Gettysburg, Pennsylvania — The largest land battle ever fought in North America, involving about 90,000 Union and 75,000 Confederate troops, begins by accident when a column of southerners encounters Union cavalry while looking for a supply of shoes. On this first day the Confederates push the Union defenders out of the town but stop short of routing them off the field. Among the units engaged is the 2nd Mississippi Volunteer Infantry against elements of the famous "Iron Brigade"
(often referred to as the "black hats" due to the distinctive Hardee hats most of the men wore). The brigade was composed of the 2nd, 6th, 7th Wisconsin, 19th Indiana and 24th Michigan volunteer infantry regiments. In a sharp engagement in the woods near the McPherson's Farm, nearly half of the 2nd Wisconsin are killed, wounded or captured. By nightfall the northerners take up key positions on a series of hills south of the town. The stage is set for what proved to be the climatic engagement of the war. The lineage of the Iron Brigade is carried today jointly by the 127th and 128th Infantry regiments, Wisconsin National Guard.
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 Lieutenant Colonel 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: Captain (later General) Albert Mills, a Regular
officer, who became the third Chief of the Division of Militia Affairs
(now National Guard Bureau) in 1912; and Colonel 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.
Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt leads his 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, better known as the "Rough Riders" up Kettle Hill earning himself both a place in the White House and the Medal of Honor.
Painting by Mort
Kunstler for the National Guard Bureau Heritage Series
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania — On the second day of this titanic struggle unknown places names 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 Confederate General Robert E Lee's various attempts and gallant efforts of his soldiers to achieve a breakthrough to exploit, none was achieved. For instance, the 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 almost fanatical 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.
Men of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry hold the line long enough for other Union troops to block the Confederate advance on Cemetery Ridge.
Painting by Don Troiani for the National Guard Bureau Heritage Series
Washington, DC — 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 respective divisions.
O-38B's of Ohio's 112th Observation Squadron, 37th Division flying over the countryside during annual training in 1936. When mobilized this squadron and all other Guard flying units will be separated from their peacetime assignments and used wherever needed. While the 37th Division served in the Pacific Theater during World War II, the 112th served in Europe. A mobilized member of the 112th, Major Addison Baker, earned the Medal of Honor during the war by leading a bombing mission over German controlled Rumania (see August 1st). National Guard Education Foundation
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania — "Pickett's Charge" marks the climax of this three day battle as Confederate forces reach their "High Water Mark" on the Union lines only to be repulsed and forced to withdraw. Guard units are fighting on both sides. The southerner's retreat back into Virginia the next day, never to seriously threaten northern territory again.
This image of the 1st Connecticut Battery was made during the Chancellorsville, VA, campaign in May 1863, about two months before the unit fought at Gettysburg.
Army Heritage and Education Center
Great Meadows, Pennsylvania — Lieutenant Colonel George Washington is compelled to surrender "Fort Necessity" to a French task force from Fort Duquesne (present day Pittsburgh). Washington had been dispatched by Virginia's governor with a mixed force of soldiers of the Virginia Provincial Regiment and Virginia militiamen to remove the French from Duquesne which was located in an area claimed by colonial government. When his advanced was blocked by the French Washington had his troops build a quickly constructed log fort in hopes of holding the French at bay. However, he was soon surrounded and forced to surrender. The French commander granted him the "honors of war" by allowing him to march out with colors flying, retaining one piece of artillery and with his men under arms. This rebuff of the claim by Virginia, and by extension Britain, to this area led directly to the outbreak of war between France and Britain in 1756. Known in Europe as the Seven Year's War in American it's more popularly called the "French and Indian War." The men serving in the Virginia Provincial Regiment were full-time paid soldiers, mostly enlisted from the county militias. They were paid and equipped by the colony and used to garrison small outposts and patrol its western frontier. It was one of the first "professional" military organizations in British North America.
Uniforms of the Virginia Provincial Regiment from 1754-1762. At the time of the action at Big Meadows, the men were still dressed in all red just like British Regulars. In fact, when General Edward Braddock came from Britain in
1755 to command a combined British Regular and colonial force he insisted that the Virginia Regiment adopt non-red coats to minimize possible confusion over which troops were regulars. This may in part have contributed to the adoption of blue uniforms by the American Army during the Revolution. Courtesy of the Company of Military Collectors and Historians.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — The Declaration of Independence is adopted by members of the Second Continental Congress. What started 18 months earlier at Lexington and Concord as "embattled (militia) farmers" standing against the seizure of their property led to this day of forever breaking from all ties with Great Britain.
