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August - Today in Guard History
August 1
B-24"Hell's Wench" the B-24 "Liberator" bomber flown by Lieutenant Colonel Addison Baker shown leading the attack on the Ploesti Oil Fields.
Painting by Roy Grinnell for the National Guard Bureau

1943Ploesti, Rumania - On this date the American Eighth Air Force began staging a series of heavy bomber air raids against the oil fields and refineries around Ploesti. These fields furnished about 80% of the Nazis' petroleum requirements and were a key military target. Known as Operation TIDAL WAVE one element of this first attack force, the 93rd Bombardment Group, was commanded by former Ohio Guardsman Lieutenant Colonel Addison Baker. Baker had started his military career in the late 1930s as a pilot in Ohio's 112th Observation Squadron, 37th Division. When the unit was mobilized in 1940 he was a major and the 112th's executive officer. Like many experienced Guard pilots, he was soon transferred to a newly organized formation; in his case the 93rd Bomb Group. After training in the states for over a year the 93rd moved to Libya, North Africa where it started low-level bomb practice to prepare for the raid. Part of the crew's mission training called for the raiders to follow on their leader, in this case Baker's B-24 bomber nicknamed "Hell's Wench," to the target. As the raid unfolded Baker's plane was severely damaged by enemy ground fire. Despite flying over many flat, open fields on which he could have set it down, thus saving himself and his crew, he choose insteadto continue on toward the target, knowing that the rest of his Group was counting on his lead. He managed to keep his plane in the air and on target, which he bombed with "devastating effect." The surviving planes of his Group followed on and, as planned, destroyed large parts of the oil production facilities. After dropping his bombs, Baker tried unsuccessfully to gain enough altitude so he and his crew could bail out but the plane was too badly damaged and soon crashed, killing all on board. For his determined leadership and devotion to accomplishing his mission, even knowing he and his men might die in the process, he was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor, one of seven awarded for this raid.

Captain Norma Parsons, circa 1956Captain Norma Parsons, circa 1956. She is wearing her prior service ribbons for her active duty in the Army Air Force in the India, China, Burma Theater during World War II and as an Air Force nurse serving in Korea during that conflict.Historical Files, National Guard Bureau

1956Floyd Bennett Field, New York - Captain Norma Parsons becomes the first woman to join the National Guard when she was sworn in as a nurse in the 106th Tactical Hospital, New York Air National Guard. Only two days earlier, and after much debate, Congress finally enacted Public Law 845 allowing the participation of women in the Guard. But there were serious restrictions. Only female officers were allowed and they could only serve as nurses or in medically-related specialties such as dietitians, physical therapists or laboratory technicians. The Army Guard's first female member was First Lieutenant Sylvia Marie Saint Charles Law who joined Alabama's 109th Evacuation Hospital in January 1957. Not until November 1967 did Congress amend this law to allow the enlistment of women in Guard. Starting with just a few nurse-officers in the 1950s, women have steadily increased their numbers and job opportunities so that by the close of FY 2003 female soldiers in the Army Guard comprised 12.4% of its total strength while 17.4% of the Air Guard was female.

August 3
Members of the 2nd Connecticut InfantryMembers of the 2nd Connecticut Infantry on a road march through the rugged terrain of Arizona during the regiment's Mexican Border service. Painting by Donna Neary for the National Guard Bureau

1916Nogales, Arizona - Members of the 2nd Connecticut Infantry conduct training maneuvers along the Mexican Border while guarding it against incursions from revolutionary fighters across northern Mexico.

The trouble started in March 1916 when Mexican leader Pancho Villa led his men on a raid against the town of Columbus, NM. The invading Division of the North killed ten civilians and eight Soldiers in the raid. President Woodrow Wilson dispatched most of the small American Army into northern Mexico to kill or capture Villa and his men, in a campaign that became known popularly as the "Punitive Expedition."

To protect the border and stop further raids, Wilson mobilized 158,664 Guardsmen from all 48 states and ordered them to camps in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Serving as a security presence on the border, this mobilization allowed the Guard to conduct large-scale field exercises not normally available in two weeks of annual training each summer. This proved beneficial on multiple levels, as World War I raged in Europe and America's active-component Army, along with the Guard, needed preparation in case the nation was drawn into the conflict.

While Villa was never caught, tensions eased with Mexico in late 1916 / early 1917. Soldiers from the Punitive Expedition came home. This allowed many Guard units to return to their states; soon thereafter, men were released from active duty.

This 2nd Connecticut mobilization ended in November 1916. However, the regiment was remobilized in February 1917, as America prepared to go to war with Germany later that spring. The lessons and skills learned by the Guardsmen on the border proved of great value when the men of the 2nd Connecticut, redesignated as the 102nd Infantry, 26th Division, fought in six battles in France in 1918.

