. The 136th is composed of three Air Guard squadrons, the 111th and the 182nd, both of Texas, and the 154th of Arkansas. The unit arrived in theater in May 1951 and would return home April 1952.
January 16, 1955: Phenix City, Ala. — As a six month period of martial law ends in Russell County and the last of about 300 Guardsmen leave for home, they can be proud that they helped clean up what one politician called "the most wicked city in the United States." Phenix City had a national reputation for gambling, bootleg liquor, prostitution and other vices. Most of its revenue came from the soldiers stationed at Ft. Benning, Ga, just across the state line. The Guard became involved when Gov. Gordon Persons determined that the county and city were out of control of legitimate law enforcement. In July 1954, a key witness due to testify for a grand jury about local corruption was murdered. The governor appointed Maj. Gen. Walter Hanna, commander of the 31st Infantry Division, to take charge of the situation and "clean up" the county. Hanna selected 150 Guardsmen and moved on July 24 appointing his own "sheriff" to replace the corrupt one. Judges from other areas of the state were appointed by the governor replaced those thought corrupt in the county. Over the next few months, Hanna's men (rotating to a total of 300) destroyed slot machines, roulette tables and other gambling equipment. The illegal bars were shut and the brothels closed down. By early 1955, the clean up program was about complete, all with no loss of life. Phenix City would never rise again to resume its "wicked" status.
January 17, 1781: Cowpens, S.C. — An American army composed of Continental soldiers and militia men from Ga., S.C., N.C. and Va. under the command of Gen. Daniel Morgan, who started the war as a captain in the Virginia militia, wins a decisive victory over a British force numbering about 950 men. The war in the southern colonies had become something of a stalemate with neither side having sufficient strength to hazard full out offensive operations. The fighting was conducted by raiding columns and guerilla activity. Both sides behaved with unrestrained ferocity. The British lost 110 men and 730 (including 200 wounded) were captured. American losses were only 12 killed and 62 wounded. This defeat compelled the British commander, Lord Cornwallis, to move his army away from the Carolina "back country" and toward the Atlantic coast where Royal Navy ships could render aid if needed. He would eventually move into Virginia and occupy a small village named Yorktown.
January 18, 1968
: At “Camp Atterbury East” in Vietnam, Indiana’s Company D, 151st Infantry (Long Range Patrol--later re-designated as “Ranger”) becomes operational in support of Headquarters, II Field Force. The “Indiana Rangers” as they quickly became known, was the only Army reserve forces ground maneuver unit to serve in Vietnam. Its main mission was to gather intelligence about enemy movements and planned attacks. Operating in six to eight man patrols, and often staying in the jungle for several days at a time, the Rangers proved quite adept at concealed observation, though at times they did get involved in hostile engagements, being credited with more than 100 enemy soldiers killed and captured. During its one year tour the members of this Guard unit earned one of the highest percentages of awards given to any unit in Vietnam, including 19 Silver Stars, 123 Bronze Stars (29 of which included a “V” device for Valor), one Soldier’s Medal (for an act of heroism in a non-combat situation), 111 Air Medals, 183 Army Commendation Medals and 101 Purple Hearts. The unit is perpetuated today by the 151st Infantry.January 20, 1961: Washington, D.C. — The inaugural parade for President John Kennedy marks a high point in the number of Guard ceremonial units participating in the "pass in review" for the new president. A total of 16 distinctively uniformed Guard units marched down Pennsylvania Avenue. Most were "old" commands like the National Lancers (Mass.), First City Troop of Philadelphia (Pa.) and the Richmond Light Infantry Blues (Va.). Each of these units wore uniform patterns adopted in the early 1800s. With many changes both in the Guard and in society itself in the intervening years, almost no units today except the City Troop still maintain and wear distinctive dress uniforms. In 2009, about 9,300 National Guardsmen supported the 56th Presidential Inauguration, the Guard's largest contribution to an inauguration in its 372-year history.January 21, 1903
: Washington, D.C.
— The Militia Act sponsored by Rep. Charles Dick, R-Ohio, is enacted. It was benchmark legislation that repealed the outdated Militia Act of 1792. With its passage the modern National Guard, as part of the federal reserve, was born. The Guard now had to meet stricter federal requirement for training and equipment, though now the government paid most of the bills. The Guard’s officer corps would be required to be “federally recognized”-certified as to physical, professional and moral standards. Its enlisted personnel would also have to obtain higher standards than under the old militia period. All ranks would get pay and allowances for their attendance at a five day summer encampment. Eventually, federal monies for all training periods, annual and drill would be added as well as monies for armory construction and maintenance. Many aspects of “Guard service” as it is understood today date from the passage of the Dick Act of 1903.January 22, 1944:
Anzio, Italy — When Allied forces became blocked by stiff German resistance in the mountains of central Italy, it was decided to open a second front by making a beach landing behind enemy lines to cut the Germans off and clear the road to Rome. What was planned as a quick and decisive operation quickly bogged down just off the beaches. The units committed were entrapped until early May 2 before they, in conjunction with the other Allied forces coming up from the south, finally were able to break out. Three Guard divisions took part in this operation, the 34th (N.D., S.D., Minn., Iowa), the 36th (Texas) and the 45th (Ariz., Colo., N.M., Okla.).January 25, 1787:
Springfield, Mass. — Nearly 2,000 farmers and laborers under the leadership of Daniel Shays storm the federal arsenal looking for arms. In the years following the end of the Revolution, Americans faced many problems; from an economy in poor condition, to nearly worthless currency still issued by each state but not honored in other states, to the imposition of a "poll tax" to keep the poor from voting. Shays and other farmers from western Massachusetts, failing to find redress in the courts, started taking to violent action to prevent their friends from being sent to jail for unpaid debts. "Shays' Rebellion," which was one of several such revolts in the 1786 to 1787 period, started in August when his men seized the courthouse in Northampton. His attack on the arsenal was repulsed by 1,200 militiamen, with four of rebels killed and many, including Shays, captured. Quickly tried, he was sentenced to hang but was soon pardoned. Memories of this revolt were still fresh in the minds of the delegates meeting in Philadelphia later this year to establish a new form of government to replace the Articles of Confederation. Among the provisions adopted in our new Constitution was a clause establishing a strong militia to "execute the laws of the Union, (and) suppress insurrections."
January 26, 1968:
Nationwide - A total of 11 Air National Guard squadrons, both fighter and reconnaissance, are mobilized in the wake of the seizure of the USS Pueblo by the North Koreans. Four of the fighter squadrons, the 120th (CO), 136th (NY), 174th (IA) and the 188th (NM) were deployed to Vietnam flying F-100 Super Sabres in support of American ground operations. Two other fighter squadrons, the 127th (KS) and the 166th (OH) were deployed to South Korea as a deterrent against any further hostile acts.
January 27, 1899:
Richmond, Va. — The 6th Virginia Volunteer Infantry arrives home from Camp Haskell, Ga., after being released from active duty for the Spanish American War. It was one of nine African American Guard units to serve during the war. It gained national notoriety when one company staged a "mutiny" over the issue of having white officers appointed to replace the black officers who brought them onto active duty. While no one was hurt during this incident, it threatened to cause a white backlash against all black participation in the Army. Some of the reforms in officer qualifications enacted under the 1903 Militia Act were in direct response to this and other similar problems. The 6th was not reorganized in state service and no African American would serve again in the Virginia National Guard until 1965.
January 28, 1952: Kumsong Chwapre Ri, Korea — The 40th Infantry Division of the California National Guard, newly arrived in Korea, completes rotating in to replace the 24th Infantry Division along a frontline sector of some 27 miles. The division, like the Oklahoma Guard's 45th Infantry Division, has spent more than a year training in the states and Japan before being committed to combat in Korea. But this is not the 40th's first time in Korea. It had been stationed here during the Allied occupation at the close of World War II. It would remain on duty until 1954, a year after the armistice was signed ending the fighting.
January 29, 1945: Near Luzon, Philippines, OPERATION M-7 begins, which is a plan to open a second front in support of the main American effort of securing the island from the Japanese. To accomplish this goal the 38th Infantry Division (Ind., Ky., W.Va.) lands north of the Bataan Peninsula (site of the infamous “death march”) to cut off enemy reinforcements and supplies from reaching the area around Clark Airfield and Fort Stotsenburg. With heavy fighting at Zig Zag Pass and other areas of the peninsula, Bataan and later Corregidor Island were secured from the Japanese by February 21st, opening Subic Bay to U.S. Navy ships. For their determined offensive actions General Douglas MacArthur, overall commander of this invasion, bestowed the title “Avengers of Bataan” on the 38th Division.
January 30, 1944: Sterling Island, near Guadalcanal — The 106th Reconnaissance Squadron (Bombardment), formerly the 106th Observation Squadron out of Alabama, begins operations against the Japanese. This is just one of two former Guard flying units that would be deployed to the Pacific Theater. Armed with North American B-25 "Mitchell" long-range bombers, the unit is able to cover large areas of the central Pacific theater. Later it would be reassigned to New Guinea.
January 31, 1942: Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Great Britan - The 34th Infantry Division (IA, MN, ND, SD) arrives here as the first American ground combat unit deployed to the European Theater during World War II. In November 1942 it will take part in the invasion of French North African and in September 1943 it will land in Italy to fight the Germans all the way up the "boot" into the Po River Valley by wars' end.
February 1, 1951: Nationwide — Increment Two of the partial mobilization of selected Air Guard units has 18 squadrons entering active duty today for service during the Korean War. The first increment, called up on October 10, 1950, consisted of 15 squadrons. All six squadrons to actually serve in the Korean theater were in this first group. Of the 18 units entering service on this day in 1951 only one, Washington's 116th Fighter Squadron, flying F-86A Sabre jets, is deployed to Europe to support NATO operations. The other 17 squadrons remain in the U.S. although a large number of their personnel, especially pilots, are levied and sent to Korea as individual replacements.
February 2, 1945: Central Burma — Guardsmen of the 124th Cavalry (Texas) launch a successful attack on Japanese positions on "Knight's Hill". The regiment, part of the "Mars Task Force", was the last horse-mounted unit in the U.S. Army, and the only Guard ground maneuver unit to serve in Burma. Having lost their horses prior to leaving the states, the unit was furnished mules to carry their supplies through the rugged mountains and jungles of this theater. During this engagement, 1st Lt. Jack Knight earned the Medal of Honor for personally wiping out two enemy pillboxes and, though blinded, led his platoon in destroying a third. He was killed in this last assault and the hill was named in his honor.
February 2, 1951: Unnamed Hill, South Korea — Men of the 65th Infantry, a Regular Army regiment composed entirely of men from Puerto Rico and assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, captures a strategic hill after a three day fight to gain its summit. What makes this unit of interest to Guard history? Organized in 1899 as the Puerto Rican Regiment of Volunteer Infantry, it was a special unit within the Regular Army (redesignated to 65th Infantry in 1920). Recruited entirely on the island, the overwhelming number of enlisted personnel spoke only Spanish. As a result, the officers assigned were required to speak both English and Spanish, often a hard language requirement to fill at the time. This made peacetime assignments of the unit outside of Puerto Rico almost impossible. Over the years, the regiment took on many of the aspects of a Guard unit, with men staying in the same company for their whole career, something almost unheard of in the Army. This often led to fathers and sons and even in some cases, grandsons serving in the same unit. Again, this was not a norm in the Army, but it was (is) not an uncommon occurrence in the Guard. It did not serve overseas in World War I but did see combat in Italy during World War II. Deployed with the 3rd Division it arrived in Korea in 1950 and remained there until 1954. Since Spanish was a required language for service with the regiment, the easiest solution to finding replacements was to mobilize units from the Puerto Rican National Guard and levy men to send to Korea as fillers. After the war, as the Army began to reduce strength and open all units to integration, it was decided to transfer the 65th Infantry to the Puerto Rico National Guard, which occurred in 1959. Known as the “Borinqueneers” (after the name of the native people who lived on Puerto Rico when Columbus discovered it) this unique regiment remains an important part of the Guard today.
February 4, 1899: Manila, Luzon, Philippine Islands — Filipinos under the leadership of their general, Emilio Aguinaldo, launch a wave of attacks along American defensive positions outlying the city. The "Philippine Insurrection" has begun. When the U.S. entered the Spanish-American War in April 1898 over Cuban independence, little thought was given to Spain's other overseas colonies. Among them was the Philippines, which the Americans seized with little effort or loss of life in July 1898. By early 1899, as the Americans granted independence to the newly freed Cubans, it was decided to annex the Philippines as a colony. But many of the local people also wanted their freedom from foreign control and rose to fight for it. The bulk of Army forces then serving in the islands were Guardsmen in units from: Calif., Colo., Idaho, Iowa, Kan., Minn., Mont., Neb., Nev., N.D., Ore., Pa., S.D., Tenn., Utah, Wash., Wyo.. While the war would last until 1903, the Guards' role in it ended in autumn 1899 as the last of the volunteer units returned home. However, enough Guardsmen volunteered to stay on active duty that two regiments of infantry were organized. These remained in action until the Insurrection ended in 1901. Only one Guardsman received the Medal of Honor during the Spanish-American War, but 15 earned it during the Insurrection.
February 5, 1944: At Monte Cassino, Italy, elements of Minnesota’s 1st Battalion, 135th Infantry, 34th Infantry Division (Iowa, Minn., N.D., S.D.) reach a section of the wall of the Abbey but are forced by fierce German resistance to withdraw. This is as close as any American unit would get to securing the ancient monastery. It was eventually captured by British Commonwealth and Free French troops.
February 6, 1862: A combined Union Army and Naval force capture Fort Henry, Tenn., a Confederate position along the Tennessee River. Illinois Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant is in overall command of the Union attack. After offering brief resistance the rebel commander surrenders the garrison. Grant would continue to find battlefield success ending the war as the first four-star general in American history and becoming the 18th president of the United States in 1869.
February 7, 2003: Quincy, Ill. — Members of the 126th Maintenance Company are mobilized to support Operation Enduring Freedom. The unit will not be deployed overseas, rather some of its soldiers are sent to Fort Bragg, NC, to "backfill" for troops already shipped out. Among its 180 personnel are four sets of brothers. It is not at all uncommon for family members to be serving together in the same unit. National Guard units draw their soldiers from the local community in which they are based and often include brothers, fathers and sons and since the 1970s, sisters or mother and daughter combinations. In fact, this same unit 35-years earlier (1968) had a very similar situation. Then designated as the 126th Service and Supply Company it was mobilized for Vietnam service. Of the 148 men in its ranks were eight sets of brothers, including one set of three brothers. Fortunately the unit suffered no Guard casualties and all returned from Vietnam safely.
February 8, 1978: Northeast to Upper Midwest, United States — The last of three consecutive blizzards, often with hurricane force winds leaving snow drifts as high as 15-feet, finally clears allowing the slow process of digging out to begin. Guardsmen in 21 states, from Maine to North Carolina west to Tennessee and north into the Dakota's are on state active duty for weeks helping to clear roads, move emergency supplies, offer first aid, evacuate families stranded without heat and in many cases staff armories as shelters. With more than 17,000 personnel on duty at some point this is the largest multi-state mobilization of Guardsmen in aid to civil authorities for one event up to that point in the nation's history.
February 9, 1945: Manila, Luzon, Philippine Islands — Sgt. Billy E. Vinson, a squad leader in Company B, 148th Infantry, 37th Infantry Division, from the Ohio National Guard, is leading his team in searching house-to-house for Japanese defenders. Suddenly his squad is ambushed by elite Japanese marines. Using his Browning automatic rifle, he quickly kills six of the enemy, allowing enough time for his soldiers to evacuate the wounded to safety. He would be awarded the Silver Star. Two other members of the same regiment involved in the campaign to clear the Japanese out of Manila would earn the Medal of Honor.
February 10, 1945: Luzon, Philippine Islands — Illinois' 33rd Infantry Division begins its Philippines operations by launching a successful drive against the towns of Rosrio and Aringay in the central mountains of the island of Luzon. Its goal is to capture the city of Baguio, headquarters for General Yamashita, the Japanese commander of the Philippines. For more than three months the 33rd is heavily engaged in savage mountain fighting. The Japanese defenders are masters of well camouflaged positions, inflicting hundreds of American casualties before the city is taken. Yamashita retreats deeper into the mountains and is captured by the 32nd Infantry Division (Mich., Wis.) only after the war ends in August.
February 12, 1809: Hardin County, Ky. — Abraham Lincoln is born. An Illinois resident in 1832, when the governor called for volunteers to fight against the Sac Indians under their warchief Black Hawk, Lincoln enlisted in his local militia company. He was quickly elected captain. The war ended before he saw any combat and he was soon mustered out. He later asserted to biographer John L. Scripps that he had "not since had any success in life which gave him so much satisfaction" as having served as captain in the Black Hawk War, though he did not claim heroism in battle. In 1861, he became the 16th president of the United States and held the nation together during the Civil War.
February 15, 1898: Havana Harbor, Cuba — The USS Maine explodes, killing 260 American sailors. The reason for this explosion is still questioned today, though most experts now feel it was an accident. Cuba was a Spanish colony, with rebels fighting to win their independence from colonial rule. Many Americans supported the Cubans in their goal of freedom. The Maine was sent as a "good will" gesture by the U.S. toward Spain. When it suddenly blew up in a Spanish controlled port the newspapers of the day blamed the Spanish for sabotaging the ship. The outcry for revenge finally led America to declare war against Spain on April 25. In the next few months, nearly 200,000 men would flock to the "colors"; 170,000 of them drawn from uniformed volunteer militia units, the predecessors of the National Guard. Many of these men served in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Guam and the Philippines. Thousands would die (almost all from disease) while some, like Teddy Roosevelt, would gain national exposure. All contributed to making America a world power.
February 16, 1862: Fort Donelson, Tenn. — Swiftly moving his army after its capture of Fort Henry on Feb. 6, Union commander and Illinois Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant surrounded this fort on Feb. 11. When the Confederate commander asked what terms he could get if he surrendered, Grant's reply was "unconditional surrender," which would be quickly attached by the press to his initials. He would be called Unconditional Surrender Grant. He would end the war commanding all Union forces and was elected the 18th president of the United States in 1868.
February 17, 1919: In New York City, N.Y., the 369th Infantry (N.Y.) stages its own victory parade upon returning home from France at the end of World War I. This African American regiment, commanded by white field grade officers and a combination of white and black company officers, established a high level of achievement. Assigned to fight under French command, it spent 191 days in contact with the enemy, more than any other American regiment. It never gave a foot of ground nor had a man captured by the enemy. More than half the Guard members of the unit were either killed or wounded in action. Many received French decorations for valor and one white officer earned the Medal of Honor. Leading the parade was the 369th Band under the command of Lieutenant James Reese Europe. He and the band are credited with bringing jazz to Europe, ushering in the 1920s as the “Jazz Age.” In the intervening years the unit has been reorganized and re-designated as the 369th Supply Battalion and was mobilized in 2004 for service in Iraq.
February 18, 1988: Palmerola Air Base, Honduras — Despite an intense debate about the use of Guard personnel for "nation building" in Central America, 52 members of the 110th Civil Engineer Squadron, Michigan Air National Guard, deploy for 17-days annual training. While in-country they will assist other American and Honduran military units in base construction and improvement. During the late 1980s, there was a serious attempt by some governors to prevent the president and Defense Department from employing Guard units on annual training to potential "hot spots" in Latin America. In 1990, the Supreme Court found that DoD does indeed have the authority, with presidential approval, to deploy Guardsmen anywhere in the world for training, even over the objections of the governors.
February 21, 1887: Philadelphia, Pa. — Company A of the Washington Cadets Corps from Washington, D.C., arrives to take part in the annual Washington's Birthday Parade held on Feb. 22. Despite being called the Cadet Corps, this unit is an African American battalion of the District's National Guard. They are hosted by Philadelphia's Grey Invincibles, the only remaining black unit in the Pennsylvania Guard. Both units, like many Guard organizations of the day, have distinctive dress uniforms that are paid for by the men themselves.
February 22, 1732: Pope's Creek Plantation, Va. — George Washington is born here today. Known for commanding the Continental Army during the Revolution and for being the first President of the United States, he is often referred to as the "father of his country". Few know however, that probably none of these later events in his life would have occurred if he had not been an officer in the Virginia militia. Washington was appointed a district adjutant general in the Virginia militia in 1752, which made him Maj. Washington at the age of 20. He was charged with training the militia in the quarter assigned to him. His service during the French and Indian War brought him name recognition in the other colonies and when the Second Continental Congress was looking for a strong leader to command its army Washington, with his militia experience, appeared the most logical choice. The rest is history.
February 22, 1847: Buena Vista, Mexico — A small American army under the command of General Zachary Taylor defeats a much larger force commanded by General Santa Anna, President of Mexico. About ninety percent of Taylor's army was composed of state volunteer (Guard) units, several of which were heavily engaged in the fight. The 2nd Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, led by Lieutenant Colonel Henry Clay, Jr. (son of the famous former secretary of state and speaker of the House of Representatives) was killed while commanding his men in blunting the Mexican assault. The 1st Mississippi Rifles, under the command of Colonel Jefferson Davis (future secretary of war and president of the Confederacy) and the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry charged into the flank of the Mexicans and routed them off the field.
February 23, 1944: In preparation for the D-Day landings to take place in June, the photo-reconnaissance aircraft of the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Group begins daily over flight missions along a 160-mile strip of French coastline. The Group is composed of three former Guard observation squadrons, the 107th (Mich.) and 109th (Minn.) Tactical Reconnaissance Squadrons plus Arkansas’ 153rd Liaison Squadron. This operation continued right up to the invasion, with a total of 83 sorties being flown without the loss of a single plane. The Group produced more than 9,500 images which were used in planning where to land the invasion forces. The 67th was one of the first Groups to have its aircraft transferred to France as soon as a safe airfield was secured.
February 24, 1941: Brainard Field, Hartford, Conn. — The 118th Observation Squadron enters active duty for World War II service. At first flying antisubmarine patrols along the Atlantic coast, in December 1943, it is transferred via India to China. Redesignated as the 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron it was armed with the photo-recon version of the P-51 Mustang fighters. In June 1944, it was reassigned to the 23rd Fighter Group, the heir to the famous "Flying Tigers." During the balance of the war its pilots often engaged Japanese "Zero's" in combat, with five members of the unit earning the designation of "ace" for shooting down at least five enemy aircraft each. Today the 118th Fighter Squadron remains a part of the Connecticut Air Guard flying A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft.
February 24, 1991: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq — The long awaited ground offensive of Operation Desert Storm starts with an overwhelming assault across the Saudi desert to outflank the Iraqi forces trapped in Kuwait. Among the units supporting this advance are the artillery battalions of the 142nd (Ark.) and 196th (Tenn.) Field Artillery Brigades, the only two Guard combat units to fight in the war. Following nearly six weeks of constant aerial attack the Iraqi Army has been heavily damaged and had its lines of communications and supply cut. As the American and Allied armies move into Iraq, Guard units like the 212th Engineer Company (Tenn.) support their efforts by making or repairing roads. Other units such as Arizona’s 222nd Transportation Company moved fuel to keep the tanks rolling. In all 297 Army Guard units, consisting of 37,848 soldiers, served in theater. Another 24,563 Guard members either deployed to other stations overseas or were still training in the U.S. when the war ended.
February 26, 1943: Spean Bridge, Scotland — Army public relations officers accompany press photographers and reporters on a visit to the British Commando Depot at Camp Achnacarry. They witness the 29th Ranger Battalion (Provisional) being put through its paces as its men demonstrate ranger/commando skills and tactics. The battalion, composed of volunteers from the 29th Infantry Division (D.C., Md., Va.), was a temporary unit organized to give ranger training to selected men who would then return to their former companies and pass these specialized skills along to their comrades. Later some of the photos would appear in newspapers back home, like the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post. Exactly one year later after the battalion had been disbanded, one of these photos appeared on the cover of Yank magazine in Europe. The Army disbanded the 29th Rangers in October 1943. As planned, when the rangers returned to their units they taught the other soldiers some of their raiding and observation skills.
February 27, 1991: Kuwait — Operation Desert Storm ends with an armistice announced by President George H.W. Bush. The war, which opened with a crippling aerial assault on Jan. 16, ends after just 100 hours of ground combat. Many National Guard units, especially military police and medical troops, would continue to be employed processing the thousands of Iraqi prisoners of war taken during the conflict. Of the 34 Guard personnel to die during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, none died in combat.
February 28, 1951: Inchon, South Korea — Idaho's 116th Combat Engineer Battalion arrives in-country. It will send most of its next three years constructing and/or repairing bridges, maintaining and improving roads and other major engineering tasks. It had been an infantry unit in the Spanish-American War, and was federalized for the Mexican Border expedition in 1916 before being converted to a combat engineer battalion for service in World War I. This unit, Idaho's oldest Guard organization, saw service in the Spanish-American War and Philippine Insurrection (1898-99); Mexican Border (1916); World War I (1917-1919); World War II (1941-1945); Korea (1950-1955) and Vietnam (1968-1969). In fact, it was the only Guard unit, Army or Air, to serve in both the Korean and Vietnamese wars.
March 1, 1997: Lt. Col. Martha Rainville, commanding the 158th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Vermont Air Guard, is elected by the state legislature as the “Green Mountain” state’s first female adjutant general. However, her appointment is more significant in that it marks the first time any woman in the nation’s history has ever served as a state’s adjutant general.
March 3, 1969: A former Air Guard pilot in Massachusetts' 102nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, Capt. Russell "Rusty" Schweickart, is one of three members of Apollo 9 which entered Earth orbit this day. Seven former Guardsmen were part of the astronaut program during the Gemini and Apollo Moon missions but he was the only one to come directly from the Guard without being a test pilot first. During his flight on Apollo 9 he set a number of "firsts" for NASA as it planned to send men to the Moon. He became the first man to transfer from one spacecraft to another (command module to lunar module) in orbit; he and another member of the team took the lunar module for a test flight and then became the first to ‘link up' two separate craft when they redocked with the command module; Schweickart became the first man in space to test the Portable Life Support System suit. Totally self-contained with no connections to the ship this suit was the same type worn by later astronauts on the Moon. While this was his only flight in space he stayed with NASA working on the SkyLab project until his retirement in 1979.
March 4, 1945: Manila, Luzon, Philippine Islands — The forward elements of the 37th Infantry Division (Ohio) along with other American forces enter the outskirts of the Philippine capital. For the next month they will be engaged in the deadliest city fighting to take place in the Pacific Theater. While fighting house-to-house the "Buckeyes" of the 37th will liberate 1,330 western civilians held in Old Bilibad Prison and capture the walled government complex known as the "Intramuros," which the Japanese turned into a fortress. After thousands of innocent civilians are killed, mostly by rampaging Japanese troops, the city is finally secured by the Americans.
March 4, 2002: Takur Ghar, Afghanistan — Tech. Sgt. Keary Miller, a Combat Search and Rescue Team Leader from the Kentucky Air Guard's 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, earns a Silver Star for his actions in pulling wounded men out of the line of fire after their MH-47E helicopter crashed landed due to ground fire. Once he established a safe causality treatment area he immediately began giving first aid to a growing number of men. Later he stripped ammunition from the dead and injured and, while repeatedly exposing himself to enemy fire, resupplied those men still able to defend the position. Although seven soldiers lost their lives and ten others were seriously wounded during this 17-hour engagement with Taliban fighters, probably several more would have died without Sergeant Miller's heroic service. Sergeant Miller received his Silver Star Medal from Secretary of the Air Force James G. Roche on November 1, 2003.
March 5, 1991: Washington, D.C. — Rep. G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery, D-Miss., one of the Guard's strongest supporters in the House of Representatives (and himself a retired major general of the Mississippi Army Guard) sponsors House Resolution 174 calling for a "National Victory Parade" to be held in the capital to celebrate the men and women who defeated the Iraqi Army in Operation Desert Storm. This will be the first such parade since 1919 when General John J. Pershing led a triumphant American Army down Pennsylvania Avenue after World War I. Montgomery's resolution receives unanimous approval and the parade, led by Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf occurs on June 8, and was repeated on June 10 in New York City. Included in its marching formations are both Army and Air Guard members who served in the conflict.
March 6, 1836: After a determined defense lasting 13 days, the Alamo, in San Antonio, Texas, falls to Mexican President/General Santa Anna. All the defenders, estimated to number about 182 men, are killed. Included in this force are 24 members of the New Orleans Greys, a militia unit from Louisiana that came to support the Texas Revolution. The company flag was captured and is now on display in the National Historical Museum in Mexico City.
March 7, 1969: Long Bein, Vietnam — Dentists and technicians from Alabama's 650th Medical Detachment (Dental Service) contribute some of their free time to the Medical Civic Action Program, usually referred to as MEDCAP. Under this program the Army furnishes all the supplies and equipment while the personnel offer to help the local Vietnamese people living around the base, especially the children, obtain quality dental care, often for the first time in their lives. The 650th is one of eight Army Guard units that would serve in Vietnam during the war.
