National Guard

 
September - Today in Guard History
September 1
Two members of the 180th Infantry, 45th Infantry Division (OK)Two members of the 180th Infantry, 45th Infantry Division (OK) smile as they display their pride at being in the first elements of the division to arrive in Korea on December 5, 1951, about 15-months after mobilization. During training in the states and in Japan, both Guard divisions (40th and 45th) destined for duty in Korea had been repeatedly levied for their most experienced troops to be sent immediately to Korea as individual replacements. This meant new men had to be used to replace those taken; and more time was needed to get them trained up to standard. Understandably this had a severe impact on getting the divisions themselves ready for combat. Without this policy both divisions would have been ready to fight just a couple of months after mobilization.National Archives and Records Administration

1950Various States - In the third of what will eventually be a 19 increment partial mobilization of the Army National Guard during the Korean War, the largest single group of Army Guard units enter active duty on this date. Four entire Guard infantry divisions, the 28th (PA), 40th (CA), 43rd (CT, RI, VT) and the 45th (OK) plus several smaller, non-divisional units, includingSouth Dakota's 196th and Tennessee's 278th Regimental Combat Teams (RCT's) report to their home stations and soon move to the training camps where they will prepare for war. All four of the divisions eventually serve overseas, the 28th and 43rd reinforcing NATO in Germany and the 40th and 45th actually serving in combat in Korea. The 196th and 287th RCT's do not deploy overseas but remain part of the strategic reserve, ready for immediate deployment in case of any unexpected crisis.

September 2
CSergeant Joseph RichardsSergeant Joseph Richards, 160th Infantry, 40th Infantry Division (CA, NV), serving as part of the military occupation forces in Korea after the end of World War II, checks the rice rations ofJapanese soldiers for contraband before they are allowed to board ship to return home. The 40th remained in Korea keeping the peace until April 1946, when it finally sailed home and was released from active duty, the last National Guard division returned from the war. Little did the men suspect that in less than seven year the 40th would again be serving in Korea during the Korean War.
National Archives and Records Administration

1945Tokyo Bay, Japan - Representatives of the Japanese Government surrender to the Allies as World War II ends. Among the occupation forces quickly moving to Japan will be six National Guard divisions. One other, the 40th Infantry Division (CA, NV) will move to occupy Korea, replacing Japanese authorities who have controlled the peninsula since 1904. When the 40th sails home in 1946 little does its men know that the division will return to fight here in 1952-1953 during the Korean War.

The National Guard Association plaque located in the National Memorial Cemetery of the PacificThe National Guard Association plaque located in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Due to policy set by the Cemetery all such monuments, including those of other patriotic and veterans groups like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, are to be of this established pattern. As of 2004 there are 41 such monuments all located along the "Memorial Pathway" that winds through the park.
Courtesy Colonel Michael Doubler (Ret.)

1995Oahu, Hawaii - In a special ceremony held in the National Memorial Cemetery (commonly referred to as the "Punchbowl"), the National Guard Association, in conjunction with the National Guard Bureau, dedicates a plaque honoring the tens of thousands of Guard personnel who have served in Pacific conflicts from the Spanish-American War in 1898 to the present. This plaque was dedicated following an earlier such event held in Normandy, France, to honor all those Guard members who served in Europe during the two world wars.

September 3
Captain Audie L. Murphy of the Texas National GuardRecruiting poster "Captain Audie L. Murphy of the Texas National Guard" used between 1950-1954.
Texas Armed Forces Museum

1950Camp Mabry, Texas - Hollywood actor Audie Murphy joins the Texas Army National Guard to show his support of the war effort in Korea. Nearly every schoolboy knows Lieutenant Murphy is America's most highly decorated soldier in World War II. Aside from receiving the Medal of Honor, he was awarded two Distinguished Service Crosses and four Silver Stars for valor in combat. At the end of the war his picture was everywhere, from movie newsreels to the cover of Life. He left the Army in 1946 to seek an acting career, which literally kept his name in lights and public awareness during the late 1940s. Newly promoted Captain Murphy was assigned to the 141st Infantry, 36th Infantry Division. But he will have little time to train with the troops. The National Guard Bureau decided to use his fame as a recruiting tool to help keep enlistments up despite the war in Korea. Soon his image was on Guard recruiting posters and in magazine ads placed in national publications popular with young male readers. Drawing on his Hollywood background he was featured in the first television (then still a novel invention) commercials ever run by the Guard Bureau. He did recruiting tours speaking to young audiences from coast to coast. While all of this was going on, he continued his movie career, staring in 1951 in one of his best acclaimed film roles, as the young soldier in The Red Badge of Courage, a story set in the Civil War but really dealing with the meanings of courage and duty pertaining to all wars. After two years of working on recruiting and public affairs projects for the Guard Bureau he returned to his unit and actually served as a line officer, being promoted to major before he resigned and left the Guard in 1955. He died in an airplane crash in 1971, having been a strong supporter once again of American involvement in a foreign war, this time in Vietnam.

September 4
This is how the American soldier, Regular and Guardsman, was dressed and equipped at the time of the 1940 mobilization for World War IIThis is how the American soldier, Regular and Guardsman, was dressed and equipped at the time of the 1940 mobilization for World War II. He's wearing the Model 1917 helmet, little changed from World War I. His clothes are made of olive drab (OD) colored wool. On the inside of his shirt cuffs and collar are "gas flaps" that can be pulled into place in case of a chemical attack to help protect his wrist, neck and parts of the body inside his clothes from exposure. Soldiers at this time were still issued "field shoes" rather than boots. These shoes were covered by a gaiter that laced up the outside of the leg, and with an instep strap that ran under the sole, helped to hold the shoes on in muddy conditions. Though this man is carrying a .45 caliber Thompson submachine gun issued to NCOs and special troops, most American soldiers carried the Model 1903 Springfield rifle on which could be attached a 15-inch bayonet. Under his arm is his Model 1932 gas mask held in a carrier bag. After the use of so much gas during World War I there was a great fear it would again be a prime battlefield weapon in this war. Usually found attached to the web cotton cartridge belt would be his canteen, first aid packet and perhaps a compass in its pouch. The straps running over his shoulders are for his Model 1910 backpack in which he carried spare clothing, shaving/toilet gear and a few personal items, like writing paper or a book. On the outside of the backpack was located his T-handle entrenching tool (shovel) used to dig fox holes. In winter service he would wear a heavy wool overcoat warm enough to sleep in. Most soldiers were issued wool gloves but in extreme climates they were given mittens to help keep their fingers from freezing. In all, a typical American soldier in 1940 carried about 60 pounds of equipment plus the nearly 11 pounds his rifle weighed.
Ft. George G. Meade Museum

1940Washington, DC - President Franklin Roosevelt orders into active military service, effective Sept. 16, all units of the National Guard to serve for a period of 12 months by virtue of the authority conferred upon him by Public Resolution No. 96, 76th Congress, approved Aug. 27 1940. So as to not overwhelm the small Regular Army logistical system and due to limited existing camp housing, this mobilization will be spread out over the six months, the last units coming on active duty in March 1941. When many troops arrive at their camps they have to live in tents while new barracks and other facilities are still under construction.