August 4
Major General of Volunteers Fitzhugh Lee A corpulent Major General of Volunteers Fitzhugh Lee was appointed commander of the U.S. VII Corps and took his command to garrison Havana after the armistice with Spain was signed.Virginia Historical Society

1898Havana, Cuba - Under terms of the armistice ending the fighting between American and Spanish forces after the U.S. victories in the Battle of San Juan Heights and the capture of Santiago Harbor in early July, American troops arrive to occupy the colonial capital while formal peace negotiations proceed in Paris, France, to end the war. Commanding the U.S. VII Corps was Major General Fitzhugh Lee, the nephew of famed Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Like his uncle he was a Virginian but Fitzhugh did not need to depend upon the family name for recognition. After graduating from West Point in 1856, he commanded cavalry forces in numerous engagements against Indians in west, once being so badly wounded he almost died. During the Civil War, he joined the Confederate Army and rose by professional and inspired leadership from major in 1861 to major general and commander of the Cavalry Division of the Army of Northern Virginia by war's end in 1865. Once Virginia was readmitted into the Union in 1871 and allowed to reorganize its state militia, Fitzhugh Lee played an important role in overseeing its training. By 1875 enough companies were available for two infantry regiments to be organized into a brigade. Governor James Kemper (himself a famed Civil War general) appointed Lee as the first Brigadier General of the post war Virginia Volunteers. While in this capacity he was a founding member among a group of Guard officers involved in the organization of the National Guard Association in 1878. He resigned his commission in 1886 upon his election as Virginia's governor. During his tenure, he became one of very few governors to ever deploy black Guard units in helping to quell a riot. When war came against Spain in 1898, he was one of several "retread" Confederate generals appointed by President William McKinley to command different corps of the Army. This was an effort to help bind the wounds of the Civil War by giving southern leaders positions of respect on a national level. The VII Corps (no connection to today's VII Corps), numbering some 8,000 men, which Lee took to Cuba was composed almost entirely of state volunteer (Guard) units. His troops patrolled the city streets and maintained the peace until the Cuban independence was secured by treaty. The last of his units sailed home in March 1899.

August 5
A recruiting party looking for new menSoldiers from the 369th Infantry Regiment, New York National Guard, popularly known as the "Harlem Hellfighters," advance against German forces in the Meuse-Argonne offensive in France, ca. 1918. Image courtesy National Archives and Records Administration.

1917On this day, across the United States, the 380,000 man National Guard was drafted into federal service for World War I. Guard units had previously been placed in federal service after war was declared on Germany on April 6, 1917; however, Guard units could not be deployed overseas until the Judge Advocate General determined that only through a universal draft could the National Guard cut its ties from the state militias.

August 6
Detail of Ft. Pitt, located in modern-day downtown Pittsburgh, Penn., circa 1795 (map plate from History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, et al., by Samuel W. Durant, L. H. Everts, 1876

1763Bushy Run, Pennsylvania - Almost as soon as the French and Indian War ended securing the western frontier of America for British interests, an Ottawa chief named Pontiac formed a confederation of numerous Indian tribes intent on driving the English out of the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes region. As part of his campaign he laid siege to several frontier posts, including Fort Pitt, on the site of today's city of Pittsburgh, PA. Among those defending the fort was the Philadelphia "Associators," militia regiment. They continued to hold on despite repeated Indian attacks. To break the siege the governor and English authorities dispatched a relief force lead by Pennsylvania rangers (militia backwoodsmen experienced in Indian tactics). The main body was composed of Scottish soldiers of the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment better known as the "Black Watch." This army encountered Pontiac's forces along a creek named Bushy Run and in a very bloody two-day engagement compelled the Indians to withdraw and lift the siege of Pitt. Ever since this battle every year when Philadelphia's 111th Infantry (lineal descendants of the Associator's) hold their annual ‘dinning in' they always have a special place setting and an empty chair for the commander of the Black Watch to join in and be honored by the regiment. At least twice in the more than 200 years of this tradition the then commander of the Highlanders was on hand to accept the honor.

Enola Gay, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress that dropped the first atomic weapon used in combat in 1945 (image courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum

1945Hiroshima, Japan - A single B-29 bomber named "Enola Gay" drops the first atomic bomb in history, devastating this city and killing more than 118,000 people either directly from the blast or over the next weeks from radiation sickness. Among the crewmen serving on this mission as a specialized mechanic and gunner was former Michigan Guardsmen Sergeant Robert R. Shumard. He had been a member of Battery C, 182nd Field Artillery when it was mobilized in 1941. After the war he served in the Air Force Reserve and died in 1967.

