National Guard

 
January - Today In Guard History
January 1

1943Dutch Harbor, AK - Guardsmen of Arkansas' 206th Coast Artillery (Antiaircraft Artillery) spend a cold but quite New Year watching for possible carrier-launched Japanese air attacks. The unit, which arrived in Alaska in February 1942, was part of the defensive force protecting this important base in the Aleutian Islands. The Japanese had attacked twice in June 1942 and been moderately successful in damaging oil and dock facilities. But they may have caused much more damage if not for the heavy amount of fire put up by the 206th. The unit was credited with one enemy plane and probably damaged several more. The heritage of the 206th CA is today perpetuated by the 206th Field Artillery.

1946 Washington, DC - Major General Butler B. Miltonberger of Nebraska is appointed as the first post World War II Chief of the National Guard Bureau by President Harry S. Truman (who had served in World War I as a Missouri Guardsman). Miltonberger, who commanded Nebraska's 134th Infantry and later served as the assistant division commander of the 35th Infantry Division, oversees the rapid reorganization of Guard units across the nation.

January 2

1943Buna, New Guinea - The 32nd Infantry Division (MI, WI) captures this strategic town with its vital airfield. This is the first major land victory gained by the U.S. over the Japanese since the war started in December 1941.

1991Washington, DC - 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. 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 Education Foundation and its related National Guard Museum today.

January 3

1777Princeton, NJ - Following his overwhelming victory over Hessian troops at Trenton just eight days earlier, General 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 and severely mauls them, causing about 276 killed, wounded or captured for only 30-40 American rank and file killed or wounded. However, several militia commanders, including Colonel John Haslet of the Delaware Regiment, and Captain Daniel Neal of the West Jersey Artillery Company, were among the dead. Washington, with the victory at Trenton and having made a good showing at Princeton, moved his army into winter quarters at Morristown, NJ.

January 4

1861Mobile, AL - Alabama state troops seize the federal arsenal at Mount Vernon without any resistance. In it are found 22,000 rifles and other arms used by the state to prepare to defend its newly proclaimed independence as part of the Confederacy. The next morning they seize Forts Morgan and Gaines, both protecting the entrance to the Bay. In them are found a number of heavy guns plus artillery and musket ammunition.

January 5

2005Baghdad, 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.

January 6

1777Morristown, NJ - In the 18th century it was common for armies to ‘hole up' for the winter and few campaigns or battles took place. General George Washington broke this mold, with his darling strikes first at Trenton on December 26th, 1776, and again at Princeton on January 3rd. 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 1779-1780.

January 8
Battle of New OrleansImage: New Orleans, 1815, by Herbert Morton Stoops
Courtesy, U.S. Army Center for Military History, Washington D.C.

1815In late 1814, British forces that sought to block American access to the Mississippi River at New Orleans, and force an end to the War of 1812. At the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815, a culmination of several earlier battles, militia members from Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi joined forces along with Army regulars and a collection of pirates and the "Battalion of Free Men of Color," a unit that included African-Americans, Choctaw Indians, and native-born Louisiana Creoles to defend this crucial transportation hub for the United States.

Major General Andrew Jackson, a former Tennessee Guardsman, brought together the composite group to defend the city of New Orleans from the British contingent. Despite superior manpower and weaponry, the American forces emerged victorious, which sealed the Ghent peace settlement that had been previously signed on December 24, 1814. Jackson also became a national hero in light of this pivotal encounter.

January 9

1945Lingayen 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 (OH), 40th (CA, NV, UT) and the 43rd (CT, ME, RI, 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 26 January. 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 3rd.

January 12

1942San Francisco, CA - "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

1952Taegu, Korea - Despite frigid temperature, often well below zero, crew members and armorers of the 136th Fighter-Bomber Wing manage to keep their F-84E Thunderjet's serviceable enough to fly and fight. The 136th was composed of three Air Guard squadrons, the 111th (TX ), 154th (AR ) and the 182nd (TX ). The unit arrived in theater in May 1951 and would return home April 1952.

January 16

1955Phenix City, AL - 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 Governor 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 Major General 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 24th 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

1781Cowpens, SC - An American army composed of Continental soldiers and militia men from GA, SC, NC and VA under the command of General 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. Of that number 110 were killed 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.

1921St. Paul, MN - The 109th Observation Squadron, numbering 21 officers and 90 enlisted men, receives Federal recognition. Assigned to the 34th Division (IA, MN, ND, SD) this was the first Guard flying unit organized after World War I and is perpetuated by the 109th Airlift Squadron (MN), the oldest continuously serving Air Guard unit in the force today.

1991Saudi 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 (SC) and the 174th Tactical Fighter Wing (NY), both armed with F-16 aircraft. Other Guard units participated in support roles, from in-air refueling to cargo transportation.