September 5
A bulldozer and 5-ton dump truck of the 116th Engineer Battalion A bulldozer and 5-ton dump truck of the 116th Engineer Battalion surfacing a section of QL-20 between Bao Loc and Camp B'Sar, Vietnam. This was one of the major supply routes used to maintain Allied forces in region northwest of Saigon. Note the security team in the jeep on right. Often the engineers themselves had to furnish their own personnel for security duty as other forces were unavailable.
U.S. Army Center of Military History-Oral Histories Branch

1969Boise, Idaho - The Guardsmen of the 116th Engineer Battalion (Combat) are released from active duty having just returned from their eleven-month tour of service in Vietnam. This marked the sixth time in 70 years that the battalion served on active duty. In fact, the 116th was the only Guard unit, Army or Air, to serve in theater during both the Korean and Vietnam wars. When the battalion was mobilized on May 13, 1968 it numbered 804 officers and men, almost all of whom deployed to Vietnam with the unit, making it the largest group of Guardsmen serving together in-country. While the unit was stationed at several bases northwest of Saigon, it built or upgraded nearly 600 miles of road, along with constructing barracks and other buildings on American bases. Company B was assigned to Phan Thiet on the coast and while there it constructed a heavy-beam wooden bridge strong enough to hold the weight of an M-48 American tank to replace a steel structure installed by the French but destroyed by the Viet Cong during the 1968 Tet Offensive. As of 1975 when the last Americans left Vietnam the span was still standing and being used by the local populace. The tour cost the battalion six of its men killed in action. Causes of death ranged from running vehicles over landmines to being shot by snipers. Two men were awarded the Silver Star for valor in combat and at least 100 received the Purple Heart for wounds suffered from enemy actions. The 116th Engineer Battalion remains an important part of the Army National Guard today.

September 6

2004Fort Polk, Louisiana - Team A, 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry, totaling some 150 men completes its training and prepares to deploy in support of the War on Terror. Like many soldiers before them, the men are a bit nervous, wondering what the future holds. But they are also extremely proud as they become the first Army Guard unit from Guam to ever serve in a combat role. The men will be stationed in Eritrea on the "Horn of Africa," a prime spot for terrorists fleeing from Afghanistan and Iraq. Guam, a 200-square mile island governed by the U.S. as an American territory since 1898 is located in the western North Pacific Ocean. The Guam Army Guard was only organized in July 1981 and its major component, the294th Infantry was not organized until in 1987. No mobilized Guam Army Guard units served in theater during Operations Desert Shield/Storm, 1990-1991. And none were ever deployed to Bosnia or Kosovo on peace keeping mission. So this marks the first time a unit from the island was mobilized for service overseas.

September 7
An F-106 of the 125th Fighter-Interceptor SquadronAn F-106 of the 125th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron 'escorts' a Soviet bomber near Florida airspace during one of these routine intercepts.
Heritage Series

1986Off the Coast of Florida - An F-106 "Delta Dart" of the 125th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron encounters a Soviet Air Force Tu-95 "Bear" bomber flying parallel to the twelve-mile limit of U.S. airspace as it makes its way from Russia to Cuba. These are routine flights which are just as routinely met by Air Guard fighters who act as ‘escorts' to be sure the bombers pose no threat to the U.S. homeland. Since 1953 Air Guard fighter-interceptor units took on an air defense mission, challenging unidentified aircraft flying into American airspace. Air Guard pilots and aircraft stood alert 24 hours a day, every day. This mission grew each year and by 1965 the 22 interceptor squadrons flew 30,000 hours and completed 38,000 alert sorties. By 1988 the Air Guard provided 86% of the Air Force units assigned to national airspace security. In the post 9/11 environment the Air Guard has continued and expanded its role in homeland defense by flying overhead cover for major cities in times of heightened alert as well as investigating all suspicious air traffic heading toward or across the country.

September 8
An officer (2nd from right) and men of the American RegimentAn officer (2nd from right) and men of the American Regiment organized to capture the Spanish colony of Cartagena. Except for the more practical light weight linen of the campaign dress shown on the right, the issued uniform was based upon the pattern worn by the British Army of the period. Company of Military Historians

1740Philadephia, Pennsylvania - Eight hundred volunteers drawn from the militia of several colonies board transports to sail as part of the joint British/American colonial expedition to capture the Spanish colony of Cartagena (today the nation of Colombia). In all, troops from eleven colonies take part in this endeavor, which ends in failure, due more to disease than enemy actions. Perhaps the most memorable aspect was Captain Lawrence Washington's service with the expedition's commander, Admiral Edward Vernon. When Washington returned home he renamed his house overlooking the Potomac River in northern Virginia as "Mount Vernon" in honor of his former commander. Lawrence died in 1752 and his younger brother, George, inherited the home which retains its name to this day. George also replaced him as one of four ‘adjutants' of the Virginia militia, responsible to the governor to report on the status of militia preparedness in his district. George so impressed the governor with his devotion to duty that he was selected in 1754 to tell the French to leave the area of what today is Pittsburgh, PA. He started a war, lost a battle, and gained national recognition. The rest is history.

September 9
Operation AVALANCHEOperation AVALANCHE opens with men from Texas' 36th infantry Division wading ashore in the face of determined German fire. Despite high losses over the next couple of days, the 36th holds its ground and even begins to advance as more American troops, including elements of the guard's 34th and 45th infantry divisions enter the battle
Heritage Series

1943Salerno, Italy - As part of the Allied invasion of Italy the Americans land four divisions south of Naples. Three of these were the Guard's 34th (IA, MN, ND, SD), 36th (TX) and 45th (AZ, CO, NM, OK) infantry divisions. Little resistance was expected since the Italian government had surrendered just prior to the landings. However strong German forces contest the invasion and inflicted heavy causalities on the Americans. During this operation the 3rd Battalion, 141st Infantry, 36th Infantry Division earns a Presidential Unit Citation for its determined advance in spite of concentrated enemy fire. The 36th and 45th divisions would later take part in the invasion of southern France and end the war deep inside of Germany, while the 34th Division would continue fighting up the Italian "boot" securing the Po River Valley by war's end.

