National Guard

 
March - Today In Guard History
March 1

1836San Antonio, Texas - As the Mexican Army continues to besiege the Alamo 32 militiamen arrive from Gonzales, TX, to help in its defense. These Texas men, a mixed group of Anglo's and Mexicans fighting for independence, will be the last reinforcements to join the battle as the mission falls five days later, with all defenders being killed.

Major General Martha Rainville, the first woman to serve as a state's adjutant general, received her Federal recognition as a two-star general on March 30, 2001.

National Guard Bureau Historical File

1997Montpelier, Vermont - Lieutenant Colonel 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 2

1945Manila, Luzon, Philippine Islands - The smoldering ruins of the Philippine capital are finally secured by the 37th Infantry Division (OH) and other American forces after overwhelming the last of the diehard Japanese defenders. The division suffered nearly 10,000 killed and wounded during its month-long drive to secure this city. But with little rest and few reinforcements its operations are soon moved to the campaign to clear central and northern Luzon of pockets of Japanese defenders.

March 3
Captain Russell Schweickart, of Massachusetts' 102nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, standing in front of his F-86 Sabre Jet (decorated with the squadron's "Lucky Shamrock" symbol) on the day he left for astronauts training in 1963. He flew on Apollo 9, setting a number of 'firsts' in America's space program.

National Guard Education Foundation

1969Space - A former Air Guard pilot in Massachusetts' 102nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, Captain 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
American civilian internees of the Santo Tomas Interment Camp, Manila, raise the American flag to celebrate their liberation by soldiers of the 37th Infantry Division as it moved toward the heart of the city, February 6, 1945.

National Archives and Records Administration

1945Manila, Luzon, Philippine Islands - The forward elements of the 37th Infantry Division (OH) 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 on March 2nd.

Technical Sergeant Keary J. Miller receives his Silver Star Medal from Secretary of the Air Force James G. Roche on November 1, 2003.

Chief Master Sergeant Terry Lutz

2002Takur Ghar, Patkia Province, Afghanistan-Technical Sergeant 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.

March 5

1712Hancock's Fort, North Carolina - A combined North and South Carolina militia force, augmented by friendly Indians from South Carolina, all under the command of South Carolina's Colonel John Barnwell, invest this main encampment of the hostile Tuscarora Indians. The tribe had launched a series of surprise attacks on outlaying North Carolina settlements in September 1711, killing about 130 colonists. North Carolina found itself unable to cope militarily with this assault and appealed to Virginia and South Carolina for aid. Barnwell's force was quickly raised and marched north to help the North Carolinians, who quickly turned command over to him. As the siege progressed the hostiles began torturing captives they had taken in raids, being sure the militia could hear their screams. The Tuscarora said if the fort was stormed they would kill all the captives so a truce was arranged. It was soon broken by the Indians and the war resumed in April.

Mississippi Congressman and Brigadier General G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery, c1991. Upon his retirement the state of Mississippi promoted him to Major General.

National Guard Education Foundation

1991Washington, DC - Congressman Sonny Montgomery (MS), 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 General Norman Schwarzkopf occurred on June 8th, and was repeated on June 10th in New York City. Included in its marching formations are both Army and Air Guard members who served in the conflict.

March 6

1836San Antonio, Texas - After a determined defense lasting 13 days, the Alamo 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
Clinic sign Alabama's 650th Medical Detachment (Dental Service) in Long Bien, Vietnam. Members of this unit often volunteered their time to work with local people to improve their dental health.

National Guard Education Foundation

1969Long Bien, 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 to serve in Vietnam during the war.

March 8
F-84F Thunderstreak aircraft of Ohio's 163rd Tactical Fighter Squadron on the tarmac at Chambley Air Base, France in 1962. As one of 12 Air Guard fighter squadrons deployed to Europe during the Berlin Crisis this unit served on active duty from October 1, 1961-August 20, 1962.

National Guard Education Foundation

1962NATO 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
Mexican bandit leader Pancho Villa, c1916.

National Archives and Records Administration

1916Columbus, New Mexico - 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 a nearby Camp Furlong. This action caused the President Woodrow Wilson to immediately moved federalized Guardsmen from TX, NM, AZ and CA 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 in-depth the 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 10

1848Washington, DC - The U.S. Senate ratifies the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ending the war with Mexico. America gains territory which will later become the states of AZ, CA, CO, NM, NV, UT and secured the southern part of Texas down to the Rio Grande River. During the war, the Regular U.S. Army only numbered about 6,000 soldiers. The vast majority of other men seeing service, totaling 115,000 troops, were in volunteer regiments, drawn mostly from the uniformed volunteers (Guard) of the states.

1942Java, Dutch New Guinea - Guardsmen in the 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery (TX) are compelled to surrender along with Dutch troops to the invading Japanese. This unit had sailed from Hawaii bound for the Philippines just nine days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Their convoy was diverted to Java because of enemy attacks on the Philippines. Of the nearly 500 men in the battalion, 166 died while prisoners of war of the Japanese. This unit is often referred to as the "Lost Battalion" of World War II.

March 11
"Glover's Ghost" as photographed two-days after their battle for Seilsdorf. Note the captured German weapons and Nazi banner. (Note: wavy line is on original image as 'crop' mark)

National Archives and Records Administration

1945Seilsdorf, 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
A company of the 2nd Oregon Volunteer Infantry fire on Filipino "insurrecto's" across an open field near the Pasig River north of Manila.

National Archives and Records Administration

1899Pasig 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, Captain John E. Moran, formerly of the 1st Montana Volunteer Infantry, earned the Medal of Honor.

March 14
An A-20 "Havoc" light bomber of the type flown by the 111th Observation Squadron in North Africa.