January 18

1911San Francisco Bay, CA - Flight pioneer Eugene Ely successfully lands his airplane on a specially laid deck on the stern of the battleship USS Brooklyn. His plane is turned around and he then successfully takes off marking the first time anyone has accomplished a landing and take off from a ship. In July Ely is commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the California Guard. He brings his personal plane to drill and teaches several members of his unit to fly. Unfortunately he was killed in a crash before the year's end.

1968"Camp Atterbury East", Vietnam - Indiana's Company D, 151st Infantry (Long Range Patrol--later redesignated 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 19

1945Border area of Luxemburg, Belgium and Germany - As the last pockets of Nazi forces are wiped out or captured by advancing American forces, the "Battle of the Bulge" comes to a close. The Germans had launched their surprise offensive five weeks earlier, on December 16, in an effort to break the American and British armies apart while also capturing the vital port of Antwerp. In the opening hours of the offensive units ofPennsylvania's 28th Infantry Division bought valuable time in fighting to delay the enemy advance. During the course of the battle other Guard organizations, including the 26th (MA) and 30th (NC, SC, TN) Infantry Divisions plus numerous non-divisional units played important roles in stopping and then turning back the German assault. And in the air, five former Air Guard observation squadrons flew sorties in support of ground operations. These were the 107th (MI), 109th (MN) and 111th (TX) Tactical Reconnaissance squadrons along with Oklahoma's 125thand Mississippi's 153rd Liaison squadrons.

January 20

1944Rapido River, Italy - The 141st and 143rd Infantry regiments, 36th Infantry Division (TX), fail in their attempt to force a crossing of this river. While at first they gain a small foothold on the enemy shore, having inadequate boats and meeting a well-entrenched enemy, the units suffer more than one thousand causalities before the attack is called back five days later.

1961Washington, DC - 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 (MA), First City Troop of Philadelphia (PA) and the Richmond Light Infantry Blues (VA). Each of these units wore uniform patterns adopted in the early 1800's. 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.

January 21

1903Washington, DC - The Militia Act sponsored by Ohio Congressman Charles Dick 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.

1957Birmingham, AL - First Lieutenant Sylvia Marie St. Charles Law becomes the first woman to join the Army Guard when she is sworn in as a nurse in the 109th Evacuation Hospital. Only after Congress enacts Public Law 845 in July 1956 were women permitted to join the Guard, and then only as nurse-officers. Not until 1968 would enlisted women be authorized to serve in the Guard.

January 22

1944Anzio, 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 quick and decisive operation quickly bogged down just off the beaches. The units committed were entrapped until early May 2nd 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 (ND, SD, MN, IA), the 36th (TX) and the 45th (AZ, CO, NM, OK).

January 23

1997Howard Air Force Base, Panama Canal Zone - Operation "Coronet Oak" enters its 20th year as the longest running Air Force reserve component overseas mission. Air Guard and Air Force Reserve squadrons, flying C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft, move vast amounts of material to meet the theater requirements of the United States Southern Command in Latin America. All crew members serving on these missions are volunteers. The number of women and minorities participating in this operation has increased steady over the years. From its beginning in 1977 until the U.S. ended its military operations in Panama, Howard AFB had been the staging area for this mission. In 1999 it was moved to Puerto Rico, where in continues today.

January 24

1924Griffith Park Airfield, CA - The 115th Observation Squadron, California National Guard, becomes operational at this new station after relocating from Clover Field in Santa Monica. Among its pilots is Captain Paul Baer, the first American airman (not in foreign service) to destroy an enemy aircraft in combat in World War I.

January 25

1787Springfield, MA - 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 1786-1787 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

1968Nationwide - 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 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 166th (OH) were deployed to South Korea as a deterrent against any further hostile acts.

January 27

1899Richmond, 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

1952Kumsong Chwapre Ri, Korea - The 40th Infantry Division (CA), 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 Guard's 45th Infantry Division (OK), had spent more than a year training in the states and Japan before being committed to combat in Korea. But this was 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

1945San Narcisco, Luzon, Philippines - OPERATION M-7 is a plan to open a second front in support the main American effort of securing the island from the Japanese. To accomplish this the 38th Infantry Division (IN, KY, WV) 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

1944Sterling Island, near Guadalcanal - the 106th Reconnaissance Squadron (Bombardment), formerly the 106th Observation Squadron (AL) begins operations against the Japanese. This was just one of two former Guard flying units deployed to the Pacific Theater. Armed with North American B-25 "Mitchell" long-range bombers the unit was able to cover large areas of the central Pacific theater. Later it was reassigned to New Guinea.

January 31

1942Londonarry, Northern Ireland, Great Britain - 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 Africa 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.