Vicksburg, Mississippi — This Confederate fortress city finally falls to General Ulysses S. Grant after a two month siege. With this victory allowing complete control of the Mississippi River by Union forces, the Confederacy was effectively cut in half. And coming just one day after the terrible defeat at Gettysburg, it doomed the south to final defeat.
Major General (shown her as a Lieutenant General) Ulysses S. Grant proved to be the most effective field commander the Union army produced during the war. Army Heritage and Education Center
"Smoke Valley," South Korea — Kentucky's 623rd Field Artillery Battalion, armed with eighteen 155mm towed howitzers, moves into this area in support ofX Corps in holding operations against Communist Chinese assaults. During this period it will earn a Republic of Korea Unit Citation for its fire support of South Korea troops in repelling an enemy assault. In October the battalion, the last Guard artillery unit deployed to Korea, will see hard fighting and earns a Navy Unit Commendation embroidered PANMUNJOM for firing missions in support of the 1st Marine Division. The unit served again overseas in Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
New Haven, Connecticut — Forty-third President of the United States George W. Bush is born. Raised in Midland, Texas, he graduated with a bachelor's degree from Yale University in 1968. Upon graduation he joined the 111th Fighter Squadron, Texas Air National Guard. After completing a year's flight training he became an F-102 Delta Dagger fighter-interceptor pilot. His unit, which was organized in 1923 as the 111th Observation Squadron, an element of Texas' 36th Division, had fought in Europe during World War II and was one of only six Air Guard squadrons to actually fight in Korea during that war. When Bush joined the unit it was tasked with the continental air defense mission against possible Soviet bomber attack. He remained with the unit until his honorable discharge in late 1973. After graduating with an MBA from Harvard Business School he entered the oil business. Later he was twice elected as the Governor of Texas and in 2001 became the 43rd U.S. President. Of the 19 former Guardsmen who have become president, he is the only one with an Air Guard background.
Forty-third President of the United States George W. Bush served in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.
Painting by Chet Jezierski for the National Guard Bureau Presidential Series
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.
Nurses of New Jersey's 150th Aeromedical Flight help transfer patients from a U.S. Navy medical evacuation aircraft to a U.S. Air Force plane for the journey home from Hawaii.
National Guard Education Foundation
Fort Polk, Louisiana — Members of the 49th Armored Division from Texas, currently serving on active duty since October 1, 1961, use their full-time training experience to teach Guardsmen in non-mobilized units coming to Ft. Polk 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 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.
Infantrymen of the 49th Armored Division (TX) dismount from a M-113 armored personnel carrier while training at Fort Polk, LA, during their tour of active duty as part of the Berlin Crisis in 1961-1962.
Texas National Guard Military Museum
Virginia Frontier near Monongahela River, Pennsylvania — In an area south of present day Pittsburgh, PA, British General 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 Lieutenant Colonel 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 ofthe Continental Army during the Revolution.
Lieutenant Colonel George Washington in the uniform of the Virginia Provincial Regiment, 1772.
Painting by Charles Willson Peale, Washington/Custis/Lee Collection, Washington and Lee University
Attu Island, Alaska — California's 159th Infantry, which had been an element of the 40th Division when it mobilized in 1941 but was now an element of the Regular Army's 7th Infantry Division, arrives here to garrison this strategic island after it was recaptured from Japanese invaders by the 7th Division. Later the 159th was transferred to Europe, assigned to the 106th Infantry Division and saw combat in Germany. It was the only Guard infantry unit to serve in both the Pacific and European theaters during the war.
Scoglitti, Sicily, Italy — Assault elements of the 180th and 157th Infantry regiments, both part of the 45th Infantry Division (AZ, CO, OK) storm ashore as part of the invasion of Sicily. They meet little resistance and quickly move to secure the British right flank as it moves 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 overthrow 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.
Soldiers of the 45th Infantry Division march along a dusty road in Sicily.