August 7
The mid-air The mid-air "dance" is successful as KC-97 air refueling tankers from Illinois's 108th Air Refueling Squadron link up with F-100 fighter aircraft from the 121st Tactical Fighter Squadron of the District of Columbia Air Guard during Operation READY GO.National Guard Education Foundation

1964Mid-Atlantic Airspace - The most dramatic element of Operation READY GO occurs starting on this date. The concept of ‘Ready Go' was developed in the mid 1960's to demonstrate the Air Guard's capability to respond to any crisis, world-wide, on little notice. It involved as diverse elements as flying intercept missions from Hawaii far over the Pacific to stop ‘enemy' bombers well away from the islands, to flying critical supplies to American advisors in Vietnam to its most ambitious exercise, the nonstop flight of tactical fighter and reconnaissance airplanes to Europe in response to a crisis. This involved four-day operation in which aircraft from 23 states and the District of Columbia flew 4,600 miles using three mid-air refuelings to reach airbases in Spain, France and England. These refuelings were performed by Air Guard KC-97's. Within an hour of landing in Europe the planes were refueled, armed and ready for combat missions as needed. All of these missions occurred with no serious mishaps or injuries. It proved that the Air Guard could be relied upon as an almost immediate backup to the Air Force in case of a war in Europe. This was especially important as the USAF moved many of its resources (men and equipment) to Southeast Asia during the rapid build up for the Vietnam War in the next year.

August 8
Members of the Anti-tank Company, 2nd Battalion.Members of the Anti-tank Company, 2nd Battalion, 120th Infantry, 30th Infantry Division are about to fire their 57mm gun to attempt to destroy a German Mark V "Panther" tank as they fight to block the enemy advance on Hill 317.National Guard Bureau Historical Collection

1944Mortain, Normandy, France - Following the American break out from Normandy in July, 1944, the Germans decided that the only way to stop the Allied advance and push them back to the sea was to launch a massive attack in the Avranches region, about 150 miles west of Paris. To do this they moved tanks and men of the XLVII Panzer Corps into place and opened their operation on August 7th. Their main thrust, lead by the 2nd SS Panzer Division, was to cut the American line between Normandy and Brittany, forcing the two groups to fall back on different beach areas, possibly compelling at least one group to withdraw. But almost immediately the Germans were blocked by determined resistance. On Hill 317, near the village of Mortain, their advance was stopped by 700 men of North Carolina's 2nd Battalion, 120th Infantry, 30th Infantry Division (which also included Guard units from SC and TN). Firing at almost point-blank range their one anti-tank gun and numerous anti-tank rockets (fired from 'bazooka's') the Guardsmen destroyed 40 vehicles including several heavy battle tanks. The Germans bypassed the hill leaving it surrounded. They launched repeated assaults to capture it but these were beaten back with artillery support from the Guard's 35th Infantry Division (KS, MO, NE) and RAF air strikes on the German positions. After five days of being cut off and with the loss of nearly 300 men the 2nd Battalion was rescued by elements of the 35th Division. For it's determined and stubborn resistance in blocking the enemy advance the 2/120th Infantry was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.

August 9

1945Nagaski, Japan - A single B-29 bomber named "Bock's Car" dropped the second atomic bomb on Japan killing about 73,000 people, finally compelling the Japanese government to sue for peace. Its pilot, Major Charles W. Sweeney would in 1956, at age 37, become the youngest brigadier general in the entire peacetime Air Force when he was appointed by the governor of Massachusetts to command the 102nd Tactical Fighter Wing, Massachusetts Air National Guard.

Sergeant Quintan Hardy of Iowa's 1133rd Transportation CompanySergeant Quintan Hardy of Iowa's 1133rd Transportation Company stands guard over 112 Iraqi prisoners of war as Operation Desert Storm ends in February 1991. He is one of the 37,848 Army Guardsmen to see service in the combat zone.Historical Files, National Guard Bureau

1990Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - Walking off of the first American C-141 transport to bring in the first elements what would eventually be more than 527,000 American troops were two Guardsmen from Headquarters Company, 228th Signal Brigade, South Carolina Army National Guard. They immediately set up and began operating their single channel tactical satellite radio link keeping the Saudi Defense Ministry in communication with the U.S. Army's Third Army Headquarters, Fort McPherson, GA. These two men were the first of 37,848 Army Guard personnel to serve in Saudi Arabia during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm which finally forced the Iraqi army to evacuate Kuwait.

August 11
Brigadier General Roberta V. Mills.Soldiers of California's 40th Armored Division direct traffic away from an area of South Central Los Angeles burning during the Watts riot. Whole city blocks were gutted by arson and mob set fires that the fire department was powerless to control due to sniper attacks.National Guard Education Foundation

1965Los Angeles, California - What should have been a routine traffic stop in the Watts neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles developed into one of the worst racial riots in American history. Tensions between the African American community and city law enforcement erupted into war-like acts as snipers and arsonists attacked the police and fire department personal sent to quell the disturbance. In one of the largest deployments of aid to civil authority in American history up to that time, 12,758 California Guardsmen, drawn from two divisions (7,560 men from the 40th Armored and 5,198 from the 49th Infantry), were put on the streets to help restore order and protect people and property. Air Guard units from California and Arizona flew a total of 18 C-97 and five C-119 transport aircraft to airlift the 49th Division's men from Northern California to the LA area. While a number of Guardsmen returned sniper fire, it remains unclear if any civilians were killed by the Guard. After six days and nights of terror the city's streets were restored to peace, but at a very high cost; 34 dead (no Guardsmen), more than 1,000 injured (including several Guardsmen), 4,000 arrested and over 1,000 buildings destroyed. Government and civic leaders, including some in the black community, praised the Guardsmen for their courage, devotion to duty and fair treatment of citizens regardless of race. Four Guardsmen were award the California Military Cross for bravery.