September 10
A Douglas O-2H of the 119th Observation Squadron, 1930A Douglas O-2H of the 119th Observation Squadron, 1930. The unit was still flying these aircraft when it assisted in the search for survivors of the Morro Castle. Note the 44th Division emblem, the back to back "4's" painted on the fuselage.
National Guard Education Foundation

1935Off the coast near Atlantic City, New Jersey - The cruise liner Morro Castle, which sailed a passenger route between New York City and Havana, Cuba, was nearing New York on this evening when suddenly a fire broke out aboard. Fed by the wind, it soon spread across the ship, causing it to sink. The captain, new to command, refused at first to send an SOS but his radio operator finally did at 3:24 A.M. Despite some efforts to extinguish the fire by the crew, all attempts failed and the ship lost power. The crew lowered the life boats for themselves and many took off without waiting for passengers to board. Many passengers, left with no alternative, jumped into the ocean trying to save their lives. Of the first 98 people to reach shore only six were passengers. At dawn, aircraft from the New Jersey National Guard's 119th Observation Squadron, 44th Division, took off to help search for survivors. In a number of instances they guided rescue ships to people struggling in the water. In all, 264 passengers and crew survived but another 137 died, almost all by drowning. Doubtless more would have died had not the pilots of the 119th aided in their rescue.

September 11

1777Brandywine River, Pennsylvania - The small Quaker town of Chadds Ford becomes the scene of one of the largest engagements of the American Revolution. British commander General Sir William Howe was intent of capturing Philadelphia, the American capital. When he found his fleet's assent up the Delaware River blocked by strong American fortifications, he sailed his army of some 18,000 troops up to the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. Once landed and reorganized, he began marching his force 30-miles to Philadelphia. To try to block the British advance General George Washington positioned most of his 11,000 soldiers on high ground overlooking the Brandywine River at Chadds Ford. He placed strong outpost at several other possible crossing points but left one, Jefferis' Ford, unprotected because the local people said the river was too high to cross. But a reconnaissance by the British engineers discovered they could wade across if careful. Howe decided to split his force, moving about half toward Washington's army as a feint while the balance crossed over and outflanked the American army. As the enemy force to his front fired heavy artillery concentrations against the American positions and acted as though it would make a general attack (which it never did), Washington was receiving conflicting information about the British having crossed to his side of the river and approaching his right flank. By late afternoon, with solid intelligence the British were approaching, it was too late for Washington to effectively reposition his regiments, so he ordered a withdraw toward Philadelphia. Though turned out of their positions, his men marched away in good order, not routed as they had been the year before in New York. They were starting to become a professional army. Among the incidents recorded in this battle, which cost the Americans about 1,600 to 1,800 casualties, was the story of Private Edward Hector, a member of Proctor's Artillery of Philadelphia. He received a personal "thank you" from Congress for his bravery in rescuing his unit's artillery equipment in the face of an enemy attack. While it was unusual for any enlisted man to receive the thanks of Congress, it was even more so in this case because Hector was an African American. He was one of an estimated 5,000 black soldiers who fought as part of the American army in the war.

The World Trade Center (left) and the Pentagon soon after the attacksThe World Trade Center (left) and the Pentagon soon after the attacks.
National Guard Bureau Historical Files

2001New York City, New York; Arlington, Virginia; and near Shanksville, Pennsylvania - Arab terrorists fly highjacked airliners into both towers of the World Trade Center in NYC and the Pentagon outside Washington, DC. Within minutes of the first report of a hijacking out of Boston, MA, just six minutes after the scramble order was issued, the first F-15's from the 102nd Fighter Wing, Massachusetts Air Guard, are airborne. Though in fast pursuit they arrived too late to intercept and prevent either of the planes from striking the Trade Center towers. In the meantime, another two planes are reported highjacked and on course to Washington, DC. F-16's of the 119th Fighter Wing, North Dakota Air Guard (which are permanently assigned to Langley Air Force Base, VA), are scrambled to try to intercept the planes headed for DC. Unfortunately, they too arrive too late to prevent the strike on the Pentagon. Among the 189 killed in the Pentagon and the airliner which struck it were two Active Guard/Reserve Army National Guard officers. In the fourth plane passengers fought the highjackers resulting in the aircraft crashing in western Pennsylvania. During the remainder of the day and for months to come, constant air patrols were flown over major American cities with shoot down orders to prevent further such attacks. In the wake of the strikes, Army Guard units responded in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia, Maryland, Washington DC and other locations across the nation. Within days, Guardsmen in every state/territory were guarding airports, bridges, and seaports as well as patrolling America's northern and southern borders.

September 12
Soldiers of the 5th Maryland Regiment fighting in the Battle of North PointSoldiers of the 5th Maryland Regiment fighting in the Battle of North Point.
Painting by Don Troiani for the National Guard Bureau

1814North Point, Maryland - After the British Army captured and burned the government buildings in Washington, DC, their fleet carrying more than 5,000 soldiers arrived near Baltimore with the plan of capturing the city and burning its dockyards and naval stores. The army began moving overland to approach the city from the north while the navy planned to bombard Fort McHenry and enter Baltimore Harbor. Meeting the British force was an army composed almost entirely of Maryland militia units, including the 5th Regiment of Infantry, Maryland Militia (who's lineage is perpetuated today by the 175th Infantry). There was a short but sharp fight outside of the city's defensive works, during which the British commander was killed. The next day, after the British Navy failed to capture Fort McHenry a night attack, the troops reboarded their vessels and withdrew back down Chesapeake Bay.

