History
Minnesota National Guard
History
Minnesota National Guard Sept. 11, 2001 to Present

The Minnesota National Guard has played an important role in the Global War On Terror since September 11th, 2001.   Immediately after the attack on New York City and Washington, D.C., Minnesota Air National Guard F-16 Fighter Jets from the 148th Fighter Wing were providing combat air patrols over key locations.    Minnesota Army National Guard troops mobilized to ensure that Minnesota airports were safeguarded.   

In addition to being called upon for the Global War on Terror, the Minnesota National Guard was called upon to provide stability and peace in the Balkans.   Minnesota National Guard troops executed the Bosnia Security Force (SFOR-14) mission 2003-04 and the Kosovo Force (KFOR-5) mission in 2004.  Minnesota National Guard forces are heavily involved in the “Long War” to this day.

2006 marked the 150th anniversary of the Minnesota National Guard. On April 17, 2006 the House of Representatives of the State of Minnesota congratulated The Minnesota National Guard and honored all the men and women, past and present, who have ever served in the Minnesota National Guard. View the full House Resolution.pdf

Minnesota National Guard in Iraq (March 19, 2003 to December 15, 2011)

The Minnesota National Guard has played a significant role in the war in Iraq. Since 2003, more than 8,000 Minnesota National Guard Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen have been deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.

Through the professionalism of the Service members and support of their hometown communities, employers, and families, the Minnesota National Guard completed all missions in Iraq with success and honor.

More than 8,000 Minnesota National Guard Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen deployed to Iraq from 2003 to 2011.

Sixteen Minnesota National Guard Soldiers died in Iraq, and 79 earned Purple Heart Medals due to injuries received in combat.

Sustained military operations in Iraq inspired the Minnesota National Guard to begin the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program, a ground-breaking process to reintegrate returning Service members back from deployments.

The Minnesota National Guard’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, was an important part of the 2007 “surge.” As a result of the extension of their tour to 16 months in Iraq, and 22 months overall, the Red Bulls are recognized as having served the longest tour of duty in Iraq of any military unit, active or reserve.

The Duluth-based 148th Fighter Wing expertly provided real-time surveillance for ground commanders using their Theater Aerial Reconnaissance System.

St. Paul’s 34th Combat Aviation Brigade was responsible for corps-level helicopter support from 2008-2009.

In 2009-2010, the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division Headquarters provided command and control for 16,000 U.S. military Service members operating in nine of Iraq’s 18 provinces.

With the prevalence of improvised explosive devices on the roadways in Iraq, the St. Paul-based 133rd Airlift Wing provided critical aerial transportation of people, equipment and materiel throughout the region.

In 2011 the 1st Brigade Combat Team mission in Kuwait was the largest deployment of Minnesota Guardsmen since World War II. The brigad's mission included base management, convoy security, reaction forces, and management of specialized units from the Army, Navy and Coast Guard. The brigade drove 1.35 million miles and escorted 25,970 trucks during 480 missions prior to the last U.S. military convoy departing Iraq.

Current operations have troops deployed for Operation Noble Eagle (Homeland Security) and Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan).  


Minnesota National Guard 1990 – Sept. 10, 2001
"Operation Desert Shield," intended to protect Saudi Arabia, became "Operation Desert Storm," when a U.S.-led international coalition used its military might to quickly liberate Kuwait and destroy Iraq's army and air force.

Unlike the war in Vietnam, Desert Shield/Desert Storm made heavy use of reservists. About a fourth of all U.S. military personnel called into active duty during the Gulf War were from the National Guard and Reserves. Over 600 Minnesota Guard members volunteered or were activated with their units, including the 109th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, 109th Light Equipment Maintenance Company, the 1187th Medical Company, and the 257th Military Police Company. The war was over by April 1991, and soon Minnesota's troops headed home to a heroes' welcome.

The 135th Public Affairs Detachment left in June 1996 for Germany to support Operation Joint Endeavor. Originally stationed in Heidelberg, Germany the Minnesota element of the 135th traveled to Eagle Base just outside Tuzla, Bosnia to cover the first free elections since the ending of the war. Later the team moved to "tent city" Steel Castle to support the 1st Armored Division Engineers by reporting stories of success in maintaining roads, de-mining inhabited areas and providing American military forces with more than adequate living conditions to allow Soldiers to maintain health and spirit, all contributing to the success of the Balkan mission. The worst flooding in the state’s history occurred in 1997, and Minnesota National Guard troops were there to assist the citizens of the state.   The Guard helped lead and organize search and rescue, security, shelters, medical support, and logistics efforts.


