Timeline: Citizen Soldier: New York's National Guard in the American Century
1640 – The New Amsterdam Council passes the colony's first militia law.
1754–1783 – Militia from all thirteen colonies play a vital role in the French and Indian War (1754–1763) and the Revolutionary War (1775–1783).
1792 – Militia Act of 1792 allows the president to command and federalize militias. All males age 18 to 45 must enroll in their militia and participate in training twice a year.
1812–1815 – The War of 1812 brings armed conflict to the borders of New York. The New York State Militia is called to protect the state.
1825 – The 2nd Battalion, 11th New York Artillery Regiment, New York State Militia names itself "The National Guard" to honor Marquis de Lafayette, a hero of the American Revolution, on his last visit to the United States. Lafayette commanded the French Revolution force "la Garde Nationale." By 1903, "The National Guard" was officially used for all militias.
1861–1865 – State volunteer organizations from the Union and Confederate states formed the core fighting forces during the Civil War. Under federal law, the militia could serve for only ninety days.
1862 – The Militia Act of 1862 allowed African Americans to serve in the militia.
February 15, 1898 – The U.S. Battleship, U.S.S. Maine, explodes in Havana Harbor sparking outrage in the United States where many blame the Spanish for the explosion. 260 American sailors are killed.
April 23, 1898 – President William McKinley asks for a declaration of war against Spain.
July 1, 1898 – American forces, including the 71st New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, charge Spanish defenses at San Juan Hill in Cuba.
August 13, 1898 – The Spanish—American war was over in four months. With its victory, the United States gained control over Spain's colonies. The United States found itself a world power. It needed an improved military structure to govern and defend its new territories around the globe. Over 12,000 New Yorkers were volunteer federal service.
1903 – Under the leadership of Secretary of War Elihu Root, Congress passes the Militia Act of 1903. Under this massive transformation of the entire War Department, the National Guard began to receive federal funds to modernize.
1916 – President Woodrow Wilson sends General John "Black Jack" Pershing to the Mexican Border and 5,000 Regular Army troops to find Pancho Villa in the Mexican desert. The president orders 75,000 National Guardsmen to the Mexican border, including the 18,000 New Yorkers under the command of General John F. O'Ryan. While the New York National Guardsmen see little combat, the experiences in mass unit formations, camp life, and transporting large numbers of troops great distances would prove vital as the nation saw itself on the verge of war in Europe.
WORLD WAR I:
June 28, 1914 – The assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand sets in motion a series of alliances that drew Europe into total war.
1914 – 1917 – After the initial German invasion of France, a stalemate develops on the Western Front. Both sides dug in and a series of trenches stretches over 1,000 miles from Switzerland to the English Channel. New weapons such as the machine gun, poison gas, tanks and airplanes result in unprecedented carnage.
April 4, 1917 – After a series of provocations by Germany, President Wilson asks Congress for a declaration of war.
June 12, 1917 – President Wilson federalizes the National Guard. New York regiments rushed to bring their ranks to wartime strength. The New York Division is designated the 27th Division.
September 27 – October 1, 1918 – The 27th Division helps break through the German defensive lines during the battle for the Hindenburg Line, forcing the German Army into retreat.
November 11, 1918 – With its armies in retreat, Germany agrees to a ceasefire. The Armistice goes into effect at 11:00 AM.
BETWEEN THE WARS:
1920 – 1935 – Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the New York National Guard was largely occupied with armory drills and annual training exercises at Pine Camp (present—day Fort Drum) near Watertown, and Camp Smith in Peekskill. This training, though not equal to that of the Regular Army, produced a National Guard that was far more prepared than it had been in 1916.
1922 – The United States, Great Britain, and Japan agree to limit the number and size of ships each country could build.
1924 – U.S. Congress passes the Japanese Exclusion Act, barring Japanese immigration. The bill sours relations between the two countries.
1928 – Nationalist elements in the Japanese Army assassinate Manchurian Warlord Zhang Zuolin in an attempt to provoke a conflict.
1931 – The Japanese Empire invades Manchuria.
1933 – Japan withdraws from the League of Nations.
1937 – Japan invades China. The United States remains neutral.
1940 – Japan receives French Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia) following France's surrender to Germany.
1941 – After Japan occupies French Indochina, the United States imposes economic sanctions.
1919 – Treaty of Versailles is signed. The Allies seek to weaken Germany so that it cannot wage another war. The U.S. Senate rejects the treaty, returning the country to pre—war isolationism.
1922 – Fascist Benito Mussolini seizes power in Italy.
1923 – Germany defaults on reparations payments. In response, French and Belgian troops occupy the industrial Ruhr Valley in Germany.
1924 – American financier Charles Dawes negotiates a play to avert total collapse of the German economy and revises the reparations plan.
1925 – The last French troops withdraw from the Ruhr Valley.
1929 – Stock markets crash in New York City and cities worldwide, sparking a global economic depression.
1933 – Hitler is elected chancellor of the German Republic.
1934 – German President Paul von Hindenburg dies. Hitler seizes complete control of Germany.
1935 – Italy invades Ethiopia. Hitler renounces the Versailles treaty.
1936 – German forces reoccupy the Rhineland, unopposed by the British and French.
1938 – Germany annexes Austria and occupies Czechoslovakia.
1939 – Germany invades Poland. France and Britain declare war.
1940 – The German Army sweeps through Belgium and the Netherlands and into France.
1941 – Germany invades the Soviet Union.