August 12
Captain Benjamin ChurchCaptain Benjamin Church developed ranger-style tactics used by many of the militiamen in fighting the Wampanoag's during "King Philip's War." He selected some the best men and formed them into an independent ranger company which he led on raids deep into enemy territory where they destroyed Indian villages and food stockpiles. Serving in his force were 'friendly' Indians used to scout. It was one of these men who killed King Philip.National Guard Bureau Historical Collection

1676Mount Hope, Rhode Island - Wampanoag chief Metacomet, known to the white settlers as"King Philip" is killed by an Indian scout working for Captain Benjamin Church, ending King Philip's War, which raged across New England for two years. King Philip was the son of Massasoit, the chief who helped the Pilgrims survive their first years in the Plymouth colony. In the intervening 50 years, as more white settlers moved ever deeper into Indian lands conflicts erupted. In the spring of 1675 Philip commanded sudden, well coordinated attacks on several settlements. Several were destroyed including Deerfield and Northfield in Massachusetts. The local militia quickly responded by marching out to meet the enemy. However, one such force led by Captain Beers was ambushed near Deerfield and virtually wiped out. The Wampanoag's were joined by members of the Narragansett tribe; however, some of this tribe had been converted to Christianity and refused to fight the settlers. The war, waged entirely by the militia and their Indian allies,raged across areas that are now parts of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. It killed about 1,000 white settlers and an estimated 3,000 native peoples. Never again would eastern New England face a serious Indian threat.The loss of life among European settlers was the highest per capita in any war fought during US history..

August 13
One of the two batteries of the Utah Light Artillery in action.One of the two batteries of the Utah Light Artillery in action during the storming of Manila. The unit remained in the Philippines through the winter and later participated in the opening stages of the Philippine Insurrection. During its ten months in country the batteries lost three men to combat in the Insurrection but had 17 more die from disease before they sailed home in May 1899.Heritage Series

1898Manila, Luzon, Philippine Islands - When the U.S. declared war against Spain in April it was to help the Cubans gain their independence from Spanish colonial rule. Nothing was said about Spain's other colonies, including the Philippines. However, as part of America's war effort, it was quickly decided to take the islands as a colony of the United States. Commodore George Dewey's decisive naval victory destroying the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay on May 1st opened the way for land forces to be used to capture the colonial capital city of Manila on the island of Luzon. By June American troops, most of them in state volunteer units, began arriving to besiege the city. Among these units was the "Utah Battery" actually composed of two batteries each armed with3-inch rifled guns. As the U.S. soldiers arrived they were confronted by two armies, one composed of Spanish soldiers and the other of Philippine rebels who wanted their freedom from Spanish rule. American political leaders want the islands too, so a three-way stand-off was in the making. When enough American troops were in position around Manila it was decided to attack the city; however, Spanish officials agreed to surrender to the Americans only after a brief, honor saving, attack. So on this date the Utah batteries found themselves firing in support of almost uncontested American advances into the city. This soon changed when the rebels also attacked, trying to seize the old part of Manila, containing most of the government buildings. American troops got into fire fights with Filipinos while attempting to save Spanish lives from marauding rebels out for revenge. By the end of the day, most of the city was in American hands and an uneasy peace settled over the area. While coming under enemy fire at least once and forced to change position several times during the engagement the Utah units lost no men in action.

August 14
Secretary of the Army John O. March, Jr., 1989.Secretary of the Army John O. Marsh, Jr., 1989.Virginia National Guard Historical Collection

1989Washington, District of Columbia - Retired Virginia Guardsman, Lieutenant Colonel John O. Marsh, Jr., resigns as Secretary of the Army after years in the post, the longest tenure of any Secretary of War (later Army) in American history. During his tour he oversaw a rapid and sustained growth of the Army and its reserve components, including the National Guard. He was instrumental in implementing features which enhanced the Army Guard's readiness posture including its full participation in overseas exercises such as REFORGER and BRIGHT STAR. He also oversaw the largest infusion of modern, first-line equipment to the Army Guard in its history so that its units could take their place as part of the Total Army without delay as in the past. All his efforts paid off when just one year later, August 1990, Army Guard units began mobilizing and moving to the desert of Saudi Arabia in Operation Desert Shield, later followed by Operation Desert Storm-the war to free Kuwait. In these operations more than 37,000 Army Guard personnel served in the theater and thousands more supported them at home and at posts around the world. Their mobilization and deployment was the quickest in American history, with some units in theater just days after being mobilized. Much of this success was the result of the guidance and policies put in place by Secretary Marsh.