National Archives and Records Administration
Grand Junction, CO —The Air National Guard’s only official precision flying team known as the Minute Men, flew their last performance. Starting with the Lockheed F-80C's Shooting Stars in 1953, the team performed to crowds estimated to have totaled 3 million people in 47 states and five foreign countries. The team consisted of pilots and ground crewmen assigned to the 120th Fighter Squadron, Colorado Air Guard.
Originally, the Minute Men was started by pilots of the 120th Fighter Squadron flying for local air shows in Denver. When officials at the National Guard Bureau learned of the unit and saw its precision flying (much like that of the Air Force's Thunderbirds and the Navy's Blue Angels) they endorsed it as a public relations activity, funneling money and equipment to the unit. It traveled across the nation putting on shows and sparking interest in the Air National Guard.
In 1958 the team received F-86F Sabre, which allowed them to perform such intricate maneuvers as the "corkscrew roll". The team flew hundreds of shows with only one mishap. On 8 June 1958, while performing a "bomb burst" maneuver at Dayton, Ohio, Captain John Ferrier's plane developed an aileron problem. Rather than ejecting to save himself, he rode the plane into a small unoccupied area in the middle of a residential neighborhood. While he was killed no one on the ground was injured. He was awarded a posthumous Distinguished Flying Cross. The high point for the team came in 1959 when it visited five Central American countries as ‘good will ambassadors' performing shows for huge crowds.
When the 120th was mobilized in 1968 and deployed to Vietnam, many of its pilots were former members of the Minute Men and proved their skill was just as keen in dropping bombs as it was in performing intricate aerial tricks.
The Minute Men pull a banking turn in their F-80C Shooting Star during one of their air shows in 1957. The jets were painted in the Air Force colors of blue and white with the team name Minute Men stenciled on the fuselage.
National Guard Education Foundation
Sonoma, California — The "Grizzly Bear" flag proclaiming the "California Republic" is lowered to be replaced by the United States flag as the former Mexican colony comes under American control. The ‘bear' flag was adopted by the California Battalion organized in Sacramento in mid June by Major John C. Fremont, a Regular Army officer and famed western explorer. As soon as he received word that the U.S. and Mexico were at war, he quickly enrolled local Anglo settlers, mostly recent immigrants from Missouri and Iowa, into a militia force. Numbering about 500 men, Fremont moved the battalion south toward Los Angeles. He soon took the city without a fight. In fact, except for one small engagement of Mexican cavalry against a force of Army Regulars lead by General Stephen Kearny, coming into California from New Mexico, the rest of the colony willingly accepted American control.
Washington, DC — Congress enacts the establishment of the Medal of Honor for actions in combat ".above and beyond the call of duty." During the Civil War more than 1,000 men serving in state-raised units received the Medal. During the Spanish-American War and Philippine Insurrection a total of 15 Guardsmen receive the award (including future President Theodore Roosevelt). In all since 1898 107 men who had Guard service earned the Medal. Most came during the world wars. The Korean and Vietnam conflicts had no mobilized Guardsmen earning the Medal but men who had previous Guard service, or who after receiving the award, would join the Guard numbered 12 (Army and Air Guardsmen combined). In addition to all these men who earned it on the field of battle one other, Captain Charles Lindbergh, received a special award of the Medal by a grateful Congress for his historic solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927. At that time he was a pilot in Missouri's 110th Observation Squadron. To date no Guardsman has earned the Medal of Honor in any conflict since the Vietnam War.
Many American presidents have commented that one of the greatest pleasures they receive from the job comes from honoring true heroes. In this case, President Harry S Truman has just presented the Medal of Honor to each of these men for their outstanding heroism during World War II. Taken in the White House March 25, 1945.
National Archives and Records Administration
Camp Hagman, Redfield, South Dakota — 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.
Some things about the Army never change. Members of the 4th South Dakota Infantry undergoing an ‘in ranks' inspection while serving in Texas. South Dakota National Guard Museum
New York City, New York — The visit of the Marquis de Lafayette to America in 1824-1825 was in every sense a triumphal procession. The 2nd Battalion, 11th New York Artillery, was one of many militia turned out to welcome him. 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.
Lafayette greeting the officers and men of the 11th Battalion, the "National Guard" as he prepares to leave to return home.
