AID TO CIVIL AUTHORITY:
The National Guard serves a dual role with responsibilities to both the state and federal governments. When called upon in times of war, the National Guard is placed under federal authority. The men and women of the Guard, however, also stand ready to assist their local communities in times of natural disaster, civil disturbance, or national emergency. During these situations, the soldiers of the National Guard answer to the governor of the state. Today, the New York National Guard carries out aid to civil authority missions at an unprecedented rate. The sight of these citizen soldiers in times of crisis often provides New Yorkers with a great sense of relief.
New York State Capitol Fire
March 29, 1911
When fire destroyed part of the New York State Capitol on March 29, 1911, New York National Guardsmen were ordered to secure the Capitol and assist with debris removal.
The New York National Guard was called to defend the aqueduct that runs 41 miles from the Croton River in Westchester County into New York City against German sabotage. When the National Guard entered federal service, the state turned to the New York Guard, an all-volunteer force, for assistance.
December 11, 1944
On December 11, 1944, a series of blizzards hit western New York, dropping between 90 and 102 inches of snow across the region. During the height of World War II, thousands of tons of war materials were shipped through Buffalo to eastern ports for transport to Europe. When a blizzard hit Buffalo in December 1944, the New York Guard, the state's home guard, was mobilized to ensure that badly needed supplies reached the front.
August 16—18, 1969
Over 500,000 people gathered in Bethel, New York, at a 600-acre farm in the Catskill Mountains for three days of concerts by some of the biggest musical talents of the era. The town of Bethel was unprepared for the mass influx of concert goers at the Woodstock Festival. Roads became clogged and impassable. New York National Guard helicopters were used to fly performers to the stage and to evacuate medical emergencies. The National Guard also dropped K-rations to the crowds as the organizers had not prepared to feed so many people.
U.S. Postal Workers Strike
In March 1970, U.S. postal workers went on strike to draw attention to low wages, poor benefits, and unsafe working conditions. Their action crippled the nation's mail service. President Richard Nixon ordered the National Guard to man 17 postal centers in New York in an effort to keep the mail system running. During Operation Graphic Hand, over 30,000 National Guard soldiers, including nearly 3,000 in the New York City area, were called to active duty.
September 9—13, 1971
On September 13, 1971, prisoners at the maximum security Attica Correctional Facility seized 40 hostages. The prisoners demanded improved living conditions, more humane treatment of prisoners, and increased educational and training opportunities. When negotiations failed, the New York State Police, supported by the National Guard, was ordered to recapture the prison. In this bloodiest prison standoff in American history, 10 hostages and 33 prisoners were killed.
January 28—February 1, 1977
When a massive blizzard struck western New York in January 1977, over 500 soldiers of the New York National Guards assisted in searching abandoned vehicles and clearing roads in Buffalo. The Guardsmen assumed many duties that freed up Buffalo police officers to quell the looting that broke out during the storm. The National Guard was also mobilized in counties all along Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
1980 Winter Olympics
February 13—24, 1980
The New York National Guard was used in support of the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid. Among its various duties, the New York National Guard was tasked with providing medical assistance and directing traffic during the games.
New York City Blizzard
On January 7—8, 1996, a powerful Nor'easter brought 20 inches of snow and winds of up to 50 miles per hour to the New York City area. New York National Guard units were activated to clear the streets of New York City following the massive blizzard in 1996.
In January 1998, five consecutive days of freezing rain in northern New York made roadways impassable. Tree branches broke off beneath the weight of the ice, snapping power lines and damaging vehicles and buildings. Thousands of National Guardsmen and women were ordered to the area to assist with relief efforts.
May 31, 1998
The New York National Guard was called in to assist recovery and cleanup efforts after a powerful tornado struck near Mechanicville and Stillwater on May 31, 1998.
September 11, 2001
After terrorist attacks caused the collapse of the World Trade Center towers in New York City, the men and women of the New York National Guard were among the first to respond to the disaster. Without orders, members of three New York City units—the 69th Infantry, 101st Cavalry, and 258th Field Artillery—began assembling at their armories and preparing to move to Ground Zero. Meanwhile, Guardsmen across the state prepared to deploy to Lower Manhattan.
September 12, 2001— November 2001
On September 12, 2001, soldiers of the 42nd Infantry Division began arriving in Lower Manhattan from Troy, New York. The soldiers coordinated with local police and firefighters to secure the area around the World Trade Center site. By November, these duties were returned to civilian agencies.
Operation Noble Eagle
September 14, 2001— Present
In response to the 9/11 attacks, thousands of National Guardsmen were called to active duty during Operation Noble Eagle. In New York, Guard soldiers were assigned to guard airports, bridges, tunnels, nuclear power plants, and other potential targets such as the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and Fort Drum in Watertown. The operation includes all homeland defense missions undertaken by the National Guard.
Operation JUMP START
Soldiers of New York's 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment, deployed to the U.S.-Mexican Border. While not involved with law enforcement activities, the Guard's role is primarily in support of U.S. Border Patrol operations.
Brush Fires in the Mid-Hudson Valley
In 2008, National Guard helicopters assisted local firefighters in quelling wildfires in the mid-Hudson River valley.