September 13
The Storming of Chapultepe-Quitman's Attack"The Storming of Chapultepe-Quitman's Attack" depicting the assault of the Palmetto Regiment. Color engraving by Adolphe-Jean-Baptiste Bayot after the painting by Carl Nebel. Print published by Appleton and Company, New York, 1950
Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection

1847Chapultepec, Mexico - The United States and Mexico had gone to war in 1846 over a boundary dispute concerning Texas. Early operations saw several important battles (all American victories) fought in northern Mexico. Then in March 1847 General Winfield Scott landed an American Army at Vera Cruz on the Mexican Gulf coast. Marching inland, winning several battles in the process, the last remaining outpost to block the American advance into the capital of Mexico City was (and still is) the Mexican Military Academy (akin to West Point) housed in Chapultepec Castle. Situated on a high bluff, it was defended by a combination of Mexican Army soldiers and cadets from the Academy. The main American assault consisted of two prongs. Attacking from the west, the first prong was composed mostly of Regular Army units. The second prong, hitting the castle from the south, was led by former militia Major General John A. Quitman from Mississippi. He commanded a brigade of regiments from Pennsylvania, New York and South Carolina. This latter unit, known as the "Palmetto Regiment" was selected to spearhead this attack. Moving across a meadow and several ditches of water, they reached a breach in the wall caused by American artillery fire. Once through the breech, they came under heavy enemy fire, forcing them to fight house-to-house as they approached a key position called the "Belen Gate." They stormed the Gate and after some hand-to-hand fighting captured it, forcing the enemy to pull back. To better rally the troops Lieutenant Frederick Selleck placed the regimental flag on top of the ruins of the Gate only to be immediately shot and killed. Other American units passed through the remnants of the South Carolinians, continuing to push the Mexican defenders from their positions. The city surrendered the next day and the American Army soon peacefully entered Mexico City, effectively ending the war. Of historical note is the Palmetto flag carried during this campaign. The flag presented to the regiment when it left Charleston, having been exposed to the elements and battle damage since landing at Vera Cruz and nearly destroyed by the close of fighting for the Castle, was torn to shreds. After the regiment assumed garrison duties in Mexico City it acquired a new flag, which it carried home with pride. Apparently only briefly used in the Civil War, it survived that conflict with little wear. When the 2nd South Carolina Volunteer Infantry deployed to Cuba in 1898 during the Spanish-American War, it carried this aged Mexican War color, making it the first time an American regimental color ever flew victorious over two different foreign lands. Today it is framed and displayed in the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Museum Collection in Columbia.

1814Baltimore, Maryland - In the pivotal hours before the Battle of Baltimore, 1st Lt. Francis Scott Key of the Georgetown Light Artillery from the District of Columbia Militia, now the District of Columbia National Guard, boards the British man-o-war H.M.S. Tonnant. Key has traveled from Georgetown, then a separate municipality from Washington D.C., to negotiate the release of Maryland physician William Beanes. The doctor was arrested for jailing two drunken British soldiers looting after a skirmish in the Upper Marlboro, Maryland area, soon after the burning of Washington D.C. in late August.

Unbeknownst to Key, the British were on the verge of executing a coordinated naval bombardment of the City of Baltimore. As the Tonnant set sail up the Chesapeake Bay to the Patapsco River, Key was successful in securing the release of Dr. Beanes, in conjunction with U.S. Agent for Prisoner Exchange John S. Skinner. But to prevent leaks of the impending battle, the three men were kept on the American flag of truce vessel from which they had sailed until the battle was over, at a location behind the British warship eight miles from Ft. McHenry.

The British bombarded Ft. McHenry from Baltimore harbor for a grueling 25 hours. The following morning at dawn, September 14, 1814, Key watched as the U.S. flag was hoisted over the earthen fort, inspiring him to pen the immortal words that would become our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

In one of the most famous combat photographs to come out of World War IIn one of the most famous combat photographs to come out of World War I, members of the 107th Infantry, 27th Division from New York are shown advancing across "No Man's Land" in their attack along the River Somme. Note the men are wearing their wool overcoats despite the warmth of mid-September. They wore these because the heavy wool, especially when wetted, would often repel bits of flying shrapnel from penetrating their uniforms causing injury.
National Archives and Records Administration

1918Beauqueanes, Somme, France - As part of the preparation for the massive Allied offensive in the Meuse-Argonne region of France due to start on September 26th, several smaller diversionary attacks are made in different areas of the Western Front to draw German troops away from intended attack zone. One such diversion is conducted by New York's 27th Division stationed along the River Somme. Supported by tanks and aircraft, the men of the 27th succeed in capturing about a mile of the enemy's front line trenches before their losses become unsustainable. After some days of rest and with new replacements the 27th will again go on the attack in conjunction with the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

September 14
Twenty-fifth President of the United States William McKinley, Jr.Twenty-fifth President of the United States William McKinley, Jr.
Painting by Chet Jezierski for the National Guard Bureau Presidential Series

1901Buffalo, New York - Twenty-fifth President of the United States William McKinley, Jr., dies today of an assassin's bullet shot into him on September 6th. Born in Ohio, he enlisted as a private at the age of 18 in the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry at the outbreak of the Civil War (also serving as a major in this same regiment was future 19th President Rutherford B. Hayes). McKinley proved an able leader and quickly moved up through the ranks so that by war's end he was a major. After leaving the Army he entered politics, being repeatedly elected to the House of Representatives until elected President in 1897. The most important aspect of his time as president was taking the United States to war against Spain over the issue of Cuban independence. The outcome of that war made America a world power with colonies in Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Guam and the Philippines. During this period nearly 200,000 Guardsmen served in the American Army seeing combat in all theaters of the war. McKinley's Vice President, who is sworn in as the 26th President on this date, is former New York Guard Captain and Colonel of the 1st Volunteer Cavalry, "the Rough Riders", Theodore Roosevelt.

Dedication celebration upon activation of the of the new NIKE-HERCULES antiaircraft missile issued to the Guard starting in 1961Dedication celebration upon activation of the of the new NIKE-HERCULES antiaircraft missile issued to the Guard starting in 1961. These were more powerful and had a longer range than the NIKE-AJAX which they replaced. The HERCULES was nuclear capable. The theory (never tested) was that the missile would fly into a formation of enemy bombers and explode, knocking several to all out at one time.
National Guard Education Foundation

1958Long Beach, California - The 720th Missile Battalion, California National Guard, becomes operational on a 24-hour, seven day a week basis. Manning four batteries of NIKE-AJAX missiles, this is the first Army Guard unit armed with these surface-to-air missiles used to replace anti-aircraft guns in defensive positions. By 1962 a force of 17,000 Guardsmen (combined technicians and traditional) maintained 82 batteries stationed in 15 states. All were located around harbors and large cities important to national strategic interests. In the early 1960s the AJAX missiles were replaced by the longer-ranged and nuclear capable NIKE-HERCULES missile. The program, running from 1958 until it was discontinued in 1974, was one of the Guard's most successful homeland defense missions performed in the 20th century.

