Top 10 Famous National Guard Units

If you really look at the history of the United States Army you will discover that the National Guard has played a huge role in the defense of our nation throughout time.

Some people may call members of the Army National Guard weekend warriors but truth be told, if not for various Army National Guard divisions, we would have had different outcomes in many wars and conflicts.

In today’s post, I am going to go through what I believe to be the top 10 famous National Guard units. Keep in mind that some of these were before these units were designated National Guard. I simply use the fact that they were State led militias that served in the defense of our country.

You may agree or disagree with my findings. Feel free to share your opinions at the end of this post in the comment section.

Now while I am numbering them, it is impossible to say one unit was better than another. I believe every unit listed here deserves equal respect as does National Guard units not listed here.

So without further ado, here are the top 10 famous National Guard units.

Our National Guard, as I think everybody knows, has provided about 40 percent of the boots on the ground in Iraq and in the conflict against Islamofascism. They went into that battle, being called up for their national security service, short of equipment.” Kit Bond

#1: 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment

This is a case of not being designated “National Guard: as of yet, but this was an all volunteer force from Maine who made one hell of a stand at Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War.

The Commander at that time was Lt. Colonel Joshua Chamberlain.

While the 20th was disbanded, the 133rd Engineer Battalion of the Maine National Guard carries the 20th’s honor and lineage.

#2: 200th Coast Artillery

The 200th was formed as a New Mexico militia in 1880. While there were many various developments with the 200th throughout the years following their organization, the fame comes when Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese. In 1941, the 200th was sent to the Philippines.

They were hard fighters and some elements of the 200th were forced into the Bataan Death March.

Now the 200th Coast Artillery is designated the 200th Infantry Regiment of the New Mexico National Guard.

#3: 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry

We knew them as the Rough Riders. They were put together in 1898 for the Spanish American War.

The Commander was Colonel Leonard Wood and 2nd in Command was Theodore Roosevelt.

The Rough Riders battled long and hard in Cuba taking many Spanish held positions including the infamous San Juan Hill.

The Rough Riders were disbanded just before World War I.

#4: 164th Infantry Regiment

The 164th was started way back in 1906 in the North Dakota National Guard.

The 164th is best known as being hooked with the Americal Division and in 1942, they were the first unit to arrive at Guadalcanal to reinforce the Marines. They engaged in heavy combat and the Marines were so impressed, they nicknamed them the 164th Marines.

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#5: 7th New York Militia

The 7th Regiment of the New York Militia is considered the first to be designated “National Guard.” This came in tribute to Marquis de Lafayette and they were named Battalion of National Guards.

Before the Civil War erupted, the 7th maintained order in New York during many riots. Many members of the 7th held esteemed social status in New York.

#6: 369th Infantry Regiment

The 369th was formed in New York as part of the National Guard and as a means for African Americans to prove their patriotism. Known as the Harlem Hellfighters,

During World War I, the 369th was attached with french forces where they gained great respect for their abilities.

The 369th is one of the first units to have black officers as well as black soldiers.

The first African American General, Benjamin Davis Sr. served with the 369th.

#7: 32nd Infantry Brigade

This brigade is a part of the Wisconsin National Guard. They were ferocious in piercing the Germans during World War I and that reputation followed along when the brigade was deployed to Iraq in 2004.

They live up to the Red Arrow pointing forward as they devastate enemies.

#8: 34th Infantry Division

This infantry division was started back in 1917 as part of the Minnesota and Iowa National Guard. They still are.

The 34th served with distinction in World War I, World War II and they have served in other wars and conflicts since.

This division still operates and the Red Bull is a force not to be reckoned with.

#9: 45th Infantry Division

The Thunderbirds started in 1920 but they are recognized mostly as being one of the first units to be activated in World War II. Part of the Oklahoma National Guard, they were inactivated in 1968. But they had many Medal of Honor awardees along with multiple other awards. Most of these were as a result of World War II, but some were from the Korean War.

#10: 40th Infantry Division

With a long fighting history, the 40th is a National Guard unit serving California, Nevada and other Western States. They saw service in World War’s I & II, Korea, Vietnam and has continued serving in the Middle East along with situations such as wildfires in the West.

The Sunshine Division will continue to serve our nation with pride.

Final Thoughts

There you have my opinion of the top 10 famous National Guard Units. What are your thoughts? You can add your favorites below.

Again, all National Guard units deserve their honor and respect.

Thank you for visiting. Please share this with your social media friends so they can also offer their opinions.


chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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2 thoughts on “Top 10 Famous National Guard Units”

  1. Hi Greg,

    It seems you missed one of the most important units in the National Guard.
    “Bloody Bucket Division”
    “Keystone Division”

    The red keystone, official emblem of the State of Pennsylvania, is the official shoulder sleeve insignia of the 28th Division which was originally a Pennsylvania National Guard organization. The Germans called it the “Bloody Bucket” because of the blood-red keystone insignia and vicious fighting tactics during the Normandy Campaign.

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