WASHINGTON – Most Americans can tell one story about where we were during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but the Army and the Air National Guard can tell thousands about where they were, General Mark Milley said Sept. 11.
“America’s Army National Guard was everywhere – not just in one place for one memory,” the Army Chief of Staff said.
And the National Guard has been everywhere ever since, he said.
Massachusetts Air National Guard fighters were headed to New York City within minutes, he said. North Dakota Air National Guard fighters scrambled to intercept an aircraft that might be headed to the Capitol. Guard members also were among the attacks’ immediate casualties.
“In the days after the attacks, it was the Army National Guard which responded to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut; Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.,” he said. “It was Guardsmen who were searching airports; securing our people at the bridges and seaports; and patrolling our Northern and Southern borders.”
When America took the fight to the enemy, the Army National Guard was there too.
“You grew from 351,000 to 362,000 at the peak, and you participated in every single significant engagement there was, and I personally was witness to your competence and professionalism,” General Milley said.
“Today, we have thousands of National Guardsmen deployed throughout the world on many critical missions, including, still today, Afghanistan, and many more deployed in every combatant commander’s area of responsibility – in Egypt, Iraq, Kosovo, Kuwait, across Africa, and in Europe, as well as many places in the United States,” he said.
The general said he recently presented Purple Hearts to Texas National Guard members wounded on the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. “Although they were injured, they were proud,” he said. “They were proud to be Texans, they were proud to be Guardsmen – and, most of all, they were proud to be Americans.”
General Milley used Oregon National Guard Specialist Alek Skarlatos, one of the three men who thwarted a gunman on a train in France in August, as an example of the readiness of all Guard members, even when off duty:
"Who hears gunshots and runs towards them? Skarlatos did. Who motivates others to follow him into a small battle where he could die? Skarlatos did. Who willingly puts his life in danger to protect others? Skarlatos did. He did it because he was a member of the United States Army. He did it because he was a member of the Oregon National Guard. He did it because he's an American. ... Like Skarlatos – like the Guard that showed up in Lexington and Concord – you are ready, and the Army is ready."
Editor's Note: This is the fourth of four related reports about General Milley's remarks.