August 15
Medics of the 36th Infantry DivisionMedics of the 36th Infantry Division render first aid to civilians injured by the allied bombardment during the assault landings on the Riviera. They are all seeking shelter behind an American M-4 Sherman tank modified into the "DD" configuration allowing it to "swim" ashore using the propellers shown.National Archives and Records Administration

1944Southern France - Operation DRAGOON, the Allied invasion staged on the French Riviera was conducted by three American infantry divisions making an assault landing between Nice and Marseilles. Two of these divisions, the 36th fromTexas and 45th from Arizona, Colorado and Oklahoma were Guard units largely composed of combat veterans having seen hard fighting in Italy. The troops met little resistance and quickly moved inland to secure the road between Cannes and Frejus. Over the next few weeks they would drive north and by early September link up with American forces moving out of Normandy into central and eastern France.

August 16
merican militiamen storm the German redoubt in the last stages of the Battle of Bennington American militiamen storm the German redoubt in the last stages of the Battle of Bennington. These Germans, though commonly referred to as "Hessians" (because the greater percentage were from Principality of Hesse Haneu) where actually from the Principality of Brunswick. American writers continue to refer to them as "mercenaries" when in fact, except for a few officers who sold their services as individuals, almost all had their services 'rented' to Britain by their prince, without them having any say in the matter. These were conscript soldiers shipped to America to fight in, what was to them, an unknown war. They were in fact, "auxiliaries" not mercenaries. Many deserted or even changed sides once in America. It's estimated that nearly 30% quit the war before their units returned home.Heritage Series

1777Bennington, Vermont - An American army composed entirely of militia from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York as well as Vermont soundly defeats a raiding party of 900 German troops foraging for horses. Led by General John Stark the militia kill or capture virtually every member of the force. The Germans were part of British General John Burgoyne's army attempting to capture Albany, NY. This action weaken his army by 15% and contributed to his ultimate defeat at Saratoga in October.

August 17
Hurricane Camille Satellite image, August 16, 1969Hurricane Camille satellite image, August 16, 1969

1969Mississippi Gulf Coast - Hurricane "Camille" slams into the state packing winds up to 215 mph (Category 5). It kills 136 people across the state, mostly along the coast.More than 3,200 Mississippi Guardsmen, Army and Air, are called to active state duty to render aid ranging from evacuating citizens from flooded areas to providing housing in armories for the homeless, to traffic control and protecting heavily damaged communities from looting. Some of the men were on duty for more than a week. The storm quickly moved north dumping huge amounts of rain in the mountains of western Virginia, causing massive flooding and killing at least 100 persons. Nearly 700 Virginia Guardsmen, like their comrades in Mississippi, immediately began search and rescue operations. Helicopters from Company A, 28th Aviation Battalion were being used to look for people stranded in cars, on top of their houses and stuck in trees, swept away from their homes by the floods. Meanwhile motor patrols set up road blocks around washed out bridges and roads. Other Guardsmen patrolled devastated areas to keep out looters. Air Guard units from 18 states ranging from New Hampshire to California helped by flying in food, medicine, tents and other needed emergency supplies. In all, the storm, caused over $4.2 billion (1969 dollars) in damage and cost the lives of at least 255 people.

August 18
Brig. Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny, U.S. Army (image courtesy of U.S. Army Center for Military History)Brig. Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny, U.S. Army (image courtesy of U.S. Army Center for Military History)

1846Santa Fe, New Mexico - Soon after war is declared against Mexico, American Brig. Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny with 2,000 soldiers, mostly Missouri volunteers, enters this town unopposed. He claims New Mexico for the U.S. Later the Missouri troops will fight near the Mexican town of Chihuahua City where they soundly defeat a larger enemy force, inflicting 600 losses while only suffering 6 causalities of their own.

August 19
Romanticized painting of an American frontier soldierRomanticized painting of an American frontier soldier during the Revolution by artist Henry Alexander Ogden, circa 1910.National Archives and Records Administration

1782Blue Licks, Kentucky - A militia force is ambushed by a combined party of Tories (Americans who remain loyal to the King) and Indians. Colonel Daniel Boone distinguishes himself in the American counterattack. While the major combat operations of the war ended with the British surrender at Yorktown in October 1781, the formal end of hostilities would not take effect until September 3, 1783 and many little skirmishes such as this occurred, especially along the western frontier.

August 20
Twenty-third President of the United States Benjamin HarrisonTwenty-third President of the United States Benjamin Harrison served in the Indiana Volunteers during the Civil War.Presidential Series

1833North Bend, Ohio - Future 23rd President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison, is born on this day. He was the grandson of former 9th President (and Guard general) William H. Harrison, who died one month into his term in 1841. A lawyer by training and active in Indiana politics Benjamin was appointed in 1862 as the colonel of the 70th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, a regiment he helped to organize. Over the next three years he led the 70th in numerous engagements including taking part in General William T. Sherman's "March to the Sea" through Georgia in 1864. He ended the Civil War as a brigadier general of volunteers. After resigning his commission he again became active in politics and was elected first to the Senate and then in 1888 as President. He served one term and died in 1901.