Painting by Ken Riley for the National Guard Bureau Heritage Series
Champagne-Marne, France — German forces cross the Marne River cutting off two companies from the 109th Infantry and two companies of the 110th Infantry, 28th Division, all from Pennsylvania. These four companies now found themselves surrounded and fought off repeated German assaults, as they fought their way south with the survivors regaining the division's positions in the afternoon. They inflicted crippling losses on the enemy, but also lost heavily themselves.
Out of about 500 men in the two companies of the 109th only about 150 men regained the safety of the rest of the division.
Men of the Pennsylvania's 109th Infantry, 28th Division fight their way out of the pocket which engulfed them to rejoin their lines.
Painting by Don Troiani for the National Guard Bureau Heritage Series
Mineola, New York — Captain 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.
The variety of aircraft, all privately owned, that comprised the 1st Aero Squadron, New York National Guard, on the day it was mobilized for the Mexican border crisis can be seen in this wide-angled view. National Guard Education Foundation
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 (MS), 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.
A bulldozer of Mississippi's 106th Engineer Battalion, 31st Infantry Division, clears a landing strip on Wadke Island.
National Archives and Records Administration
"Battery Wagner" near Charleston Harbor, SC-The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, along with several other regiments, fail in their assault to capture this fort 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.
Sergeant William Carney hold the remnant of the national flag he saved at Battery Wagner. Note too he is holding a cane, needed after he was twice shot in the legs during the attack. Though recommended for the Medal of Honor right after the attack and apparently approved during the war, Carney did not actually receive his Medal until 1903. This image was published in the late 19th century, the location of the original photograph it was made from is unknown. Army Heritage and Education Center
St. Lo, Normandy, France — Two Guard divisions, the 29th (DC, MD, VA) and the 35th (KS, MO, NE) 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 due to stubborn German resistance using each Norman hedgerow as a defensive fighting position, it took 42 days to take the city. During the 35th Division's approach, Nebraska Guardsman First Lieutenant Francis Greenlief, of Company L, 134th Infantry (NE), was awarded the Silver Star for capturing an enemy machine gun nest single-handedly. In 1971 Major General Greenlief was appointed by President Richard Nixon as the Chief, National Guard Bureau. Another Guard soldier was to gain fame on the approach to St. Lo, but in a different way. Virginian Major 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. When the division commander heard the story he instructed that Howie's body be transported with the lead elements when they moved into the city. His body was placed on a stretcher and draped with an American flag and placed on the ruins of the Ste. Croix Church in the center of the city. A passing New York Times reporter heard the story and wrote a moving tribute entitled "The Major of St. Lo" but could not identify Howie by name due to security. The story was picked up by newspapers across the nation and the "Major" came to represent all the men killed in the Normandy campaign to liberate France. To honor these men today, Nebraska has the "Major General Francis Greenlief Training Site" in Hastings and the "Major Thomas Howie Memorial Armory" is in his hometown of Staunton, VA.
(Left) First Lieutenant Francis Greenlief, in France, 1944 National Guard Education Foundation
(Right) Captain Thomas Howie circa 1943 (photo taken in England prior to promotion in spring 1944). Virginia National Guard Historical Collection
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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, Sergeant
Ernest Perry of Warwick, RI, 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.
Specialist Fourth Class Edward Russo was a member of the 107th Signal Company while serving in Vietnam. He is standing in front of the mobile telephone exchange operated by the unit when the Headquarters of the 199th Infantry Brigade moved locations.
Courtesy Mr. Edward Russo.
Manassas, Virginia — 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 General Thomas Jackson and his Virginia troops, hereafter known to history as the "Stonewall Brigade."
When the Union army marched out of Washington, DC, it soon engaged the Confederate army assembled near the railroad junction at Manassas Court House, in Northern Virginia. This marked the first major land combat of the war. Both armies had units dressed in blue and gray, causing confusion among units all day. As Union forces started pressing hard against the Confederate left flank, the 4th Alabama Volunteer Infantry was dispatched to plug a gap while other southern forces formed a defensive line behind them. The 4th held its ground for more than an hour, repulsing four assaults by Union troops. Finally the rebels regrouped and went on the attack, winning the battle and sending the Union army reeling back into Washington, DC. The 4th Alabama fought in every major engagement in the Eastern Theater of the war, surrendering less than 100 men at Appomattox in April 1865.
