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December 13, 2006

Happy Birthday to the National Guard.

Soldiers of the 35th Division, KSARNG, at the Leavenworth Veteran's Day Parade.

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2006 - The National Guard turns 370 years old tomorrow, and the National Guard Bureau is celebrating with a Web site dedicated to the organization and its history.

The site, www.ngb.army.mil/features/birthday/index.html, chronicles the Guard's history, starting in 1636 when the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which functioned as the colony's legislature, ordered existing militia companies from the towns surrounding Boston to form into three regiments: North, South and East.

"These first Minutemen answered the call, banding together for the common defense, an effort which grew nationwide to protect towns, states, and ultimately the nation from all enemies, civil, natural and foreign," Army Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, wrote in a letter on the site.

The American colonies adopted the English militia system, which obligated all males to possess arms and participate in the defense of the community, according to the site. The need for a colonial militia was ratified in the Constitution, and since then, Congress has enacted several militia and defense acts to strengthen the National Guard.

"Today, more than 50,000 citizen-soldiers and airmen are serving overseas as part of the global war on terror," Blum wrote in his letter. "Over 9,000 are serving here at home in domestic missions such as supporting our nation's efforts to secure our borders, guarding critical infrastructure, and providing emergency response to our governors.

"Not unlike those Minutemen 370 years ago, today's Guard members are citizens who believe that an organized militia is essential to the common defense. With centuries of courage, commitment and tradition behind them, the National Guard proudly remains always ready, always there."

In a letter commemorating the birthday, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, thanked the members of the National Guard for serving valiantly in times of war and peace. "We simply could not sustain current operations without the National Guard," Pace wrote. "The courage and sacrifice of every Guard member are truly inspiring. Your outstanding service as citizen-soldiers comforts those in need and protects our homeland."

The National Guard has made up a significant portion of the forces deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. At one point in 2005, half of the combat brigades in Iraq were Army National Guard, according to information on the Web site. The Guard is playing a more active role than ever before, integrating with active forces in combat, humanitarian and peacekeeping missions, information on the site says.

The Web site lists information from each period in the National Guard's history and details on some state-sponsored events commemorating the 370th birthday.

Locally, the Kansas National Guard marked it's 151st anniversary of service to the State and Nation.

Kansas Guard units serving the nation this year:

Units and where they went or are:

Currently Deployed:

731st Transportation Company - Operation Iraqi Freedom
714th Security Force Company - Operation Iraqi Freedom
635th Regional Support Group - Operation Enduring Freedom
HHB, 130th Field Artillery Brigade - Operation Enduring Freedom
Embedded Training Team - Operation Enduring Freedom
1st Battalion, 108th Aviation - Operation Iraqi Freedom
HHB, 35th Division Artillery - Operation Enduring Freedom
Battery B, 1st Battalion, 161st Field Artillery - Operation Iraqi Freedom
35th Military Police Company - Operation Enduring Freedom

Completed Deployments this year:

2nd Battalion, 137th Infantry - Operation Iraqi Freedom
1st Battalion, 127th Field Artillery - Operation Iraqi Freedom
184th Civil Engineering Squadron - Operation Jump Start
35th Military Police Company - Operation Enduring Freedom
190th Air Refueling Wing Security Forces - Operation Enduring Freedom
1st Battalion, 635th Armor - Operation Enduring Freedom
24th Medical Company - Operation Enduring Freedom

Serving the State: This has been a comparatively light year for natural disasters in Kansas (unless you were a victim of one). The National Guard, with other agencies, mans the State Emergency Management System and participates, in one way or another, in all them, even if no units are activated in support. This year the major events thus far have been:

Butler County Wildfires
March wind storm
Late March storms and fires
Late November storms

And there has been a price. Specialist John Wood was killed in Iraq this year.

And, as exemplified in this letter by Major Roger Aeschliman, of the "First Kansas Volunteers" Kansas Guard troops will risk their lives to help children. Any children. Anywhere.

Way to go, Guys and Gals of the National Guard of the United States, with a extra nod to those who hang out in Kansas!

Comments on Happy Birthday to the National Guard.
kat-missouri briefed on December 13, 2006 12:25 PM

Hey! Long time no see/talk/write. Just dropped by to see what was up. My cousin's husband is in Iraq with the 731st Transportation. He's experienced two IEDs with fortunately no injuries beyond cracking his elbow on the truck door.

God bless the Kansas National Guard and all those who serve.

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