March 8, 1962: NATO Airbases, Europe — Several Air Guard tactical fighter squadrons take part in large multi-national wargames in West Germany. In response to the Soviet Union's construction of the Berlin Wall, a total of 31 Guard squadrons were mobilized in October 1961. Twelve of these (all armed with jet fighters) were deployed to France, West Germany and Spain soon after being mobilized. Vast improvements in the Air Guard's readiness after the Korean War proved its value when, unlike the 1950-1951 mobilization, which took many months to upgrade Guard equipment and training before unit deployment, the units in 1961 arrived in Europe within weeks of mobilization, ready to fight if necessary. As tensions eased between the two super powers, the Air Guard squadrons began returning home, with the last units released from active duty on August 31, 1962.
March 9, 1916: Columbus, N.M. — Mexican bandit leader Pancho Villa, leading about 500 men, attacks this town in the middle of the night. They kill 18 civilians and soldiers responding from nearby Camp Furlong. This action caused President Woodrow Wilson to immediately move federalized Guardsmen from Texas, N.M., Ariz. and Calif. to protect the border against future raids. He soon authorized a partial mobilization of 158,664 Guardsmen from all states (except Nevada, which was just organizing its Guard) to move to protect border areas. While on the border, these troops began serious large unit maneuvers in preparation for America's potential involvement in World War I, then raging in Europe.
March 11, 1945: Seilsdorf, Germany — "Grover's Ghosts" a combat patrol from the 121st Infantry (Ga.), 8th Infantry Division, capture this town following a remarkable fire fight. During the engagement, many of the men ran out of ammunition for their weapons. So they started picking up abandoned enemy arms and continued the mission. They quickly secured the town. Georgia's 121st Infantry had been mobilized as one of four infantry regiments assigned to Guard's 30th Infantry Division in 1940. However, under new tables of organization implemented by the Army, all infantry divisions were cut from four to three infantry regiments, making them more flexible in combat. The 121st was "cut away" in November 1941 and assigned to the Regular Army's 8th Infantry Division. It retained this assignment throughout World War II, seeing combat from Normandy into central Germany by war's end.
March 13, 1899: Pasig River, Luzon, Philippines - An American force consisting of two Regular infantry regiments and a section of the Sixth Artillery along with the 2nd Oregon and 1st Washington Volunteer Infantry, repulsed "a large force of the enemy, drove them back and took the Pasig River." American casualties were given as 35 "slightly wounded" and enemy losses as heavy. This operation was part of the American offensive in response to the revolt against U.S. control of the Philippines that started in February 1899. Known as the "Philippine Insurrection" it was fought in hot, humid, malaria-infested areas and witnessed some of the most difficult combat operations conducted by American troops during the 19th century. The bulk of the U.S. forces in the country at the outbreak of the Insurrection were Guardsmen in state volunteer units. By the summer of 1899, they began returning home although enough decided to stay that two new regiments of U.S. Volunteers were organized. One of these men, Capt. John E. Moran, formerly of the 1st Montana Volunteer Infantry, earned the Medal of Honor.
March 14, 1943: From La Senia, Algeria, A-20 and P-39 aircraft of the 111th Observation Squadron begin flying convoy escort missions looking for German submarines. The unit, organized in the Texas Guard in June 1923, deployed to Algeria as part of the Allied invasion of French North Africa in November 1942. Later in the war, under its new designation as the 111th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, it flew missions during the invasions of Sicily, Italy and Southern France, ending the war in Germany. For its service it earned nine combat streamers. Reorganized in the Texas Air Guard after the war, it was mobilized for the Korean War in September 1950. It was one of six Guard squadrons to actually serve in Korea, earning three additional streamers. In the mid-1960s it was issued F-102 Delta Dagger fighter-interceptor aircraft to use in homeland defense against possible Soviet bomber attack. Not mobilized in 1968 with other Air Guard squadrons for service during the Vietnam War, it continued to patrol America’s skies. One of its pilots in this period was future 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush. The 111th Fighter Squadron, flying F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft, remains an important part of both our air defense and war fighting capabilities in the War on Terrorism.
March 15, 1781: Guilford Courthouse, N.C. — An American army under the command of General Nathaniel Greene, which includes militia units from North Carolina and Virginia, offers battle to Lord Cornwallis commanding the British army moving out of South Carolina. Greene, who started his military career as a private in the Rhode Island militia, was one of General Washington's best field commanders. This battle saw some of the most desperate fighting of the war, highlighted by the American troops charging into British ranks to engage in hand-to-hand combat. As this action threatened to break the British line, Cornwallis ordered his artillery to fire point blank into the intermixed ranks to stop the American advance, killing of a number of his own men. Finally Green withdrew his army in good order and Cornwallis, with about 30 percent causalities, had to march to Wilmington, N.C., to link up with Royal Navy ships for transport north to Virginia. This delay probably cost Britain the war, as it allowed the Americans time to shift forces into Virginia to oppose him when virtually none had been there before. His army's surrender at Yorktown seven months later was a direct result of Greene's actions during this battle.
March 19, 1945: Wattweiler, Germany — Colorado's 157th Infantry, an element of the 45th Infantry Division (Ariz., Colo., N.M., Okla.), seizes this town after breaching the Nazi defense barrier known as the "Siegfried Line." The 45th Division entered combat in July 1943 when it took part in the invasion of Sicily. It later made assault landings at Salerno and Anzio in Italy and on the Rivera in Southern France. By war's end it captured Nuremberg, the symbolic home of the Nazi movement, and Munich where Adolf Hitler got his start leading the Nazi Party.
March 20, 1935: Tacoma, Wash. — Elements of Washington's 161st Infantry and the 116th Observation Squadron, 41st Division, serve on state active duty guarding railroad facilities, bridges and roads during a lumber workers strike. These areas had been sabotaged or burned by the strikers. During this five week work stoppage both units had soldiers on duty on a rotation basis, so while 287 men served only about 100 were on duty at any one time. This was necessary to help assure the men preserved their jobs. During this period many states had not enacted laws protecting the employment rights of Guardsmen while serving on state duty. If a man was gone too long he might return home to find his job terminated. Since World War II all states have adopted some form of employment protection for those Guard members serving in state declared emergencies. On a national basis the federal government has a similar policy protecting mobilized soldiers rights to return to their prior employers without loss of job, reduction of salary or expected promotions.
March 21, 1969: Phan Thiet, Vietnam — Seventeen members of the 116th Engineer Battalion (Idaho) were staying overnight in a compound which came under intense enemy attack. The only heavy machine gun, located in a guard tower, was knocked out by a rocket but one of the men of the 116th got it back in action. Other members of the unit manned jeep-mounted machine guns and due to their determined efforts, the attack was repulsed costing the enemy 110 confirmed dead. Of the 17 engineers involved, none were killed but 16 were wounded. This unit, Idaho's oldest Guard organization, saw service in the Spanish-American War and Philippine Insurrection (1898-1899), Mexican Border (1916), World War I (1917-1919), World War II (1941-1945), Korean War (1950-1955) and Vietnam War (1968-1969). In fact, the 116th was the only Guard unit, Army or Air, to serve in-country in both the Korean and Vietnam wars.
March 22, 1847: American troops under the command of General Winfield Scott, who started his military career as a Coronet (lowest ranking officer of cavalry in early 19th century) in the Virginia militia, besiege and bombard the coastal city of Vera Cruz, Mexico forcing it to capitulate after six days. Scott would soon move the army inland striking for the capital of Mexico City. His army numbers 13,660 men, more than half of whom, 7,919, are serving in state volunteer regiments from Ill., Ky., La., Pa., S.C., Tenn.
March 25, 1899: Polo, Luzon, Philippines — As an American force moves north from Manila in an attempt to cut off an insurgent army numbering some 3,000 men, they are engaged by the Filipinos in a sharp delaying action. American casualties are one officer from the First Colorado Volunteer Infantry and 25 enlisted men killed in action (of these, 13 are from state units) and 128 state soldiers are wounded. Enemy losses are put at more than 500. This battle is part of the on-going conflict known as the "Philippine Insurrection." Allies just a few months earlier in the war against Spain, which owned the Philippines as a colony until its defeat in 1898, Filipino and American military leaders had an unsettled relationship. When it was announced in January 1899 that the U.S. was going to annex the islands, the Filipinos rose in revolt to gain their freedom. Nearly three quarters of the American army available for service in-country was composed of volunteer (Guard) units from 17 states.
March 23, 1862: Kernstown, Va. — Confederate forces attacking under the command of Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson are repelled by a Union army in this central Shenandoah Valley battle. This will be Jackson's only defeat as he goes on the offensive up and down the Valley in the coming spring. He repeatedly defeats larger federal armies, with his troops often showing up unexpectedly. Nicknamed "Jackson's Foot Cavalry" his army, composed mostly of Virginia regiments drawn from the Valley, make rapid forced marches thought impossible by their opponents. Jackson, a West Point graduate, was a professor at the Virginia Military Institute, with the rank of major when the war broke out in 1861. The heritage of these units is today carried by the 116th Infantry (Va.), the "Stonewall Brigade", 29th Infantry Division (Light).
March 26, 1952: South Korea — Guardsmen in various units, from the 40th (Calif., Nev.) and 45th (Okla.) infantry divisions to the 41 non-divisional artillery, engineer, maintenance and other mobilized Army Guard units serving in-country start to receive the word that they will soon be going home. When the first increments were mobilized for the war in August and September 1950, the existing authority allowed them to be on active duty for only 21 months. Though later increased to 24 months, this increase did not apply to the first men called up. While the units remained in place and were filled with draftees, the Guardsmen began returning home. One serious ramification of this policy was when they got back, those wishing to stay in the Guard had no unit to rejoin, as they were still in Korea. The Guard and Army came up with a novel approach, never used before of creating "holding" units with the same designations as those still deployed. For instance, while the 45th Infantry Division was still fighting in Korea a "new" 45th was organized in Oklahoma for the veterans to join.
March 27, 1847: Vera Cruz, Mexico — After a short siege of six days, the city capitulates to the American army commanded by Gen. Winfield Scott. He will soon use this port as a staging area for his push inland to capture Mexico City. A large portion of his army is composed of state volunteer regiments. Among them is South Carolina's Palmetto Regiment. Numbering 974 men when it landed as part of the invasion force, by the end of the war in 1848, it only has 541 men remaining on the rolls. This represents the highest loss (about 43%) of personnel of any American unit serving in this war. While some of its men died in combat, most succumb to disease. The lineage and heritage of this historic unit remains today in South Carolina's 118th Infantry.
March 28, 1969: The F-100 Super Sabre jet fighter-bomber flown by Maj. Clyde Seiler of Colorado’s 120th Tactical Fighter Squadron was shot down by enemy ground fire while he was conducting a strafing mission in support of American forces. He died in the crash, becoming the first of two pilots from the squadron killed in action during its Vietnam deployment. Just two months earlier he had set the squadron record of flying its 5,000th combat sortie (mission) since the unit arrived in May 1968.
March 29, 1951: Near 38th Parallel, South Korea — The 936th Field Artillery Battalion (Ark.) goes into action in support of the 7th Infantry Division during a counterattack to restore and stabilize the front along the 38th Parallel dividing the two Korea's. While a number of Army Guard non-divisional units, mostly transportation and engineer, began arriving in Korea at the start of the new year, the 936th is the first to enter into offensive combat. Over the next 100 days it would fire nearly 50,000 rounds into enemy positions, about one third of what it fired in 500 days of combat during World War II. Of the 41 non-divisional Guard units deployed to Korea, eleven were field artillery battalions. The 936th's lineage is carried by Arkansas's 1st Battalion, 142nd Field Artillery.
March 31, 1918: Bordeaux, Dijon, St. Nazaire, France — Infantry and machine gun units of the 32nd Division (Mich., Wis.) are ordered to reassemble from their different training areas to the vicinity of La Chapelle-sous-Rougemont. Once the division is reorganized it moves to the front lines just north of the Swiss border near Belfort. Here in early June it experienced its first combat. By war's end the division earned five campaign streamers. One of its regiments, Wisconsin's 128th Infantry, gained such a reputation for spirited attacks that the French give it the nickname "Les Terribles" (The Terrible Ones), which the unit proudly carries today.
April 1, 1745: At Sea — A fleet consisting of 19 transport ships escorted by 13 armed merchant vessels is carrying a total of 4,220 colonial militiamen toward Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. The goal is the capture of Louisbourg, the largest fort in North America. It was built and garrisoned by the French to protect the entrance to the St. Lawrence River and French Canada. The force was organized from the militia of four New England colonies, Massachusetts, which also included present-day Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. Col. William Pepperrell of Maine was selected to command. While several colonies had in the past joined forces to fight a common enemy, which was usually Native Americans rather than Europeans, never before had they launched such an ambitious expedition. Landing in early May, the siege lasted until the French garrison surrendered at the end of June. The Americans were proud of their achievement, and dismayed when Louisbourg was returned to the French as part of the peace treaty ending the war in 1748.
April 4 to 10, 1968: Upon learning of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in Memphis, Tenn., more than 125 African American communities in 14 states and Washington, D.C. erupted into mob violence and arson. Sporadic sniper fire in several cities caused Guardsmen to return fire, especially in Chicago and Kansas City, Mo.. Tear gas was used almost everywhere trouble broke out, with heavy usage in D.C. and Baltimore. Over the six days of rioting nearly 50,000 Guardsmen served on active state duty, the largest peacetime call up of its kind in history. Of this number about 5,000 were Air Guard personnel used to support operations by moving men and supplies to the troubled areas. No Guardsmen killed any civilian, though several suspected as snipers were wounded. And no Guard personnel were killed though a number were injured. Federal and state government officials praised the Guard for its “soldierly conduct, discipline, restraint, dignity, professionalism and humanity.”
April 5, 1942: Bataan Peninsula, Luzon, Philippines — The Japanese Army begins its last push to break the American defenses that have held up their capture of this strategic position. Among the defenders are Guardsmen from New Mexico's 200th Coast Artillery (Anti-Aircraft) and the composite 192nd and 194th Tank Battalions. These latter units were organized by combining the single tank companies that were assigned to each infantry division in the peacetime Guard. The 192nd combined companies from Ill., Ky., Ohio, Wis.; the 194th consisted of companies from Minn. and Ca. All of the men not killed in the fighting became prisoners of the Japanese and took part in the infamous "Bataan Death March." Many of those who did not die in this march died later during the three years they held as prisoners of war.
April 6, 1917: Washington, D.C. — At the request of President Woodrow Wilson Congress votes to declare war against Germany and Austria-Hungary (known as the "Central Powers") bringing the United States into World War I. Though the war had started in August 1914, Wilson tried to keep America neutral. However several German provocations pushed the U.S. closer to joining Britain, France and Russia against the Central Powers. In 1915 the passenger liner Lusitania was sunk by a German submarine, killing 128 Americans. And there were numerous reports (mostly found to be false after the war) of atrocities committed against the civilians in territories occupied by the Germans. The final straw was the interception of the "Zimmerman Telegram" sent by the Germans to the Mexican government asking that in the event of war between the U.S. and Germany, that Mexico enter on Germany's side, effectively tying down large numbers of American troops along the border who could not be sent to Europe to fight. Mexico's reward for its assistance was the promise of the restoration of territory "lost" to the U.S. in Mexican War. Wilson felt he had no choice but to declare war. The impact on some Guard units was immediate. A number of units were still on active duty from their tour of duty along the Mexican border dating from 1916. These units were retained on duty and many were dispatched to guard important facilities and structures such as bridges, electrical plants, coal fields, rail and ship yards, etc. from enemy sabotage. Soon those units not on active duty began to be called incrementally into federal service. The biggest problem was lack of enough camp space to house and train the hundreds of thousands of men needed for the war. The mobilization would continue through the spring and summer before all Guard units were on active duty. While waiting to be called they all vigorously recruited as many new men as possible to obtain war time strength. In all the National Guard contributed 379,701 men to the war effort. They were organized into 18 divisions and numerous non-divisional units such as coast artillery for home land defense.
April 7, 1712: Hancock's Fort, N.C. — South Carolina's Col. John Barnwell, commanding a combined white militia and friendly Indian force numbering about 300 men, again besieges this main encampment of the hostile Tuscarora Indians. The Tuscarora had launched a surprise attack in September 1711, killing about 130 colonists, prompting North Carolina to ask Virginia and South Carolina for help. Barnwell's army was composed mostly of South Carolina militia. He had besieged the hostiles' fort in March, but agreed to a truce after the Indians began torturing their captives within earshot of the militia. When the Tuscarora failed to honor part of their agreement, Barnwell maintained the siege for 10 days, finally forcing the Indians to surrender. All captives were freed and other conditions were met, bringing the Tuscarora War to a close.
April 8, 1952: North of Yonchon, South Korea — Divisional artillery of the 45th Infantry Division fire support missions helping the men of the "Thunderbird Division" to repel human wave attacks launched by Communists Chinese troops. This division, composed entirely of Guard units from Oklahoma, along with the 40th Infantry Division from California and Nevada are the only two Guard divisions to serve in Korea during the war. After stateside and continued advanced training in Japan, each deployed forward elements to Korea in December 1951 and January 1952, respectively. Both were completely engaged in combat operations by the end of January.
April 9, 2004: Iraq — Spec. Michelle Witmer, a member of the Wisconsin's Army Guard's 32nd Military Police Company, is the first female Guard member killed in combat since women were authorized to join the Guard in 1956. She was one of three sisters all serving in the Wisconsin Army Guard. One sister was in the same unit and the third was in a medical unit, both also serving in Iraq. After Michelle's death, the other two were given the choice of reassignment to a station in the United States (under surviving sibling statute.) Both refused and returned to their units in Iraq after the funeral. Previously one Air Guard woman mobilized during the Vietnam crisis in 1968 died on active duty in a non-mission related accident. In 1990 to 1991 a total of eight mobilized Army Guard women died during Operations Desert Shield/Storm. But again, all died from accidents, none until Witmer lost their lives in combat.
April 10, 1942:
Bataan Peninsula, Luzon, Philippines — After more than three months of determined resistance, American and Filipino forces are compelled by hunger, disease and lack of supplies to surrender to the Japanese army. Among these units are the survivors of two Guard tank battalions, the 192nd from Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio and Wisconsin, and the 194th from Minnesota and Missouri, as well as the 200th Coast Artillery (Anti-Aircraft) from New Mexico. These men were subjected to the Bataan Death March with the survivors spending the next three years in captivity.
April 11, 1944: Sterparone Airfield, Italy — Flight crews of the 840th Bombardment Squadron begin their first combat missions flying B-17 Flying Fortress medium bombers in support of the Allied armies fighting in Europe. This squadron, formerly the 128th Observation Squadron, Georgia National Guard, was activated in May 1941 and spent two years flying antisubmarine patrols along the U.S. Gulf Coast before being re-equipped and retrained on B-17's. Once it enters combat the squadron, assigned to the 483rd Bombardment Group, bombs targets such as oil refineries, marshalling yards, airfields, bridges, gun emplacements and troop concentrations. During its time in combat it flew missions over Italy, France, Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia and Greece. In all the squadron earned 12 campaign streamers and two Distinguished (today known as Presidential) Unit Citations. Today the lineage of the 128th/840th is carried by Georgia's 128th Air Control Squadron, flying Boeing E-8C Joint Stars aircraft as part of a "Blended Wing" of Air Guard and active Air Force allowing the Air Force to monitor ground operations and direct air strike missions in support of the Army.
April 12, 1861: Confederate forces open fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, S.C., starting the Civil War. After a two day bombardment, in which more than 2,000 shells were fired at the fort, the garrison surrenders; surprisingly with no men on either side killed in action. As war fever grips the nation thousands of men on both sides rush to “join the colors”. Many of these are members of uniformed volunteer units, forerunners of the modern National Guard. In the first year of the war most of the combat undertaken, such as the Battle of First Manassas in July 1861, was fought largely by these men. Only after it became apparent that larger armies were going to be needed did the massive, mostly non-Guard related state units become the bulk of both forces.
April 12, 1944: Naples, Italy — 2nd Lt. Ernest Childers, Company C, 180th Infantry (Okla.), 45th Infantry Division (Ariz., Colo., N.M., Okla.) receives his Medal of Honor from Lt. Gen. Jacob L. Devers, the U.S. Army's Deputy commander for the Mediterranean Theater. Childers, a full-blood Creek Indian, joined the Oklahoma Guard in 1937, rising to the rank of first sergeant by the time the 180th landed in Sicily in July 1943. He earned a battlefield commission to second lieutenant during this campaign. He remained with his company when it landed at Anzio, Italy, on Sept. 13. While leading his men near Oliveto, Italy, on Sept. 22, he earned the medal for single-handedly capturing two machine gun nests, killing at least five enemy soldiers and then captured a German mortar observer, all with a fractured ankle! After World War II, Childers remained in the Army, obtaining the rank of lieutenant colonel before his retirement in 1965. He died in 2003. He is the only Native American Guardsman to earn the nation's highest award for valor.
April 12, 1969: Camp Atterbury East, Vietnam — Members of Company D (Long Range Patrol), 151st Infantry, known as the "Indiana Rangers" are conducting continuous reconnaissance missions in support of Headquarters, II Field Force. The teams, usually consisting of five to eight men, are inserted and extracted by helicopter deep into enemy territory. During one such operation on this date, Sgt. Robert T. Smith becomes the second (and last) Indiana Guard member to be killed in action. In February, Spc. Charles K. Larkins, was killed in an enemy ambush soon after his team had been inserted. Smith, while moving his team toward their extraction point at the end of their patrol, was hit by enemy rifle fire. He lived long enough to give suppressing fire while the rest of his team sought cover. The last Guard member of the unit to die in Vietnam was 1st Lt. George L. Kleiber who was killed in a non-combat related helicopter crash. Besides the three Indiana Guardsmen killed in Vietnam, seven non-Guard members of the unit also died. This unit set one of the most impressive combat records, and had its personnel earn more individual awards for valor, than almost any comparably-sized unit operating in Vietnam.
April 13, 1970: Space — "Houston, We've Had A Problem!" is a message that could have been the NASA's worst nightmare, three astronauts lost in space. The man who said it, former Air Guard Capt. John "Jack" Swigert was one of three crew members of the ill-fated Apollo 13 heading for a Moon landing. Along with him was another former Air Guard pilot, Capt. Frederick Haise Jr. Both Guardsmen joined NASA as test pilots before becoming astronauts. Swigert had flown in both the Massachusetts and Connecticut ANG while Haise had served in the Oklahoma and Ohio ANG. As a member of the 164th Tactical Fighter Squadron (Ohio), he served on active duty during the Berlin Crisis in 1961. The Apollo 13 crew over came their malfunctions and returned to Earth safely. In a later interview, Swigert credited his time with the Guard as some of the best flying experience he ever had. For example, he had to make a "dead stick" (no power) landing after his engine flamed out. He said that he was trained to react coolly and with deliberate purpose, just the kind of preparation he needed to bring the crippled Apollo 13 home.
April 16, 1924: Washington, D.C. — Congress authorizes the issuing of the "Texas Cavalry Service Medal" to those men who served in two brigades of Texas National Guard cavalry during World War I. After the entire existing National Guard was mobilized into federal service in August 1917, Texas was authorized by the War Department to organize these brigades within its National Guard structure in December 1917. The members of these brigades, all of whom spent the entire war patrolling the Texas/Mexican border, were ineligible to receive the World War I "Victory Medal" because they did not serve in the active Army. This medal is the first and only time Congress has approved a decoration for the Guardsmen of only one specific state. Of the 4,000 struck by the U.S. mint, less 1,000 were ever applied for and issued.
April 18, 1847: Mexican President/General Santa Anna with an army of some 15,000 soldiers assumes a defensive position in a mountain defile at Cerro Gordo, Mexico to block the American army under General Winfield Scott from advancing on to Mexico City. However, Gen. Scott is able to outflank the positions and rout the Mexican force. Santa Anna leaves the battlefield so fast that he abandons his personal carriage, which is captured by men of Company G, 4th Illinois Volunteer Regiment. In it they find a baked chicken, $18,000 in gold coins and Santa Anna’s cork leg (he lost a leg to a cannonball during an earlier war). The story goes they ate the chicken, turned over the money to the army and brought the leg home as a souvenir. Today the leg is on display in the Illinois Military Museum in Springfield.
April 19, 1775: Lexington & Concord, MA - After British troops and colonial militia exchange fire on Lexington Green, leaving eight militiamen dead, the Royal forces moved onto Concord to destroy the few arms found in the town. At North Bridge the British are repulsed when militiamen from the 2nd Middlesex County Regiment (today the 182nd Infantry) fire "the shot heard round the world" as the first step toward independence. Three British soldiers are killed and the redcoats begin retreating to Boston. During this withdraw they are repeatedly fired upon by the ever-growing number of militiamen from the 1st and 2nd Middlesex regiments swarming to the area. By day's end an exhausted British army limps back into Boston having suffered more than 200 killed and wounded. It is quickly surrounded and besieged by an enraged militia army numbering more than 10,000. Militia units from other colonies soon join this army. In June newly appointed commander-in-chief General George Washington assumes command of what is now known as the "Continental Army" composed entirely of volunteers drawn from the militia.
April 19, 1861: Soon after the 6th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry left the President's Street Station to board a south-bound train to Washington, D.C., at the Camden Yards Station, they are attacked by a mob of about 5,000 southern sympathizers. Known as the "Pratt Street Riot" this action left 21 soldiers and civilians dead and over 100 injured. This violence was the first bloodshed of the Civil War. While Fort Sumter had been fired on a week earlier, no one was killed in the exchange of cannon fire.
April 19, 1995: Oklahoma City, Okla. — At 9:04 a.m., a massive truck bomb causes a devastating explosion, tearing apart the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City. The explosion kills 168 people (including 19 children) and injures 850 more. Almost immediately, the Oklahoma National Guard responds to render assistance in a state active duty status. Over the next seven days, 338 Army and 114 Air Guard personnel assisted in searching for the injured and later the bodies of the dead. They also assisted police in crowd control and in clearing some of the debris away to aid in the terror investigation.
April 21, 1969: Fire Support Base "Dottie," Vietnam — Captain Roland Labonte, commander of Battery B, 3rd Battalion, 197th Artillery (N.H.) is killed and two of his men are wounded during an enemy mortar attack on the base. He was visiting ‘Dottie' as a liaison officer between the battalion and men of its "Jungle Battery." The Battery is an experiment combining three 105mm howitzers from a regular Army artillery unit along with three 155mm howitzers from Battery B/3/197th. The entire unit, guns and all, is moved by helicopter making it deployable to hilltop positions inaccessible to trucks. Often the men and their guns found themselves literally surrounded by deep, thick foliage, hence the name "Jungle Battery." Capt. Labonte, the first of six New Hampshire Guardsmen to be killed in action in Vietnam, is also the highest ranking mobilized Army Guard officer to die in combat in that war. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and New Hampshire Commendation medals.
April 23, 1899: Quingua, Luzon, Philippine Islands — An American force consisting of four battalions of infantry from Nebraska and Iowa plus a battery of guns from the Utah Light Artillery, is fiercely engaged by Filipino insurgents about 20 miles north of the capital of Manila. The force, under the command of Col. John Stotsenburg, a Regular Army officer commanding the 1st Nebraska Volunteer Infantry, suffers 49 casualties, including four killed, one of whom was Col. Stotsenburg. During this action, the gunners of the Utah Battery, despite having an officer and several men wounded, were instrumental in breaking up the enemy attack and inflicting heavy losses.
April 26, 1865: Durham, N.C. — Confederate General Joseph J. Johnson surrenders his Army of the Tennessee to Union General William T. Sherman at Bennett's Home. Following General Lee's surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia on April 9th, this was the last sizable Confederate force still in the field. Among the Confederate units surrendering was the 5th Georgia Infantry Regiment, organized in May 1861, contained several prewar uniformed militia companies including the "Clinch Rifles." Sherman's army included a large number of former militia commands from many of the western states including Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
April 27, 1822: Point Pleasant, Ohio — Eighteenth President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, is born on this day. Having graduated from West Point in 1846, he served in the Mexican War and later in California as a Regular Army officer. He resigned his commission and, after several failed business attempts, by 1861 he was working for his father-in-law in Illinois. After the Civil War started, he was appointed by the governor of Illinois to command the 21st Illinois Volunteer Infantry. Quickly showing great battlefield and strategic abilities, he was by 1862 commanding the Union armies in the West. After his successful capture of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863 he was appointed as commander of all Union forces and moved to face General Robert E. Lee in Virginia. After initiating several bloody engagements and the grueling siege of Petersburg, VA, in winter of 1864 to 1865 he finally compelled Lee's army to surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, effectively ending the war. He was elected as President in 1868 and again in 1872.
April 28, 1993: Secretary of Defense Les Aspin issues a directive allowing women to fly fighter aircraft in combat. It only takes the Air Guard three days to bring its first female fighter pilot on board when Major Jackie Parker transfers from the Regular Air Force to New York’s 138th Fighter Squadron on May 1st. Other women will follow her example so that by January 2005 there are ten female fighter pilots flying Air Guard combat aircraft.
April 29, 1945: Dachau, Germany — Elements of the 45th Infantry Division (Ariz., Colo., N.M., Okla.) liberate portions of this infamous Nazi concentration camp. When the soldiers first arrive at the main camp, they find a train sitting on a side track. Upon inspection it was discovered that more than 1,000 people had starved to death locked in its freight cars. Thousands of other bodies of the dead and those dying from disease and starvation were found in the compound. Combat hardened veterans were sickened by the dead and dying they found at Dachau. While most people think of "Dachau" as one town, it was in fact a hub around which 24 smaller slave labor work camps were located. Several of these were liberated in the next couple of days by elements of other National Guard units such as the 44th Infantry Division (N.J., N.Y.).