August 21
A combined force of 18th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry and U.S.10th CavalryA combined force of 18th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry and U.S.10th Cavalry launch a sudden and successful charge during the engagement at Prairie Dog Creek.Heritage Series

1867Prairie Dog Creek, Kansas - After the Civil War settlers rushed to claim lands in the Great Plains. By the mid-1867 the native peoples in Kansas began resisting by attacking settlements, railroad workers and travelers heading west. To help meet this emergency the War Department authorized placing volunteer units on active duty to patrol and protect the settlements. They were soon joined by elements of the U.S. 10th Cavalry. This unit was one of four Regular Army African American regiments composed of all-black enlisted men but almost entirely commanded by white officers. These men are often referred to as the "Buffalo Soldiers", a nick name given them by the Native American because their hair resembles that of the buffalo. Combined patrols of cavalry and militia were soon scouting for hostiles. One of these patrols consisted of four companies of the 18th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry along with a small number of men from the 10th. They split their forces along the Saline River. Soon the 10th, numbering some 135 men, was under attack by more then 300 Indians. When Captain Horace Moore commanding 125 Kansans and his men heard the firing, they turned and rode to help the 10th. Soon the two forces were reunited, though pinned down on a hill near Prairie Dog Creek, surrounded by hostiles. To break free the 10th's commander organized a combined detachment of black troopers and white volunteers. Horse-mounted they broke the Indians encirclement and threw them back in confusion.

August 22

1837Southampton, Virginia - About 70 runaway slaves led by Nat Turner began a two-day killing spree that leaves 63 white men, women and children dead. As the alarm spreads, local militia units, soon joined by others dispatched from large cities like the Richmond Light Infantry Blues, hunt the perpetrators down. Most are killed while fleeing or hung upon capture. And an unknown number of innocent blacks are beaten or killed. Turner escaped capture until October 31. He was quickly tried and hung as a object lesson against other insurrectionists.

August 23
Operation Desert ShieldOperation Desert Shield (and later Desert Storm), the removal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait, was the first real test of the Total Force Concept adopted in 1973. While there were some problems, overall the system worked well, as demonstrated in this photo of a KC-135 from Arizona's 161st Air Refueling Wing topping off an F-16 from the Regular Air Force's 401st Tactical Fighter Wing as it flies to the Persian Gulf. This Guard unit was one of several mobilized as soon as American forces started deploying to the Gulf and all smoothly blended into the force.Historical Files, National Guard Bureau

1973Washington, District of Columbia - Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger announced the adoption of the "Total Force Policy" as the new doctrine of American military preparedness. This codified the evolution of the policy that integrated the Active and Reserve Components as one component of national defense. Prior Secretary of Defense Melvin D. Laird and his office planned development of the concept, first announced in August 1970. The Office of the Secretary of Defense sought a long-term solution to problems faced while the divisive Vietnam War raged.

The United States failed to support the Vietnam War because it was fought without a stated declaration. The Johnson Administration also failed to mobilize and deploy Reserve Component (RC) forces, including the National Guard. With National Guard units mobilized, rather than having individuals conscripted to fight, community involvement would more likely support reserve forces in federal service. By restructuring missions, training and equipment to more integrate Reserve Components units alongside active duty counterparts, it was hoped that the U.S. could never commit itself to another war without debate coming from the federal mobilization of the Guard and Reserves. The idea was first proven true in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990-1991 (see photo).

August 24
Drawing of the British march from the coastal town of Benedict, Maryland to Bladensburg, including the battleground map inset.  The inset map shows the American defensive positions on the west side of the Eastern Branch of the Potomac River, now known as the Anacostia River.Drawing of the British march from the coastal town of Benedict, Maryland to Bladensburg, including the battleground map inset. The inset map shows the American defensive positions on the west side of the Eastern Branch of the Potomac River, now known as the Anacostia River. (Excerpted from Benson J. Lossing, Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812 (1868))

1867Bladensburg, Maryland - over 300 sailors and about 100 marines, coupled with a small number of active duty Army Soldiers, join a sizable force of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and District of Columbia militia in an effort to stop a British invasion force, intent on capturing the nation's capital. Many of these militia soldiers are poorly trained and armed and their officers lack leadership skills. The British open the engagement by unleashing their “secret” weapon, Congreve rockets. Though highly inaccurate (no American was reportedly injured by one) they caused great noise and smoke, creating panic in the militia ranks. Almost as soon as the British infantry started their assault, some militia routed off the field. However some units, like the 5th Regiment of Infantry, Maryland Militia (today the 175th Infantry) and the Harford Dragoons fought a delaying action long enough to cover the retreat of other troops. The British enter Washington this evening with no further problem and burned several key government buildings, including the White House and the United States Capitol.