Minnesota National Guard 1970 – 1989
The transition from a Vietnam-era draft to an all-volunteer force had a tremendous impact on the Minnesota National Guard.   


Minnesota National Guard 1954 – 1969
Threats by the U.S.S.R  to oust Western troops from West Berlin in 1961 prompted the "Berlin Crisis" and a call-up of selected National Guard forces throughout the nation. Included in this mobilization were members of the 133rd Air Transport Wing, Minnesota Air National Guard, who served in federal active service for 11 months while operating out of their home station at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. During the Vietnam War, although never officially mobilized, the Air Guard flew hundreds of supply and transport missions to Southeast Asia. In the 1950s and early 1960 both units of the 179th Fighter Interceptor Squadron in Duluth and 109th Fighter Interceptor Squadron in St. Paul were providing active air defense commitments with 24 hour alert status.


Minnesota National Guard 1946 – 1953
America again found itself at war in 1950-this time in Korea. In January 1951, as a result of the massive and sudden reinforcement of North Korean forces by Soldiers from Communist China, the Minnesota Guard was again called up. Many of its members were seasoned World War II vets and the 47th Division was selected to serve as a training division for two years during the Korean conflict. Most of its personnel were eventually reassigned as replacement troops in Korea or Germany. Minnesota's Air Guard was also activated, contributing pilots to Korea's "Mig Alley."


Minnesota National Guard 1941 – 1945
With war threatening in Europe and the Far East, the Minnesota National Guard was mobilized again in February 1941. Most troops went to Camp Hahn, near Riverside, California, for coastal anti-aircraft artillery training or to Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, for training with the 34th Infantry Division. The 34th (soon to be re-nicknamed as the "Red Bull" Division) became the first American Division to ship for Europe in January 1942. It fought through North Africa (where men of Minnesota's 175th Field Artillery fired the first American shells against the Nazis), and Italy. Brainerd's tank company, after training with its newly organized 194th Tank Battalion at Fort Lewis, Washington, was shipped to the Philippines in September 1941 to shore up American defenses there. When war broke out in December it fought the Japanese into the Bataan Peninsula and endured the tragic Bataan Death March. The 109th Observation Squadron ended up in Europe where it initially flew Mark V "Spitfires" with the Royal Air Force and, later, reconnaissance missions with P-51 "Mustangs."

The Minnesota National Guard became part of a newly-organized 47th "Viking" Infantry Division following World War II, and its airmen became part of a new Air National Guard.


Minnesota National Guard 1919 – 1940
The years following World War I found the Minnesota National Guard preoccupied with reorganization, recruitment and armory construction. Minnesota's 109th Observation Squadron became the first federally-recognized air unit in the National Guard in January 1921. In June 1931, a new field training site was opened to troops at Camp Ripley north of Little Falls. It took its name from Fort Ripley, a long-abandoned 19th century army post which, coincidentally, had been located on land purchased for the new National Guard training camp. The first Air National Guard unit in the nation was the 109th Observation Squadron, Minnesota National Guard, passing muster inspection on January 17, 1921.


Minnesota National Guard 1916 – 1918
In July 1916, because of border raids conducted by Pancho Villa and the courting of an unstable Mexican government by Germany, President Wilson used his new legal authority to mobilize the nation's entire National Guard for patrol duty on the U.S.- Mexican border. The Minnesota Guard was sent to Camp Llano Grande near Mercedes, Texas. Although they never saw fighting, their border duty helped prepare them for a much bigger challenge: World War I. Barely home from Texas, Minnesota Guardsmen were again mobilized when the United States entered the war against Germany in April 1917. Most went directly to Camp Cody near Deming, New Mexico, for training with a newly-organized 34th "Sandstorm" Infantry Division. The 34th consisted of Guardsmen from Minnesota, the Dakotas, Iowa and Nebraska. To the dismay of its men, however, the 34th was eventually named as a depot division and broken up. Minnesotans were reassigned and sent to France as individual replacement troops while the division was reorganized and filled with new draftees from the southwest. Fortunately, Minnesota's field artillery regiment remained intact. Redesignated as the 151st Field Artillery, it became part of the 42nd "Rainbow" Division where it fought with great distinction in France.