April 30, 1944: Forino, Italy — After nearly two months of rest and to allow replacements to join and train with their depleted regiments, the 36th Infantry Division (Texas) prepares to again enter the fight to capture Rome. The division had been in some the hardest fighting of the Italian campaign, from its assault landing south of Naples in September 1943, up the "boot" of Italy to the disastrous failed crossing of the Rapido River in January, and its unsuccessful assaults to try to capture Monte Cassino. After this period of rest and refitting, the unit will land at the Allied beachhead of Anzio and fight its way into Rome, helping to secure the city on June 5 (one day before the D-Day landings in France). In September, the 36th will land in Southern France and fight it way into Germany through the Alps. It ended the war deep inside Germany, along the Rhine River. Its wartime record will show that the division had 16,800 casualties, the ninth highest number of all Army divisions in all theaters of the war. And it had 14 men awarded the Medal of Honor.
May 1, 1813: Fort Meigs, Ohio — British forces, which have had a loose siege around this post for weeks have finally brought up artillery and begin a bombardment. The forces in the fort consist of a mix of Regulars and militia from Ky., Pa. and Va. under the command of General William Henry Harrison, who had earlier been a general in the Indiana Territorial militia. When the enemy artillery starts to pound the fort, Gen. Harrison dispatches 800 Kentucky militia to cross the Maumee River and attack the guns and spike them so they can no longer fire. Once this was accomplished, the militia pursues what appears to be retreating Indians under the leadership of Tecumseh. After they entered the woods, the Indians counterattacked while the British forces swung around their flanks cutting most off from the river. Only about 150 escaped with the remainder being killed or captured. Of those captured, about 50 were murdered by the Indians before Tecumseh put a stop to it. The British, without use of their artillery, soon lifted the siege and moved back into Canada.
May 3, 1959: Former President Harry S Truman, who was a Guard captain commanding Battery D, 129th Field Artillery from Missouri during World War I, is the honored guest at the dedication of the new National Guard Memorial on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The Association, organized in 1879, is a private organization with membership restricted to National Guard officers (active and retired), and represents Guard political and financial interests to members of Congress on actions prohibited by federal law for the Guard Bureau to pursue. To share information with its membership in 1947, the Association began publishing The National Guardsman (today National Guard). Over the years it taken upon itself the secondary mission of telling the Guard’s history through the National Guard Memorial Museum which is open free of charge to the public.
May 3, 1968: Phan Rang Air
Base, Vietnam — Colorado's 120th Tactical Fighter Squadron becomes the
first Air Guard unit to arrive in Vietnam, less than four months after
mobilization. Flying F-100C Super Sabre aircraft it, like the other
three mobilized Air Guard units to serve in Vietnam, will primarily
conduct low-level ground support missions in coordination with American
and South Vietnamese units operating in South Vietnam. These include
precision bombing plus machine gun and rocket attacks on enemy
emplacements and troop concentrations.
May 8, 1792: Passage of the Uniform Militia Act by Congress in New York, N.Y. This law, along with the Calling Forth Act passed on May 2, are often referred to jointly as “The Militia Act of 1792” and would govern the employment of the militia for the next 111 years, until passage of the “Dick Act” of 1903. In these two laws, Congress expanded upon the Constitution to spell out how the militia would be armed, equipped and trained. These laws: (1) required that the States appoint Adjutants General and muster their militia once annually to maintain the rolls, (2) specified the weapons, ammunition and equipment that each militiaman was to provide at his own expense, (3) detailed the hierarchy of militia units from divisions down to individual companies and (4) mandated that the militia train according to the same discipline prescribed by Baron von Steuben for the Continental Army. Congress delegated to the president the constitutional power to call forth the militia, but only for a period not to exceed three months in any one year.
May 8, 1884: Lamar, Mo. — The future 33rd president of the United States is born. Harry S. Truman would begin a National Guard career by enlisting as a member of Battery B of the Missouri National Guard Artillery in 1904. He was soon promoted to corporal, but was forced to resign in 1911 due to job commitments. As soon as America entered World War I in April 1917, Truman rejoined the Missouri Guard. Promoted to first lieutenant, he was given command of Battery F and sailed with his unit to France in 1918. He was promoted to captain and transferred to command Battery D. Known in the regiment as a rambunctious, trouble unit with poor discipline, Truman had his hands full. But soon his strong but fair leadership solved many of the problems, and his men grew to respect and even love "Captain Harry." With his men taking a new pride in themselves and the unit, they were soon part of the best trained battery in firing accuracy and gun movement in the 129th Field Artillery. Truman led them into battle, first in Alsace and later in the Meuse Argonne Offensive of September and October 1918. Truman left the Guard in 1919, but later accepted a commission in the Officer Reserve Corps, rising to the rank of colonel by 1938. In 1959, the former president was the guest speaker at the dedication of the original National Guard Memorial, the NGAUS headquarters in Washington, D.C.
May 9, 1916
: Ariz., N.M., Texas — President Woodrow Wilson mobilizes the National Guard of these three states to patrol their borders with Mexico as Brig. Gen. John J. Pershing led an Army expedition into northern Mexico to try to capture or kill the bandit leader Pancho Villa and his group. In March, Villa and his men raided the town of Columbus, N.M., killing a number of soldiers and civilians before slipping back across the border. Soon these Guardsmen would be joined by Guard units coming from all the states to a total 158,000 men. While their main mission was to secure the border, the Army used this partial mobilization to train the Guard in large unit formations almost impossible to conduct in normal peacetime exercises for just a few days. This training paid great dividends when America committed its Guardsmen to combat in France after our entry in World War I. Later, the mounted color guard of the 2nd Idaho Infantry (see picture), the only unit deployed from its state, was stationed along the Arizona-Mexican border. These troops faired poorly due to bad sanitation caused by a lack of water in their camp area. The unit returned home in December 1916.May 10, 1775:
Fort Ticonderoga, N.Y. — Shouting "Surrender in the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress" Vermonter Ethan Allen takes position of this strategic fortress without firing a shot. In fact the small British garrison had not heard of the outbreak of war at Lexington and Concord on April 19. The joint colonial militia force commanded by Allen and Benedict Arnold of Connecticut finds more than 40 pieces of artillery inside the fort. These will be moved in a winter convoy to the American siege lines around Boston, compelling the British to evacuate the city.May 11, 1846:
Washington, D.C. — Congress declares war against Mexico at the request of President James Polk. At the time the entire United States Army numbered about 6,000 officers and men. It would eventually expand to nearly 10,000 by war's end. The bulk of the force will come from the uniformed volunteer militia (forerunners of today's National Guard) of the various states. Under the 1792 Militia Act, the militia could not be mobilized for a foreign war. So the president called for regiments of volunteers to serve in Mexico. Nearly 78,000 men served in volunteer units drawn from 24 states and the District of Columbia. The war was unpopular in New England and only Massachusetts furnished any troops from that region. Of the approximately 13,000 men who died during the war, only about 2,000 were killed in combat. Almost all others died of diseases such as yellow fever, malaria, and dysentery. Several famous men who had Guard backgrounds served in this war; from Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott, the overall American military commander, who started his career as a junior officer in the Virginia cavalry; to Col. Jefferson Davis, commanding the Mississippi Rifles, who later served as Secretary of War and in 1861 became the President of the Confederate States. Other men who served as officers in this conflict enter Guard service after the war and become famous in the Civil War including Ulysses S. Grant and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. In fact, many of the early Civil War generals and colonels had Mexican War experience in various Guard units.May 13, 1968:
Nationwide — Three additional Air Guard units are mobilized to join the 11 called up in January in response to the growing tensions in Korea and increased operational tempo in Vietnam. None of these three units deployed overseas. However, also mobilized on this date were 34 Army Guard units, including two infantry brigades; the 29th in Hawaii and the 69th in Kansas/Iowa. This was the only involuntary call up of Army Guard personnel during the Vietnam War. Eight Army Guard units, composed of about 2,700 Guardsmen, saw combat in Vietnam; they were: 107th Signal Co. (R.I.), 116th Engineer BN (Idaho), 126th Service & Supply Co. (Ill.), 131st Engineer Co. (Vt.), 2nd Battalion, 138th Artillery (Ky.), Company D, 151st Infantry, Rangers (Ind.), 3rd Battalion, 197th Artillery (N.H.) and the 650th Medical Detachment (Ala.). In addition, over 4,300 Army Guardsmen mobilized in units which did not deploy, were levied and saw service in Vietnam as individual replacements.May 14, 1945
: Mindanao Island, Philippines — Elements of Florida's 124th Infantry, 31st Infantry Division (Ala., Fla., La., Miss.) repel several Japanese "banzi" suicidal attacks. The 31st Division, nicknamed "Dixie" first entered combat in World War II when, in March 1944, it took part in the fighting in New Guinea. Elements of it made an assault landing near Aitape causing a diversion of Japanese defenders while the main portion of the division landed at Maffin Bay almost unopposed. The 31st then moved to secure Morotai Island, cutting off 40,000 enemy soldiers based on Halmahera Island from reinforcements and supply from the Philippines. By the time the 31st landed on Mindanao it was a veteran division and proved its metal when it captured a Japanese airfield at Valencia, which led to the banzi attacks as fanatical Japanese soldiers tried in vain to recapture it. The men of the "Dixie Division" were still fighting in the mountains of the island when the war ended in August 1945. During the course of the war the division suffered 414 men killed in action with another 1,400 wounded and it had one member awarded the Medal of Honor.May 15, 1864
: New Market, Va. — In a small engagement fought near this central Shenandoah Valley town, a Union force composed of about 10,000 men from a variety of states is opposed by a smaller Confederate force made up primarily of Virginians. Among the troops on the southern side are cadets from the Virginia Military Institute. During the climax of the battle, these boys, ages 12 to 16, charge across an open field, taking casualties but capturing a battery of guns on a commanding hill. Ten cadets are killed and 50 are wounded. Though the battle would end in a Confederate victory, in the long run, it would prove to be futile due to the overwhelming numbers of Union forces which would quickly regroup and advance again down the Valley, burning fields and barns as they moved.
May 15, 1951
: Soyang, Korea —
After the quick rout of two South Korean divisions by an attack of some
120,000 Communist Chinese troops, the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division,
supported by intense and accurate 105mm howitzer fire from Wyoming’s
300th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, stemmed the enemy assault long
enough for American positions to stabilize. For its determined
resistance in the Battle of Soyang, the 300th was awarded a
Distinguished (now known as a Presidential) Unit Citation.May 17, 1968
: Phu Cat Air Base, Vietnam — The second Air Guard unit to arrive in Vietnam is Iowa's 174th Tactical Fighter Squadron. When not engaged in combat operations, many of the men volunteered their time to work with abandoned children in nearby orphanages. The medical personnel treated Vietnamese civilians for a variety of diseases and injuries under the MEDCAP (Medical Civic Action Program) project. Some Guardsmen wrote home about the bad conditions at the orphanage and had their families, with the help of local churches and businesses, gather donated clothes, toys, books, and school supplies to help these children.May 19, 1863:
Vicksburg, Miss. - Union commander Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant fails in his first attempt to take the strategic Confederate city of Vicksburg, which sits on a bluff overlooking (and thereby controlling boat traffic on) the Mississippi River. After substantial causalities, he calls off the attack. Instead he develops a plan to encircle and besiege the city. Grant was a West Point trained engineer who had served in the Mexican War from 1846 to 1848, but resigned from the Army in the 1850s. When the Civil War started, he was appointed by the governor of Illinois as the colonel of the 21st Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He soon proved his value as a battlefield commander and by 1864 would be placed in command of all Union armies. In 1868, he was elected as the 18th President of the United States.
May 21, 1927:
Captain Charles A. Lindbergh lands his custom-built airplane, the “Spirit of St. Louis,” in Paris, France having completed his famous 33½ hour solo flight from New York. While many people know Lindbergh the hero, few know that at the time of his flight he was a Guardsman in Missouri’s 110th Observation Squadron, then an element of the 35th Division. He had joined the unit in March 1924 and remained on its rolls until he resigned in 1933. After receiving a promotion to Colonel in the Officer Reserve Corps and soon thereafter the Medal of Honor for his feat, he continued to support the Guard in publicity campaigns.May 22, 1944
: Anzio Beachhead, Italy — Allied forces, including elements of three National Guard divisions; the 34th (Iowa, Minn., N.D.), 36th (Texas) and 45th (Ariz., Colo., Okla.) begin their final "push" to breakout of the besieged positions which have held them contained just south of Rome for four months. The original intent was to land behind the German "Gustav Line" (running across Italy
about 100 miles south of Rome
) and rush to capture Rome
before the Germans could react. But poor leadership slowed down the advance and the enemy was able to seal the Allied forces on the beachhead. They shelled it constantly with heavy rail guns and bombed it from the air. Finally after four months and thousands of killed and wounded the Allies were finally able to make some headway by May 25th. The breakout will be completed on May 31st and on June 5th the Allies enter a liberated Rome
. May 25, 1838:
New Echota, Cherokee Nation, Ga. — Once the Supreme Court upheld enactment of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the Georgia Guard, a unit of Georgia militia especially organized to handle Cherokee relocation, began rounding up the people and moving them by force to one of 15 forts built to house them. Once enough people were gathered in several forts, Regular Army soldiers escorted them as they began their forced march to the newly established "Indian Territory" (today Oklahoma). They were compelled to march, often in horrible weather and with little or no food or fuel. Governors from Alabama, Florida, North and South Carolina and Tennessee contributed militia troops to assist in this operation. Known to history as the "Trail of Tears," it's estimated that 2,000 Indians died of cold, hunger and disease during this journey.May 26, 1945
: Okinawa —
Soldiers of California's 184th Infantry, assigned to the Regular Army's
7th Infantry Division, succeed in reducing several Japanese strong
points as American forces drive deeper into the island's defenses. The
184th was one of 18 Guard infantry regiments separated from its
peacetime parent division, in this case the 40th Infantry Division, by
the restructuring of all infantry divisions into smaller organizations
in 1942.May 27, 1908:
Washington, D.C. — Congress passes the "Second Dick Act," one of a series of laws enacted between 1903 and 1916 that completely restructured the old "militia" into the modern "National Guard." This law requires the federal government to call forth the Guard in case of emergency before accepting any volunteers for military service. It also removed the previous nine month limitation on militia service, and stated that such service could take place "either within or without of the territory of the United States." This last aspect of the law was critical, because it appeared to remove a major objection the Army had regarding the militia: inability to employ the militia outside of the U.S. borders. However, less than four years later this aspect of the law was overturned when the Judge Advocate General of the Army and the Attorney General of the United States both opined that employing militia outside the boundaries of the country violated the Constitution, which limited Congress' power to call forth the militia to only three purposes: "to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions." It was only after World War I, when the entire National Guard had to be "drafted" into the Army as a quick and dirty way of getting the troops deployed to Europe, that the Congress in 1933 finally passed a new law giving every Guard member "dual status" in both the militia and as a federal reserve of the Army. In the latter capacity Guardsmen could be deployed overseas. May 27, 1942:
In French New Caledonia the “Americal” Infantry Division is organized primarily from Guard elements separated from their parent divisions by the Army’s reorganization of 1942. Three former Guard infantry regiments, the 132nd from Illinois, 164th from North Dakota and the 182nd from Massachusetts are its primary elements. In addition its four field artillery battalions also came from Illinois and Massachusetts. After completing its organization and training the division was committed to combat to relieve U.S. Marines fighting on Guadalcanal. Later in the war it saw hard fighting on Leyte and other southern Philippine Islands. When the war ended the “Americal” was deactivated, only to be reconstituted (with no Guard connection) during the Vietnam War.May 28, 1999
: Kosovo, Yugoslavia — Flying from its main installation at Trapani Air Base, Sicily, and a forward location at Taszer Air Base, Hungary, the A-10s of the 104th Expeditionary operations group (EOG) were known as the "Killer Bees." They belonged to a composite Air National Guard unit composed of personnel and aircraft from the 104th Fighter Wing, Barnes Air National Guard Base, Mass.; the 110th Fighter Wing, Battle Creek, Mich.; and the 124th Fighter Wing, Boise, Idaho. The composite unit was organized because no single Air Guard wing possessed enough A-10s to meet the wartime requirements for Operation Allied Force, the war for Kosovo. The unit flew 439 combat sorties expending 64 AGM-65s "Maverick" air-to-surface missiles, 539 MK-82 free-fall non-guided general purpose 500-pound bombs, 49 CBU-87 "Combined Effects Munitions" and 14,300 rounds of 30mm machine gun ammunition while attacking enemy military convoys, armor, artillery, plus supply and ammunition storage sites. Its pilots also flew combat airborne forwardcontrol missions. The 104th EOG accumulated 3,300 flying hours in 45 days without losing a single pilot or aircraft. The employment of composite units was an increasingly important element of efforts by the Air Guard and the Air Force to adapt to the complexities of the post Cold War environment.May 30, 1861:
Washington, D.C. — Members of the 7th New York Volunteer Infantry continue to train at "Camp Cameron" as part of the garrison of the Union capital. The regiment arrived soon after war began on April 12. This is the same unit, then designated as the 2nd Battalion, 11th New York Artillery, which adopted the nickname "National Guard" in honor of the visit to New York in 1825 of the Marquis de Lafayette. Lafayette, who had served as one of General George Washington's ablest commanders during the American Revolution, commanded the "Garde Nationale de Paris" during the French Revolution. After he left, the unit was redesignated to the 7th New York and maintained the ‘National Guard' designation. The scriptic letters "NG" often appeared embossed on member's cross-belt plates, buttons, cartridge box plates and other accoutrements, as well as on camp furniture. By the end of the 19th century, many uniformed volunteer companies used the phrase ‘National Guard' in their official designations and several states had adopted the term in reference to their entire state militia organization. By 1916 the term "National Guard" was mandated as the official designation for all organized militia coming under federal authority and receiving federal funds.June 3, 1916:
Washington, D.C. — The National Defense Act of 1916 is signed into law. One of the most important pieces of Guard legislation in the nation's history, it greatly increased federal supervision of, as well as federal pay for, the National Guard. The law gave the federal government more control over what units the states could raise and how they would be equipped and trained. Most importantly for Guardsmen, it authorized federal pay for 48 days of armory drill a year, as well as for 15 days of annual training (previously the federal government paid for five days of summer camp, and nothing for drills). It established a separate Militia Bureau (re-named the National Guard Bureau in 1933) to oversee federal spending on the Guard. And it settled the issue of how to employ the National Guard outside the United States (where they were limited by the Constitution in their service as militia) by stating that, in the event of an emergency, Congress would draft the National Guard into federal service. It was by this means that the National Guard was sent to fight in World War I.
June 3, 1942: In response to the surprise B-25 bomber attacks on Japan staged by Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle in April 1942, the Japanese decided to capture Midway Island 1,000 miles northwest of Hawaii as a staging base to attack Hawaii itself. As part of their plan they deployed a small diversionary force to take several islands in the Aleutian’s chain of Alaska. Recently arrived as part of the garrison at the newly developed outpost of Dutch Harbor was Arkansas’ 206th Coast Artillery Regiment (Anti-Aircraft). The unit was armed with obsolete 3-inch anti-aircraft guns and water-cooled .50 caliber machine guns. The morning of June 3 found thick fog lying off the Alaskan coast. The Japanese launched a surprise aerial attack from two aircraft carriers, catching the defenders off-guard. However, within a few minutes the men of the 206th were in action, shooting down one enemy plane and putting up such a heavy rate of fire that Japanese pilots missed their targets while trying to dodge the Arkansan’s barrage. The Japanese attacked again the next day, causing some casualties but failing to put the harbor out of action. This was their last attack. The 206th remained as part of the garrison until it was reassigned to the European Theater in 1944.
June 5, 1945: Okinawa, Ryukyus Island Group — After almost two months of steady, often bitter fighting, sometimes including "banzai" charges and hand-to-hand combat with fanatical Japanese soldiers intent of dying for the Emperor, New York's 27th "Empire" Infantry Division is in the final stages of the climatic battle for this Japanese island. On this day, its advanced elements have finally reached the northern tip of the island, still encountering fierce resistance. The division, part of a joint Army-Marine Corps operation, landed on Okinawa on April 9. It took part in the northern operations against the outer belt of the Shuri defenses. Although subjected to tremendous naval and aerial bombardment, the Japanese dug into caves and concealed pillboxes, continuing to offer a determined defense. With almost every position captured or destroyed, the remaining Japanese defenders surrendered on June 9. This marked the conclusion of the last major battle of World War II. The 27th Division lost 1,844 men killed and nearly 5,000 wounded in the course of this campaign.
June 6, 1944: The Allied invasion of France, commonly known as “D-Day” begins as Guardsmen from the 29th Infantry Division (D.C., Md., Va.) storm onto what will forever after be known as “bloody Omaha” Beach in Normandy, France. The lead element, Virginia’s 116th Infantry, suffers nearly 80% casualties but gains the foothold needed for the invasion to succeed. The 116’s artillery support, the 111th Field Artillery Battalion, also from Virginia, loses all 12 of its guns in high surf trying to get on the beach. Its men take up arms from the dead and fight as infantrymen. Engineer support came from the District of Columbia’s 121st Engineer Battalion. Despite high loses too, its men succeed in blowing holes in several obstacles clearing paths for the men to get inland off the beach. In the early afternoon, Maryland’s 115th Infantry lands behind the 116th and moves through its shattered remnants to start the movement in off the beach. Supporting the invasion was the largest air fleet known to history. Among the units flying missions were the Guards’ 107th (Mich.) and 109th (Minn.) Tactical Reconnaissance Squadrons The Normandy campaign lasted until the end of July with four Guard infantry divisions; the 28th (Pa.), 29th, 30th (N.C., S.C., Tenn.) and the 35th (Kan., Mo., Neb.) taking part along with dozens of non-divisional units all earning the “Normandy” streamer.
June 6, 1969: Normandy, France
— On the 25th anniversary of the D-Day landings, NGAUS, in conjunction
with the National Guard Bureau, dedicates a special monument honoring
all those Guardsmen who served in Europe during both world wars.
Constructed atop a World War II German pillbox, it overlooks that
section of "Omaha Beach" where the Guards' 29th Infantry Division
(D.C., Md., Va.) suffered more than 1,000 causalities fighting its way
onshore on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
June 7, 1968: Tuy Hoa Air Base, Vietnam — New Mexico's 188th Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) arrives, becoming the third Air National Guard unit to serve in Vietnam. Combined on June 14 with New York's newly arrived 136th TFS into the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing, both squadrons immediately began flying close ground support missions for American troops. These two units are the only Guard units, Air or Army to actually be assigned to the same operational headquarters while serving in Vietnam. During the course of its tour the 188th will fly 6,029 sorties and lose three pilots in combat, including two missing in action and later declared killed. The 136th flew nearly as many sorties and fortunately lost no members to combat although it did have three pilots killed in stateside training. One member of the 188th, Sergeant Melvyn S. Montano, will become a commissioned officer after the unit returns home and in December 1994 he is appointed the Adjutant General of New Mexico; the only known enlisted Guardsman serving in Vietnam War to later achieve this position in any state.
June 8, 1944: Grandcamp, Normandy, France — Technical Sergeant Frank Peregory, a Guard member of Company K, 116th Infantry (Va.), 29th Infantry Division, earns the Medal of Honor by single-handily killing or capturing more than 20 Germans manning a trench that blocked the regiment's advance along the Normandy coast to relieve the 2nd Ranger Battalion at Pointe de Hoc. While the men of his company gave him covering fire, Peregory ran across an open field and entered the trench unseen. Using just his M-1 rifle, bayonet and several hand grenades he cleared the trench in short order. But Peregory had demonstrated his quick thinking under pressure even prior to leaving the United States for combat. In early 1942, as his unit was moving along an icy road in North Carolina one of the trucks slipped down an embankment and plunged into a small river. Two men were trapped under the canvas cover and would soon be drowned. Peregory borrowed a knife from another soldier and jumped into the freezing water to cut the top and brought each man to the bank safely. For this deed he was awarded the Soldiers Medal, the Army's highest decoration for valor, at the risk of one's life, but not related to combat. Unfortunately, Peregory never saw his Medal of Honor, he was killed in action ten days later.
June 8, 1991: Washington, D.C.
— Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of Allied forces in Operation
Desert Storm, leads the National Victory Parade up Pennsylvania Avenue
past the reviewing stand holding President George H.W. Bush and other
dignitaries in the first such military parade held in the nation's
capital since the end of World War I. Among the contingents of military
units are composite battalions of Air and Army Guard personnel who
served in theater. Two days later, a similar victory parade was held in
Manhattan's Canyon of Heroes.
June 10, 1991: New York, N.Y. — For the second time in three days, the nation witnesses a "Victory Parade" to celebrate the quick defeat and expulsion of Iraqi forces from Kuwait in Operation "Desert Storm." Among the marching units is the New York Guard's 719th Transportation Company, a descendent of the all-black 369th Infantry which gained fame as the "Harlem Hellfighters" in World War I. This parade is the first military "victory" parade held in Manhattan's "Canyon of Heroes" since the end of the World War II. While Gen. Douglas MacArthur was given a "ticker-tape" parade by the city in 1951 (after being relieved of his command in Korea by President Truman), no "victory parade" was offered by the city after the end of the Korean or Vietnam wars. So when the plans for the Desert Storm parade were made, special announcements were made to Korean and Vietnam veteran's organizations welcoming them to join in the march.
June 13, 1966: Oahu, Hawaii — With the onset of the Cold War and the threat of long-range Soviet nuclear bombers, the Guard wrote a new chapter in its history of homeland defense. Beginning in 1954, thousands of Army Guardsmen manned antiaircraft artillery positions across the country, adopting for the first time a federal mission while in a state status. In the late 1950s the Guard began transitioning from guns to longer-ranged and more lethal missiles. For exactly 16 years, from September 1958 to September 1974, the Army Guard manned Nike-Ajax and Nike-Hercules missile batteries in an operational status. At the height of the program in 1969, 17 states (Calif., Conn., Hawaii, Ill., Md., Mass., Mich., Mo., N.J., N.Y., Ohio, Pa., R.I., Texas, Va., Wash., Wis.) provided more than 7,000 soldiers to staff 54 missile batteries around sixteen key metropolitan areas. The Hawaii Guard's 298th Artillery Group was the first National Guard unit to adopt the Nike-Hercules missile, becoming operational in early 1960. Hawaii was also the only state to man all of its firing batteries with Guardsmen; in the continental United States the Guard manned about a third of all Nike sites. While the rest of the Nike force conducted its annual live fire practices at the White Sands Missile Range in NM, the Hawaii Guard was unique in that it conducted its annual live-fire certifications from mobile launchers firing off the north shore of the island of Oahu. It was during such an exercise that Battery B, 1st Missile Battalion, 298th Artillery Group recorded the longest successful Nike-Hercules missile intercept of a target. The advent of the intercontinental ballistic missiles in the 1960s led to cut backs in the Nike program by the early 1970s. The entire program ended in 1974. Though no missile was ever fired in anger, the duty encompassed a 24-hour watch, 365 days a year and thousands of alerts. Guardsmen had demonstrated their ability to conduct real-world missions while in a part-time, state-controlled, status, in the process proudly adopting for themselves the title "Missile-Age Miuntemen."
June 14, 1968: Tuy Hoa Air Base, Vietnam — New York's 136th Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) arrives, making it the last Air National Guard unit to deploy to Vietnam. Organized along with New Mexico's 188th TFS into the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing, this marks the only time any two Guard units, Air or Army, served together in Vietnam. Like the other three Air Guard squadrons serving in Vietnam, this unit was equipped with F-100 Super Sabre fighter-bombers. While capable of engaging in air-to-air combat, their primary role in Vietnam was flying ground support missions such as bombing enemy troop concentrations and suspected supply dumps to strafing and bombing enemy formations attacking American or South Vietnamese bases.
June 15, 1933: Washington, D.C. — The National Guard Status Act of 1933, creating a dual status for Guardsmen, is signed into law. This little-known but critical legislation finally solved a Constitutional dilemma that had troubled the Army and the Guard since 1903. Despite all the laws passed from 1903 to 1933 increasing the readiness of the Guard to serve as a reserve of the Army, the Guard remained the militia of the states according to the Constitution. It was thus limited in its federal service to the three purposes specified in the Constitution: executing the laws of the union, suppressing insurrections and repelling invasions. In order to remove Guardsmen from these restrictions imposed on the militia, the federal government drafted each National Guardsman for World War I, thus legally removing him from the militia and placing him in the Army. Guardsmen universally resented being drafted, since they all considered themselves volunteers. However, they also did not wish in peacetime to surrender the independence from Army control that membership in the state-controlled militia conferred, and (barring an amendment to the Constitution) they could not simultaneously be members of both a state and a federal military force, no matter how the law was written. The solution to this problem was developed in the 1920s after considerable study by leaders of NGAUS. When it was finally passed by Congress in 1933, the National Guard Status Act created a new federal reserve component of the Army called "The National Guard of the United States." This new reserve component would only be populated when the Guard was ordered into federal service; at all other times this federal reserve would have only an inactive "shadow" existence, its personnel residing in identical units of the Organized Militia (called "The National Guard of the several States, Territories, and the District of Columbia") under state control.
