Today’s National Guard is the direct descendant of the militias of the thirteen original colonies. The first English settlers brought many cultural influences and various skills with them. The same is true of the National Guard today. Every unit is made up of citizen/Soldiers that are electricians, prison guards, engineers, doctors or even local politicians. The National Guard is the oldest “branch” of the military and has served in every major war throughout our history. There is a high sense of pride with serving in the National Guard and our ranks have included some of the most influential men and women in our history. Here are my Top 5 Famous Army National Guard Officers who I am sure you will all recognize.
#5. Paul Revere: Providing early warning, Paul Revere could be viewed as conducting one of the very first screening missions in the US Army. Most know him for that famous ride, but Paul Revere served as a Massachusetts militia Officer. While his campaigns were short and not so successful, Paul Revere continued to support the war efforts through his skills in the silversmith trade. He cast cannons and was the first to roll copper sheets onto warship vessels in the 1800’s. A true American hero, Paul Revere is definitely one famous Guardsman.
#4. Audie Murphy: Most people recognize Audie Murphy for his triumphs in his service during WWII. However, Audie started his military enlistment as a private and moved up through the enlisted ranks. In 1944 after numerous citations for bravery in Italy and France, he was made Staff Sergeant and Platoon Sergeant. He was then awarded a battlefield commission and promoted to Second Lieutenant and Platoon Leader. Following his Medal of Honor Award, he was promoted to First Lieutenant on February 22, 1945. In 1950 he joined the Texas National Guard and served in the 36th Infantry Division, until resigning his commission in 1966, at which time he was a Major.
#3. Harry S. Truman: Railroad contractor,US Senator and 33rd President of the United States, Harry S. Truman got his start in the Missouri National Guard. When the United States entered World War I in 1917, he helped organize the 2nd Regiment of Missouri Field Artillery, which was quickly called into Federal service as the 129th Field Artillery and sent to France. He took command of a Battery as a Captain. He and his unit saw action in the Vosges, Saint Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne campaigns. After the war, he joined the Reserves and made Colonel. Following his military service he continued on as a judge, US Senator, Vice-President and President of the United States. Not too shabby for a “weekend-Warrior”!
#2. Abraham Lincoln: You do not need a degree in Political Science or History to understand the importance of this man in US history. Many argue that he is the greatest US President. Before he achieved the honors of the Oval Office, this self-educated man served as CPT Abe Lincoln. Beginning as a Private, Lincoln soon took command of his Company and was quite humble about his military experience. Nonetheless, Abraham Lincoln served in the Illinois National Guard during the Black Hawk War. Possibly one of the greatest Presidents of our country’s history, the National Guard can be proud to say he was a part of their history as well.
#1. George Washington: He is in your wallet, our Nation’s capital in named after him and he was our very first President of the United States after we won our independence from the British. While we all know of George Washington’s triumphs and turmoil as a US Army General, he did serve as Major George Washington in the French and Indian Wars, overseeing one of Virginia’s militias. He then took command of the entire Virginia Militia as a Colonel. He served as such until Congress had appointed him as Commander of the Continental Army. In many respects, George Washington understood the importance of the militias during the war and was a large supporter of them. To me, he is the most famous National Guardsman.
FINAL THOUGHTS: One hundred years before the Bill of Rights…long before Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence…before our 13 original colonies raised a flag, there were Americans fighting for freedom. Those Americans continue their call to service in today’s National Guard and make a significant contribution to the Army and our Nation.
What are your thoughts? Leave any comments or questions below. Thank you.