Painting by Don Troiani for the National Guard Bureau Heritage Series
Phenix City, Alabama — Governor 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 command of the Major General 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.
General Walter Hanna (back to camera) explains purpose and duties of this mission to his men assembled in Phenix City. These Guardsmen would be the only law enforcement agency in the area until outside officials can be brought in to ‘clean up' the town. National Guard Education Foundation
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.
When Allied troops entered Iraq during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM in March 2003, they were issued decks of playing cards citing the 52 "most wanted" members of the Iraqi government. After President Saddam Hussein ("Husayn" in Arabic) as the Ace of Spades, his two sons were featured as the Ace's of Clubs and Hearts.
National Guard Education Foundation
Nationwide — Almost as soon as France was forced to surrender to Nazi Germany on June 22, 1940, some planners in the Army began drawing up an outline of mobilizing the entire 242,400 men of the National Guard in case America got pulled into the war. As the first air battles between the Britain's Royal Air Force and the German Luftwaffe started in what soon became known as the "Battle of Britain" these plans were presented to President Franklin Roosevelt and Congressional leaders along with a plan to begin the first peacetime conscription (better known as the "draft") to put America on a war footing. Within the month the call for a limited, one year mobilization of the Guard was approved. The first of 18 increments (spaced out so as to not overwhelm the Army's logistical and camp facilities) would enter active duty on September 16, 1940; the last group on March 5, 1941. The recommendation on conscription took longer but it was finally enacted in September 1940 and the first men ‘drafted' entered active duty in early 1941. Many of these new conscripts were assigned to fill out Guard units, linking up men who would make lifelong friendships forged in battle in operational theaters around the world.
During the one year of training all Guard units were called up for, most took part in at least one major, multi-divisional exercise such as these members of the 102nd Cavalry from New Jersey dashing into position during the First Army Maneuvers in North and South Carolina in the autumn of 1941. While German troops at the same time were advancing through Russia in motorized columns much of the American army was still tied to the horse. However, by war's end in 1945, the U.S. Army would be the most mechanized force in the world. National Archives and Records Administration
Itazuke, Japan — The 154th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (TRS) from Arkansas arrives to begin its duties in patrolling the Sea of Japan. This squadron was one of 11 Air 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 (KY) and 192nd (NV) TRS to form the 123rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, each squadron 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 a 90-day tour they rotated to their new assignment. All three squadrons were released from active duty by June 1969.
During Kentucky's 165th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron's tour at Itazuke, one of its pilots, Captain William Seiber, had his RF-101 "Voodoo" jet burst into flames during take off. Remarkably, Seiber suffered only a sprained back in escaping from his burning aircraft. None of the members of the any of the Guard's three reconnaissance squadrons had any fatalities during their time on active duty.
National Guard Education Foundation
Lundy's Lane, Ontario, Canada — An American army under the command of Major General Jacob Brown, having won a victory at Chippewa on July 5th, was now compelled by an advancing British army, to retreat toward Fort Erie, on the Canadian side of the Niagara River. Brown decided to offer battle at Lundy's Lane due to good places to position his brigades and artillery. After several hours of fighting, the costliest of any in the War of 1812 (excluding the Battle of New Orleans which was actually fought after the peace treaty was signed but before word of it arrived in America) the U.S. forces withdrew to Fort Erie and later back across the river into New York. While most of the American units were Regular Army regiments, this army did contain a brigade consisting of the 5th Pennsylvania Regiment and a mixed force of New York militia along with some New York volunteer dragoons (totaling about 600 men) under the command of Brigadier General Peter Porter of New York. British losses totaled 49 officers and 827 enlisted men either killed, wounded, captured or missing; while American losses were 70 officers and 789 enlisted men. Though the militia did not play an important role during the battle, being part of the reserve, its mere presence was significant never-the-less. During this war, it was very uncommon to find militia units crossing from the U.S. into enemy territory. Under existing laws they could not be compelled to do so. In fact, there were instances where the militia of one state refused to cross a state line to serve in defending their neighbors. These actions would be found to various degrees until passage of the 1903 Militia Act bring the militia (now National Guard) under federal control in time of war.
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 5th, 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.
Guardsmen of the 105th Machine Gun Battalion, 27th Division (NY) draw their weapons stored overnight in some farm sheds to keep them dry as they prepare to move up to the front. The 105th was organized from the former Squadron A, NY Cavalry and the Separate Machine Gun Troop, NY Cavalry.