June 17, 1775:
Charles Town, Mass. — American militia repulsed two determined British Army attacks upon the temporary breastworks they constructed on Breed's Hill--commonly referred to as Bunker Hill--at Charles Town, Mass. Gun powder for the militia was running low when the third assault came, allowing the British to carry the entrenchments, inflicting a number of casualties with the bayonet which few Americans had available. Though the battle was a British victory, their losses were so high that nearly a third of all their officers killed in the war died in this one battle.
June 18, 1916: Washington D.C. — President Woodrow Wilson, acting only fifteen days after he signed the historic National Defense Act of 1916, calls up most of the National Guard for duty along the Mexican Border. Because the National Guard was called up under the militia clause of the Constitution, it was restricted to service within the borders of the United States to "repel invasion" by Pancho Villa's bandits. By July 31, more then 110,000 Guardsmen had joined the 5,000 Ariz., Texas, and N.M. Guardsmen who had previously been called for service on the border in May. The Guard's deployment freed Gen. John Pershing to lead an expeditionary force composed of Army regulars into Mexico in a futile attempt to track down Villa. Over 40,000 Guardsmen were still serving on the border when war was declared against Germany in April 1917. The border experience proved valuable training for the Guard prior to World War I, particularly because it gave officers and men extensive experience in working with large formations of troops that could rarely be assembled in peacetime.
June 18, 1944: In Kewilin, China members of Connecticut’s 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, formerly the Guard’s 118th Observation Squadron, begin flying missions as part of the 23rd Fighter Group. This Group was an outgrowth of the “Flying Tigers” who gained great prewar fame as an elite American unit of volunteer pilots fighting the Japanese. While flying over enemy lines the 118th was often engaged by Japanese fighters. During the course of the war, the squadron produced five pilots earning the designation of “ace”, meaning they single-handily shot down at least five enemy aircraft. Four other Guard aerial units also served in the China-Burma-India Theater, their prewar designations were: 103rd (Pa.), 115th (Calif.), 123rd (Ore.), 127th (Kan.) observation squadrons.
June 19, 1969: Fire Base Tomahawk, Vietnam — During a chilly, rainy, very black night North Vietnamese (NVA) soldiers infiltrate this base shared by a platoon of infantrymen from the 101st Airborne Division and Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 138th Artillery from Bardstown, Ky. Starting at 1:45 a.m. the enemy launch their surprise attack, using satchel charges containing 10-15 pounds of TNT and rocket-propelled grenades. Their mission was to destroy all six of the M-109 self-propelled howitzers belonging to Battery C which had been firing effective supporting missions for nearby American forces. After about two hours of confused and heavy fighting during which the Guardsmen played a key role in repulsing the attack, the enemy finally withdrew. The NVA succeeded in destroying four of the six howitzers along with other vehicles and equipment. The human cost was high too. The 101st had four men killed and 13 wounded. The highest losses were suffered by the gunners from Kentucky. The Battery had nine men killed; five of them were from Bardstown and the other four were non-Guard replacements from various, non-Kentucky, locations. And the unit suffered 37 wounded, most of them Guardsmen.
June 22, 1952:
South Korea — Utah's 213th Armored Field Artillery Battalion was awarded the Distinguished (now Presidential) Unit Citation for its stubborn defense of Sanghong-Jong-Ni during the Communist Chinese offensive of April 1951. The battalion, one of two from Utah in Korea, was among the 11 non-divisional National Guard field artillery battalions serving in the country. Equipped with M-7 Priest self-propelled, 105mm howitzers, it fired missions in support of IX Corps. Among the units supported during this crisis was the 1st Marine Division, 16th New Zealand Artillery Regiment and a battalion of Australian infantry. The unit remained in Korea until after the armistice ended the fighting in July 1953.
June 23, 1918: Martainneville,
Amiens, France — Men of the 66th Brigade and 122nd Machine Gun
Battalion, elements of the 33rd Division, organized entirely from
Illinois National Guard units, conducts several days of training in
defensive operations with the British XIX Corps. By July, the division
is deemed ready for combat and will be committed to the front near the
River Somme. By war's end the division earns five campaign streamers,
captures more than 4,000 prisoners and has nine members awarded the
Medal of Honor.
June 26, 1951: In the skies over North Korea — During the Korean War over 45,000 Air Guardsmen, serving in 22 Wings and other units, were mobilized. Texas' 136th Fighter-Bomber Wing was in the first increment to be called in September 1950. Flying F-84E Thunderjet aircraft it was the first of two Air Guard Wings deployed to Korea, arriving in June 1951. The three flying squadrons of the 136th soon entered combat as escorts for B-29 bombers attacking targets over a portion of North Korea patrolled by Soviet-built enemy fighters called "MiG's." Enemy fighters patrolled the area so thickly that American pilots soon referred to it as "MiG Alley." It was during one such mission on this date that First Lieutenant Arthur Oligher of the 182nd Fighter-Bomber Squadron (Texas), one of the three squadrons in the 136th Wing, shot down a MiG with the help of Captain Harry Underwood. This would be the first of several "kills" of enemy aircraft that Guard pilots would score in the months to come. The 182nd Fighter Squadron, flying F-16 Falcon fighters, remains a part of the Texas Air Guard today.
June 27, 1944: In the days since D-Day the Allies have become bogged down by the Norman hedgerows that provide perfect defensive positions for the Germans. Made of stone walls overgrown by centuries of intertwined vines and trees, and rising to heights of ten feet in places, they prove almost indestructible even to tanks trying to push through. So tanks had to come to gaps in the walls, where German artillery would often be waiting to destroy them. Then Sergeant Curtis Culin, a Guard member of New Jersey’s 102nd Cavalry Squadron, develops the idea of taking the iron road obstacles placed by the retreating Germans, fabricating them into a ‘plow’ affixed to the front of a tank that then allows it to ‘cut’ its way through the hedgerow. This allowed the tanks to break through in any unpredictable location, confounding the enemy’s traps. Known as “rhino tanks” more than 300 are so equipped and help to speed up the Allied advance. Sergeant Culin was awarded the Legion of Merit Medal for his idea.
June 28, 1776: Charles Town (today Charleston), S.C. — A British fleet attempting to capture the largest city in the South must first force "Fort Moultrie" (named for its commander, Col. William Moultrie, of the 2nd South Carolina Regiment of Foot) to surrender. After a bombardment of several hours and a failed assault landing the enemy fleet is compelled to sail away. During this engagement the 2nd's blue flag bearing a silver crescent was cut down by a cannonball. Sgt. William Jasper, while exposing himself to enemy fire, transferred the color onto a cannon rammer and hoisted it again above the battlements. Today the South Carolina state flag bears the same silver crescent and the Palmetto Tree, logs of which were used to build the fort.
June 28, 1921: Washington D.C. — The U.S. Senate confirms Pennsylvania Colonel George Rickards as the first National Guardsman to serve as Chief of the Militia Bureau (today's National Guard Bureau). Rickards was a veteran of 43 years of service, having commanded the 16th Pennsylvania Infantry during the Spanish-American War and on the Mexican Border, then taking his regiment (under the new federal designation 112th Infantry) to France in World War I. Before the war was over, Rickards commanded the 56th Brigade of the 28th Division. After the war, Rickards volunteered for federal service and became one of the first Guardsmen assigned to the War Department General Staff. The National Defense Act of 1920 turned over leadership of the Militia Bureau from a regular officer to a Guardsman, and stipulated that the President would select the Chief of the Militia Bureau from a list of eligible officers nominated by the governors, with the Senate confirming the appointment. Rickards, initially selected by President Wilson in December 1919, had to wait six months to be confirmed by the Senate due to the protests of several senators that the President had not selected the officer nominated by the majority of the governors, Charles Martin, the politically powerful Adjutant General of Kansas. However, Wilson refused to change his mind and when Rickards was re-nominated for the position by President Harding in early 1920 the Senate finally relented and confirmed Rickards. He served until his retirement in 1925.
July 1, 1898: Santiago, Cuba — American forces attack first up Kettle Hill and then across a saddle to outflank San Juan Hill. Among the units making this attack was the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, (better known as the "Rough Riders") two squadrons of which were drawn from the Arizona and New Mexico volunteer militia units. It was commanded by Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt, himself a former New York Guardsman. Near the Rough Riders attacking straight up San Juan Hill was the 71st New York Volunteer Infantry. With this victory, the Spanish fleet was compelled to sail from Santiago Harbor or face bombardment by the American Army now overlooking the city. When it did sail, it was quickly destroyed by the American Navy waiting outside the harbor. As a result of these assaults, two men important in Guard history received the Medal of Honor. They were: Capt. (later Gen.) Albert Mills, a regular officer, who became the third Chief of the Division of Militia Affairs (now National Guard Bureau) in 1912; and Roosevelt who as President oversaw the enactment of the 1903 Militia (Dick) Act. Besides being the only president to receive the Medal of Honor, Roosevelt, who's Medal of Honor was not approved and awarded until 2000, is also one of only three to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
July 2, 1863: Gettysburg, Pa. — On the second day of this titanic struggle, names of unknown places enter the history books for the ferocity of the combat they witnessed. Places like Culp's Hill, the Wheat Field, Little Round Top and Devil's Den have been immortalized. Despite Gen. Robert E Lee's various attempts and gallant efforts of his soldiers to achieve a breakthrough to exploit, none was achieved. After an all-day battle costing over a thousand dead and three times as many wounded, the Confederates fail to wrestle Culp's Hill away from Union troops - some of whom were from Pennsylvania and thus fighting on their home soil. On the opposite side of the field on Cemetery Ridge, the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry arrives just in time to plug a gap left by retreating federal forces. Despite repeated Confederate attacks the Minnesotans stood their ground, suffering one of the highest casualty rates of the war - out of 262 men entering action that morning only 47 remained uninjured by day's end.
July 2, 1926: Washington, D.C.
— Congress enacts a bill that establishes the U.S. Army Air Corps and
places it in control of all Army aviation (including Guard) activities.
During the Interwar period (1920-1940) each Army/Guard infantry
division had its own observation squadron to furnish intelligence and
fire control to the divisional artillery. This bill also directs that
upon mobilization all Guard air assets are to be incorporated into the
Corps, thus separating them from their peacetime role within their
July 7, 1966: Honolulu, Hawaii — Female nurses of the 150th Aeromedical Flight, New Jersey Air National Guard, receive men injured or ill from their duty in Vietnam to treat them on their return flights to stateside hospitals for convalesce. Nurses from several Air Guard units volunteered to staff these missions in a temporary duty status, usually lasting about a month for each individual. They were not allowed to enter the combat zone of Vietnam so they would link up with evacuation flights in Japan or Hawaii (staffed by Regular Air Force or Navy nurses) and rendered medical support in bringing the men back to the states, thus "freeing up" the Regular nurses to return to the theater. At this point in the war no Guard units, Air or Army had yet been mobilized but the Air Guard in particular was voluntarily playing an increasing role in supporting the war effort. Besides these nurse evacuation flights other Air Guard units, mostly those equipped with long-range C-97 or C-121 transport aircraft, were flying large amounts of cargo into Vietnam. As with the Air Guard women, these men were all volunteers and could not stay in Vietnam. They landed, off-loaded their cargo and took off again (hopefully before anybody got hurt), flying back to the Philippines to rest before returning home. In January 1968 and again in May 1968 a total of thirteen Air Guard units were mobilized to support the war in Vietnam and the potential of renewed conflict in Korea. Among these units was a small number of women in Air Guard tactical dispensaries or hospitals. While four of the Air Guard fighter squadrons served in Vietnam and two more were based in Korea, as far as can be documented none of their supporting units deployed with any mobilized female nurses.
July 8, 1962: Members of the 49th Armored Division from Texas, currently serving on active duty since Oct. 1, 1961, use their full-time training experience to teach Guardsmen in non-mobilized units coming to Ft. Polk, La., for their annual training the finer points of combat readiness. The 49th, along with 32nd Infantry Division from Wisconsin and 264 non-divisional Army Guard units and 163 Air Guard units were mobilized by President John F. Kennedy in response to the Soviet Union building the Berlin Wall marking an increase in tension in Europe. These units brought more than 66,000 Guard personnel on active duty for up to one year. As tensions cooled by summer's end the units began returning home. No Army Guard units or personnel had been sent overseas. However, eleven Air Guard fighter squadrons had been deployed to France, Britain and Spain during the crisis. In fact, their movement across the Atlantic was the largest deployment of jet aircraft to date.
July 9, 1755: Virginia Frontier near Monongahela River, Pa. — In an area south of present day Pittsburgh, Pa., British Gen. Edward Braddock is shot and later dies when a column of soldiers he is leading is ambushed by French soldiers and their Indians allies. Braddock was sent from England to command a combined task force numbering about 2,000 men composed of British Regulars and colonial troops. His army was to march to Fort Duquesne (today Pittsburgh) and force the French to surrender it to British control. Accompanying him as an advisor was Lt. Col. George Washington of the Virginia militia. After Braddock and about a third of his force was killed, Washington assumed command. Showing great skill he withdrew the balance of the force with little additional loss. His actions brought him great renown in the other colonies and helped formulate a "national" recognition of his abilities as a military leader which would later lead to his appointment as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the Revolution.
July 9, 1943: Attu Island,
Alaska — California's 159th Infantry, which had been an element of the
40th Division when it mobilized in 1941 but is now part of the regular
Army's 7th Infantry Division, arrives here to garrison this strategic
island that was recaptured from Japanese invaders by the 7th Division.
The 159th later will be transferred to Europe, assigned to the 106th
Infantry Division and see combat in Germany. It will be the only Guard
infantry unit to serve in both the Pacific and European theaters during
July 10, 1943: Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy — Assault elements of the 180th and 157th Infantry regiments, both part of the 45th Infantry Division from Arizona, Colorado and Oklahoma, stormed ashore as part of the invasion of Sicily. They met little resistance and quickly moved to secure the British right flank as it moved North to take Messina, the island's closest point to the Italian mainland. This operation marked the first time any Allied force attacked an Axis power on its home ground. The Italians soon overthrew their dictator, Benito Mussolini, and asked the Allies for peace. However, the Germans quickly moved large numbers of troops into the country and fought the Allies all the way back to the Alps, not surrendering until the end of the war on May 8, 1945.
July 13, 1916: Camp Hagman, Redfield, S.D. — Guardsmen of the 4th South Dakota Infantry prepare to leave for San Benito, Texas, to take up their station as part of the partial mobilization to protect the Mexican border against bandit raids lead by Pancho Villa. When the 4th SD arrives in late July it will be placed into the First Separate Brigade along with the 22nd U.S. Infantry, the 1st Louisiana and 1st Oklahoma infantry regiments (these latter two both Guard units). During the seven months the 4th remains on the border it will take part in several large-scale maneuvers used to train both officers and men in case America is drawn into World War I (then raging in Europe). The 4th returned home in March 1917 and was released from active duty. During World War I it was broken up into several elements assigned to different divisions which later fought in France. In all, 158,664 Guardsmen served on active duty during the border crisis.
July 14, 1825: The visit of the Marquis de Lafayette to America in 1824 to 1825 was in every sense a triumphal procession. The 2nd Battalion, 11th New York Artillery, was one of many militia turned out to welcome him on his visit to New York City. This unit decided to adopt the title “National Guard” in honor of Lafayette’s command of the Garde Nationale de Paris during the French Revolution. The 11th Battalion, later designated as the 7th Regiment, was prominent in the line of march on the occasion of Lafayette’s final passage through New York en route home to France. Taking note of the troops named for his old command he alighted from his carriage walked down the line clasping each officer by the hand as he proceeded. The 7th New York, with its designation “National Guard” went on to become one of the most famous of all Guard units well into the 20th century. Its nickname has come to represent all American militia for more than century.
July 16, 1916: Mineola, N.Y. — Capt. Raynal Bolling commanded the 1st Aero Squadron, New York National Guard, when it was mobilized during the Mexican Border Crisis. Using a variety of privately owned aircraft, the 1st was the first flying unit organized in the Guard. Though the unit was not deployed to the border before being released from active duty in November 1916, a large number of its members, including Bolling, joined the Signal Corps Reserve (then controlling all Army aviation) prior to the U.S. entry into World War I. During the war Bolling, now a colonel, was a leading planner of American air strategy. For instance, he determined and got approved the use of British DeHaviland's for observation and daylight bombing missions and British Bristol's and French Spads as America's lead fighters. While riding in a staff car near the front at Amiens, France on March 26, 1918, he was surprised by advancing German troops. Bolling and his driver, coming under enemy fire, jumped into a ditch, where Bolling returned fire with his pistol (the only weapon either man had). He killed a German officer and almost immediately was killed himself by another officer. His had to be one of the few pistol fights to have occurred in World War I! Bolling was posthumously awarded the French Legion of Honor and the American Distinguished Service Medal for his bold leadership and far-reaching vision of the role air power would come to play on the battlefield.
July 17, 1944: Sarmi Wadke
Island, New Guinea — The 31st Infantry Division, nicknamed "Dixie"
because its Guard units came from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and
Mississippi, lands here relieving the Regular Army's 6th Infantry
Division. The 31st engages in limited combat with the few remaining Japanese
defenders. Mostly the division provided security for engineers,
including their own 106th Engineer Battalion (Miss.), to build roads,
bridges and dock facilities so the island can be used as a staging base
for the attack on Morotai Island in September.
July 18, 1944: St. Lo, Normandy, France — Two Guard divisions, the 29th (D.C., Md., Va.) and the 35th (Kan., Mo., Neb.) both claim credit for the final capture of this vital crossroads city from the Nazis. According to the D-Day plan, St. Lo was supposed to be secured ten days after D-Day, but it took 42 days to take the city. During the 35th Division's approach, Nebraska Guardsman 1st Lt. Francis Greenlief, of Company L, 134th Infantry (Neb.), was awarded the Silver Star for capturing an enemy machine gun nest single-handedly. In 1971, Major General Greenlief was appointed National Guard Bureau chief. He would serve as chief from 1971 to 1974, followed by a ten-year stint as NGAUS executive director. Another Guard soldier was to gain fame on the approach to St. Lo, but in a different way. Virginian Maj. Thomas Howie, the popular commander of the 2nd Battalion, 116th Infantry (Va.), told his officers in a meeting on the edge of the city "I'll see you in St. Lo!" and then was killed by a mortar fragment.
July 18, 1863: The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, along with several other regiments, fail in their assault to capture “Battery Wagner” near Charleston Harbor, S.C. from Confederate forces. This unit, raised as part of the Massachusetts Militia in 1863, was the first all-black unit (with white officers) organized for federal duty since the 1st Rhode Island Regiment was organized during the American Revolution. Parts of its story were highlighted by the movie Glory but many elements were changed or left out. For instance, when the unit was organized almost all of its men were ‘free born’ blacks, not former slaves. The regimental sergeant major, played as a fictitious character by actor Morgan Freeman, was in actual fact the eldest son of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Two of his other sons also served in the regiment. And the first African American to be awarded the Medal of Honor earned it with the unit in this attack. Sergeant William Carney of Company B, picked up the National flag after the color bearer was killed and carried it to the top of the parapet, where he used it to rally and inspire the men. Due to high losses the regiment was forced to retreat and Carney carried the flag to safety despite three crippling wounds. For his act he was awarded the Medal of Honor, one of 18 received by African Americans during the war.
July 19, 1916:
The Delaware National Guard was called for federal service to the Mexican border. Its muster was held at New Castle. The troops were headed to Deming, New Mexico, 30 miles north of the point where Pancho Villa terrorized citizens in Columbus four months earlier. Since Delaware did not have a full regiment by federal standards, the soldiers went to New Mexico in July as two separate battalions of infantry. However, the regimental headquarters and band were not accepted for service and returned home. The vast landscape was a surprising change for the men accustomed to regular rain and green surroundings. Among the young soldiers in Company E, First Infantry, was Cpl. John W. O'Daniel (1894-1975), who later gained fame as Audie Murphy's commanding officer of the 3rd Infantry Division in World War II. His tenacity in battle earned him the nickname "Iron Mike." O'Daniel later served in the New Jersey National Guard and was attached to the 36th Infantry Division of the Texas National Guard.
July 20, 1969: Long Binh, Vietnam — Members of Rhode Island's 107th Signal Company continue to perform "routine" but necessary upgrades on equipment to assure a smooth flow of communications in support of Headquarters, II Field Force. The unit, in country since October 1968, actually had elements serving in three different locations in Vietnam. The main body was stationed at Long Binh while a platoon was based at Can Tho, 80 miles southwest of Saigon to support the IV Corps (Mekong Delta) area and a second platoon was situated at Tay Ninh (50 miles northwest of Saigon) to support the 199th Infantry Brigade. Among their tasks was the maintenance of teletype relays between different headquarters in country and the operation of a 200-line dial central office on wheels to provide commercial-quality phone service. This latter equipment allowed the unit to deploy with a mobile force and within an hour have its commo links up on line. While the unit had no men killed in action, Sgt. Ernest Perry of Warwick, R.I., died of a swimming accident. The 107th returned home in October 1969 and was reorganized in the Rhode Island Guard. However, it was disbanded in the 1990s and its lineage is now lost. It is the only National Guard unit (Army or Air) carrying Vietnam campaign credit not still in the force today.
July 21, 1861: Manassas, Va. —
The first major engagement of the main armies in the Civil War takes
place along a muddy creek known as "Bull Run." The entire Confederate
Army was composed of volunteer militia although some of its officers
had served in the federal army before the war. While the Union Army had
some Regular soldiers in it, most of its ranks also contained volunteer
militia. Neither army was well trained and in the regiments of both
were found a variety of uniforms in blue and gray, causing confusion on
the battlefield. The battle was a Confederate victory, made notable by
the determined defense of Gen. Thomas Jackson and his Virginia troops,
hereafter known to history as the "Stonewall Brigade."
July 22, 1954: Phenix City, Ala. — Gov. Gordon Persons declares martial law in Russell County after a key witness in an upcoming grand jury inquiry is murdered to prevent his testimony about local corruption and vote fraud. About 150 Alabama Guardsmen, under the command of the Maj. Gen. Walter Hanna, commander of the 31st Infantry Division, started moving into the city and surrounding areas to "clean up" what had been referred to as the "most wicked city in the United States." Phenix City had been known for years as a den of gambling, bootleg liquor and prostitutes all aided by corrupt cops and others in leadership positions. Located just across the state line from Fort Benning, Ga., the city thrived on the "soldier trade". After several failed attempts to clean up the situation, the killing was the last straw. Hanna and his men replaced the sheriff and deputies, while all the local judges were replaced by ones sent by the governor from outside areas. All the gambling equipment (slot machines, roulette tables, etc.) was destroyed, the girls run out of the county and the corrupt officials jailed, fined or otherwise prevented from acting. The mission ended in January 1955, nearly six months after it started. A determined general backed by at least 300 Guardsmen on duty at some point, finally succeeded in cleaning up the "wicked city" once and for all.
July 22, 2003: Mosul, Iraq — The two sons of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Qusay Saddam Husayn (the Ace of Clubs in the deck of 52 playing cards featuring Iraq's "most wanted") and Uday Saddam Husayn (the Ace of Hearts) are trapped in a house and killed in a fire-fight with American troops from the 101st Airborne Division. Supporting this action were two OH-58 Kiowa helicopters from Company D, 1st Battalion, 159th Aviation from the Mississippi Army Guard which flew top cover to be sure no one escaped from the building. After an initial ground assault against the building resulted in three American soldiers being wounded, the 101st called for air support. So the two Guard copters worked the house over with 2.75-inch rockets, Mark 19 grenades, AT-4 rockets and .50 caliber machine gun fire. Still fire came back from the defenders until finally the infantry killed everyone inside with 10 TOW missiles.
July 24, 1968:
Itazuke, Japan — The 154th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron from Arkansas arrives to begin its duties patrolling the Sea of Japan. This squadron was one of 11 Air National Guard units called to active duty in January 1968 in the partial mobilization prompted by the North Korean seizure of the USS Pueblo and the Tet Offensive in South Vietnam. Combined with the 165th from Kentucky and the 192nd from Nevada to form the 123rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, squadrons worked on a rotation basis spending three months each at Itazuke, at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, and patrolling around the entrance of the Panama Canal while stationed at Howard Air Force Base, Panama. At the end of the 90-day tour they rotated to their new assignment. All three squadrons were released from active duty by June 1969.
July 26, 1918: Dickebusch Lake
and Scherpenberg Sector, Marne, France — New York's 27th Division,
assigned to the British XIX Corps, which had begun relieving the French
71st Division on July 5, completes it movement into the front lines.
During its service in World War I, the 27th would participate in two
campaigns, the Ypres-Lys and Somme Offensive and have seven of its
soldiers awarded the Medal of Honor.
July 27, 1944: As large numbers of German soldiers are killed or surrender and their armored equipment is destroyed by constant air attack Operation COBRA, the planned Allied breakout from Normandy, continues. This operation, which was supposed to start with a massive aerial bombardment of the German defensive lines along the Vire River on July 24 led instead to one of the worst incidents of “friendly fire” during World War II. Due to poor visibility the bomber strike was called off; however, some of the squadrons did not get the word and dropped their loads on top of North Carolina’s 120th Infantry, an element of the 30th Infantry Division composed of Guard units from North and South Carolina and Tennessee. Because word of the cancelled attack had also not reached the frontline soldiers the Guardsmen of the 120th instead of being ‘dug in’ were exposed waiting for the word to advance. More than 150 men were killed or wounded in this mistake. COBRA started the next day, again with some Americans being struck by our own bombs, but with more hitting the enemy. The 30th Division and other American units punched through the Nazis lines and by early August the Allied armies would break out of Normandy completely, liberating Paris on August 25.
July 29, 1970: Korat Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand — Volunteers of Pennsylvania's 193rd Tactical Electronic Warfare Group settle into their quarters having just arrived to begin their secret mission of propaganda broadcasts over enemy held territory. The 193rd was a fairly new organization, having been reorganized from Pennsylvania's 168th Air Transport Group in 1967. During the 1965 operation of the U.S. military in quelling the unrest in the Dominican Republic, the Defense Department decided it need some way to communicate by AM radio with the populace our intentions and instructions to help reduce needless deaths. With the Vietnam War costing billions of dollars already, the Air Force said it could not organize such a specialized unit on a full-time basis. Maj. Gen. Winston Wilson, National Guard Bureau chief, offered to have an Air Guard unit reorganized to perform this mission. As the 168th was reorganized into the 193rd its mission was redefined more to broadcast the American position on events to enemy soldiers than to communicate with local civilians. Soon after the U.S. incursion into Cambodia from Vietnam in May 1970, it was decided to deploy the 193rd to Thailand to fly over Cambodia broadcasting to Communists forces attempting to overthrow the pro-American government. By 1970 it was apparent that the U.S was withdrawing its forces from Vietnam. The last thing the Pentagon wanted was newspaper stories about a Guard unit again being mobilized for duty in Southeast Asia. The last of the Guardsmen mobilized in 1968 had only been released from active duty in November 1969. And with memories of the Guard's involvement in the Kent State shootings that had just occurred in May 1970, the public's impression of the Guard was not favorable. So it was decided to deploy the unit staffed entirely with volunteers on "short tours" of 60 to 90 days before they returned home, replaced by new volunteers for another 60 to 90 days. According to Tech. Sgt. James Bankes, who was in the first group to go, this rotation schedule applied to all, pilots as well as ground support personnel. With little notice by the press the unit took only two of their specially-modified EC-121 Super Constellation aircraft. Each day one plane would fly, usually for about seven hours, while the other was serviced and prepared for the next day's mission. Bankes said that the planes broadcast AM radio programs in a foreign language prepared by somebody who delivered them to the unit each morning in time for that day's flight. The crew had no idea what they said. One pilot joked it was probably "Shoot down the first three-tailed aircraft you see!" After 144 days of continuous missions (without missing one day due to malfunction or weather) the unit and its planes returned home with no fanfare. The 193rd suffered no losses. This first test for the unit proved successful and it has been among the first unit deployed in every military action undertaken by the U.S. since Vietnam. In fact, the 193rd (now redesignated as Special Operations Wing) is the only such unit in the entire Air Force and was flying over Afghanistan broadcasting on the first day of the air war against the Taliban in 2001 and over Iraq in the opening hours of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
July 30, 1619:
Jamestown, Va. — The first meeting of the House of Burgesses, the first representative governing body in North America, takes place. Composed of the governor and 21 other members, 17 of whom were elected by the land-owning males, this body enacted laws for the colony. Among these would be rules regulating the militia, from its arming and training to who could serve. Slaves and indentured servants were forbidden to bear arms but "free negroes" were expected to serve and, like their white counterparts, even furnish their own weapons.