September 15

1676Jamestown, Virginia - Governor William Berkeley, leading loyal forces, launches an abortive attack across the causeway connecting James Fort to the main settlement on the peninsula against rebel troops commanded by Nathaniel Bacon, leader of "Bacon's Rebellion." This conflict, sometimes referred to both as the first rebellion against royal authority in the New World and America's first "civil war", had none of the high moral or philosophical causes to its credit. Its basis lay in a power struggle between the governor, who wanted to preserve peace with the Indians at any price so long as the wealthy planters were not attacked, versus small frontier farmers who were increasingly coming under hostile assaults as groups of nomadic Indians passed close to their settlements. Under pressure from the farmers Berkeley was forced to appoint Bacon to lead an expedition to punish the raiders. Bacon's men soon attacked a peaceful tribe, killing some of the people and destroying their village and crops. While on this expedition, Berkeley declared Bacon and his men "rebels". Upon their return they marched on Jamestown (then the capital of Virginia) and besieged the governor and his loyal followers in the old James Fort. Since almost all free men, including free Africans, were members of the militia the men fighting on both sides during this rebellion were militia. Soon after his defeat, Berkeley and his party escaped to Virginia's Eastern Shore. When word of the rebellion reached England, King Charles II dispatched Royal troops to restore order, marking the first time English Regulars served in America. Before they arrived Bacon died of disease and the revolt ended. Royal authority was restored but the first stirrings of what would later become known as "liberty" against the power of the Crown had appeared.

September 16

1940 Nationwide - Under authority granted by Congress, President Franklin Roosevelt orders the Army to begin mobilizing the entire National Guard for one year's training prompted by the worsening conditions in Europe. The Nazis armies had conquered most of Western Europe except Britain. The president and Congress wanted the 242,000 men in the Guard to rapidly expand the Regular Army of only 190,000 men and begin to prepare in case of attack. The first of 18 increments enter active duty today, the last units will not be called up until the spring of 1941. Guardsmen report to forts located all across the country. Once settled in, they begin large maneuver training not usually available in peacetime. Guard aerial observation squadrons, separated from their parent divisions and placed in Army Air Corps groups, began antisubmarine patrols along the coasts. Helping to fill in the ranks were men drafted under a newly enacted conscription law passed by Congress. America was preparing for war.

2001New York City, New York - More than 10,000 Army and Air Guard personnel from 29 states and Washington, DC, are on active duty providing humanitarian relief, security, air defense and communications support as a result of the attacks of September 11th.

September 17
Confederate dead at AntietamConfederate dead at Antietam. These men, probably members of General George Anderson's Brigade, consisting of the 2nd, 4th, 14th and 30th North Carolina volunteer infantry regiments. Not only was the one-day engagement at Antietam the bloodiest day of war in American history, it also became the first to have a national audience. Photographer Alexander Gardner, then working for Mathew Brady in Washington, DC, traveled to the battlefield and took dozens of vivid photos of the dead (this picture is one of these) just days after the fighting. Brady, to cash in on the images, set up a show of "his" photographs in New York City in November, just two months after the battle. Thousands of people saw these pictures, causing some to questions the value of such images. One newspaper editor wrote it was like "bringing the bodies' right to our doorstep and laying them out". During all earlier wars only artists' renderings of the fighting and dead had been available, now true-to-life pictures brought a stark reality to the conflict for the people back home.
National Archives and Records Administration

1862Sharpsburg, Maryland - At the end of the single bloodiest day in American military history, both Union and Confederate armies arrayed along Antietam Creek stop fighting due to exhaustion. More than 23,000 soldiers on both sides were killed, wounded or missing. After the 18th passed quietly Confederate General Robert E. Lee started withdrawing his army on the morning of the 19th back into Virginia without interference.

Soldiers of the 372nd InfantrySoldiers of the 372nd Infantry preparing to board ship in France for their return home and discharge in March 1919. Note they are wearing their 93rd Division "Blue Helmet" shoulder patches. One man has a souvenir German helmet hanging from his belt.It may be some of these very men may have marched in the Victory Parade on this date.
National Archives and Records Administration

1919Washington, DC - General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War I, leads the National Victory Day Parade down Pennsylvania Avenue and past the White House. As Guard units are inactivated at their point of return to the United States, no Guard commands exist to take part in this parade. While not officially represented the Guard does have at least one "unofficial" contingent fall in at the back of he parade. They are African American veterans from the former 1st Battalion, 372nd Infantry, part of the Guard's all-black 93rd Division during the war. The 1st Battalion was organized from the District of Columbia's three black Guard companies that existed during the 1917 mobilization. The men, many wearing their uniforms, received both applause and jeers as they marched along behind the ‘official' parade. No official Victory Parade was held again in the nation's capital until the end of Desert Storm in 1991.

September 18
A M2A1 tank of the 192nd Tank BattalionA M2A1 tank of the 192nd Tank Battalion charging across a field during the Louisiana Maneuvers. Among the non-divisional Guard units participating in this set of wargames were the 192nd and 194th Tank Battalions. Each was organized by combining the 16 prewar divisional tank companies, assigned one per division, into separate tank battalions. The 192nd was composed of four tank companies from Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio and Kentucky. The 194th only had three Guard tank companies, one each from Minnesota, Missouri and California. It never had a fourth line company. Both of these battalions (minus Company B of the 194th from California, which was reassigned) fought against the Japanese in the Philippine during the opening days of World War II. Both were compelled to surrender and their men were taken into captivity, participating in the infamous "Bataan Death March." Note this tank is marked with a sign reading MEDIUM TANK. This was because American Army was so unprepared for war in 1941 that it few real medium tanks, so lighter versions, like the M2A1, had to ‘play' that part in the maneuvers.
Ft. George G. Meade Museum/em>

1941Red River, Louisiana - Phase 1 of the combined Second and Third Army Maneuvers opens when the ‘Red Army' attacks the ‘Blue Army' southeast of Shreveport. This set of wargames, along with those held by the First Army in the Carolina's in November, mark the largest such operations ever held by the U.S. Army in peacetime. These maneuvers included a total of 15 Army divisions, ten of which were from the Guard; they were: 27th (NY), 31st (AL, FL, LA, MS) {the only Guard division to also participate in the First Army Maneuvers in the Carolina's later this autumn}, 32nd (MI, WI), 33rd (IL), 34th (IA, MN, ND, SD), 35th (KS, MO, NE), 36th (TX), 37th (OH), 38th (IN, KY, WV), 45th (AZ, CO, NM, OK). In addition, twelve Guard aerial observation squadrons and numerous other non-divisional units participated.