August 25
An M-8 An M-8 "Greyhound" armored scout car of Troop B, 102nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron marches in the "Liberation Day" parade in Paris held on August 29th. Troop A of the 102nd, along with Troop A, 38th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron each claimed to be the "first in Paris" on this date. While the 102nd marched in the parade, the 38th missed it as it was dispatched north of the city in the continuing pursue of the Germans.National Archives Records Administration

1944Paris, France - "Dammit colonel, I'm looking up at Notre Dame!" became the battle cry of an on-going feud between two former Guard units as each claim the bragging rights as to which American unit was the first to actually enter the city of Paris just as the Germans abandoned it. The statement was made by Captain William Buenzle, a New Jersey Guardsman, commanding Troop A, 38th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron to his commander, Colonel Cyrus Dolph III, commander of New Jersey's 102nd Cavalry Group, the famous "Essex Troop" to which the 38th was assigned. The 38th was organized in 1942 from former Guardsmen of Iowa's 113th Cavalry Regiment. After the 38th was assigned to the 102nd in England it gained some New Jersey Guardsmen (including Buenzle) too. The other half of the 102nd Groups' compliment was it's own 102nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, also from New Jersey. Ever since landing on Omaha Beach on June 8th (D+2 after "D-Day") the Group had been an important part of the scouting 'eyes' of the Allied advance through Normandy. On this date each squadron was scouting ahead for major components of the Allied armies. The 38th was patrolling for the 4th U.S. Infantry Division and the 102nd scouting for the French 2nd Armored Division. Both entered Paris at about the same time by two different routes. While Buenzle's statement gives strength to the 38th's claim, and the veterans of each claim to this day that their squadron was the 'first,' its safe to say that Guardsmen were indeed the "first in Paris."

August 26
The bronze plaque in front of the Manchester ArmoryThe bronze plaque in front of the Manchester Armory was originally displayed on the Amoskeag Memorial Bridge until moved in recent years. It honors all of Manchester's service members who died in the Vietnam War. Six Guardsmen, including the five men killed on this date, are among the names cited.Courtesy of John Listman

1969Lia Khe, Vietnam - New Hampshire's 3rd Battalion, 197th Artillery suffers its highest loss of life when a truck carrying seven soldiers is blown up by a landmine less than two weeks before the unit was scheduled to return home. Five men, all Guardsmen from Manchester's Battery A, are immediately killed. The shock wave to hit the city was devastating. These deaths brought to six the total number of Guard members from the battalion killed in action. A bronze plaque now stands in front of the Manchester Armory to their memory.

August 27
The men of the Delaware Regiment stand firmThe men of the Delaware Regiment stand firm in the face of the British onslaught near the conclusion of the Battle of Long Island. Organized in January 1776 by Colonel John Haslet, this regiment soon earned the reputation as one of the best in the Continental Army for its discipline. It was also one of the best dressed units in the army, wearing blue coats faced red, a color pattern soon adopted army-wide.Heritage Series

1776Long Island, New York - American forces, composed of Continental Line and militia regiments from several states, attempt to hold back a well coordinated attack by the British Army. While most state units gave a poor showing, often running away upon the enemy approach, this was not always the case. American General Lord Sterling commanding a brigade of Maryland and Delaware regiments, blunted their advance long enough for other troops to safely withdraw.

First Lieutenant Lee R. Hartell.First Lieutenant Lee R. Hartell, wearing his World War II decorations earned while serving with the 192nd Field Artillery Battalion in the 43rd Infantry Division, circa 1945.National Guard Education Foundation

1951Kobangsan-ni, South Korea - First Lieutenant Lee R. Hartell began his military career as an officer in Connecticut's 192nd Field Artillery, 43rd Division just prior to the unit's mobilization for World War II in 1941. He served with the 192nd throughout its participation with the 43rd in the Pacific Theater, earning four campaign stars for his Asia-Pacific Campaign Medal. After the war, he stayed in the Army, being assigned to the 15th Field Artillery, 2nd Infantry Division. During the Communist Chinese Summer Offensive of 1951 he was attached to an infantry battalion as its forward artillery observer. While with them on this night, the Chinese launched a massive attack against the ridge the battalion was tasked to defend. First calling for artillery flares, once they illuminated the battlefield , he was able to call in fire support from two artillery battalions. Despite suffering huge losses from the heavy shelling, the Communists continued to press their attack. Though wounded in the hand, Hartell remained at his post, continuing to call in fire missions. The Chinese mounted one more all-out push up the ridge, coming right up Hartell's position. He called for the artillery fire to be placed right on top of him. Finally the enemy had enough and broke off the attack, leaving thousands of died and wounded men on the field. Hartell too was killed and later awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor for his steadfast determination in holding his position despite the cost of his own life.