July 31, 1943: New Georgia, Solomon Islands — Pvt. Rodger W. Young, an Ohio Guardsman with Company B, 148th Infantry, 37th Infantry Division, earns the Medal of Honor. His citation read as follows: "On July 31, 1943, the infantry company of which Pvt. Young was a member, was ordered to make a limited withdrawal from the battle line in order to adjust the battalion's position for the night. At this time, Pvt. Young's platoon was engaged with the enemy in a dense jungle where observation was very limited. The platoon suddenly was pinned down by intense fire from a Japanese machinegun concealed on higher ground only 75 yards away. The initial burst wounded Pvt. Young. As the platoon started to obey the order to withdraw, Pvt. Young called out that he could see the enemy emplacement, whereupon he started creeping toward it. Another burst from the machinegun wounded him the second time. Despite the wounds, he continued his heroic advance, attracting enemy fire and answering with rifle fire. When he was close enough to his objective, he began throwing handgrenades, and while doing so was hit again and killed. Pvt. Young's bold action in closing with this Japanese pillbox and thus diverting its fire, permitted his platoon to disengage itself, without loss, and was responsible for several enemy casualties."
August 1, 1943: Ploesti, Romania — On this date, the American Eighth Air Force began staging a series of heavy bomber air raids against the oil fields and refineries around Ploesti. These fields furnished about 80% of the Nazis' petroleum requirements and were a key military target. Known as Operation TIDAL WAVE, one element of this first attack force, the 93rd Bombardment Group, was commanded by former Ohio Guardsman Lt. Col. Addison Baker. Baker had started his military career in the late 1930s as a pilot in Ohio's 112th Observation Squadron, 37th Division. When the unit was mobilized in 1940, he was a major and the 112th's executive officer. Like many experienced Guard pilots, he was soon transferred to a newly organized formation; in his case the 93rd Bomb Group. After training in the states for over a year, the 93rd moved to Libya, North Africa where it started low-level bomb practice to prepare for the raid. Part of the crew's mission training called for the raiders to follow on their leader, in this case Baker's B-24 bomber nicknamed "Hell's Wench," to the target. As the raid unfolded Baker's plane was severely damaged by enemy ground fire. Despite flying over many flat, open fields on which he could have set it down, thus saving himself and his crew, he choose instead to continue on toward the target, knowing that the rest of his Group was counting on his lead. He managed to keep his plane in the air and on target, which he bombed with "devastating effect." The surviving planes of his Group followed on and, as planned, destroyed large parts of the oil production facilities. After dropping his bombs, Baker tried unsuccessfully to gain enough altitude so he and his crew could bail out but the plane was too badly damaged and soon crashed, killing all on board. For his determined leadership and devotion to accomplishing his mission, even knowing he and his men might die in the process, he was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor, one of seven awarded for this raid.
August 1, 1956: Capt. Norma Parsons becomes the first woman to join the National Guard when she was sworn in as a nurse in the 106th Tactical Hospital, New York Air National Guard. Only two days earlier, and after much debate, Congress finally enacted Public Law 845 allowing the participation of women in the Guard. But there were serious restrictions. Only female officers were allowed and they could only serve as nurses or in medically-related specialties such as dietitians, physical therapists or laboratory technicians. The Army Guard’s first female member was 1st Lt. Marie Saint Charles Law who joined Alabama’s 109th Evacuation Hospital in January 1957. Not until November 1967 did Congress amend this law to allow the enlistment of women in Guard.
August 5, 1917: Nationwide — On this day, the entire membership of the National Guard was drafted into federal service for World War I. After war was declared in April 1917, National Guard units were first called into federal service by President Wilson under the militia clause of the Constitution. Most of these units mobilized at their local armories or in state military camps, and they began actively recruiting up to full wartime strength while conducting local patrols to defend against suspected German saboteurs. Guardsmen could not be deployed overseas as militia, however, since the Constitution stipulated that the militia could only be used to "execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrection, and repel invasions." To circumvent this restriction, the Army's Judge Advocate General determined that it would be necessary to draft each Guardsman into federal service, thus severing his ties to the state militia and freeing him for service overseas. Just over 379,000 Guardsmen were drafted on August 5, 1917, more than doubling the size of the U.S. Army with the stroke of a pen. Despite the fact that the military would swell to over 4 million men during the war, the brunt of the fighting in the trenches in France would be borne by the Guard. All 18 Guard divisions served overseas as part of the 43 division American Expeditionary Forces; 12 of the 29 divisions that saw combat were from the Guard (the rest of the divisions were broken up and the men used as replacements).
August 6, 1945: Hiroshima,
Japan — A single B-29 bomber named Enola Gay drops the first atomic
bomb in history, devastating this city and killing more than 118,000
people either directly from the blast or over the next weeks from
radiation sickness. Among the crewmen serving on this mission as a
specialized mechanic and gunner was former Michigan Guardsmen Sgt.
Robert R. Shumard. He had been a member of Battery C, 182nd Field
Artillery when it was mobilized in 1941. After the war, he served in
the Air Force Reserve and died in 1967.
August 7, 1964: Mid-Atlantic Airspace — The most dramatic element of Operation READY GO occurs starting on this date. The concept of "Ready Go" was developed in the mid 1960's to demonstrate the Air Guard's capability to respond to any crisis, worldwide, on little notice. It involved as diverse elements as flying intercept missions from Hawaii far over the Pacific to stop "enemy" bombers well away from the islands, to flying critical supplies to American advisors in Vietnam to its most ambitious exercise, the nonstop flight of tactical fighter and reconnaissance airplanes to Europe in response to a crisis. This involved four-day operation in which aircraft from 23 states and the District of Columbia flew 4,600 miles using three mid-air refuelings to reach airbases in Spain, France and England. These refuelings were performed by Air Guard KC-97's. Within an hour of landing in Europe the planes were refueled, armed and ready for combat missions as needed. All of these missions occurred with no serious mishaps or injuries. It proved that the Air Guard could be relied upon as an almost immediate backup to the Air Force in case of a war in Europe. This was especially important as the USAF moved many of its resources (men and equipment) to Southeast Asia during the rapid build up for the Vietnam War in the next year.
August 9, 1945: A single B-29 bomber named “Bock’s Car” dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, the second to be dropped following Hiroshima, killing about 73,000 people. The pilot of “Bock’s Car”, Maj. Charles W. Sweeney, would in 1956, at age 37, become the youngest brigadier general in the entire peacetime Air Force when he was appointed by the governor of Massachusetts to command the 102nd Tactical Fighter Wing, Massachusetts Air National Guard. Japanese would accept surrender three days later, signing the agreement aboard the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay, September 2.
August 9, 1990: Riyadh, Saudi
Arabia — Walking off of the first American C-141 transport to bring in
the first elements of what would eventually be more than 527,000
American troops were two Guardsmen from Headquarters Company, 228th
Signal Brigade, South Carolina Army National Guard. They immediately
set up and began operating their single channel tactical satellite
radio link keeping the Saudi Defense Ministry in communication with the
U.S. Army's Third Army Headquarters, Fort McPherson, Ga. These two men
were the first of 37,848 Army Guard personnel to serve in Saudi Arabia
during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm which finally forced
the Iraqi army to evacuate Kuwait.
August 11, 1965: Los Angeles, Calif. — What should have been a routine traffic stop in the Watts neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles developed into one of the worst racial riots in American history. Tensions between the African American community and city law enforcement erupted into war-like acts as snipers and arsonists attacked the police and fire department personnel sent to quell the disturbance. In one of the largest deployments of aid to civil authority in American history up to that time, 12,758 California Guardsmen, drawn from two divisions (7,560 men from the 40th Armored and 5,198 from the 49th Infantry), were put on the streets to help restore order and protect people and property. Air Guard units from California and Arizona flew a total of 18 C-97 and five C-119 transport aircraft to airlift the 49th Division's men from Northern California to the LA area. While a number of Guardsmen returned sniper fire, it remains unclear if any civilians were killed by the Guard. After six days and nights of terror the city's streets were restored to peace, but at a very high cost; 34 dead (no Guardsmen), more than 1,000 injured (including several Guardsmen), 4,000 arrested and over 1,000 buildings destroyed. Government and civic leaders, including some in the black community, praised the Guardsmen for their courage, devotion to duty and fair treatment of citizens regardless of race. Four Guardsmen were awarded the California Military Cross for bravery.
August 13, 1898: Manila, Luzon, Philippine Islands — When the U.S. declared war against Spain in April 1898, it was to help the Cubans gain their independence from Spanish colonial rule. Nothing was said about Spain's other colonies, including the Philippines. However, as part of America's war effort, it was quickly decided to take the islands as a colony of the United States. Commodore George Dewey's decisive naval victory destroying the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay on May 1 opened the way for land forces to be used to capture the colonial capital city of Manila on the island of Luzon. By June, American troops, most of them in state volunteer units, began arriving to besiege the city. Among these units was the Utah Battery, which was actually composed of two batteries each armed with three-inch rifled guns. On Aug. 13, the Utah batteries found themselves firing in support of almost uncontested American advances into the city. By the end of the day, most of the city was in American hands. While coming under enemy fire at least once and forced to change position several times during the engagement, the Utah units lost no men in action.
August 15, 1944: Southern France — Operation DRAGOON, the Allied invasion staged on the French Riviera was conducted by three American infantry divisions making an assault landing between Nice and Marseilles. Two of these divisions, the 36th from Texas and 45th from Arizona, Colorado and Oklahoma were Guard units largely composed of combat veterans having seen hard fighting in Italy. The troops met little resistance and quickly moved inland to secure the road between Cannes and Frejus. Over the next few weeks they would drive north and by early September link up with American forces moving out of Normandy into central and eastern France.
August 16, 1777: At the Battle of Bennington, Vt., an American army composed entirely of militia from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York as well as Vermont soundly defeats a raiding party of 900 German troops. Led by General John Stark they kill or capture virtually every member of the force. The Germans were part of British General John Burgoyne’s army attempting to capture Albany, N.Y. This action weakened his army by 15 percent and contributed to his ultimate defeat at Saratoga in October.
August 17, 1969: Mississippi Gulf Coast — Hurricane "Camille" slams into the state packing winds up to 215 mph (Category 5). It kills 136 people across the state, mostly along the coast. More than 3,200 Mississippi Guardsmen, Army and Air, are called to active state duty to render aid ranging from evacuating citizens from flooded areas to providing housing in armories for the homeless, to traffic control and protecting heavily damaged communities from looting. Some of the men were on duty for more than a week. The storm quickly moved north dumping huge amounts of rain in the mountains of western Virginia, causing massive flooding and killing at least 100 persons. Nearly 700 Virginia Guardsmen, like their comrades in Mississippi, immediately began search and rescue operations. Helicopters from Company A, 28th Aviation Battalion were being used to look for people stranded in cars, on top of their houses and stuck in trees, swept away from their homes by the floods. Meanwhile motor patrols set up road blocks around washed out bridges and roads. Other Guardsmen patrolled devastated areas to keep out looters. Air Guard units from 18 states ranging from New Hampshire to California helped by flying in food, medicine, tents and other needed emergency supplies. In all, the storm, caused over $4.2 billion (1969 dollars) in damage and cost the lives of at least 255 people.
August 18, 1846: Santa Fe, N.M.
— Soon after war is declared against Mexico, Gen. Steven Kearney with
2,000 soldiers, mostly Missouri volunteers, enters the town unopposed.
He claims New Mexico for the U.S. Later, the Missouri troops will fight
near the Mexican town of Chihuahua City where they soundly defeat a
larger enemy force, inflicting 600 losses while only suffering 6
causalities of their own.
August 21, 1867: Prairie Dog Creek, Kan. — After the Civil War, settlers rushed to claim lands in the Great Plains. By 1867, the Native Americans in Kansas began resisting by attacking settlements, railroad workers and travelers heading west. To help meet this emergency, the War Department authorized placing volunteer units on active duty to patrol and protect the settlements. They were soon joined by elements of the U.S. 10th Cavalry. This unit was one of four Regular Army African American regiments composed of all-black enlisted men but almost entirely commanded by white officers. These men are often referred to as the "Buffalo Soldiers", a nickname given them by the Native American because their hair resembles that of the buffalo. Combined patrols of cavalry and militia were soon scouting for hostiles. One of these patrols consisted of four companies of the 18th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry along with a small number of men from the 10th. They split their forces along the Saline River. Soon the 10th, numbering some 135 men, was under attack by more then 300 Indians. When Capt. Horace Moore commanding 125 Kansans and his men heard the firing, they turned and rode to help the 10th. Soon the two forces were reunited, though pinned down on a hill near Prairie Dog Creek, surrounded by hostiles. To break free the 10th's commander organized a combined detachment of black troopers and white volunteers. Horse-mounted they broke the Indians encirclement and threw them back in confusion.
August 22, 1831:
— About 70 runaway slaves led by Nat Turner began a two-day killing spree that left 63 white men, women and children dead. As the alarm spread, local militia units, soon joined by others dispatched from large cities like the Richmond Light Infantry Blues, hunted the perpetrators down. Most were killed while fleeing or hung upon capture, and an unknown number of innocent blacks were beaten or killed. Turner escaped capture until Oct. 31. He was quickly tried and hung as a lesson against other insurrectionists.
August 23, 1973: Washington, D.C. — Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird announces the adoption of the "Total Force Policy" as the new doctrine of American military preparedness. The war in Vietnam has just ended. One of the major conclusions drawn from that experience was that the American people had not supported the war because it was fought without a stated declaration and the Johnson Administration failed to mobilize and use large numbers of Reserve Component (RC) forces, including the National Guard. By conscripting (drafting) individual men for service there is little notice by the larger community. However, when an RC unit is mobilized, often taking dozens to hundreds of personnel at one time, it attracts big local headlines and impacts whole communities in numerous ways. Only by having a supportive populous, one backing the effort, can American military objectives be met. By restructuring missions, training and equipment to more fully integrate RC units in with their active duty counterparts, it was hoped that the U.S. could never commit itself to another war without the debate sure to come by mobilizing the Guard and Reserves. This proved true first in Operations Desert Shield/Storm in 1990-1991 and again in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom starting in 2001. So many necessary elements of the American military now belong to the RC that active duty forces cannot fight a major conflict without RC mobilization. This is just what the planners of Total Force envisioned.
August 24, 1814: Bladensburg, Md. — U.S. Naval personnel, including a few Marines, along with a small number of Army Regulars are joined by a sizable force of militia from Maryland and Washington, D.C., in an effort to stop a British invasion force from capturing the nation's capital. Many of the militia are poorly trained and armed and their officers are lacking leadership skills. The British open the engagement by unleashing their secret weapon, Congreve rockets. Though highly inaccurate (no American was reportedly injured by one) they caused great noise and smoke, creating panic in the militia ranks. Almost as soon as the British infantry started their assault, some militia routed off the field. However some units, like the 5th Regiment of Infantry, Maryland Militia (today the 175th Infantry) and the Hartford Dragoon's fought a delaying action long enough to cover the retreat of other troops. The British entered Washington with no further problem this evening and burned government buildings including the White House and Capitol.
August 25, 1944: Paris, France — "Dammit colonel, I'm looking up at Notre Dame!" became the battle cry of an on-going feud between two former Guard units as each claim the bragging rights as to which American unit was the first to actually enter the city of Paris just as the Germans abandoned it. The statement was made by Captain William Buenzle, a New Jersey Guardsman, commanding Troop A, 38th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron to his commander, Colonel Cyrus Dolph III, commander of New Jersey's 102nd Cavalry Group, the famous "Essex Troop" to which the 38th was assigned. The 38th was organized in 1942 from former Guardsmen of Iowa's 113th Cavalry Regiment. After the 38th was assigned to the 102nd in England it gained some New Jersey Guardsmen (including Buenzle) too. The other half of the 102nd Groups' compliment was it's own 102nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, also from New Jersey. Ever since landing on Omaha Beach on June 8th (D+2 after "D-Day") the Group had been an important part of the scouting 'eyes' of the Allied advance through Normandy. On this date each squadron was scouting ahead for major components of the Allied armies. The 38th was patrolling for the 4th U.S. Infantry Division and the 102nd scouting for the French 2nd Armored Division. Both entered Paris at about the same time by two different routes. While Buenzle's statement gives strength to the 38th's claim, and the veterans of each claim to this day that their squadron was the "first," its safe to say that Guardsmen were indeed the "first in Paris."
August 26, 1969: Lia Khe, Vietnam — New Hampshire’s 3rd Battalion, 197th Artillery suffers its highest loss of life when a truck carrying seven soldiers is blown up by a landmine less than two weeks before the unit was scheduled to return home. Five men, all Guardsmen from Manchester’s Battery A, are immediately killed. The shock wave to hit the city was devastating. These deaths brought to six the total number of Guard members from the battalion killed in action. A bronze plaque now stands in front of the Manchester Armory to their memory.
August 27, 1776: Long Island,
N.Y. — American forces, composed of Continental Line and militia
regiments from several states, attempt to hold back a well coordinated
attack by the British Army. While most state units gave a poor showing,
often running away upon the enemy approach, this was not always the
case. American General Lord Sterling commanding a brigade of Maryland
and Delaware regiments, blunted their advance long enough for other
troops to safely withdraw.
August 27, 1951: Kobangsan-ni, South Korea — First Lieutenant Lee R. Hartell began his military career as an officer in Connecticut's 192nd Field Artillery, 43rd Division just prior to the unit's mobilization for World War II in 1941. He served with the 192nd throughout its participation with the 43rd in the Pacific Theater, earning four campaign stars for his Asia-Pacific Campaign Medal. After the war, he stayed in the Army, being assigned to the 15th Field Artillery, 2nd Infantry Division. During the Communist Chinese Summer Offensive of 1951 he was attached to an infantry battalion as its forward artillery observer. While with them on this night, the Chinese launched a massive attack against the ridge the battalion was tasked to defend. First calling for artillery flares, once they illuminated the battlefield , he was able to call in fire support from two artillery battalions. Despite suffering huge losses from the heavy shelling, the Communists continued to press their attack. Though wounded in the hand, Hartell remained at his post, continuing to call in fire missions. The Chinese mounted one more all-out push up the ridge, coming right up Hartell's position. He called for the artillery fire to be placed right on top of him. Finally the enemy had enough and broke off the attack, leaving thousands of died and wounded men on the field. Hartell too was killed and later awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor for his steadfast determination in holding his position despite the cost of his own life.
August 29, 1944:
Paris, France — Pennsylvania's 28th Infantry Division leads the American contingent in the "Liberation Day" parade down the Champs Elysees as Paris explodes with joy after the Germans withdraw from the city. The Allies, who had landed in Normandy on June 6, had spent more than six weeks fighting through the Norman hedgerows before finally breaking out on the French Plain and heading for Paris. The 28th was one of four Guard infantry divisions to see combat in Normandy.
August 30, 1968: Chicago, Ill. — In what a later official government report would call a "police riot," the four-day Democratic National Convention and all of it's accompanying violence and mayhem comes to close as 668 people are arrested and 111 are injured mostly by police overreaction. It's 1968 and the war in Vietnam is going so badly that President announced in March he would not run again for office. His Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, seen by many as supporting Johnson's policies, is the Democratic nominee for the general election. To attempt to block the process and give their antiwar candidate, Sen. Eugene McCarthy a chance to get the nomination, a varied group of protesters from students to black radicals to widows and parents of men already killed in the war gather to march on the convention center. Expecting trouble, William Daley, the mayor of Chicago, calls out the Illinois National Guard as a back up to his police forces. Nearly 6,000 Guardsmen are placed on state active duty, but few are actually deployed to the streets to face protesters. Most are used to guard important government buildings from possible damage from "rampaging mobs" as one police official phrased it. The resulting investigation found little "mob" action. Most people wanted to make their voices known in the convention center but were forcibly blocked by the police, leading to violence mostly by the police. The only incident where about 500 Guardsmen were involved with the crowds occurred this evening as they helped move the protesters, numbering in the thousands, back toward Lincoln Park to disperse them. The resulting report cleared the Illinois Guard of blame for the violence and in fact, stated in several instances Guardsmen intervened to block confrontation between the two warring sides. It's perhaps a sobering reminder that during the week these events were unfolding in Chicago in Vietnam 308 American soldiers lost their lives, including five New Hampshire Guardsmen of the 3rd Battalion, 197th Artillery, killed by a landmine on August 26.
September 1, 1950: Various States — In the third of what will eventually be a 19 increment partial mobilization of the Army National Guard during the Korean War, the largest single group of Army Guard units enter active duty on this date. Four entire Guard infantry divisions, the 28th (Pa.), 40th (Calif.), 43rd (Conn., R.I., Vt.) and the 45th (Okla.) plus several smaller, non-divisional units, including South Dakota's 196th and Tennessee's 278th Regimental Combat Teams (RCT's) report to their home stations and soon move to the training camps where they will prepare for war. All four of the divisions eventually serve overseas, the 28th and 43rd reinforcing NATO in Germany and the 40th and 45th actually serving in combat in Korea. The 196th and 287th RCT's do not deploy overseas but remain part of the strategic reserve, ready for immediate deployment in case of any unexpected crisis.
September 2, 1945: Tokyo Bay,
Japan — Representatives of the Japanese Government surrender to the
Allies as World War II ends. Among the occupation forces quickly moving
to Japan will be six National Guard divisions. One other, the 40th
Infantry Division (Calif., Nev.) will move to occupy Korea, replacing
Japanese authorities who have controlled the peninsula since 1904. When
the 40th sails home in 1946, little does its men know that the division
will return to fight here in 1952 to 1953 during the Korean War.
September 2, 1995: Oahu, Hawaii — In a special ceremony held in the National Memorial Cemetery (commonly referred to as the “Punchbowl”), the National Guard Association, in conjunction with the National Guard Bureau, dedicates a plaque honoring the tens of thousands of Guard personnel who have served in Pacific conflicts from the Spanish-American War in 1898 to the present. This plaque was dedicated following an earlier such event held in Normandy, France, to honor all those Guard members who served in Europe during the two world wars.
September 3, 1950: Camp Mabry, Texas — Hollywood actor Audie Murphy joins the Texas Army National Guard to show his support of the war effort in Korea. Nearly every schoolboy knows Lieutenant Murphy is America's most highly decorated soldier in World War II. Aside from receiving the Medal of Honor, he was awarded two Distinguished Service Crosses and four Silver Stars for valor in combat. At the end of the war his picture was everywhere, from movie newsreels to the cover of Life. He left the Army in 1946 to seek an acting career, which literally kept his name in lights and public awareness during the late 1940s. Newly promoted Captain Murphy was assigned to the 141st Infantry, 36th Infantry Division. But he will have little time to train with the troops. The National Guard Bureau decided to use his fame as a recruiting tool to help keep enlistments up despite the war in Korea. Soon his image was on Guard recruiting posters and in magazine ads placed in national publications popular with young male readers. Drawing on his Hollywood background he was featured in the first television (then still a novel invention) commercials ever run by the Guard Bureau. He did recruiting tours speaking to young audiences from coast to coast. While all of this was going on, he continued his movie career, staring in 1951 in one of his best acclaimed film roles, as the young soldier in The Red Badge of Courage, a story set in the Civil War but really dealing with the meanings of courage and duty pertaining to all wars. After two years of working on recruiting and public affairs projects for the Guard Bureau he returned to his unit and actually served as a line officer, being promoted to major before he resigned and left the Guard in 1955. He died in an airplane crash in 1971, having been a strong supporter once again of American involvement in a foreign war, this time in Vietnam.
September 4, 1940:
Washington, D.C. — President Franklin Roosevelt ordered into active military service all units of the National Guard to serve for a period of 12 months. So as not to overwhelm the small regular Army logistical system and due to limited existing camp housing, this mobilization was spread out over six months, the last units coming on active duty in March 1941. When many troops arrived at their camps they had to live in tents while new barracks and other facilities were being built.
September 6, 2004: Fort Polk,
La. — Team A, 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry, totaling some 150
men completes its training and prepares to deploy in support of the War
on Terror. The men will be stationed in Eritrea on the Horn of Africa,
a prime spot for terrorists fleeing from Afghanistan and Iraq. The Guam
Army Guard was only organized in July 1981 and its major component,
the294th Infantry was not organized until 1987. No mobilized Guam Army
Guard units served in theater during Operations Desert Shield/Storm,
and none were ever deployed to Bosnia or Kosovo on peace keeping
mission. So this marks the first time a unit from the island was
mobilized for service overseas.
September 7, 1986: Off the Coast of Florida — An F-106 "Delta Dart" of the 125th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron encounters a Soviet Air Force Tu-95 "Bear" bomber flying parallel to the twelve-mile limit of U.S. airspace as it makes its way from Russia to Cuba. These are routine flights which are just as routinely met by Air Guard fighters who act as "escorts" to be sure the bombers pose no threat to the U.S. homeland. Since 1953, Air Guard fighter-interceptor units took on an air defense mission, challenging unidentified aircraft flying into American airspace. Air Guard pilots and aircraft stood alert 24 hours a day, every day. This mission grew each year and by 1965, the 22 interceptor squadrons flew 30,000 hours and completed 38,000 alert sorties. By 1988, the Air Guard provided 86% of the Air Force units assigned to national airspace security. In the post 9/11 environment the Air Guard has continued and expanded its role in homeland defense by flying overhead cover for major cities in times of heightened alert as well as investigating all suspicious air traffic heading toward or across the country.
September 8, 1740: Philadelphia, Pa. — Eight hundred volunteers drawn from the militia of several colonies board transports to sail as part of the joint British/American colonial expedition to capture the Spanish colony of Cartagena (today the nation of Columbia). In all, troops from eleven colonies take part in this endeavor, which ends in failure, due more to disease than enemy actions. Perhaps the most memorable aspect was Capt. Lawrence Washington's service with the expedition's commander, Adm. Edward Vernon. When Washington returned home he renamed his house overlooking the Potomac River in northern Virginia as "Mount Vernon" in honor of his former commander. Lawrence died in 1752 and his younger brother, George, inherited the home which retains its name to this day. George also replaced him as one of four "adjutants" of the Virginia militia, responsible to the governor to report on the status of militia preparedness in his district. George so impressed the governor with his devotion to duty that he was selected in 1754 to tell the French to leave the area of what today is Pittsburgh, Pa. He started a war, lost a battle, and gained national recognition. The rest is history.
September 9, 1943: Salerno, Italy — As part of the Allied invasion of Italy the Americans land four divisions south of Naples. Three of these were the Guard’s 34th (Iowa, Minn., N.D., S.D.), 36th (Texas) and 45th (Ariz., Colo., N.M., Okla.) infantry divisions. Little resistance was expected since the Italian government had surrendered just prior to the landings. However strong German forces contest the invasion and inflicted heavy causalities on the Americans. During this operation the 3rd Battalion, 141st Infantry, 36th Infantry Division earns a Presidential Unit Citation for its determined advance in spite of concentrated enemy fire. The 36th and 45th divisions would later take part in the invasion of southern France and end the war deep inside of Germany, while the 34th Division would continue fighting up the Italian “boot” securing the Po River Valley by war’s end.
September 10, 1935: Off the coast near Atlantic City, N.J. — The cruise liner Morro Castle, which sailed a passenger route between New York City and Havana, Cuba, was nearing New York on this evening when suddenly a fire broke out aboard. Fed by the wind, it soon spread across the ship, causing it to sink. The captain, new to command, refused at first to send an SOS but his radio operator finally did at 3:24 a.m. Despite some efforts to extinguish the fire by the crew, all attempts failed and the ship lost power. The crew lowered the life boats for themselves and many took off without waiting for passengers to board. Many passengers, left with no alternative, jumped into the ocean trying to save their lives. Of the first 98 people to reach shore only six were passengers. At dawn, aircraft from the New Jersey National Guard's 119th Observation Squadron, 44th Division, took off to help search for survivors. In a number of instances they guided rescue ships to people struggling in the water. In all, 264 passengers and crew survived but another 137 died, almost all by drowning. Doubtless more would have died had not the pilots of the 119th aided in their rescue.
September 11, 2001: Terrorists fly highjacked airliners into both towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, and the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C. Within minutes of the first report of a hijacking out of Boston, Mass., just six minutes after the scramble order was issued, the first F-15’s from the 102nd Fighter Wing, Massachusetts Air Guard, are airborne. Though in fast pursuit they arrived too late to intercept and prevent either of the planes from striking the Trade Center towers. In the meantime, another two planes are reported highjacked and on course to Washington, D.C. F-16’s of the 119th Fighter Wing, North Dakota Air Guard (which are permanently assigned to Langley Air Force Base, VA), are scrambled to try to intercept the planes headed for D.C. Unfortunately, they too arrive too late to prevent the strike on the Pentagon. Among the 189 killed in the Pentagon and the airliner which struck it were two Active Guard/Reserve Army National Guard officers. In the fourth plane passengers fought the highjackers resulting in the aircraft crashing in western Pennsylvania. During the remainder of the day and for months to come, constant air patrols were flown over major American cities with shoot down orders to prevent further such attacks. In the wake of the strikes, Army Guard units responded in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C and other locations across the nation. Within days, Guardsmen in every state/territory were guarding airports, bridges, and seaports as well as patrolling America’s northern and southern borders.