National Guard Education Foundation

1943La 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
Major General Nathaniel Greene, who started as an enlisted man in the Rhode Island militia, proved to be one of the most talented of all the American commanders during the Revolution. Painting by Charles Willson Peale.

Independence National Historical Park

1781Guilford Courthouse, NC - 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% causalities, had to march to Wilmington, NC, 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 18
Colonel George Washington in the uniform of the Virginia Regiment, c1772. Painted by Charles Willson Peale.

Washington and Lee University

1754Williamsburg, VA - The Virginia legislature approves the organization of the Virginia Regiment. It consist of full-time soldiers, paid by the colony to garrison frontier outposts against Indian incursions. Most of its men are enlisted from the militia of the western frontier, primarily Augusta and Frederick counties in the Shenandoah Valley. They are to be uniformed and equipped at the colony's expense. One of the officers appointed to this force is Major (later Colonel) George Washington.

March 19
A soldier of the 45th Infantry Division dashes across a street under sniper fire in Wattweiler, Germany.

National Archives and Records Administration

1945Wattweiler, Germany - Colorado's 157th Infantry, an element of the 45th Infantry Division (AZ, CO, NM, OK), 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
Members of the 161st Infantry, Washington National Guard, stand at the ready in case of trouble during a protest march during the lumber worker's strike.

Washington State Historical Society

1935Tacoma, Washington - 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
When not engaged in direct combat against enemy forces, the men of Idaho's 116th Engineer Battalion were busy building and improving roads. Here they are drilling rock for a quarry to crush for use in a road surfacing mission.

U.S. Army's Center of Military History-Oral Histories Branch

1969Phan Thiet, Vietnam - Seventeen members of the 116th Engineer Battalion (ID) 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).

March 22
"Landing of American Forces Under General Scott at Vera Cruz, March 9, 1847". Though the Americans landed near the city on the 9th, the formal siege did not begin until this date. Color lithograph by N. Currier, 1847.

Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection

1847Vera Cruz, Mexico - 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 this coastal city 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 IL, KY, LA, PA, SC, TN.

March 23
Lieutenant General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, c1862.

Army Heritage and Education Center

1862Kernstown, Virginia - Confederate forces attacking under the command of General 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 25
Two soldiers of the 20th Kansas Volunteer Infantry cross the Tuhayan River, near Polo, Luzon, Philippines on March 25.

National Archives and Records Administration

1899Polo, 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 26
Happy Guardsmen of California's 40th Infantry Division arrive at an out-processing station enroute to the ship that will take them home.

National Archives and Records Administration

1952South Korea - Guardsmen in various units, from the 40th (CA, NV) and 45th (OK) 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. Known as "National Guard of the United States" (NGUS) units these new organizations had some drawbacks. They could only fill to half of normal authorized strength. No promotions were permitted, all men had to continue to serve in whatever rank they currently held. And the units could not be deployed overseas. But they did allow Guardsmen to remain active and they gave governors necessary manpower in times of emergency. After the war ended the Army started returning National Guard "colors" home and they were combined and reorganized with the existing NGUS units. The NGUS concept died out, never to be used again.

March 27
"General Scott at the Taking of Vera Cruz" Color lithograph by R. Magee, c1847.

Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection

1847Vera Cruz, Mexico - After a short siege of six days the city capitulates to the American army commanded by General 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
Major Clyde Seiler waves as he leaves the cockpit of his F-100C fighter-bomber having just completed the 120th Tactical Fighter Squadron's 5,000 sortie in January. Unfortunately, he was killed in action on this date.

National Guard Education Foundation

1969Phan Rang, Vietnam - The F-100 Super Sabre jet fighter-bomber flown by Major 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
Tenth President of the United States John Tyler served as company commander in the Virginia militia during the War of 1812.

Painting by Chet Jezierski for the National Guard Bureau Presidential Series

1790Charles City County, Virginia - Future 10th President of the United States John Tyler is born on this day. He served as a Captain of the Charles City Rifle Company during the War of 1812. His unit, as part of the Second Elite Corps of the Virginia militia commanded by the state's adjutant general, moved to Tidewater Virginia to repel a British invasion force in the Norfolk area in 1813. As this army approached the enemy sailed away. Tyler resigned his commission in 1815 to pursue a legal career. He was the vice presidential candidate on the winning ticket headed by war-hero (and former Indiana Guardsman) William Henry Harrison. When Harrison died just a month into his term, Tyler became the tenth president.

"Guns in full recoil" indicates that the 155mm howitzers of Arkansas 936th Field Artillery Battalion are at work. This battalion was the Army Guard first combat unit to engage the enemy.

National Guard Education Foundation

1951Near 38th Parallel, South Korea - The 936th Field Artillery Battalion (AR) 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, mostly transportation and engineer, units 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 30
A P-38 Lockheed Lighting of the type flown by Rhode Island's 152nd Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron in Italy. While its basic airframe was the same design as the famous "Lighting" fighter, the photo recon versions were either not armed or only had light machine guns to save weight and give them more speed.

National Guard Education Foundation

1945Various Airfields, Italy - The former 152nd Observation Squadron from Rhode Island, now redesignated as the 37th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron, continues to fly missions in support of the U.S. Fifth Army driving into northern Italy. Their F-5 aircraft, the photographic version of the famous twin-fuselage Lockheed Lighting fighter, were lightly armed opting instead to depend on speed to flee if attacked by enemy fighters.

March 31
A telephone operator of the 112th Field Signal Battalion, 32nd Division, manning a field switchboard used to connect various headquarters within the division.

National Archives and Records Administration

1918Bordeaux, Dijon, St. Nazaire, France - Infantry and machine gun units of the 32nd Division (MI, WI) 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.