August 28
33rd New York Volunteer InfantryColor party seated in front of tent, 33rd New York Volunteer Infantry, circa 1862. During the Union Army's retreat from Manassas through Fairfax Court House back to Washington, DC, this unit helped to cover its withdraw. It later fought at Antietam in September where it suffered more than 100 casualties.Army Heritage and Education Center

1862Manassas, Virginia - Confederate General Robert E. Lee, by splitting his smaller army and using flanking maneuvers, succeeds in routing the Union Army under the command of General John Pope from field. Fought over much of the same area as the Battle of First Manassas a year earlier, the losses on both sides were much higher. Lee attempts to capitalize on this victory by marching into Maryland to take the war north. He was stopped at Antietam Creek in September.

August 29
Men of Pennsylvania's 28th Infantry DivisionMen of Pennsylvania's 28th Infantry Division march down the Champs Elysees in the "Liberation Day" parade held in Paris.National Archives and Records Administration

1944Paris, France - Pennsylvania's 28th Infantry Division leads the American contingent in the "Liberation Day" parade down the Champs Elysees as Paris explodes with joy after the Germans withdraw from the city. The Allies, who had landed in Normandy on June 6th, had spent more than six weeks fighting through the Norman hedgerows before finally breaking out on the French Plain and headed for Paris. The 28th was one of four Guard infantry divisions to see combat in Normandy.

Capt. Erika Smith talks to a patient that is being transported from an airport in New Orleans, La., on Sept. 1, 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Patients were taken to awaiting medical personnel in Texas aboard a West Virginia Air National Guard C-130H from the 130th Airlift Wing based in Charleston.Capt. Erika Smith talks to a patient that is being transported from an airport in New Orleans, La., on Sept. 1, 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Patients were taken to awaiting medical personnel in Texas aboard a West Virginia Air National Guard C-130H from the 130th Airlift Wing based in Charleston. Photo by SMSgt. Rick Ware, West Virginia Air National Guard

2005Hurricane Katrina reaches landfall near the town of Buras, in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana at 6:10 am Central Daylight Time. Perhaps no other hurricane in American history was tracked as intently as Katrina, which hovered over the Gulf of Mexico and aimed squarely at the city of New Orleans after earlier minimal impact in south Florida. The storm’s radius reached 30 miles in length as it gained in velocity over the warm seas of the Gulf of Mexico. The Crescent City instituted its very first mandatory evacuation order due to the Category 5 strength generated. Upon reaching Buras, Katrina minimized into a Category 3 storm; however, the damage produced due to the storm surge and failure of levees in and around New Orleans made the event the worst natural disaster in the country’s history up to this point. Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama’s governors all activated their respective National Guards before impact; during and after Katrina reached Louisiana and Mississippi, over 50,000 National Guardsmen from all 50 states, three territories, and the District of Columbia worked in state active duty status to aid in the rescue and recovery efforts. This operation became the largest rescue operation in United States history. Units worked throughout the region in the hope of restoring a normal semblance of life to the population for several weeks and months afterward. These states also suffered great damage of over $100 billion, and over 1,800 citizens lost their lives due to the storm among the Gulf Coast states.

August 30
Illinois GuardsmenIllinois Guardsmen push demonstrator's north on Michigan Avenue after the marchers attempted to defy orders to disperse and continued to try to reach the Convention Center.National Guard Education Foundation

1968Chicago, Illinois - In what a later official government report would call a "police riot" the four-day Democratic National Convention and all of it's accompanying violence and mayhem comes to close as 668 people are arrested and 111 are injured mostly by police overreaction. It's 1968 and the war in Vietnam is going so badly that President Lyndon Johnson announced in March he would not run again for office. His Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, seen by many as supporting Johnson's policies, is the Democratic nominee for the general election. To attempt to block the process and give their antiwar candidate, Senator Eugene McCarthy a chance to get the nomination, a varied group of protesters from students to black radicals to widows and parents of men already killed in the war gather to march on the convention center. Expecting trouble William Daily, the no-nonsense mayor of Chicago, calls out the Illinois National Guard as a back up to his police forces. Nearly 6,000 Guardsmen are placed on state active duty, but few are actually deployed to the streets to face protesters. Most are used to guard important government buildings from possible damage from "rampaging mobs" as one police official phrased it. The resulting investigation found little 'mob' action. Most people wanted to make their voices known in the convention center but were forcibly blocked by the police, leading to violence mostly by the police. The only incident where about 500 Guardsmen were involved with the crowds occurred this evening as they helped move the protesters, numbering in the thousands, back toward Lincoln Park to disperse them. The resulting report cleared the Illinois Guard of blame for the violence and in fact, stated in several instances Guardsmen intervened to block confrontation between the two warring sides. It's perhaps a sobering reminder that during the week these events were unfolding in Chicago in Vietnam 308 American soldiers lost their lives, including five New Hampshire Guardsmen of the 3rd Battalion, 197th Artillery, killed by a landmine on August 26th.