September 12, 1814: After the British Army captured and burned the government buildings in Washington, D.C., their fleet carrying more than 5,000 soldiers arrived near Baltimore with the plan of capturing the city and burning its dockyards and naval stores. The army began moving overland to approach the city from the north while the navy planned to bombard Fort McHenry and enter Baltimore Harbor. Meeting the British force was an army composed almost entirely of Maryland militia units, including the 5th Regiment of Infantry, Maryland Militia (who’s lineage is perpetuated today by the 175th Infantry). There was a short but sharp fight outside of the city’s defensive works, during which the British commander was killed. The next day, after the British Navy failed to capture Fort McHenry a night attack, the troops reboarded their vessels and withdrew back down Chesapeake Bay.
September 16, 1940: Nationwide — Under authority granted by Congress, President Franklin Roosevelt orders the Army to begin mobilizing the entire National Guard for one year's training prompted by the worsening conditions in Europe. The Nazis armies had conquered most of Western Europe except Britain. The president and Congress wanted the 242,000 men in the Guard to rapidly expand the Regular Army of only 190,000 men and begin to prepare in case of attack. The first of 18 increments enter active duty today, the last units will not be called up until the spring of 1941. Guardsmen report to forts located all across the country. Once settled in, they begin large maneuver training not usually available in peacetime. Guard aerial observation squadrons, separated from their parent divisions and placed in Army Air Corps groups, began antisubmarine patrols along the coasts. Helping to fill in the ranks were men drafted under a newly enacted conscription law passed by Congress. America was preparing for war.
September 17, 1919: Washington, D.C. — Gen. John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War I, leads the National Victory Day Parade down Pennsylvania Ave. and past the White House. As Guard units are inactivated at their point of return to the United States, no Guard commands exist to take part in this parade. While not officially represented, the Guard does have at least one "unofficial" contingent fall in at the back of the parade. They are African American veterans from the former 1st Battalion, 372nd Infantry, part of the Guard's all-black 93rd Division during the war. The 1st Battalion was organized from the District of Columbia's three black Guard companies that existed during the 1917 mobilization. The men, many wearing their uniforms, received both applause and jeers as they marched along behind the "official" parade. No official Victory Parade was held again in the nation's capital until the end of Desert Storm in 1991.
September 18, 1941: Red River,
La. — Phase 1 of the combined Second and Third Army Maneuvers opens
when the ‘Red Army' attacks the ‘Blue Army' southeast of Shreveport.
This set of wargames, along with those held by the First Army in the
Carolinas in November, mark the largest such operations ever held by
the U.S. Army in peacetime. These maneuvers included a total of 15 Army
divisions, ten of which were from the Guard: 27th (N.Y.); 31st (Ala.,
Fla., La., Miss.); 32nd (Mich., Wis.); 33rd (Ill.); 34th (Iowa, Minn.,
N.D., S.D.); 35th (Kan., Mo., Neb.); 36th (Texas); 37th (Ohio); 38th
(Ind., Ky., W.Va.); and 45th (Ariz., Colo., N.M., Okla.). In addition,
twelve Guard aerial observation squadrons and numerous other
non-divisional units participated.
September 20, 1917: St. Nazaire, France — The 26th “Yankee” Division (Conn., Maine, Mass., N.H., R.I., Vt.) becomes the first American division to arrive in Europe during World War I. More than one million American soldiers and Marines will join them by war’s end in November 1918. All 18 National Guard divisions will serve in France, but only 11 see combat as intact units. Six others become “depot” divisions, serving as a source of replacements for casualties suffered by the frontline divisions. One, the 93rd Division, composed of all of the Guard’s African American units, has each of its four regiments parceled out to three different French divisions because American army leadership did not want to mix black and white soldiers together.
September 21, 1846: Monterrey, Mexico — America declared war against Mexico in April 1846. By mid-summer Gen. Zachary Taylor had marched his army of nearly 20,000 men, more than half of whom were in volunteer (today Guard) units, across the border and deep into northern Mexico. He attacked the city meeting stiff resistance. But it was the assault and capture of the citadel, often referred to as the "Bishop's Palace", that saw the hardest combat. One of the units involved in this attack was the 1st Mississippi Volunteers, also known as the "Mississippi Rifles" commanded by Col. Jefferson Davis. A West Point graduate and former Regular Army officer before the war, he made sure his men were well-trained and armed with the best shoulder arm then available, better than the muskets carried by the Army. The Rifles stormed the Palace and secured it after hand-to-hand fighting. The Mexicans were allowed to surrender with the "honors of war" (marching out under arms and carrying their colors). At the Battle of Buena Vista on Feb. 23, 1847, the Rifles helped stem the main Mexican assault and threw the enemy back in confusion, causing them to retreat. Davis served at various times as a senator from Mississippi and he served as Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce from 1853-1857 before returning to the Senate. In 1861 was elected as the President of the Confederate States of America.
September 22, 1943: Olieto, Italy — Second Lt. Ernest Childers, Company C, 180th Infantry, 45th Infantry Division, single-handedly destroys both an enemy machine-gun nest and mortar position, all while suffering from a broken ankle. For his actions, the member of the Creek Nation is awarded the Medal of Honor, the only Native American Guardsman to earn this distinction. Childers would stay in the Army after the war and retire as a lieutenant colonel in 1961. He passed away in 2002.
September 23, 1916: Along the Mexican Border — The War Department issues orders for some National Guard units to begin preparations to return home. In May President Woodrow Wilson had mobilized most of the Guard; having it deploy along the border areas of Calif., Ariz., N.M. and Texas to prevent Mexican bandits led by Pancho Villa from raiding U.S. territory (as they had in March when they stormed into Columbus, N.M., killing several civilians and soldiers.) World War I had started in Europe in the summer of 1914, so by the time of the Mexican Border call up, it had been raging for two years. America had thus far remained neutral but many people, especially in the Army, felt our involvement was inevitable. So while guarding the border the Army used the time to conduct large-scale, multi-division sized field exercises not usually available to Regular Army or Guard units. Guardsmen found themselves training in trenches like those they saw in newsreels from the Western Front in France. As autumn moved toward winter, more and more Guard units were returning home and being released from active duty. By April 1917 however, America would indeed be involved in the war and all would once again find themselves preparing, this time in earnest, for combat.
September 24, 1968: Phu Cat Air Base, Vietnam — The pilots of the 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron(TFS) continue flying their ground support missions for Allied forces across South Vietnam. Sometimes referred to as the "fifth Air Guard squadron" the 355th, a newly organized Regular Air Force squadron created at Myrtle Beach, S.C., had about 80% of its personnel drawn from the Air Guard's 119th (N.J.) and 121st (D.C.) tactical fighter squadrons. The Guard members of the 355th included pilots and ground support personnel. Both squadrons were mobilized in January 1968 but not deployed to Vietnam (unlike four other Air Guard squadrons sent as complete formations). Instead they were assigned to teach F-100 "Super Sabre" fighter-bomber operations to new pilots. Once in South Carolina the Air Force asked for Guard volunteers to staff the new 355th and the response was overwhelming (so many pilots wanted to go that about one third had to remain behind). When the squadron finished its training in June 1968 it was deployed to Phu Cat. There it was assigned to the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing, which included 174th TFS, an Air Guard unit from Iowa. The 355th spent about ten months in-country, flying their F-100's primarily on missions that consisted of bombing suspected enemy concentrations and supply locations. Just a month after the unit arrived, on July 20, while conducting one of these missions, a former 121st pilot from the District of Columbia, Lt. Col. S.E. Flanagan Jr., was shot down and killed. He was the highest-ranking Guardsman, Army or Air, to die in Vietnam. In April 1969 the 355th was transferred to Korea as part of the American withdrawal from Vietnam. At this point all those Guardsmen who did not volunteer to stay on active duty were returned to the United States and released from active duty in June.
September 25, 1775: Kennebec County, Mass. (today Maine) — A small American army numbering just over 1,000 men under the command of Col. Benedict Arnold sets out to march north along the Kennebec River to link up with another American force to seize the British-held city of Quebec on the St. Lawrence River. If successful, this would capture all of Canada, bringing it into the American confederation against Britain. Arnold, himself a volunteer officer who served in the Connecticut militia before the war, has among his hand-picked men Col. Daniel Morgan's 300 elite riflemen drawn from Pennsylvania and Virginia frontier militia units. The British are expecting their attack, which is made on New Year's Eve in a blinding snowstorm and fails with heavy losses. Canada remains British. The Americans withdraw but both Arnold and Morgan will go on to play important roles in the war, first as fellow officers and then as enemies.
September 26, 1918: The American Army launches its final and largest offensive of World War I against the German “Hindenburg Line.” Among the units involved are eight Guard divisions plus numerous non-divisional units, including a number of former Guardsmen serving in aerial squadrons flying over the front. By early November so much territory will be taken and so many enemy soldiers killed or captured that Germany will seek peace. Among the tens of thousands of American soldiers taking part in this offensive was a future president of the United States. Captain Harry S. Truman first enlisted in the 1st Missouri Field Artillery in 1905 but left due to job requirements in 1908. In 1917, soon after America declared war against Germany, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in Missouri’s 129th Field Artillery, an element of the newly organized 35th Division. During the 129th’s training Truman’s able leadership and excellent organizational skills proved so effective he was promoted to First Lieutenant and assigned to Battery D, commonly known by the rest of the regiment for having a lack of discipline and lackluster expertise in handling of their guns. Truman was given the task of getting the battery into shape, which he did with a combination of tough discipline and fair guidance. By the time the 129th entered combat as part of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, Truman had become Battery D’s commander with the rank of captain. In fact, men within the regiment started referring to his unit as “Captain Harry’s Battery”, as a sign of respect. After the war Truman stayed in the Guard into the early 1930’s, rising to lieutenant colonel before transferring to the Organized Reserves, where he finished his military career as a colonel. During this time he had became involved in politics, being elected first to the House of Representatives and, by the eve of World War II, the Senate. In fact, after the attack on Pearl Harbor he volunteered for active duty but was refused by Army Chief of Staff, General George C. Marshall, who told him he could provide a more valuable service by staying in Congress (where he was on several important defense-related committees) then just being “another colonel looking for a job.” Truman stayed in the Senate, was selected as President Franklin Roosevelt’s running mate in the 1944 election, becoming Vice President just a month before Roosevelt’s death in April 1945.
September 26, 1950: Jacksonville, Fla. — The 159th Fighter-Bomber Squadron (FBS) is the first Air Guard unit mobilized for the Korean War. Its pilots will fly their F-84E's "Thunderjets" in combat missions over Korea starting in May 1951. Assigned to the 116th Fighter-Bomber Wing along with Georgia's 158th and California's 196th FBS, their primary missions usually involved supporting ground forces with frontline bombing and strafing of enemy positions. They also flew escort for B-29 heavy bombers in penetrations deep over enemy territory. Due to the limited amount of fuel carried by their F-84's jets, these targets were often too far for safe flight. So the squadrons of the 116th became the first jet-equipped units in theater to experiment with in-air refueling from KB-29 tankers. While not as successful as hoped the Air Force learned valuable lessons used today in making such refueling routine.
September 28, 1781: Yorktown, Va. — Following the defeat of a British relief fleet off the entrance of the Chesapeake Bay by a French fleet under Admiral DeGrasse, the combined armies of France and America marched into newly constructed siege trenches surrounding the British army commanded by General Lord Charles Cornwallis. The Allied commanders, George Washington and the Count de Rochambeau, plan to reduce Cornwallis' fortifications by use of heavy French siege guns landed by DeGrasse. It will take until Oct. 9 before all the troops and guns are in place and the formal siege operation, conducted like those in Europe, can begin. Until then, units like the Massachusetts Light Infantry Battalion would try to keep the British off balance with quick raids and feint attacks.
September 30, 1985: Chairman of the Joint Chief’s of Staff General John W. Vessey retires, closing a 47-year Army career. He started his distinguished service as an enlisted Guardsman in Minnesota’s 125th Field Artillery in 1939. Promoted to sergeant he served with the unit, which was an element of the Guard’s 34th Infantry Division, in its campaigns in North Africa and Italy. While fighting in the Anzio beachhead of Italy, he was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor and received a battlefield commission to second lieutenant. He stayed on active duty after the war and over the years steadily rose in rank and responsibility until he was appointed to the position of Chairman of the Joint Chief’s of Staff by President Ronald Reagan in June 1982.
October 1, 1961: Nationwide — In response to Soviet threats against West Berlin, President John F. Kennedy mobilizes two Army Guard divisions, the 32nd Infantry (Wisc.) and 49th Armored (Texas) along with 264 non-divisional Army Guard units on this date. In addition a total of 163 Air Guard units are also mobilized. These consisted of both flying units, including 43 fighter squadrons, and non-flying units such as hospitals and weather forecasting flights. Eleven of the Air Guard's fighter squadrons are soon deployed to NATO bases in France and West Germany, as well as to Spain, a non-NATO ally. No Army Guard units are deployed overseas. This mobilization marks several "firsts" in Guard history. It marked the first time Guard women were mobilized and deployed overseas. Women were only permitted to join the Guard as of 1956, too late for the Korean War mobilization. And it marked the first time Guard jet aircraft flew to duty stations in Europe. By making refueling stops in Labrador, Greenland and Iceland, more the 200 F-84s and F-86s fighters arrived on station without any mishaps. As tensions eased in the spring of 1962 some Guard units start being released from active duty. The last units return home in August.
October 3, 1794: Harrisburg, Pa. — When Congress enacted a tax on whiskey in 1791, the result sparked mob actions from farmers in western Pennsylvania. They attacked excise agents, tax collectors and finally a federal marshal trying to enforce the law. This act and other provocations were enough for President George Washington; he called on the governors of four states; Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia to furnish troops from their militia to march to western Pennsylvania to restore the peace and end the "Whiskey Rebellion." This marked the first time under the Constitution that militia/Guard units would be called up for federal active duty. A total of 13,000 militia were raised and instructed to converge on two locations before linking up into one army. Elements from Maryland and Virginia, under the command of Virginia Gov. Henry "Light Horse" Lee (a Revolutionary War hero and later father of Robert E. Lee) met at Fort Cumberland, Md. One of the men serving in Capt. Thomas Walker's Volunteer Corps from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia was Pvt. Meriwether Lewis, who would with fellow Virginian William Clark, command the "Corps of Discovery" exploring the American west in 1803 to 1805. Other units from Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania gathered at the town of Harrisburg, Pa. (this city would not become the capital of until 1812). President Washington, acting in his role as "Commander-in-Chief", donned a military uniform and inspected the troops first at Harrisburg on this date and later in October at Ft. Cumberland. This marks the only time an American president has actually taken command of troops in the field. Washington was planning on leading the Army himself but changed his mind and turned command over to Lee. As the Army moved into western Pennsylvania the revolt collapsed with little bloodshed. The ringleaders were later tried and convicted, but they were all pardoned by Washington.
October 4, 1822: Delaware, Ohio — Nineteenth President of the United States Rutherford B. Hayes was born. Within days of the outbreak of the Civil War, Hayes left his successful law practice in Cincinnati, and with no prior military experience, received an appointment as the major in the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry (future 25th President William McKinley was a private in the same regiment). Displaying both personal courage, including four combat wounds, and strong leadership, he, unlike many "politically connected" officers, proved a talented leader, rising to the rank of major general of volunteers by war's end. He once commented to former comrades that their wartime service constituted "the best years of our lives." After the war, he served one term in the House of Representatives and was elected three times as the Governor of Ohio before running on the Republican ticket for president in 1876. Following the most contentious election in American history Hayes was declared the 19th President in 1877. As part of the agreement for winning this office he ended the period of Reconstruction in the south, allowing a whole America to move forward. He only served one term, then retired, dying in 1893.
October 5, 1813: Following
Commodore Perry's success at Lake Erie, a U.S. force, commanded by Gen.
William Henry Harrison, engaged British troops 75 miles east of Detroit.
His command included a regiment of Kentucky Mounted Riflemen led by
Col. Richard M. Johnson, made up of picked militia volunteers armed with
long Kentucky rifles and tomahawks. The Kentucky troops scattered the
enemy army -- British regulars, and Indians under the famed Tecumseh.
The Battle of the Thames was revenge for an earlier massacre of Kentucky
militia on the River Raisin. Coupled with Perry's triumph, it ended a
series of defeats and helped restore U.S. dominance in the northwest
October 5, 1813: Thames River, Ontario, Canada - A combined British and Native American army is decisively defeated by an American army under the command of Gen. William Henry Harrison, a former general of the Indiana militia and future president of the United States. After the British component of the force was broken by mounted Kentucky militiamen, the Americans went on a killing spree amongst the Indians.
October 5, 1829:
Fairfield, Vt. — Twenty-first President of the United States Chester A.
Arthur is born. While practicing law in New York City prior to the
Civil War, Arthur was appointed as a brigade quartermaster of the city's
Guard units. Once the war started, he quickly rose to become the
Quartermaster General of New York, tasked with overseeing that New York
soldiers had all the supplies they needed to prepare themselves to enter
active duty in the Union Army. As part of his job he toured different
garrisons and camps, inspecting to be sure the supplies, from clothing
to tents, were adequate and available as needed. Though he never saw
combat, with New York contributing more than 100 regiments of infantry
plus cavalry and artillery units, he assured tens of thousands of men
were ready to fight. After the war, he was appointed by President
Ulysses S. Grant as the Collector of the Port of New York, responsible
for the largest single source of revenue (import tariffs) for the
federal government. He was a strong supporter of the Republican Party
and was elected Vice President in 1880 when James Garfield became the
20th President. Just six months after taking office, Garfield was
assassinated and Arthur became the 21st President. He cleaned up much of
the corruption known as the "spoils system" and signed the first
general federal immigration law. He suffered from kidney problems and
was not re-nominated to run again in 1884. He died in 1886.
October 6, 1918: The first phase of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in France started September 26. After several days of intense, often hand-to-hand fighting along a front more than 20 miles long, the attacks were stopped in order to consolidate Allied gains, rest the troops and allow replacements to catch up to their new units. Phase Two of the offensive, which included eight Guard divisions, started October 5. When a battalion of the 77th Division (non-Guard) became “lost” in a wooded area ahead of the American lines, several observation aircraft were sent to locate it for a rescue mission. In the plane that found the “Lost Battalion” was 1st Lt. Erwin Bleckley, a Kansas Guardsmen who volunteered for aviation duty as a rear observer and gunner. After reporting the location of the unit to headquarters, Bleckley’s aircraft made two low-level supply drops to get food and medical supplies to the beleaguer troops. During its second pass his aircraft was hit by enemy ground fire and crash landed killing him and his pilot. For showing the “…highest possible contempt of personal danger, devotion to duty, courage and valor” Bleckley was awarded the Medal of Honor, the first Guard aviator so honored.
October 8, 1871: Chicago, Ill. — The "Great Chicago Fire" starts in Mrs. O'Leary's barn and before it is brought under control more than 300 people perish and an estimated $100 million (1871 dollars) in property is lost. Early during this disaster a militia battalion, known as the "Norwegian Guards," offered it services to the police. By the second day of the fire the battalion was being aided by other volunteer militia units under the command of the adjutant general of Illinois. Among these was the "Zouave Liberty Guards," an all-black company from Springfield. Most of these Guardsmen, now reorganized into the provisional "First Regiment Chicago Volunteers" stayed on state duty for about 15 days, patrolling burned out sections of town looking for looters and guarding railroad depots where relief supplies were arriving.
October 8, 1918: Montebrehain, Somme, France — First Lieutenant James C. Dozier, a Guardsman from Rock Hill, S.C., assumes command of South Carolina's Company G, 118th Infantry, 30th Division, after his captain is wounded. This occurs during the regiment's advance against German defensive positions known as the Hindenburg Line. In command of two platoons, Dozier was painfully wounded in the shoulder early in the attack, but he continues to lead his men forward until they are stopped by heavy enemy machine gun fire, clearing a machine gun nest along the way. For his gallant leadership, Dozier would be awarded the Medal of Honor, one of 12 bestowed upon soldiers in the 30th Division. In fact, the 30th Division, which in World War I was composed of Guard units from North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, had the most Medal of Honor recipients of any division in the Army. Dozier went on to a distinguished Guard career, becoming the adjutant general of South Carolina in 1926. He also served as NGAUS president from 1938 to 1939.
October 9, 2004: Samarra, Iraq - National Guardsmen of the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry, 27th Infantry Brigade, from New York, along with other American and Iraqi troops, fought against insurgents who had been using Samarra in north-central Iraq to launch attacks against coalition forces in Baghdad. After several days of intense, often house-to-house combat, the town is freed of enemy combatants on Oct. 9. One man from the 2nd Battalion was killed in action and seven wounded.
October 10, 1950: Nationwide — A total of 16 Air National Guard squadrons are mobilized for duty during the Korean War. Five of these fighter squadrons, the 111th and the 136th, both from Texas, the 154th from Arkansas, the 158th from Georgia and the 196th from California would fly missions in Korea. Other Guard units were deployed to NATO bases in Europe.
October 10, 1968: Fire Support Base “Thunder II,” Vietnam — New Hampshire’s Battery B, 3rd Battalion, 197th Artillery, one of eight Army Guard units to serve in Vietnam, fired the battalion’s first mission on this date. During the course of its tour the 3/197th would support the 1st Infantry, 1st Cavalry, 101st Airborne and Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) divisions as well as 35th Special Forces Group. Six of its Guard members would be killed in action during the unit’s one year tour.
October 11, 1879: St. Louis, Mo. — The first annual conference of the National Guard Association of the United States is held. The Association, which continues in operation today, acts as a political interest group representing Guard concerns with members of Congress. Federal law prohibits members of the armed forces on active duty from ‘lobbying’ Congress so the Association, which is composed of active and retired Guard officers, performs this function.
October 13, 1971: Anchorage, Alaska & Camp Murray, Wash. — Two states tie for claiming to have enlisted the first female soldier into their Army National Guard. In Camp Murray, Specialist Five Nora Campbell joins the Washington National Guard. Gov. Daniel J. Evans swore in Spec. Campbell. In almost every state it was either the governor or adjutant general who ‘did the honors' of welcoming that state's first female enlistee and getting the photo opportunity that went with it. At virtually the same time Specialist Five Mary L. Cunningham is sworn in as a member of the Alaska Army Guard in Anchorage. Both are members of their respective state area headquarters. (The Specialist Five rank is no longer in use, it was the equivalent to a Sergeant, E-5). In 1967, Congress authorized the enlistment of prior-service female personnel into the Guard under Public Law 90-130 effective July 1, 1968. Only prior service women were allowed to join at this point due to the war in Vietnam demanding so much money that none was available to train women for enlisted Guard service. The Air Guard immediately enlisted its first prior-service woman when Tech. Sgt. Reannie Pocock joined the 146th Military Airlift Wing of the California National Guard in 1968. However, the Army Guard waited three years before finally accepting its first enlisted women soldiers. As the war in Vietnam drew to a close in the early 1970s, and the all-volunteer and Total Force policies took effect, Congress amended the law, added more money for Guard training and allowed the direct enlistment of women with no prior-service experience.
October 14, 1924: St. Augustine, Fla. — The 31st Division is federally recognized with its headquarters in this city, although by the time of the 1940 mobilization for World War II it had been moved to Birmingham, Ala. Composed of Guard units from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi it resumes the nickname "Dixie" Division first adopted during World War I. In that war, though the 31st served in France it was not committed to combat as an intact unit. Rather it was used as "depot" division, with many of its soldiers levied to fill in the ranks of other American units depleted in frontline fighting. The story was different during World War II. The 31st was committed to three different campaigns in the Pacific Theater, including assault beach landings on Aitape and Morotai Islands, New Guinea. Mobilized again in 1952 during the Korean War, it did not serve overseas, although in a repeat of its World War I service, many of its men were levied and sent to Korea as individual replacements. During the height of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, 31st Divisional elements, especially in Alabama, were placed on either state or federal active duty to help maintain the peace. In 1968, as part of a massive reorganization of the Guard, the 31st Infantry Division was reorganized and redesignated as the 31st Armored Brigade, an all-Alabama unit.
October 15, 1918: St. Georges, Meuse-Argonne, France — Lt. Col. William "Wild Bill" Donovan earned the Medal of Honor while leading his regiment, the 165th Infantry (formerly the 69th New York, the "Fighting 69th" of Civil War fame), 42nd "Rainbow" Division, in an attack to capture a German strongpoint. By acts of personal courage such as rallying platoons of soldiers decimated and about to break from enemy fire, he again led them forward. Though seriously wounded he refused to be evacuated and continued to command his men from a bomb crater. Eventually the Americans did have to withdraw after suffering devastating losses. Donovan started his Guard service by organizing his own cavalry troop which then commanded during its tour of duty on the Mexican border in 1916. He then joined the 69th New York just prior to the mobilization for World War I. Even before earning the Medal of Honor, in July 1918, he displayed extreme courage while leading a battalion in its attack on German positions in the Oureq River (called by the Irish of the 69th as the "O'Rourke River") sector. For this action he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (the Army's second highest medal for valor). In World War II Donovan organized and commanded the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of today's CIA.
October 17, 1859: Harpers Ferry, Va. (now W.Va.) — Abolitionist John Brown leads a group of men in a raid to capture the federal arsenal located here with the intent to arm slaves he would lead in revolt against their masters. His plans are foiled by local town’s people attacking his party and forcing it into the firehouse. They are soon surrounded by militiamen from Jefferson, Berkeley and Frederick counties. One such unit, the “Continental Morgan Guard” from Winchester, Va., is still an element in the Virginia Guard today. As word of the raid spreads other militia troops arrive by train, some from as far away as Richmond. However, U.S. Marines under the command of Army Colonel Robert E. Lee arrive and storm the “Brown’s fort” killing or capturing the raiders. Brown is captured and later tried for treason, convicted and quickly hung in Charlestown, Va. (now W.Va.). During this period he is guarded by several hundred Virginia militia against the possibility of other raiders trying to free him, though no such attack was launched. Because of his raid and the fear of other attempts to get the slaves to rise in revolt, the growth of volunteer militia units in the southern states rose sharply in the months leading up to the Civil War.
October 18, 1923: The 29th Division becomes primarily a Maryland and Virginia outfit and New Jersey and Delaware contingents are transferred to other commands. The divisional insignia is taken from the Korean symbol of good luck, and the personnel that comprised the division, partly from the north and partly from the south, was responsible for its name, the Blue and Gray Division, and for the colors of the insignia. This division would go on to be immortalized following its gallant participation in the landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day.
October 19, 1781: Yorktown, Va. - After a siege of three weeks, American independence is assured when a British army commanded by Gen. Lord Charles Cornwallis is entrapped in Yorktown. Cornwallis is compelled to surrender more than 5,000 troops to Gen. George Washington. Washington commands a combined Franco-American force which contains in its ranks several thousand militiamen, primarily from Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina.
October 19, 1944: Aachen, Germany — Newly promoted Lt. Gen. Raymond S. McLain assumes command of the XIX Corps. Two of the three divisions under his command are from the Guard; the 29th (D.C., Md., Va.) and the 30th (N.C., S.C., Tenn.). But dealing with Guard units is no problem for McLain, himself a Guardsman who began his military career as a private in the Oklahoma Guard in 1912. In fact, he came from a background of Guard service. Several of his uncles had served in state volunteer units during the Spanish American War, including one who served with the 1st Volunteer Cavalry (commonly known as the "Rough Riders") in Cuba. By 1916, just before McLain's unit, the 1st Oklahoma Infantry, deployed to the Mexican Border he was promoted to first lieutenant. In 1917, as his regiment was assigned to the newly organized 36th Division (Texas, Okla.) for its deployment to France in World War I, McLain was promoted to captain. He saw combat in France, where he was gassed but recovered. In the period between the wars, McLain returned to the Oklahoma Guard. Despite his lack of formal education -he never graduated high school - through determined study and effort, he earned the rank of brigadier general in command of the 45th Division Artillery (Ariz., Colo., Okla.) by the time of the 1941 mobilization. During the war he had a variety of assignments including commanding the 90th Infantry Division then fighting in Normandy. He found the 90th in complete disarray and worked hard to restore its morale and discipline. When he was promoted to lieutenant general to command the XIX Corps he became the first Guardsman since the Civil war to hold this rank. The next Guardsman to hold three-star rank would also be an Oklahoman, Lt. Gen. La Vern E. Weber, National Guard Bureau chief from 1974 to 1982.
October 20, 1962: Washington, D.C. — Maj. Gen. Donald McGowan, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau and the other Reserve Component directors are given a Top Secret briefing in the Pentagon on the impending crisis following the discovery on Oct. 18 of Soviet nuclear missile sites being constructed in Cuba. President John F. Kennedy would announce this intelligence to the world in a televised speech on Oct. 22, causing worldwide concern of a nuclear war. After the President's speech, a number of Guard units, primarily Air Guard fighter groups, were given alert notifications that they might be called up if the crisis deepened. All of these units began operating at an increased tempo (though officially in a training status), flying along American coastal areas keeping watch for anything suspicious. However, with the Soviet agreement to withdraw, the missiles tensions began to subside and no Guard units were actually mobilized during the crisis.