An F-51D An F-51D "Mustang" fighter of the 178th Fighter Squadron, North Dakota Air National Guard. The unit which was Federally recognized in January 1947, is flying this plane in its earliest markings, before the National Guard was divided into two elements, Army and Air "divisions." In the future Air Guard aircraft will adopt the "ANG" designation to replace the "NG" shown here.
National Guard Education Foundation

1947Washington, DC - Under the reorganization and restructuring of the War Department into the Department of Defense, the U.S. Air Force is created as a separate agency from the Army. At the same time the Air National Guard is created as a separate reserve component under control of the National Guard Bureau.

September 19
 5th Company (battery) of the Washington Artillery of New OrleansAmong the units fighting at Chickamauga is the 5th Company (battery) of the Washington Artillery of New Orleans, LA, shown here in an early war photo.Originally organized as a single company in 1838, by the time of the outbreak of the Civil War in April 1861, it had expanded into five batteries plus a band. Four of the batteries served in the Army of Northern Virginia throughout the war. One, the 5th Company, was assigned to the Army of Tennessee and saw hard fighting from Shiloh in 1862 through the Chickamauga-Chattanooga campaign and it later fought at Murfreesborough, TN in 1864. The battery, consisting of just twoguns, was captured by General William T. Sherman's army as it marched to Atlanta, GA. Reproduced from The Photographic History of the Civil War, Volume 2, by F.T. Miller, 1911
National Archives and Records Administration

1863Chickamauga, Georgia - The Confederate Army of Tennessee under General Braxton Bragg soundly defeats General William Rosecrans' Army of the Cumberland in a two-day engagement that proved almost as costly as the larger battles fought in the eastern theater. Bragg's army suffered 18,000 causalities from his 66,300 men (27%) while Rosecrans' army had 16,000 losses out of 58,000 men engaged (28%). The net effect was the Union forces had to quickly fall back to Chattanooga, TN. Bragg was slow to follow up and lost an opportunity to decisively eliminate this Union army from the field.

Twentieth President of the United States James A. GarfieldTwentieth President of the United States James A. Garfield.
Painting by Chet Jezierski for the National Guard Bureau Presidential Series

1881Elbberon, New Jersey - Twentieth President of the United States James A. Garfield dies after being shot by an assassin on July 2nd in Washington, DC. Serving as an Ohio state senator when the Civil War began, he resigned his seat to accept an appointment as the lieutenant colonel of the 42nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry in August 1861. Through battlefield leadership he quickly rose in rank, becoming a major general of volunteers in 1862. He resigned his commission when he was elected to Congress in 1863. A strong supporter of "negro rights" while in Congress he was much admired in the black community. In fact, African American militia companies in at least two states, Georgia and Virginia, named themselves in his honor after his election as President in 1880.

September 20
Supply trucks of the 26th DivisionSupply trucks of the 26th Division being loaded from rail cars (seen behind trucks) in France. Though hard to see in these images, the trucks are marked with the "YD" emblem of the 26th Division. It was during World War I that the Army first adopted the use of unit emblems, made into shoulder patches, following the practice in the British Army. Of the 18 Guard divisional patches adopted during this period (including the 42nd and 93rd divisions), only two are not in use today, the 39th and 93rd. Due to reorganizations over the decades, some of the patches are used by brigades rather then divisions but all are retained by the Guard.
Massachusetts Military Museum

1917St. Nazaire, France - The 26th "Yankee" Division (CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT) becomes the first American division to arrive in Europe during World War I. More than one million American soldiers and Marines will join them by war's end in November 1918. All 18 National Guard divisions will serve in France, but only 11 see combat as intact units. Six others become "depot" divisions, serving as a source of replacements for casualties suffered by the frontline divisions. One, the 93rd Division, composed of all of the Guard's African American units, has each of its four regiments parceled out to three different French divisions because American army leadership did not want to mix black and white soldiers together.

September 21
Storming of Monterey-Attack on the Bishop's Palace"Storming of Monterey-Attack on the Bishop's Palace." Color engraving by Kellogg & Thayer, NYC, 1847. While the American troops represented in blue-gray in this plate are fairly accurate in their depiction, the Mississippi Rifles, who were wearing red ‘hunting' shirts and straw hats are not shown. In the age before photographs could be mass produced and published in newspapers, engraved (and later lithographic) plates like this was the only way most Americans could see battles, generals and foreign lands.
Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection

1846Monterrey, Mexico - America declared war against Mexico in April 1846. By mid-summer General Zackary Taylor had marched his army of nearly 20,000 men, more than half of whom were in volunteer (today Guard) units, across the border and deep into northern Mexico. He attacked the city meeting stiff resistance. But it was the assault and capture of the citadel, often referred to as the "Bishop's Palace", that saw the hardest combat. One of the units involved in this attack was the 1st Mississippi Volunteers, also known as the "Mississippi Rifles" commanded by Colonel Jefferson Davis. A West Point graduate and former Regular Army officer before the war, he made sure his men were well-trained and armed with the best shoulder arm then available, better than the muskets carried by the Army. The Rifles stormed the Palace and secured it after hand-to-hand fighting. The Mexicans were allowed to surrender with the ‘honors of war' (marching out under arms and carrying their colors). At the Battle of Buena Vista on February 23, 1847 the Rifles helped stem the main Mexican assault and threw the enemy back in confusion, causing them to retreat. Davis served at various times as a senator from Mississippi and he served as Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce from 1853-1857 before returning to the Senate. In 1861 was elected as the President of the Confederate States of America.

The National Guard Memorial in Washington, D.C.The National Guard Memorial in Washington, D.C.
National Archives and Records Administration

1991Washington, DC - The new National Guard Association "Memorial" building is dedicated. The Association, a private political interest group representing the Guard with members of Congress, was established in 1878. It opened its first ‘Memorial' office building in 1959 and closed it in 1988 so this new facility could be built on the same ground. Today, besides its business offices the Memorial also contains the Museum of the National Guard, dedicated to telling the Guard's history to the American public.

September 22

1711Along the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers, North Carolina - The Tuscarora Indians launch a surprise attack against frontier settlements, due in part to the practice of white settlers enslaving Indian children. In the first day 130 colonists are killed and many more flee to safe enclosures at Bath and New Bern. The North Carolina militia is poorly armed and has little training. In fact, the governor is forced to request assistance from Virginia and South Carolina to help defend the colony. Virginia responds by sending arms and supplies in one of the first instances of inter-colony security cooperation in America. South Carolina raises a small volunteer force composed of white militia and friendly Indians under the command of Colonel John Barnwell. Over the coming months this army, which includes only a few North Carolinians, will be the main offensive force against the hostiles.

