Wyoming National Guard Celebrates 135th Birthday.
Wyoming National Guard Celebrates 135th Birthday.
By Collin Gahm- Nakos, Wyoming National Guard Public Affairs
CHEYENNE – A crowd gathers at the Joint Force Headquarters building to join in celebrating the rich heritage of the Wyoming National Guard. The Cowboy Guard, established 135 years ago, has served in a vital role as the Sword and Shield of Wyoming. With a history that predates Wyoming's statehood, the Guard has served domestically and abroad, protecting the homeland and contributing to the nation's efforts. From the Wyoming National Guard's earliest days to the modern era, its members have exemplified bravery, sacrifice, and dedication.
Unofficial militia organizations began to form in Wyoming as early as 1868. However, on May 29, 1888, Wyoming's first official National Guard unit, Company A of the First Regiment, known as the Laramie Grays, mustered into service. This event marked the beginning of a new era for the Wyoming National Guard, for this was the first militia company in Wyoming to be officially recognized by the United States as fit for federal service.
The first significant test of the Wyoming National Guard came in 1898 with the American declaration of war on Spain. 1st Battalion, Wyoming Volunteer Infantry and Battery A, Wyoming National Guard embarked on ships out of San Francisco bound for the Philippines in June and November, respectively. In total, three were killed in action or died of wounds, and twelve died of disease while deployed. There were about 400 Soldiers in the Philippines from the Wyoming Infantry and Artillery. Approximately one out of every hundred males over fifteen-years-old volunteered to serve their country in the Wyoming National Guard during the Spanish-American War.
During the late 1910s, the Wyoming National Guard demonstrated its role as the Sword and Shield during the Border Campaign and World War I. 500 Wyoming volunteers from the First and Second Separate Battalions arrived in southern New Mexico in September 1916. There, they remained encamped near Deming, NM in case of Mexican revolutionary attacks on U.S. soil; they mustered out of service in Cheyenne in March 1917. Just a month later, the United States declared war on Germany. By July of that year, the Third Wyoming mobilized under federal orders. They combined with guard units from other states and reorganized into the 148th Field Artillery Regiment, the 146th Machine Gun Battalion, the 116th Ammunition Train, and the 116th Sanitary Train. They arrived in Europe in February 1918. From those four units, 22 Wyoming Guardsmen were killed or died of disease. By June 1919, all Wyoming units returned home, ending the Wyoming National Guard's service in The Great War.
Shortly before the U.S. entered the Second World War, Wyoming Guardsmen of the 115th Cavalry had already been mobilized to Fort Lewis, Washington. Following the attacks on Pearl Harbor, the regiment was assigned to perform coastal patrol along Washington, Oregon, and Northern California. Then, in 1944, the headquarters troop deployed to Europe, where they campaigned from France into Germany and Austria.
Six short years after World War II, Wyoming Guardsmen fought overseas again. The 300th Armored Field Artillery saw 805 days of combat in Korea. Additionally, many from the 141st Tank Battalion deployed as replacement Soldiers for regular Army units. In addition, 1951 held the first mobilization for our five-year-old Air National Guard. 24 Airmen from the 187th Fighter-Bomber Squadron flew combat missions overseas. Our Guardsmen earned 13 Silver Stars and over 180 Purple Hearts during the war. The 300th AFA fired over 500,000 rounds during their deployment, and the 187th's pilots flew approximately 1500 combat missions.
The Vietnam War saw a dramatic reduction in National Guard mobilization compared to prior wars. The Korean War called up about 700 National Guard units, while the Vietnam War called up about 70. One of these units was from the Wyoming Air National Guard, which transported supplies and wounded service members throughout the early years of the war.
In subsequent years, the Wyoming National Guard continued to fulfill its purpose as the Sword and Shield, responding to domestic crises such as the Mount Saint Helens eruption, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, COVID-19, and countless fires, floods, and blizzards over the years. In addition, we have sent Guardsmen overseas in several modern conflicts, including the Gulf War, Operation Restore Hope, and Operation Joint Forge. Since 2003, thousands of Wyoming troops have deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, and other surrounding locations to fight the Global War on Terrorism.
For 135 years, Soldiers and Airmen from the Wyoming National Guard have exemplified bravery and dedication in protecting our state and nation. From the formation of the Laramie Grays to the present day, Wyoming Guardsmen have displayed commitment and sacrifice in their contribution to the nation's defense. As the Sword and Shield of Wyoming, the Wyoming National Guard continues to stand ready to serve our nation at home and abroad, just as it has done throughout its history.
To mark the occasion, members of both the Army and Air put together a time capsule to be opened May 28th, 2088.