October 21, 1861: Loudoun County, Va. — A Union assault across the Potomac River north of Washington, D.C., at a site named Harrison's Landing or better known to history as "Ball's Bluff" was repulsed with heavy losses. While Confederate loses were rather light, the Union forces suffered 223 men killed and more than 700 captured, several hundred of them wounded. Among the dead was Colonel and U.S. Senator from Oregon Edward D. Baker. Born in England, he came to America as a child and spent his early life in Illinois, where he met and became life-long friends with Abraham Lincoln. While there he was elected to the House of Representatives in 1844. He resigned his seat in 1846 to command the 4th Illinois Volunteer Infantry in the Mexican War. He commanded the unit at the Siege of Vera Cruz and Battle of Cerro Gordo in Mexico. After the war he moved to California. He later moved to Oregon and was elected as one of its two new senators in 1860. When the war started in April 1861, he raised a regiment in New York, but soon after took a commission (while still seated in the Senate) as the commander of the 71st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. During the Battle of Ball's Bluff, his regiment found itself backed up against the river by Col. William Barksdale's Mississippi Brigade (13th, 17th and 18th Mississippi regiments). Baker is killed instantly by a shot in the head. He was the only seated member of Congress to die in combat during the Civil War. Several other interesting notes stem from this battle. Due to Baker's death and the high losses suffered in this operation, questions were raised in Congress about the Army's leadership. A "Congressional Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War" was established to oversee how the war effort was being handled. On the military side, Barksdale's Brigade would meet some of the very same units it fought at Ball's Bluff again at Antietam and Fredericksburg in 1862. Among these were the 7th Michigan and the 19th and 20th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry regiments.
October 22, 1918: Skies over France — In 1918, the new Army Air Service (forerunner of the U.S. Air Force) was organized. Calling for volunteers, 1st Lt. Reed Chambers, who was mobilized with a Tennessee National Guard unit, joined up. He was assigned to the newly organized 94th "Hat-in-the-Ring" Pursuit Squadron, soon to become nationally famous for the headlines some of its members, including Chambers, would generate by their combat exploits over "no man's land" in France. Among the men serving in this squadron was Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, who would earn numerous awards for valor, including the Medal of Honor. Chambers, while not receiving the Medal of Honor, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross with an Oak Leaf Cluster for his success in shooting down enemy aircraft. His most remarkable feat occurred on this date when he downed two German Folker D-VII's (often regarded as the best airplane used in the war) in less than five minutes. He ended the war as an "ace" with a total of five kills, and remained in the Air Service at least as late as 1920.
October 22, 1944: Leyte, Philippine Islands — Following a two-day bombardment, the U.S. 6th Army, under the command of Gen. Walter Kruger, storms ashore on this central island. While no Army Guard divisions take part in the initial assault, three would soon be committed to securing the island from the Japanese. These would be the 32nd Infantry Division from Michigan and Wisconsin, the 38th ID from Kentucky, Indiana and West Virginia, and the Americal ID from Illinois, Massachusetts and North Dakota. These divisions would fight in the dense jungles of the central mountains, often engaging Japanese soldiers who barricaded themselves in caves.
October 23, 1944: La Houssiere, France - The 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry, 36th Infantry Division, part of the Texas National Guard, soon to be known as the Lost Battalion, was cut off on top of a hill by German infantry and armored forces near La Houssiere. For six days, the unit stemmed enemy attacks while suffering extremely high losses. With ammunition, food and water running out, the battalion was relieved Oct. 23 by the other two battalions of the 141st, along with the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team made up of Japanese-Americans.
October 25, 1993: At Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C., Col. Irene Trowell-Harris, from the New York Air National Guard, is promoted to Brigadier General on this date; thus becoming the National Guard’s first African American woman to hold general’s rank. She was serving as the Assistant to the Director, Medical Readiness, Office of the Surgeon General, Headquarters, USAF. She started her Guard career as a flight nurse by joining the 102nd Aeromedical Evacuation Flight, NYANG in 1963. She steadily moved up in rank and responsibility, becoming the nurse administrator of the105th Tactical Air Command Hospital in 1985. In 1986, she was appointed to command the 105th, the first nurse in Air Guard history to command a medical facility. Promoted to Major General in September 1998, she retired in September 2001.
October 26, 1916: Maj. Gen. William A. Mann is sworn in as chief of the Militia Bureau, one of the predecessor organizations of the National Guard Bureau. Serving as chief until November 1917, Mann would leave to command the famed 42nd "Rainbow" Division, formed from 27 states, during World War I. After passage of the 1916 National Defense Act, Mann and his successor, Maj. Gen. Jessie Carter, would be the last general officers serving as chief of the Militia Bureau who did not serve specifically as National Guardsmen.
October 27, 1858: New York, N.Y. — Twenty-sixth President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt is born. Coming from a wealthy family, he went to Harvard and Columbia Law School. In 1882, as a first lieutenant he joined the 8th Regiment, New York National Guard. He was soon appointed as the Captain of Company B. After only two years he resigned his commission and entered politics. By the time the United States declared war against Spain over Cuban independence in April 1898, Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He dispatched Commodore George Dewey to sink the Spanish fleet guarding Manila Bay in the Philippines (also a Spanish colony). As the Army began building up for the war, 194 state volunteer units were accepted for federal service. However Roosevelt, with the rank of lieutenant colonel, joined a new organization, the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, better known as the "Rough Riders." While the unit itself is not a Guard organization, two of its four troops were largely composed of Guardsmen from Arizona and New Mexico. On July 1, 1898, Roosevelt, now commanding the Rough Riders during their operations in Cuba, leads them in a charge up a steep ridge known as "Kettle Hill." This assault was part of the American advance to capture the port of Santiago. After a brief but intense fire fight Roosevelt's men secure the hill. He notices the American attack on adjoining San Juan Hill is bogged down by heavy Spanish fire coming from the top of the hill. So he yells for his men to follow him and they charge across the saddle between the hills and slam into the Spanish flank. Again, after a short but sharp fight, in some places hand-to-hand, the enemy withdraws. For his inspired and decisive leadership Roosevelt's name was submitted for consideration for the Medal of Honor. But his political enemies blocked its award. In 1900 he was elected Vice President and became the 26th President following the assassination of President William McKinley in September 1901. Roosevelt's career as president is one of great national and personal achievements. The beginnings of the National Park Service, beginning construction of the Panama Canal (finished in 1914 after he left office), plus many social and legal reforms are all parts of his legacy. For the National Guard he is best remembered as the President who worked for and got approval of the Militia Act of 1903, better known as the "Dick Act" (after its sponsor, Congressman Charles Dick) putting in place many of the aspects of Guard service familiar today; in effect it created the modern National Guard. In 1906 Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his mediation of the treaty ending the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. Finally in 2000, 102 years after he was recommended for it, Congress bestows the Medal of Honor to Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt, making him the only American president to receive the nation's highest award for valor.
October 28, 1918: Bois Belleu, north of Verdun, France — World War I was reaching its climax as Allied forces all along the Western Front continue launching attacks against the German “Hindenburg Line”. Used to keep the pressure on the Germans most of these attacks gain some ground but not all succeed. A case in point is the failed assault launched on this date by the 26th Division (Conn., Maine, Mass., N.H., R.I., Vt.) in a sector known to the French as the “Death Valley”. But it is no wonder the assault failed. The division was very weak, having been in action almost daily, with little relief, since the start of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in late September. For instance, its 51st Brigade, composed of the 101st Infantry (Mass.) and the 102nd Infantry (Conn.), had only 15 officers and just over 800 men when their combined organizational strength should have been 6,100 men. The men were tired but when the order came to advance they moved out. Despite artillery support from the 101st Field Artillery (Mass.) and some French cannon, their attack failed to reach its goal and the survivors withdrew to their original jumping off point having lost an additional 150 men killed, wounded or missing. On November 1 the 26th Division was pulled out of Death Valley and sent to a rest area. It would see no more combat as the war ended on November 11.
October 29, 1864: Henrico County, Va. — Union forces under the command of Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler attack the Richmond defenses along Darbytown Road. Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, has been under indirect siege since Gen. Ulysses Grant placed the Army of the Potomac in a wide arc surrounding its southern flank, including the outlaying town of Petersburg. Butler hoped to breech Richmond's outer works but was easily repulsed, loosing about 1,000 men, 600 of whom were captured. Gen. Butler, having no military experience when the war began was never-the-less appointed a brigadier general of Massachusetts volunteers. He succeeded in bringing reinforcements to Washington despite riots in Baltimore against Union troops. For this, President Abraham Lincoln appointed him a major general and placed him to command Fort Monroe situated on the point of land blocking the James River connecting Richmond with the Chesapeake Bay. While in command here he offered runaway slaves sanctuary calling them "contraband of war." In late 1861 he returned to Massachusetts to organize six new regiments and with these he captured New Orleans in May 1862. This was the high point of his military career. After some minor actions, in spring 1864 he was commanding the Army of the James on the southern flank of Richmond. Within this army he organized the XXV Corps composed entirely of U.S. Colored Troops (African Americans fighting for the Union army). He launched this Corps in an unsuccessful attack at Chapins Farm. Fourteen of the 18 Medals of Honor awarded to African Americans soldiers in the Civil War were earned in this battle. One recipient, Sgt. Christian Fleetwood, would later serve as a major commanding the black battalion in the Washington, D.C. Guard in the 1880s. Soon after his defeat on Darbytown Road, Butler was transferred to North Carolina where he failed to capture Wilmington. Grant and Lincoln finally agreed to remove him from command. Butler went on to have a successful career as a congressman, serving from 1867 to 1879. He later served as governor of Massachusetts.
October 31, 1952: Nationwide — Eighteen of the 67 Air Guard squadrons mobilized in 1950 to 1951 during the Korean War are returned to state control. Only one of the 18, the 116th Fighter Squadron from Moses Lake Air Force Base, Wash., served overseas during this period. Issued new F-86A Sabre jets, the 116th was stationed at the Royal Air Force base at Manston, England, as part of the reinforcement of NATO forces put in place to discourage a Soviet attack in Europe. The six squadrons that actually deployed and fought in Korea were released in July 1952. The last flying units of the Air Guard serving on active duty during this period were finally released on Dec. 31, 1952.
November 1, 1924: Brainart Field, Conn. — The 118th Observation Squadron, an element of the 43rd Division receives federal recognition on this date. Originally issued with obsolete Curtis JN-4 "Jennies" left over from World War I, the unit was later equipped with experimental Curtis OX-12's with rotary engines and a swept-wing design. While the planes proved an unstable photo-recon platform, the technology continued to improve so by World War II many American aircraft were propelled by rotary engines. When the unit was mobilized in February 1941 for World War II, it was flying North American O-47B observation aircraft. Once on active duty it flew antisubmarine patrols off the coasts of South Carolina until it deployed to India in 1943. It ended the war flying reconnaissance missions in China.
November 3, 1741
: In Beverley’s Mill Place (today Staunton), Va. the Augusta County Regiment is organized on this date. Men from this regiment would fight under Lt. Col. George Washington during the French and Indian War (1755-1763); again under Washington during the Revolutionary War (1775-1783); under General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson during the Civil War, where the regiment earned the nickname “Stonewall Brigade” it still carries today. Its descendant unit, the 116th Infantry, became part of the 29th Infantry Division in 1917 and saw heavy fighting with it in both world wars, including being the lead assault wave on Omaha Beach on D-Day. In the War on Terror different battalion’s of the 116th Infantry, still part of the 29th Division, have served on missions ranging from guarding the perimeter (but not the prisoners) of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to teaching soldier skill and combat tactics to the members of the newly organized Afghan army. November 4, 1966:
The nation’s third ranking military decoration, the Distinguished Service Medal, is presented to Brig. Gen. William W. Spruance, Delaware assistant adjutant general for air, by Air Force Chief of Staff John P. McConnell in the Pentagon. It marks the first time the new Air Force DSM is awarded to an Air Force Guardsman. Spruance is cited for his outstanding achievement in the field of crash survival which has brought a new awareness of personal flying safely to thousands of service pilots throughout the world. On June 4, 1961, he survived a near fatal crash in a T-33. Since then, he has dedicated his life to air safety. Since 1962, he has given over 2,000 talks to over 200,000 people, saving many lives on crash survival. This includes three trips to Vietnam, one of which covered 58 bases in 60 days with 100 presentations to over 10,000 people. Since 1980, NGAUS has assumed sponsorship of a unit safety award to recognize the Air National Guard unit judged to have contributed significantly to accident prevention. The William W. Spruance Safety Award is presented annually at the NGAUS conference. More information on air safety is available on his Web site at www.genspruance.com
.November 4, 1994:
The 4th Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, is activated. This unit, better known in the National Guard community as the "Sinai Battalion," is composed of 401 Guard volunteers drawn from 24 states, plus a few Army Reserve and active-duty soldiers. It deployed to the border between Israel and Egypt in the Sinai Desert as a peacekeeping force as authorized by the 1978 Peace Accords ending the war between the two nations. After intensive training, the unit stayed on the border for six months and returned home in July 1995. The commander of the multinational force to which the battalion was assigned called it "the best-prepared U.S. battalion to rotate to the Sinai."November 5, 1961
: In the wake of the Soviet Union’s continued construction of the Berlin Wall which they started in August 1961, and a fear of possible conflict in Germany, President John F. Kennedy mobilized selected reserve components units including elements of the Army and Air National Guard on October 1. To prove his determination to protect Germany along with the other NATO allies, he authorized the deployment of 11 Air Guard fighter squadrons to bases in Germany, France and Spain (a non-NATO ally). The first of these squadrons arrived in late October, less than a month after mobilization. By this date several, including Missouri’s 110th and New Jersey’s 141st tactical fighter squadrons, had their ground service personnel join them and they became fully operational. They soon began flying patrols along the border dividing East from West Germany. No Army Guard units were deployed overseas although two divisions and numerous non-divisional units were on active duty in the U.S. Fortunately, no war erupted and by the summer of 1962 all the Guard units were released from active duty.November 6, 1950:
Camp Cooke, Ca. - The 12,065 men of California's 40th Infantry Division increased their training for preparation for deployment to Korea. Mobilized in September, the division, like most other Army National Guard units, was immediately levied of most of its World War II veterans who were sent to Korea right away as individual replacements. This policy left the division struggling to train all of the new draftees being assigned to fill its ranks before deployment. Instead of going right to Korea, the 40th was shipped to Japan in April 1951 to continue its training while being closer to the front if needed. It was deployed to Korea in December 1951 and remained in-country until after the armistice ended the fight in July 1953.November 7, 1811:
"Prophet Town" near the Tippecanoe River, Ind. — While England and America would not actually go to war until 1812, there was trouble between the Indians and frontier families before hostilities became formalized. The governor of the Indiana Territory, William Henry Harrison, who acted as a general of the militia, commands an army of about 1,000 militiamen as it approaches the stronghold of the Shawnee war chief Tecumseh and his brother, a mystic known as the Prophet. The Prophet foretold the defeat of the Americans, which would force the whites back east and away from tribal lands. Tecumseh and his brother used this vision to build a confederacy of mid-western tribes. It was part of this group gathered at "Prophet Town" that Harrison set out to destroy. However, the American camp is attacked by the Prophet before Harrison reaches his goal. After an inconclusive battle in which both sides claim victory, the Indians withdraw, leaving the Americans to burn the town.
November 8, 1942:
Algeria — As part of Operation TORCH, the 168th Infantry (Iowa), 34th Infantry Division (Iowa, Minn., N.D., S.D.) makes an assault landing on the coast of this French colony but meets little resistance as it seizes both the port and the airfield. The colony is controlled by the Vichy French government, a puppet regime under the power of Adolf Hitler. While some French officers try to lead their men in resisting the American landing, most of their troops decide to join the Allies against the hated Nazis. By January 1943, the balance of the 34th has landed and is moving across North Africa but encounters fierce opposition from the vaunted German Afrika Corps in Tunisia. Once the Germans are defeated and the African campaign ends in May, the division prepares itself for its next mission, the invasion of Italy. After making another assault landing at Salerno on Sept. 9, it spends the rest of the war slogging its way up the Italian ‘boot,' ending the war northwest of Milan. The 34th is credited with 535 days in contact with the enemy, one of the highest number of days in combat of any division in the Army. It had nine members awarded the Medal of Honor and suffered 14,895 total causalities (killed, wounded and missing).November 9, 1968:
Kusan, South Korea — Two Air Guard squadrons, Kansas' 127th and Ohio's 166th Tactical Fighter squadrons, both mobilizedin the aftermath of the North Korean seizure of the USS Pueblo in January 1968, take part in a joint South Korean-American military exercise. Both squadrons, armed with F-100C fighter-bombers, the same type of aircraft being flown by Air Guard units in Vietnam, are used primarily in a ground support role, trained to attack enemy convoys, bunkers and supply points. Each plane is capable of carrying bombs (including napalm), air-to-ground rockets plus having cannon and machine guns to attack ground troops or defend themselves in air-to-air combat. Joining the two fighter squadrons in Korea was New Mexico's 150th Combat Support Squadron, composed of ground maintenance personnel, responsible to keep the aircraft ready to fly.
November 11, 1918: In France, the armistice ending World War I takes effect at 11 a.m. More than 325,876 American soldiers are casualties during the war. Of this number 115,660 died (from all causes including disease). Given the way records were kept, there is no accurate number as to how many of these casualties were Guardsmen. However, since nearly half of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) was composed of 18 Guard divisions plus numerous non-divisional units and individual Guardsmen were assigned to non-Guard units, it is surely a high number. Another way to measure Guard involvement is the fact that the 30th Division (N.C., S.C., Tenn.) has 12 men awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest number of any division in the AEF.
November 12, 1940: Milwaukee, Wisc. — As war raged in Europe and the very real possibility that the U.S. might be attacked was present in most people's minds, the Army authorized the organization of seven new observation squadrons in the National Guard, even as Guard units are being mobilized for their one year of "emergency" training in case of war. On this date, the 126th Observation Squadron receives federal recognition at Milwaukee. It was organized and commanded by Maj. Paul Meyers, the first American aviator in World War I to receive the French Croix de Guerre (Cross of War) Medal for valor in combat. The unit flew obsolete North American O-47B observation aircraft. Unlike prewar observation squadrons, the 126th was not assigned to a Guard division, rather it was assigned directly in support of the II Army Corps and performed various duties, including photographing portions of the Carolina Maneuvers in the autumn of 1941. During the war it served in a photographic reconnaissance role in the European Theater as part of the 9th Air Force and XII Tactical Air Command. After the war, the 126th was first reorganized as a fighter squadron, but in 1962 it had a change of mission, converting to an aerial refueling unit flying the KC-97 Stratofreighter. In 1977, they were reequipped with the KC-135 Stratotanker.
November 13, 1990: Washington, D.C. — President George H.W. Bush extends the initial mobilization of all Reserve Component units called in support of Operation Desert Shield from 90-days to 180-days (soon to be increased to 360-days) as the mission changes from defending Saudi Arabia from Iraqi invasion to compelling the Iraqi Army to withdraw from Kuwait. Along with this announcement came his decision to send an additional 200,000 troops (all branches) to the Southwest Asia theater. As the American build up of forces in Saudi Arabia changed from defensive to offensive, among the Air Force units deployed were two Air Guard fighter units, both flying F-16 "Flying Falcon" fighters. These were South Carolina's 169th Tactical Fighter Group and New York's 174th Tactical Fighter Wing. This image shows one of the F-16's from the 169th preparing for take off. Note the white "fox head" insignia behind the cockpit. The unit's nickname is the "Swamp Foxes" after Revolutionary War militia guerilla leader Francis Marion, known as the "Swamp Fox."
November 14, 1990: Washington, D.C. — Following the decision announced one day earlier by President George H.W. Bush to build an offensive force strong enough to push the Iraqi army out of Kuwait, Defense Secretary Richard Cheney announces a partial mobilization of the reserve components numbering 125,000. By the time Operation Desert Storm starts on Jan. 16, 1991, 72,867 Guard personnel, including 62,411 airmen, are serving on active duty. Of this number, some 38,000 Army Guard and 5,240 Air Guard members will serve in the Gulf region during the conflict.
November 16, 1776: Fort Washington, N.Y. — Approximately 8,000 British and Hessian (German auxiliaries hired to fight for the British) soldiers, supported by guns from Royal Navy ships, assaulted Fort Washington on the northern end of Manhattan Island. The fort, meant to hold only about 500 men had been flooded by retreating American troops seeking shelter from the furious attacks which saw many of their comrades killed by Hessian bayonets (few Americans had these to use in their defense). Before the royal forces could launch a coordinated attack on the fort itself, Pennsylvania Col. Robert Magaw surrenders his garrison of more than 3,000 soldiers. Most of these men were members of the 4th and 6th Pennsylvania regiments along with several companies from Maryland and other states. This was the second worst American defeat of the entire war, only the American surrender of 5,500 troops at Charleston, S.C. in 1780 was more costly.
November 17, 1774: Philadephia, Pa. - Twenty-eight leading Philadelphians brought together by Abraham Markoe organized the Philadelphia Light Horse, later known as the First Troop, Philadelphia City Cavalry, or the Philadelphia City Troop. This unit fought with the main American army during the Revolution and has remained an important element of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard for more than 200 years. It is known today as Troop A, 1st Battalion, 104th Cavalry.
November 18, 1916: Ten JN-4 “Jennies” bi-wing aircraft, of the New York National Guard’s 1st Aero Squadron, lift off from Mineola, N.Y., to undertake a historic flight. This is the first multi-plane military organization to fly a cross-country course, totaling about 200 miles. They land in Princeton, N.J., and then return to Mineola the next morning, arriving to find fog and low clouds, however all the planes land safely. Starting just six years after the Wright Brothers made their first flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C., in 1903, several Guardsmen in different states started bringing their personal airplanes to drill to teach flying to their comrades. However, it was not until July 16, 1916 that the first National Guard flying unit received federal recognition. New York’s 1st Aero Squadron, commanded by Capt. Raynal Bolling, an early flight pioneer, who made this nationally recognized flight on Nov. 18, 1916. In 1917, the unit enters active duty for World War I, but never sees combat, being disbanded with its pilots sent to France as individuals. Bolling himself would die in the war, killed not in a “dog fight” against a German airplane but rather in a pistol fight with an enemy officer after Bolling’s car was ambushed while near the Front.
November 19, 1969: Ocean of Storms, Moon — Apollo 12's lunar module, "Intrepid", touches down safely. Under the command of Charles "Pete" Conrad Jr., the only former Guardsman to ever make it to the lunar surface, this is the second manned mission to the Moon. Unlike the other six former Guardsmen turned astronauts during the Apollo program, Conrad had no Air Guard background. Instead he had been a member of the Pennsylvania Army Guard's 103rd Reconnaissance Troop prior to entering Annapolis and beginning a Navy flying career. Conrad had one of the longest records of space travel prior to the shuttle program, logging a total of 22-days. He flew on two Gemini missions and after Apollo 12 he was the commander of the first Skylab II mission, NASA's first space station. On this Moon mission, he and his partner, Allen Bean, collected rocks, set up scientific experiments and removed the camera to return to Earth from Surveyor 3 which had landed on the Moon in 1967. For his outstanding achievements NASA awarded him the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1978, the only former Guardsman ever to receive this recognition. He died in a motorcycle accident in 1999.
November 20, 1918: In Balgau, on the Rhine River, Germany, the 369th Infantry, the famed “Hell Fighters from Harlem” becomes the first American unit to enter German territory following the November 11th armistice ending the fighting of World War I. The 369th was one of three African American infantry regiments organized from existing pre-war black Guard units. Before the war it was designated as the 15th New York Infantry. When America entered World War I the Army had no plan to use black soldiers but it had three existing African American regiments. Given the racist feeling of the time the Army leadership did not want to inter-mix black soldiers into whites-only units and vice versa so they offered the use of the black troops to the French Army, which gladly accepted their service. The three black Guard regiments, each incorporated into three different French divisions, proved their courage in numerous battlefield actions, especially during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive which ended the war. The commander of the French 161st Division, to which the 369th was assigned, selected the black soldiers to be the first Allied troops in his section of the Rhineland to take up occupation duties on German territory. This was a great honor and the black Guardsmen knew it. They marched in proud to represent their regiment and nation in front of scared German populace. Soon, however, the Germans realized they had nothing to fear from the Americans and relaxed, often welcoming the black soldiers into their homes and shops. In fact, in February 1919, as the 369th prepared to return home, the local people held a feast in their honor.
November 21, 1747: Unlike most of the other English colonies established in North America, Pennsylvania was founded by Quakers, a pacifist religious sect against all forms of military service. As long as the Quakers dominated the legislature, no militia law was passed in the colony. To help protect Philadelphia, on November 21, 1747, printer Benjamin Franklin secures the pledge of “150 Persons, mostly tradesman,” to accept his Articles of Association. The Philadelphia Associators soon constitute an alternative defense force before Pennsylvania finally organizes its first militia units in the 1770s on the eve of the Revolution. Several Pennsylvania Army Guard units today trace their organization dates to the “Associators.”
November 22, 1970: Hensley Field, Dallas, Texas — Second Lieutenant Constance Kries is welcomed back to her unit, the 136th Air Refueling Wing, after completing her Officer Training School (OTS) course leading to her commission. What is remarkable about this feat is that she is the first Air Guard woman to complete the course, only opened to female Guard personnel earlier this year. She not only finished the course but was the Class 70-04 Distinguished Graduate, ending the course as class leader. Women were authorized to join the Guard starting in 1956 but the only positions available to them were for existing nurses or other college-educated specialties such as in the law or administration. Military schools were not available to them until Congress changed the regulations in 1969, when military education schools such as the Air Guard’s OTS were finally opened to female candidates.
November 23, 1804: Hillsboro, N.H. — Fourteenth President of the United States Franklin Pierce is born. The son of a Revolutionary War hero, Pierce practiced law and served in the New Hampshire legislature before entering Congress in 1832. Simultaneously he was appointed aide-de-camp to the governor of New Hampshire with the rank of colonel in the state militia. He left Congress in 1842 and returned to his law practice. When America declared war against Mexico in 1846, Pierce was commissioned a brigadier general of volunteers and commanded a portion of the Army under Gen. Winfield Scott on its march to and capture of Mexico City. During this campaign he had a bullet shot through his cap but was unhurt. In 1852 he was elected as the 14th President, serving until 1857. Though in poor health during the Civil War he again volunteered his military services to the Union, but was found to be too infirm for field command. He died in 1869.
November 24, 2004: "Eagle Base," Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina — The U.S. Army formally ends its peacekeeping mission in this troubled land after a nine-year commitment. During that period, Guardsmen and women from every state played an important role in helping to create an atmosphere safe enough for normal life to return, for the nations of the area to repair their damaged infrastructure, often with Guard assistance, and bring some stability to the Balkans region. Of the 12 operational divisional headquarters having responsibility over the American portion of the multi-national force, five were drawn from the Army Guard. These were the 28th, 29th, 34th, 35th and 38th Infantry Division headquarters. The Guard presence became even more important in the aftermath of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as many Regular Army troops were moved to other stations in the support of the War on Terror. Not one American soldier was killed by hostile action in the area during this entire period. In fact, evidence indicates that the American commitment to maintaining the peace was truly appreciated by most of the people of the region, with many expressing sadness when the soldiers departed for home.
November 25, 1758: Fort Duquesne, Pa. — English General John Forbes, leading a mixed force of British regulars and colonial militia, captures the smoldering remains of Fort Duquesne after the French and their Indian allies flee rather than defend the position. Forbes departs after renaming the ruins Pittsbourgh for British Prime Minister William Pitt. He is accompanied by his American military advisor, Lt. Col. George Washington of the Virginia Regiment, on his return to Philadelphia. He leaves Lt. Col. Hugh Mercer with a battalion of the Pennsylvania Regiment to build a new fort to be named Fort Pitt. This would soon become a key starting point for expeditions west into the Ohio territory and beyond.
November 26, 1944: Bourheim, Germany — Tech. Sgt. Joseph A. Farinholt, a Guardsman from Baltimore, Md., was a member of the anti-tank platoon of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 175th Infantry (Md.), 29th Infantry Division (D.C., Md., Va.) when he earned a fourth Silver Star on this day by single-handedly destroying a German tank among other actions despite being severely wounded. Farinholt joined the 175th in August 1940 and was mobilized with the 29th Division when it entered active duty in February 1941. His regiment landed on Omaha Beach on June 7, 1944, and immediately entered into combat operations. During the next five and half months Farinholt fought in every engagement involving the 29th as it moved across France and into Germany. Along the way, for various acts of valor in combat he was awarded three Silver Stars for bravery including: risking his life to get close enough to use a bazooka to destroy an enemy tank; exposing himself to incoming fire to rescue at least four injured men, moving them to safety; and leading a nighttime sortie behind enemy lines to retrieve equipment abandoned when their position was overrun earlier that day. On this date the 175th Infantry was spread thin around the outer perimeter of the town of Bourheim, which they had captured three days earlier. For the fourth time in those three days, a German armored column would attempt to break through this front to recapture the town, a key to their defense of the strategic city of Julich on the Roer River. The enemy attack opened with such an intense artillery barrage that the 29th Division's After Action Report cites as it as "the worst suffered by the division during the war." Then the German infantry and their supporting tanks pushed forward. Men in the outlaying areas fell back toward the town and it looked as though the enemy might finally break through. However, Farinholt, the ranking member of his 3-gun, 57mm towed anti-tank gun section, quickly went into action. His crew, after firing several rounds at the enemy, all became casualties when an German shell hit a tree near their position. Farinholt loaded and fired an additional round, striking the tread of the lead Tiger tank, disabling it. However, the tank returned fire with armor-piercing machine gun shells, hitting the 57mm gun at least 20 times, wounding Farinholt in multiple areas of his body, most seriously in his right leg and foot. Despite his wounds he managed to climb into a jeep and drive to the battalion headquarters to alert its leaders of the direction and strength of the German attack. Because of his wound he could not use the clutch and brake pedals so he hit the building the headquarters was housed in. Immediately a medic started to apply first aid but Farinholt refused until he was able to report to the battalion commander. Once he made his report, he finally allowed himself to receive medical treatment. Unknown to him at this time, due to the rate and accuracy of fire from his platoon, the Germans advance was stalled for almost an hour and then diverted to another sector, buying more time for the 29th Division to move troops and summon air support to successfully stop the attack. The Germans never recaptured Bourheim. For his bravery and determination to alert headquarters of impending danger, Farinholt was awarded his fourth Silver Star for his actions at Bourheim, thus becoming the only enlisted man in World War II to earn four Silver Stars. His wounds were so severe that he was returned home, and though he lived nearly 60 more years, he never fully recovered from his injuries.