1776Long Island, New York - Former Connecticut school teacher turned spy Captain Nathan Hale is hanged by the British. Hale was recruited by General George Washington to slip into the enemy's camp and learn where they planned to strike the Continental Army next, having just forced it from Long Island back into New York City. After spending several days in the disguise of a Dutch school teacher, all the time making notes about British activities, Hale was captured one night when a boat he thought was dispatched to pick him up turned out to be an enemy craft. When searched his notes were found and he was quickly sentenced to death. While most people think he said ‘I regret I have but one life to give for my country' in a fact what he said, as recorded by British Adjutant Major John Andre was "I am so satisfied with the cause in which I have engaged that my only regret is that I have not more lives to offer in its service." It is interesting to note that Major Andre himself would be hanged by the Americans as a spy for his part in the failed attempt by General Benedict Arnold to turn West Point over to the British later in the war.

Second Lieutenant Ernest ChildersSecond Lieutenant Ernest Childers receives his Medal of Honor from Lieutenant General Jacob L. Devers, Deputy Commander of American Ground Forces in the Mediterranean Theater.
National Archives and Records Administration

1943Olieto, Italy - Second Lieutenant Ernest Childers, Company C, 180th Infantry, 45th Infantry Division (AZ, CO, NM, OK), single-handedly estroys both an enemy machine gun nest and mortar position, all while suffering from a fractured instep! 2nd Lt. Childers became the first Native American National Guardsman to earn the Medal of Honor for actions performed that day. He stayed in the Army after the war, and retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1965. Childers passed away in 2005.

Historians' corner - Honoring Native Americans for heroic service

September 23
Troopers of the 1st Rhode Island CavalryTroopers of the 1st Rhode Island Cavalry load their horses on railcars for the long trip home.
National Guard Education Foundation

1916Along the Mexican Border - The War Department issues orders for some National Guard units to begin preparations to return home safely. In May President Woodrow Wilson had mobilized most of the Guard; having it deploy along the border areas of CA, AZ, NM and TX to prevent Mexican bandits led by Pancho Villa from raiding U.S. territory (as they had in March when they stormed into Columbus, NM, killing several civilians and soldiers.) World War I had started in Europe in the summer of 1914, so by the time of the Mexican Border call up, it had been raging for two years. America had thus far remained neutral but many people, especially in the Army, felt our involvement was inevitable. So while guarding the border the Army used the time to conduct large-scale, multi-division sized field exercises not usually available to Regular Army or Guard units. Guardsmen found themselves training in trenches like those they saw in newsreels from the Western Front in France. As autumn moved toward winter, more and more Guard units were returning home and being released from active duty. By April 1917 however, America would indeed be involved in the war and all would once again find themselves preparing, this time in earnest, for combat.

September 24
Two F-100C 'Super Sabre's' of Iowa's 174th Tactical Fighter Squadron Two F-100C "Super Sabre's" of Iowa's 174th Tactical Fighter Squadron taxi to their revetments for refueling and rearming after completing a mission, Phu Cat Air Base, Vietnam. The 355th , also stationed at Phu Cat, flew F-100's too.
National Guard Education Foundation

1968Phu Cat Air Base, Vietnam - The pilots of the 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron(TFS) continue flying their ground support missions for Allied forces across South Vietnam. Sometimes referred to as the "fifth Air Guard squadron" the 355th, a newly organized Regular Air Force squadron created at Myrtle Beach, SC, had about 80% of its personnel drawn from the Air Guard's 119th (NJ) and 121st (DC) tactical fighter squadrons. The Guard members of the 355th included pilots and ground support personnel. Both squadrons were mobilized in January 1968 but not deployed to Vietnam (unlike four other Air Guard squadrons sent as complete formations). Instead they were assigned to teach F-100 "Super Sabre" fighter-bomber operations to new pilots. Once in South Carolina the Air Force asked for Guard volunteers to staff the new 355th and the response was overwhelming (so many pilots wanted to go that about one third had to remain behind). When the squadron finished its training in June 1968 it was deployed to Phu Cat. There it was assigned to the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing, which included 174th TFS, an Air Guard unit from Iowa. The 355th spent about ten months in-country, flying their F-100's primarily on missions that consisted of bombing suspected enemy concentrations and supply locations. Just a month after the unit arrived, on July 20, while conducting one of these missions, a former 121st pilot from the District of Columbia, Lieutenant Colonel S.E. Flanagan, Jr., was shot down and killed. He was the highest-ranking Guardsman, Army or Air, to die in Vietnam. In April 1969 the 355th was transferred to Korea as part of the American withdrawal from Vietnam. At this point all those Guardsmen who did not volunteer to stay on active duty were returned to the United States and released from active duty in June.

September 25
Major General Benedict Arnold"Major General Benedict Arnold, wounded December 31, 1775 at the attack on Quebec." An engraving, probably done in France in 1776 or early 1777 since it does not mention his second wound (in the same leg) at the Battle of Saratoga in October 1777. He did not betray the American cause until 1780.
Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection

1775Kennebec County, Massachusetts (today Maine) - A small American army numbering just over 1,000 men under the command of Colonel Benedict Arnold sets out to march north along the Kennebec River to link up with another American force to seize the British-held city of Quebec on the St. Lawrence River. If successful, this would capture all of Canada, bringing it into the American confederation against Britain. Arnold, himself a volunteer officer who served in the Connecticut militia before the war, has among his hand-picked men Colonel Daniel Morgan's 300 elite rifleman draw from Pennsylvania and Virginia frontier militia units. This expedition, which got a late start with winter fast approaching, wrongly believes it needs to cross about 200 miles of wilderness to reach their goal when in fact their trek will take twice the distance due to faulty maps and intelligence. His men run out of supplies and are down to eating their shoes, cartridge boxes and other leather goods. By the time they finally link up with the other American contingent in December heavy snows have already fallen. The British are expecting their attack, which is made on New Year's Eve in a blinding snowstorm and fails with heavy losses. Canada remains British. The Americans withdraw but both Arnold and Morgan will go on to play important roles in the war, first as fellow officers and then as enemies.