Normandy, France — 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 24th 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 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 stuck by our own bombs, but with more hitting the enemy. The 30th Division and other American units punched throughthe Nazis lines and by early August the Allied armies would break out of Normandy completely, liberating Paris on August 25th.
Soldiers of North Carolina's Company A, 120th Infantry, 30th Infantry Division (NC, SC, TN) advance on German positions later in the war. The incident of "friendly fire", which was not that uncommon, was held secret until after the war for fear families back home would have less enthusiasm or stop supporting the war effort.
National Archives and Records Administration
Ft. Bragg, North Carolina — Guard members of the "Sinai Battalion" return home having completed their six month tour of peace keeping duty along the border between Israel and Egypt. The battalion, which included 401 Guard volunteers from 24 states, was part of the on-going Multinational Force established by the 1978 Peace Accords ending the war between the two nations. The Regular Army commander of the Force praised them as the "best prepared U.S. battalion to rotate to the Sinai."
Assistant Secretary of Defense (Reserve Affairs) Debbie Lee inspects members of the "Sinai Battalion" in Sinai during the Guard's tour of duty. National Guard Education Foundation
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. Major General Winston Wilson, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, 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 60-90 days before they returned home, replaced by new volunteers for another 60-90 days. According to Technical Sergeant 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 7 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.
The 193rd Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron was first equipped with EC-121 "Super Constellations" two of which they took to Thailand for this mission. In the mid-1970s they were issued modified and enhanced EC-130 "Hercules" which they still use today.
Painting by William S. Phillips for the National Guard Bureau Heritage Series
Jamestown, Virginia — The first meeting of the House of Burgesses, the first representative governing body in North America. 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. For instance 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.
A Dutch officer of the early 17th century. Note that he is wearing half armor designed to protect his chest and upper legs while allowing freedom of movement. His helmet is decorated with feathers, which in the days before standard uniforms, often served as a means to identify friend from foe in hand-to-hand combat. Though this plate was rendered in 1608 as part of the series done for Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange in the Netherlands, it depicts dress typical of most European officer of the time. This style of dress and certainly the armor depicted would have been exactly that used in Jamestown at the time of the first Burgess meeting.
Watercolor and pen and ink drawing by Jacob de Gheyn, Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection
Charles Town (now Charleston), South Carolina — In 1756 approximately 60 members of the South Carolina militia organized the Charles Town Artillery Company which was chartered on this dated by the colonial government. By being chartered the men in the unit, all volunteers, agreed to undergo additional drilling over that normally expected by members of the enrolled militia. The charter also allowed the company to draw guns, powder and other supplies from the colony's arms stores.
How members of the Charleston Artillery Company dressed as one of the first uniformed volunteer organizations in British North America. The uniform they adopted, blue faced red, was the exact pattern and color scheme used by the Royal Artillery in Britain at the time. Courtesy Company of Military Collectors and Historians.
Meurcy Ferme, Marne, France — The 42nd Division (26 states and DC) is ordered to capture Hill 177 in preparation for the Aisne Offensive to begin on August 1st. Elements of its 84th Infantry Brigade, including Alabama's the 167th and Iowa's 168thInfantry regiments supported by the 151st Machine Gun Battalion, seize the hill after being heavily engaged.
Members of the 117th Engineer Regiment marching behind the line near Meurcy Ferme, France in July 1918. This unit, while not directly involved with the attack, was tasked with keeping the supply roads open after repeated enemy artillery bombardment blows big craters into its surface, often delaying vital materials from getting to the Front. The diversity of the 42nd Division is demonstrated within the 117th Engineers, combining separate battalions of engineers from South Carolina and California. National Archives and Records Administration
New Georgia, Solomon Islands — Private Rodger W. Young, an Ohio Guardsman with Company B, 148th Infantry, 37th Infantry Division, earns the Medal of Honor by diverting enemy machine gun fire onto himself allowing other members of his company to withdraw to safety. Despite being twice wounded he advances in rushes toward the enemy position, finally destroying it with a hand grenade. However, he was hit a third time, killing him instantly.
Private Roger Young (copied from a published source) Courtesy Ohio National Guard.