Minnesota National Guard 1866 – 1915
The Spanish American War and Beginnings of Federal Control

Minnesota's National Guard was converted to four U.S. Volunteer Regiments when the war with Spain began in April 1898. Only the Thirteenth Minnesota Volunteer Regiment, however, was destined to see foreign service.  The 13th  fought Spanish troops and Filipino insurrectionists in the Philippines from 1898-99.   During the Battle of Manila, the Thirteenth Minnesota Volunteer Regiment, under the command of Major General Arthur MacArthur, were to take the right flank during the battle of Manila.  When it came time to advance on Manila, it was a battalion from the 13th which led the way.  Of all the fighting that day, the most intense combat took place on the right flank with the Minnesotans in the worst of it.  The 13th saw the heaviest fighting during the battle.

 The 13th also had the greatest number of casualties, more than all of McArthur’s regiments    combined. The U.S. gained status as a first-rate world power as a result of its war with Spain, but the war also called attention to serious military deficiencies. Among them was the nature of the National Guard, which had been functioning, more or less, as a group of autonomous "state armies." Landmark federal legislation in 1903, 1908 and 1916 resulted in federal controls that brought standardization and affirmed the National Guard as the Army's primary organized reserve.


Minnesota National Guard 1861 – 1865
When Civil War broke out in April 1861, volunteers from Minnesota's militia formed a nucleus for the first three companies of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Both sides in the war had to rely on volunteer regiments, battalions and separate companies recruited by the states. The "First Minnesota" is officially recognized as the senior such regiment in the Union Army because Alexander Ramsey was the first governor to offer state troops to President Lincoln. The regiment went on to serve with distinction in the Army of the Potomac and became legend as a result of its gallant charge at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863.

During that charge the First Minnesota was ordered to attack. The Minnesotans charged into the leading Confederate brigade. Fighting against overwhelming odds, Minnesotans gained the time necessary for the Union line to reform. But the cost was great. Of the 262 members of the regiment present for duty that morning, only 47 answered the roll that evening. The regiment incurred the highest casualty rate of any unit in the Civil War. Minnesota eventually organized and recruited volunteers for 11 infantry regiments, two cavalry regiments, a heavy artillery regiment, three light artillery batteries and two sharpshooter companies, totaling 22,000 men. Many of these Soldiers also served on Minnesota's frontier; in fact, hastily organized local militias and detached companies from several volunteer regiments were the only line of defense during Minnesota's Dakota (Sioux) War of 1862. After the Civil War, the Minnesota Militia re-emerged to become officially known as the Minnesota National Guard. These organizations became a colorful part of community social life but when called upon never failed to deal with civil disturbances and other state emergencies requiring military aid. Annual summer encampments were held at Camp Lakeview on Lake Pepin near Lake City. Control was vested with the state and funding came largely from modest state appropriations and from the members themselves.


Minnesota National Guard 1850 – 1860
Minnesota formed a Territorial Enrolled Militia in 1850, but it only existed on paper until April 1856 when the first uniformed, volunteer company was formed in St. Paul. Called the Minnesota Pioneer Guards, it was a source of such civic pride that soon nine other companies were formed in St. Paul, St. Anthony (Minneapolis) and in river towns from Stillwater to Winona. Minnesota's National Guard traces its beginning to these early militia companies.


National Guard 1636 – 1850
The idea of a militia, or body of citizen Soldiers as distinct from career Soldiers, was borrowed from England and dates in this country from 1636, when three militia regiments were organized for the common defense in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Militia companies were eventually organized throughout colonial America, and they provided its principal defense force. In spite of shortcomings, the various colonial militias became indispensable to the cause of American independence. They were the back-up for General Washington's Continental Army, providing large numbers of armed men when needed on short notice, and they assured the authority of colonial governors against British sympathizers. Later, the United States Constitution and Militia Act of 1792 provided for continuation of a state-based militia system. The federal government could employ the militia for purposes of national security, but its organization was left with the individual states.

 

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