September 26
Battery D, 129th Field Artillery"Truman's Battery" depicts the action of Battery D, 129th Field Artillery on the opening day of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Truman, wearing his trademark round glasses, is directing his men as they fire their 75mm field guns in support of the Allied attack.
Painting by Domineck D'Andrea for the National Guard Bureau, Heritage Series

1918Meuse-Argonne, France - The American Army launches its final and largest offensive of World War I against the German "Hindenburg Line." Among the units involved are eight Guard divisions plus numerous non-divisional units, including a number of former Guardsmen serving in aerial squadrons flying over the front. By early November so much territory will be taken and so many enemy soldiers killed or captured that Germany will seek peace. Among the tens of thousands of American soldiers taking part in this offensive was a future president of the United States. Captain Harry S. Truman first enlisted in the 1st Missouri Field Artillery in 1905 but left due to job requirements in 1908. In 1917, soon after America declared war against Germany, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in Missouri's 129th Field Artillery, an element of the newly organized 35th Division. During the 129th's training Truman's able leadership and excellent organizational skills proved so effective he was promoted to First Lieutenant and assigned to Battery D, commonly known by the rest of the regiment for having a lack of discipline and lackluster expertise in handling of their guns. Truman was given the task of getting the battery into shape, which he did with a combination of tough discipline and fair guidance. By the time the 129th entered combat as part of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, Truman had become Battery D's commander with the rank of captain. In fact, men within the regiment started referring to his unit as "Captain Harry's Battery", as a sign of respect. After the war Truman stayed in the Guard into the early 1930's, rising to lieutenant colonel before transferring to the Organized Reserves, where he finished his military career as a colonel. During this time he had became involved in politics, being elected first to the House of Representatives and, by the eve of World War II, the Senate. In fact, after the attack on Pearl Harbor he volunteered for active duty but was refused by Army Chief of Staff, General George C. Marshall, who told him he could provide a more valuable service by staying in Congress (where he was on several important defense-related committees) then just being "another colonel looking for a job." Truman stayed in the Senate, was selected as President Franklin Roosevelt's running mate in the 1944 election, becoming Vice President just a month before Roosevelt's death in April 1945.

KB-29 air refueling planeA KB-29 air refueling plane links up with an F-84E of the 116th Fighter-Bomber Wing over Korea in 1952. The experiment did not work out as well as hoped but with later refinements, in-air refueling has become a staple of air operations today.
National Guard Bureau Historical Files

1950Jacksonville, Florida - The 159th Fighter-Bomber Squadron (FBS) is the first Air Guard unit mobilized for the Korean War. Its pilots will fly their F-84E's "Thunderjets" in combat missions over Korea starting in May 1951. Assigned to the 116th Fighter-Bomber Wing along with Georgia's 158th and California's 196th FBS, their primary missions usually involved supporting ground forces with frontline bombing and strafing of enemy positions. They also flew escort for B-29 heavy bombers in penetrations deep over enemy territory. Due to the limited amount of fuel carried by their F-84's jets, these targets were often too far for safe flight. So the squadrons of the 116th became the first jet-equipped units in theater to experiment with in-air refueling from KB-29 tankers. While not as successful as hoped the Air Force learned valuable lessons used today in making such refueling routine.

September 27
Florida Guard personnel Florida Guard personnel patrol a local neighborhood in the wake of Hurricane Charley.
Courtesy National Guard magazine

2004Statewide, Florida - As the wake of Hurricane "Jeanne," the fourth devastating Atlantic storm to hit Florida within a month, about 3,000 Guard members are on duty to assist their communities in recovering from damage which, according to many media reports, equates to that of a "war zone." Guardsmen patrol against looters, aid in medical treatment, move and distribute food and water and assists in various other tasks as requested by local authorities. Others staff emergency shelters set up in their armories. In all, more than 7,000 Florida Guardsmen were placed on active state duty at some point during and after these four storms.

September 28

1781Yorktown, Virginia - Following the defeat of a British relief fleet off the entrance of Chesapeake Bay by a French fleet under Admiral DeGrasse, the combined armies of France and America march into newly constructed siege trenches surrounding the British army commanded by General Lord Charles Cornwallis. The Allied commanders George Washington and the Count de Rochambeau plan to reduce Cornwallis's fortifications by use of heavy French siege guns landed by DeGrasse. It will take until October 9th before all the troops and guns are in place and the formal siege operation, conducted like those in Europe, can begin. Until then, units like the Massachusetts Light Infantry Battalion, will try to keep the British off balance with quick raids and feint attacks.

September 29
African American soldiersAfrican American soldiers (and one of their white officers) of the 369th Infantry practice what they will soon experience, fighting in the trenches of the Western Front. They are wearing French helmets and using French issued rifles and equipment, the logic being that since they were fighting under French command, it was easier to resupply them from the French system than trying to get American-issued items.
National Archives and Records Administration

1918Sechault, France - As one of the diversionary attacks made during the opening stages of the great Meuse Argonne offensive the French 161st Division was selected to capture the vital village of Sechault which overlooked a German supply road. The French command assigned the task of taking and holding this town to the 1st Battalion, 369th Infantry, 93rd Division. Why would an American unit be fighting in a French division? Because this unit was one of three African American Guard regiments the American commanders did not want intermixed with American white commands. Though all of the enlisted personnel were black almost all of their officers were white. The French were more than happy to have the black soldiers, who proved time and again that they were the equal of the best white troops. This particular unit, formerly the 15th New York Infantry, was better known by its nickname, the "Hell Fighters from Harlem". It once again proved its worth in this engagement. Though the battalion quickly secured the town, the Germans soon forced back the French units on either flank, leaving the 1st Battalion effectively surrounded. Then the Germans reduced the town to rubble with heavy artillery fire through most of the night but still the black troops held their ground. Ammunition, medical supplies and especially water in some locations was running out but the men continued to hold out against several enemy attacks during the night. When finally relieved mid-day on the 30th a total of 172 members of the battalion were dead and 679 more wounded. In addition, about 80 men were missing (at least ten of whom were known to be captured but others were never accounted for, probably blown to pieces by artillery). One white officer, First Lieutenant George Robb (a non-Guardsman from Kansas) received the Medal of Honor and more than 100 of the black soldiers were awarded French decorations for valor including two Legion's of Honor (France's highest award for valor).

September 30
Chairman of the Joint Chief's of Staff General John W. VesseyChairman of the Joint Chief's of Staff General John W. Vessey.
National Guard Education Foundation

1985Washington, DC - Chairman of the Joint Chief's of Staff General John W. Vessey retires, closing a 47 year Army career. He started his distinguished service as an enlisted Guardsman in Minnesota's 125th Field Artillery in 1939. Promoted to sergeant he served with the unit, which was an element of the Guard's 34th Infantry Division, in its campaigns in North Africa and Italy. While fighting in the Anzio beachhead of Italy he was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor and received a battlefield commission to second lieutenant. He stayed on active duty after the war and over the years steadily rose in rank and responsibility until he was appointed to the position of Chairman of the Joint Chief's of Staff by President Ronald Reagan in June 1982.