November 27, 1969: Indianpolis, Ind. — Members of the Company D, 151st Infantry (Ranger) are welcomed home by families, friends and dignitaries including the governor and Indiana’s Congressional delegation following the company’s tour in Vietnam. The last mobilized Army Guard unit to deploy to theater in December 1968, the unit was the only Guard (or Army Reserve) ground combat unit to serve in Vietnam. During its tour Company D had two Guardsmen killed in action along with two non-Guard members. An additional two guardsmen died in accidents, one stateside in an auto crash and one in a non-combat related helicopter crash in Vietnam. While in Vietnam the soldiers in the company were set up in teams of 8-14 men each and they would be flown by helicopter into jungle areas to conduct reconnaissance patrols. Most of their missions were done without getting into fire fights with the enemy, so the Viet Cong were not aware they were being observed. The Rangers returned with their detailed information often used to plan ground raids and air strikes.
November 29, 1864: Sand Creek, Colo. — Following a number of raids on outlying farms by small groups of Indians, the governor of Colorado Territory organizes the 3rd Colorado Volunteers under the command of Col. John Chivington. Chivington, an avowed Indian hater who wanted to exterminate all native peoples, has no prior military background. He marches 700 men to Sand Creek, about 40 miles from Fort Lyon, and finds the winter camp of about 500 peaceful Cheyenne under the leadership of Chief Black Kettle. Chivington orders an attack on the camp. In less than two hours, more than 200 Indians, mostly women and children, are dead, with the rest driven into the snowy forest where many more would die of exposure. Chivington is later court-martialed and removed from command, but would face no further punishment.
November 29, 1990: Colchester, Vt. — The 131st Engineer Company mobilized for Operation Desert Storm and served in Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War. This was its third call to active duty since the unit was organized in 1955. It served during the Berlin Crisis of 1961 to 1962, remaining, like all Army National Guard units, in the United States. However, it was mobilized again in 1968 and served a one-year tour in Vietnam, one of only eight Army Guard units deployed during that war.
November 30, 1864: The Confederate Army of Tennessee, under the command of Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood, suffers a catastrophic defeat when it attacks Union forces commanded by Maj. Gen. George Thomas. The federal troops were well protected by earthworks, stone fences and other defensive measures. After repeated rebel assaults, during which six Confederate generals were killed and five more were wounded, and more than 1,750 southern soldiers died, the attack was finally broken off. Union losses were about 200 killed. Thomas moved his army back to Nashville, where Hood attacked it again two days later; again suffering heavy losses before being compelled to retreat. The Army of Tennessee was forever crippled and never again posed a threat to Union operations.
December 1, 1951: As the second winter sets in along the front dividing the Communist and United Nations forces, the Red Chinese attempted to destroy the dam holding the waters of the Hwachon Reservoir, in South Korea. If the dam is broken, the waters will flood through a valley wiping out American and South Korean (ROK) units. The 2nd ROK Division was assigned to attack the Chinese and stop their attempt to blow the dam. This division was supported in the attack by several American units including Tennessee’s 196th Field Artillery Battalion. Over the course of this day the 196th, armed with twelve 155mm towed howitzers, fired more than 250 rounds per tube (over 3,000 shells). Their fire was so effective that the 2nd ROK was successful in stemming the Communist attack, securing the dam. The 196th earned both a Korean Presidential Unit Citation and an Army Presidential Unit Citation for this action. Over the course of their tour the battalion also earned two US Navy citations for support of Marine operations. It ended the war as the most decorated Guard unit to serve in theater.
December 2, 1943: Mount Pantano, Italy — Men of the 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry, 34th Infantry Division, from Iowa had been ordered in late November to secure this mountaintop position from a battalion of German defenders. The 168th's assault initially surprised the enemy but the Germans quickly recovered and launched a series of counter attacks. For five days the fighting, often on slopes so steep that supply mules could not bring in food or ammunition and remove the wounded, raged in rain, fog and snow. Finally, after being completely cut off from all aid for two days the 1st Battalion succeeded in driving the enemy off the mountain. For their steadfast actions in capturing and holding the position, the 1st Battalion was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.
December 3, 1774: Baltimore, Md. — The newly organized Baltimore Independent Cadets elect Mordecai Gist as its captain. The Cadets, a volunteer militia company raised along the lines of the Minutemen in Massachusetts, willing undergo weekly military training as tension increases with Britain over American rights. Less then a year after the Revolutionary War (in January 1776) the company was expanded into Col. William Smallwood's Maryland Regiment, later redesignated as the Maryland Line of the Continental Army. During the Battle of Long Island, N.Y., on Aug. 27, 1776, Smallwood's bold leadership of his regiment, along with the Delaware Regiment, helped save the American army from a total rout following a well-coordinated British assault. From 1776 until the end of the war, the regiment served in every major engagement fought by the main American army including the final British surrender at Yorktown in 1781. The Maryland Line gained a reputation for strong discipline and courage under fire. Today the heritage of the Maryland Line is perpetuated by the 175th Infantry Regiment.
December 5, 1951: Inchon, Korea — Elements of the 180th Infantry and 171st Field Artillery Battalion, both part of the 45th Infantry Division (OK), arrive in Korea, marking the first time since the end of World War II that a Guard division was committed to combat. Mobilized in September 1950, the 45th first trained in the states before deploying to Japan in preparation for its commitment to Korea. It was soon joined by California's 40th Infantry Division, also coming from Japan. Both divisions experienced hard months of combat before an armistice ended the fighting in July 1953.
December 7, 1747: Philadelphia, Pa. — The Associated Regiment of Foot, ancestor of today's 111th Infantry, first parades under arms in front of the Philadelphia Court House. There they divide themselves into eleven companies by ward or township. They elected company and regimental officers, who are commissioned by the governor. Each member carries his own privately purchased musket, sword and cartridge box. Local women design and fund the fabrication of company colors (flags). The Associated Regiment of Foot is a privately organized and equipped, all-volunteer, force acting as a public defense force with the consent of the governor and assembly. Due to Quaker control of the legislature, Pennsylvania had no governmentally-organized militia until 1777, two years after the start of the Revolutionary War.
December 7, 1941: Tacoma, Wash. — Only hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the Oregon National Guard's 123rd Observation Squadron, which was activated only a few weeks earlier and is on duty here at Gray Army Airfield, plays a role in the war effort. An o-47B is sent on a coastal patrol as it makes its way to Portland, Ore. The pilot, observer and gunner fly west to look for any enemy forces threatening Washington and Oregon. The uneventful flight finds nothing out of the ordinary on what is probably the first coastal patrol following the attack in Hawaii. The squadron would continue coastal patrols and on Dec. 24 would spot a Japanese submarine off the mouth of the Columbia River estuary. A B-25 Mitchell bomber from McChord Field, Wash., would be called to attack the invader. Although there is evidence of a successful strike, no confirmation would be made.
December 8, 1941 (Dec. 7 in Hawaii): Within hours of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the first waves of Japanese aircraft attack Clark Airfield north of Manila. They are met by fierce antiaircraft fire from New Mexico’s 200th Coast Artillery. The Guardsmen are credited with destroying at least two enemy aircraft in this attack. In April 1942, due to most of the troops suffering from illness plus a lack of food and ammunition, the unit, along with all remaining American and Filipino forces still fighting on the Bataan Peninsula, was compelled to surrender. The men were lead into captivity as part of the infamous “Bataan Death March.” Those soldiers who survived the march remained prisoners of war for the next three years.
December 8, 1941: Oaha, Hawaii — In the early morning hours, less than a day after the Japanese attacks on the army and naval bases at Pearl Harbor on this island, Cpl. David M. Akui, a member of the 298th Infantry of the Hawaii National Guard makes history when he captures the first Japanese prisoner of war taken by American forces during World War II. His unit was deployed to guard the beach near Bellows (Air) Field when, in the darkness, he spotted someone coming out of the water. Akui challenged the man and ordered him to halt and lie down. While covering his prisoner with his rifle, he telephoned the Officer of the Day to report the incident. The stranger was quickly taken into custody and turned out to be Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki, the commander of one of the five two-man “midget” Japanese submarines that were supposed to be used in the Pearl Harbor attacks. Sakamaki’s sub had been hit and damaged by American depth charges outside the harbor entrance, later forcing it to surface. It was found in the morning floating near the shore, close to where he was captured. The other crewman was found dead. Akui, who became an instant hero in Hawaii, served throughout the war. His service included being a member of the famed “Merrill’s Marauders” fighting the Japanese in Burma. He returned to the Hawaii Guard after the war and retired as a master sergeant.
December 12, 1862
: At Fredericksburg, Va., Union engineers of the Volunteer Engineer Brigade, under the command of Brigadier General Daniel Woodbury, composed primarily of the 15th and 60th New York Engineer regiments; finally succeed in getting two pontoon bridges across the Rappahannock River. For more than a day they had failed in accomplishing this goal due to heavy Confederate fire coming from the town of Fredericksburg. Most of this fire came from Brigadier General William Barksdale’s Mississippi Brigade (13th, 17th, 18th, 21st Mississippi regiments), who used houses along the shore as cover. While Union artillery pounded the town, destroying many homes and other structures in the process, the rebel fire on the bridge continued. It was only after 7th Michigan and other elements of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division of the Army of the Potomac staged an assault river crossing in the face of enemy fire that the Confederates were compelled to fall back through the town. Soon the bridges were finished and the Union army moved across only to fight one of the bloodiest battles of the entire war on the 13th. December 13, 1636
: When the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony ordered the organization of the colony’s separate militia companies into three regiments on this date the National Guard was born. Designated as the North, East and South regiments today their descendents are: North: 181st and 182nd Infantry; East: 101st Engineer Battalion; South: 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery, Massachusetts Army National Guard. In the spring of 1637 the first musters of the three regiments organized by the General Court on this date were held. The men are armed with matchlock muskets which needed the fork rest to allow the soldier to aim it while still managing the burning match to fire the piece. By late in the century soldiers started using flintlocks that were easier to load and fired without using a burning match. By that time too, most of the body armor was discarded as too cumbersome for use in forest warfare waged against the Indians.December 13, 1862:
Fredericksburg, Va. — The Army of the Potomac suffers terrible losses as it makes numerous attacks against entrenched Confederates under the command of Gen. Robert E. Lee. The federal army, under the command of Gen. Ambrose Burnside, numbers over 90,000 men. Before the disastrous assaults on this day, Union forces had made a river crossing under heavy rifle fire from four regiments of Brig. Gen. William Barksdale's Mississippi Brigade (13th, 17th, 18th, 21st Mississippi regiments) while northern engineers, consisting primarily of two New York engineers regiments, constructed pontoon bridges over the Rappahannock River. On this date, Lee had his men well positioned on a high ridge known as "Marye's Heights." Burnside launched wave after wave of Union regiments piecemeal against the strong rebel defenses, all to no avail. By the end of the battle more than 12,600 Union soldiers are casualties while the southern loses were only 5,300. Pre-war militia (Guard) units exist in both armies. Among the most famous are the 69th New York, part of the famed "Irish Brigade," plus the Wisconsin and Michigan troops in the "Iron Brigade" On the southern side there are the five Guard regiments comprising the "Stonewall Brigade" from Virginia along with three batteries of the "Washington Artillery" from New Orleans. Descendent units of these and other Guard units who faced each other on this field remain in the Guard today.December 13, 1862:
Fredericksburg, Va. — The Army of the Potomac suffers terrible losses as it makes numerous attacks against entrenched Confederates under the command of Gen. Robert E. Lee. The federal army, under the command of Gen. Ambrose Burnside, numbers over 90,000 men. Before the disastrous assaults on this day, Union forces had made a river crossing under heavy rifle fire from four regiments of Brig. Gen. William Barksdale's Mississippi Brigade (13th, 17th, 18th, 21st Mississippi regiments) while northern engineers, consisting primarily of two New York engineers regiments, constructed pontoon bridges over the Rappahannock River. On this date, Lee had his men well positioned on a high ridge known as "Marye's Heights." Burnside launched wave after wave of Union regiments piecemeal against the strong rebel defenses, all to no avail. By the end of the battle more than 12,600 Union soldiers are casualties while the southern loses were only 5,300. Pre-war militia (Guard) units exist in both armies. Among the most famous are the 69th New York, part of the famed "Irish Brigade," plus the Wisconsin and Michigan troops in the "Iron Brigade" On the southern side there are the five Guard regiments comprising the "Stonewall Brigade" from Virginia along with three batteries of the "Washington Artillery" from New Orleans. Descendent units of these and other Guard units who faced each other on this field remain in the Guard today.
December 14, 1799: Mount Vernon, Va. — Former commander of the Continental Army and the first President of the United States, George Washington, dies at his home of pneumonia at the age of 67. While these events about Washington are common knowledge to most Americans, few know that the "father of his country" got his start on the national stage as an officer in the Virginia militia. Appointed as a major in 1754, he made a name for himself during the French and Indian War. When he resigned his commission as colonel of the Virginia Regiment in 1761, he was the highest ranking man in any of the 13 colonies. As tensions grew with England in the early 1770's he sponsored the organization of the "Fairfax County Minute(man) Company." In 1775, as members of the Continental Congress were looking to appoint someone of stature to command the newly organized Army, Washington was the best leader America had to offer. His success in the Revolution led to his two terms as president.
December 15, 1943: San Pietro, Italy — The 36th Infantry Division (Texas) suffers heavy losses in capturing this town on the road to Cassino, south of Rome. The battle was recorded by film maker John Huston and shown as a documentary in American theaters. Even before the film hit the theaters many Americans knew the story of one of the participants in this attack, Capt. Henry Waskow. He enlisted in Company I, 143rd Infantry, 36th Division, Texas National Guard in June 1935. By the time of this battle he had risen through the ranks to captain, commanding Company I. He and the men of his company were made famous through the stories of the newspaper reporter Ernie Pyle, who accompanied them during much of the campaign. Pyle had a nationally syndicated audience and his stories were followed across the country. Unlike many reporters, he did not focus much on the "big picture" battle stories, preferring instead to highlight the individuals involved in the actual fighting on the front lines. Pyle was often referred to as the "soldier's voice." In this role he wrote often about Waskow and his men. One of Pyle's best-remembered stories told of the story of the death of Waskow on Dec. 14, while trying to capture San Pietro. He described how his men removed his body from the battlefield strapped over the back of a mule and how they, tough, seasoned veterans of months of combat, wept over his loss. Pyle's writing was so touching that many readers felt they had lost a friend themselves without ever having known Waskow.
December 18, 1968: Tuy Hoa Airbase, Vietnam — Lt. Col. Frederick Fink, commander of New Mexico's 188th Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) receives a very special package from home. The Albuquerque Tribune, in conjunction with the public affairs staff's of Kirkland Air Force Base (where the 188th was based prior to it January 1968 mobilization) and the N.M. Air National Guard, arranged for the families and friends of the Guardsmen serving in Vietnam to make a sound color movie sharing their stories and holiday wishes. Called the "Tribune Merry Christmas Project" it was underwritten by the newspaper along with support from Radio Shack. The movie was a great boost to the men's morale, and have subsequently been employed by many communities to boost the morale of hometown Guard units during Operations desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The 188th TFS, mobilized in January 1968 served in Vietnam from May 1968 until its return home in May 1969. It flew ground support combat sorties, dropping bombs on enemy positions and disrupting troop concentrations and supply lines. Three pilots of the unit died in combat during their tour, the most from any of the four Air Guard squadrons deployed to Vietnam.
December 19, 1989: Fort Howard, Panama — The beginning of Operation Just Cause, the American action to overthrow the regime of Panamanian President Manuel Noriega, finds a platoon of Missouri's 1138th Military Police Company in-country during its normal rotation of annual training. The 1138th is ordered to construct a prisoner-of-war holding facility. While working on the wire pen, the unit comes under mortar attack by Panamanian forces. Among the Guard members is one female soldier, Pfc. Charla Shull. While no one is hurt in the attack, Shull gains the distinction of being the first female Guard member to come under enemy fire. She will later serve with the 1138th in Operation Desert Storm.
December 20, 1777: Failing to prevent the British occupation the American capital of Philadelphia in October, General George Washington selects the area of Valley Forge, Pa. for his army’s winter quarters. Often in more than six inches of snow and with winds blowing through their threadbare clothes the troops construct nearly 1,000 log huts for shelter. Many times during this winter food is scarce to non-existent. The army arrived with about 12,000 but lost 2,000 to death from disease and cold. Early in the winter it appeared the army would just melt away but slowly supplies of food and clothing improved. Morale was boosted when word arrived of the alliance between America and France. It was further improved with the new emphasis on better individual and unit training plus strict discipline brought to the army by General Baron Friedrich von Steuben. Most of the men, even in the Continental regiments, came from militia backgrounds with little formal military training or experience. By the time the army marched out to engage the British in June 1778, it was capable of fighting the enemy on an even basis and gave a good account of itself at the Battle of Monmouth.
December 20, 1942: At Tidworth Barracks, Cornwall, England, the 29th Ranger Battalion (Provisional) is organized. Composed of volunteers from the 29th Infantry Division (D.C., Md., Va.) it is designed to teach highly-motivated soldiers how to act as raiders and to gather intelligence behind enemy lines. The stated purpose of this training was to enable its men to be able to return to their former companies to teach more men these specialized skills. Marylander Major Randolph Millholland, who had himself just completed British Commando training, commanded the battalion. Despite high praise from all involved with their training, and the successful completion of several raids along with the British Commandos on German installation’s in Norway and the Channel Islands, as planned the battalion was disbanded in October 1943. Its members did return to their old units where they taught many of the ranger skills to other men of the 29th. Some of the veterans of D-Day and the Normandy campaign credit this special instruction for saving their lives in combat.
December 23, 1814: Villere's Plantation, La. — An advance force of some 1,500 men, preceding a British army numbering nearly 10,000 troops, is attacked by Gen. Andrew Jackson on this night. The British, having landed several days earlier on Lake Borgne, are tasked with the capture of the New Orleans. Jackson, himself a former Tennessee militia general before being appointed a general in the Regular Army, had under his command about 1,000 Regular Army solders reinforced by militia units drawn from Louisiana and Tennessee. His attack this night involved about 2,000 troops, about three quarters of them militia. They successfully surprised the British, who failed to adequately guard their camp. The American attack proved so effective that they soon overran the outer British defenses and hand-to-hand combat took place in the English camp. After about an hour of fighting, the Americans broke off the engagement and withdrew. They caused so much confusion in the enemy ranks that it was several days before the British could get themselves prepared to advance on the city. Meanwhile, Jackson had his men entrench and fortify a dry canal blocking the British advance. From this position his army, now numbering 5,300 men (mostly militia and even some pirates), repelled the British assault launched on Jan. 8, 1815. In one of the most lopsided victories in history the American's inflicted a decisive defeat on the enemy force, killing at least 291 and wounding more than 1,200 more. Jackson's army suffered only 13 killed and 39 wounded. The British retreated to their ships, only learning in February that the peace treaty ending the war on had been signed in Belgium on Christmas Eve. Jackson became a national hero, eventually leading to his election to the presidency.
December 24, 1944: Skies over the Belgium — It is Christmas Eve and the Battle of the Bulge is raging as American forces attempt to repel German attacks along a front more than 50 miles wide. Brig. Gen. Frederick Castle commands a B-17 bomber force on a mission to hit enemy targets behind the enemy lines. Castle started his military career as a private in the New Jersey Guard's 173rd Motor Transport Company, 44th Division. He enlisted in 1924 and remained a drilling Guardsman until the summer of 1926 when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He graduated in 1930 and was soon serving in the Air Corps. He quickly rose in rank and influence, in part because he became a noted author of several works dealing with the use of air power in modern war. Some of his predications on the use of strategic bombing were proved true once the war in Europe erupted in 1939. By 1944, Castle is the Assistant Commander of the 4th Bombardment Wing, 8th Air Force based in England. This afternoon he is flying the lead plane of a 2,000-strong B-17 strike heading on a bombing mission to destroy enemy airfields supporting the Bulge campaign. As his bomber approaches an area over Belgium occupied by Allied troops it develops a problem in one of its four engines. Rather than aborting the mission, Castle turns command over to another pilot and dropped out of formation. With the loss of one engine his plane soon lags behind the others. Unable to drop his bombs for fear of hitting friendly forces below, his plane continues on toward its target. However, enemy aircraft quickly finds his crippled plane and repeatedly attack it. After just a few minutes two more engines are on fire and the bomber starts to fall from the sky. Castle realizes it is going to explode or crash and orders all his crew to bail out. Just as the last man leaves the burning plane it explodes and Castle, still at the controls attempting to hold it steady, is killed. But because of his sacrifice, seven of his crewman survived. He is awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor for his courage in the face of imminent death.
December 26, 1776
: After a long night of crossing an ice-choked Delaware River and marching nine miles over snow-covered roads, General George Washington’s American Army of approximately 2,600 men, including a large contingent of Pennsylvania militia, surprised the Hessian garrison placed in the village of Trenton, New Jersey by British commander Lord Cornwallis. In a battle that lasted less than an hour, a few enemy soldiers including their commander are killed. More than 900 are captured along with their arms and stores, with no deaths on the American side and only two wounded. More significantly many of the men in the Army whose enlistments were due to expire extended their service believing Washington could achieve a victory. December 26, 1972: Independence, Mo. — The thirty-third President of the United States Harry S. Truman dies on this date at age 88. Truman started his Guard career when he enlisted as a member of Battery B, Missouri National Guard Artillery in 1904. He was soon promoted to corporal but resigned in 1911 due to job commitments. As soon as America entered World War I in April 1917, Truman reentered the Missouri Guard, helping to expand his old unit along with a second battery into a six battery regiment in the newly organized 2nd Missouri Field Artillery, which was soon redesignated as 129th Field Artillery, an element of the 35th "Santa Fe" Division (Kan., Mo.). Promoted to first lieutenant, he was given command of Battery F and sailed with his unit to France in 1918. After arriving, he was promoted to captain and transferred to command Battery D. Known in the regiment as a rambunctious, troubled unit with poor discipline, Truman had his hands full. But soon his strong but fair leadership solved many of the problems and his men grew to respect and even love their "Captain Harry." With his men taking a new pride in themselves and the unit, they were soon the best trained battery in firing accuracy and speed in gun movement within the 129th. Truman led them into battle, first in Alsace and later in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive of September-October 1918. The war soon ended and he and his men returned home for discharge. Truman left the Guard in 1919 but later accepted a commission in the Officer Reserve Corps, rising to the rank of colonel by 1938. He retained his status even after elected to the Senate. During the height of World War II, he was selected by President Franklin Roosevelt as his running mate in 1944. Truman became president when Roosevelt died in April 1945. He was a strong proponent of reorganizing the Guard in the post World War II defense establishment. Under his presidency, Guardsmen served in the Korean War and enhanced the strength of NATO in Europe. In 1959, now former-President Truman was the guest speaker when the National Guard Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C. An Honor Guard of four of his former soldiers from Battery D, all wearing their World War I uniforms, greeted his arrival. He once remarked about his time and friendships in the Guard by saying "I'm just as proud of that as I am of having been president."December 28, 1845:
Newark, N.J. — During the middle of the 19th century, duty in one of the uniformed volunteer companies in most major cities involved not only military training but also the need to raise money to support the company. Except for arms issued by the state, there was little or no state or federal financial aid to help keep these units prepared for emergencies. To cover the costs of armory rent, dress uniforms and travel to participate in parades and ceremonies in other communities (sometimes even in other states) the units themselves had to pay for everything. To raise money many units held holiday balls and dances, charging the public to attend. The Newark City Guard was one such unit, advertising a holiday "Gala" in 1845 to include a banquet and dancing to celebrate the new year. Other fund-raising functions done by some units included bake sales (with their wives baking most of the goods sold) and expositions of military drill such as marching and bayonet drills for paying audiences. Large units having bands as part of their organizations gave paid concerts. Many of these aspects of Guard life would continue until after World War II, by which time almost all expenses were paid by the government.December 29, 1968
: Fire Support Base “Betty,” Vietnam — New Hampshire’s Battery B, 3rd Battalion, 197th Artillery is selected to take part in a unique experiment. Three of its 155mm howitzers are combined into a battery along with three 105mm howitzers from the 2nd Battalion, 13th Artillery (a Regular Army unit). The combined unit, designated as Battery D, 2nd Battalion, 13th Artillery, was more commonly known as the “Jungle Battery.” It was airlifted by helicopter to numerous undeveloped areas where the guns could quickly come into play, often with devastating effect. They were frequently called upon to support Special Forces teams operating deep in the jungles far from road access. The experiment proved so successful that Battery B retained this mission until it cleared country to return home in August 1969.December 30, 1779:
Morristown, N.J. - The Continental Army, under the command of Gen. George Washington, spends a second winter encampment in this location. The army wintered here in 1777 and spent the winter of 1777 to 1778 at Valley Forge, Pa. While the harsh winter at Valley Forge is remembered in American folklore, in fact, this winter at Morristown was harder on the army than any other during the war. The weather was extremely cold and produced snow measured in feet rather than inches. This blocked supply roads making food and fuel for fires non-existent much of the time. Of an army numbering about 10,000 when it entered the camp, it is estimated more than 2,000 died of cold, hunger and disease.December 31, 1880: Uniontown, Pa. — Future Chief of the Staff of the Army during World War II, and later Secretary of State and Defense Secretary, General of the Army George C. Marshall is born. One of the most important American military leaders of the 20th century, he had several periods of service working directly with the National Guard. After graduating from the Virginia Military Institute in 1901 he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the 30th U.S. Infantry. As a 1st Lieutenant in 1912, he was assigned as an Army advisor and instructor to the Massachusetts National Guard. During World War I, he served as Assistant Chief of Staff of the 1st Division in France, earning high praise for his detailed planning of the Cantigny offensive in May 1918. Reassigned to Headquarters of the American Expeditionary Force, he helped plan two more offensives before war's end. He was then assigned as Gen. John Pershing's aide-de-camp with the rank of major. After the war, he served in several assignments including, with the rank of colonel, serving as the Senior Instructor, Illinois National Guard from November 1933 to August 1936. Most of his time was spent assisting the Guard officers in the planning and performance objectives of the 33rd Division. (The National Guard Educational Foundation has put on display at the National Guard Museum in Washington, D.C., the uniform jacket worn by Marshall when he was in charge of training the troops of the Illinois Guard prior to World War II). Soon after leaving the Illinois Guard, he was promoted to brigadier general and moved to Washington to join the War Plans Division. Due to his considerable organizational talents in August 1939, just as Europe is about to plunge into World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt appoints Marshall as Army Chief of Staff. He earns great distinction during the war, becoming one of the five, 5-star generals/admirals when the rank was created by Congress in 1945. Marshall left the Army after World War II, becoming Secretary of State in 1946. During his tenure he formulated the "Marshall Plan" to rebuild Western Europe including West Germany. He later served as Secretary of Defense, from September 1950 to June 1952, during the height of the Korean War. It was in this period, in a speech to NGAUS, he remarked "Of the citizen-Army, the National Guard is in the first category of importance. It must be healthy and strong, ready to take its place in the first line of defense in the first weeks of an emergency and not dependent upon a year or more of training before it can be conditioned to take the field against a trained enemy." To put these thoughts into action he strongly urged Congress to supply the Guard with new weapons, not the "cast off's" of the Army as had been the policy to this date. It would not be until the Reagan military build up of the 1980s that Marshall's concept of Guard units being properly equipped with the latest weapons and highly trained for war would become reality. December 31, 1950: Pusan Harbor
— Members of the 726th Transportation Truck Company (Md.
) spend their first night in Korea
standing in warming tents waiting for their equipment to be unloaded New Year's morning. The 726th
was assigned to the 231st
Transportation Truck Battalion, as one of several truck companies, assigned as needed for certain missions. This all-black company is the first mobilized Guard unit to arrive in-country. While President Harry S. Truman issued an Executive Order in 1948 desegregating the Regular forces, his order had no immediate effect on the Guard. In peacetime, Guard membership remained under the control of the governor. Some states after World War II had started to integrate their units but others, especially in the South, allowed no African American participation at all. Once a unit was mobilized it came under federal law and was subject to integration.