September 1940 – Germany, Italy, and Japan sign the Tripartite Pact, a wartime alliance. The United States now faces the treat of a two—ocean war. Isolationist sentiment remains strong. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, recognizing the growing threat, takes steps to prepare the nation for war.
1939 – 57,000 soldiers participated in maneuvers near Plattsburgh, New York. A year later, the number of soldiers ballooned to over 100,000.
August 1940 – The National Guard of New York and neighboring states as well the Regular Army participated in the country's largest peacetime maneuvers, in Northern New York. With the threat of war looming, the terrain around DeKalb Junction was selected because of its similarity to the fighting conditions in Europe.
September 1940 – President Roosevelt used the maneuvers in the North Country as the backdrop to announce the Selective Service Act of 1940, which required all males age 21 to 35 to register for one year of military service. Bringing the National Guard to full strength was the first step in preparing the U.S. Army for war.
September 16, 1940 – New York City's 71st Infantry Regiment becomes the first New York National Guard unit to enter federal service. Less than a month later, the rest of the 27th Division follows.
January 21, 1941 – New York's 101st Cavalry Regiment is inducted into federal service. It is later redesignated the 101st Cavalry Group.
WORLD WAR II:
December 7, 1941 – Japanese aircraft bomb the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Caught utterly by surprise, American forces were devastated in the attack. Thousands of people, including civilians, were killed. The United States officially enters the war on December 8th.
THE PACIFIC THEATER:
February 27, 1942 – The 27th Infantry Division departs for Hawaii. The division will serve overseas for 3 1/2 years—the longest time for any National Guard Division.
November 20–23, 1943 – In its first combat operation of the war, the 165th Regimental Combat Team captures Makin Atoll. Regimental Combat Teams (RCTs) were regular infantry regiments augmented with smaller tank, artillery, or other support units to be self—supporting in combat. This strategy was especially effective during island hopping. In one thrust of the campaign, the Americans—including New York's 27th Infantry Division—would leapfrog islands across the Central Pacific from Hawaii, while General Douglas MacArthur advanced from Australia toward the Philippines.
February 1, 1944 – The 106th Infantry RCT seizes Marjuro Island in the Marshalls. As part of the American island hopping strategy, islands capable of serving as airfields and supply bases were captured to advance closer to the Japanese home islands.
February 19, 1944 – The 106th Infantry RCT faces bloody fighting on Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands, but secures the island.
June 15 – July 9, 1944 – The 27th Infantry Division lands alongside two Marine Divisions on Saipan in the Marianas. Being 1,270 miles from Tokyo, occupying Saipan would bring U.S. B—29 bombers within range of the Japanese home islands. The battle is one of the most brutal of the war. 3,674 men of the 27th Infantry Division were killed, wounded, or missing.
January 9 – August 15, 1945 – New York's 108th Infantry Regiment lands with the 40th Infantry Division near Lingayen Gulf on Luzon, The Philippines. They saw heavy fighting, particularly near Clark Airfield and around Manila. Following the fall of Luzon, the 108th invaded the island of Mindanao on May 10, 1945.
April 1, 1945 – June 12, 1945 – The 27th Infantry Division lands on Okinawa as part of the invasion forces. Lasting for 82 days, it is the bloodiest battle of the Pacific War with 12,513 Americans and over 100,000 Japanese killed during the fighting.
August 6, 1945 – A newly developed weapon—the atomic bomb—was loaded onto the B—29 Enola Gay. The intention of the mission was to force Japan to surrender. The first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, a second bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki. On August 14, 1945, the Japanese surrendered unconditionally to the Allies.
THE EUROPEAN THEATER:
December 1941 – Axis forces controlled virtually all of Europe as well as Northern Africa. The Soviet Union was on the brink of collapse after years of fighting Germany, and Britain was the sole Allied power in the West. The Allies needed to weaken Germany by bombing and blockade and then open a second front in Europe. This would relieve pressure on the Soviet Army.
November 8, 1942 – September 3, 1943 – The Allies conduct a series of invasions in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy to occupy German forces while building up the necessary troops, ships, and equipment for an invasion of France.
June 6, 1944 – American, British, and Canadian troops land along five beaches on the Normandy coast. D—Day is the largest amphibious operation in history with an armada of over 5,000 ships and landing craft.
June 7, 1944 – The first New York National Guard unit to arrive in France is the former 14th Infantry Regiment. Now the 187th Field Artillery Battalion, they land at Omaha Beach on June 7, fight across France, and enter Germany.
September 15, 1944 – New York's 71st Infantry lands at Cherbourg, France. The regiment enters combat on October 23 fighting its way through northern France and approaches the German border by early November.
December 16, 1944 – The 71st Infantry Regiment spearheads an assault on Simserhoff Fortress a massive series of concrete and steel—encased gun turrets bristling with large and small caliber weapons. As part of the Maginot Line, Simserhoff Fortress was a critical part of the German Army's last line of defense.
December 16, 1944 – January 25, 1945 – On the same day that the 71st captures Simserhoff Fortress, the German Army launches a massive counterattack in the Ardennes Forest in Belgium. American troops are caught completely unaware and many retreat. The Germans force a large bulge into Allied lines, but fail to break through. Attacking from all sides, the Allies begin pushing the Germans back. By January 1945, the Allies recapture all lost ground.
January 1—6, 1945 – With the failure to break through during the Battle of the Bulge, the Germans launch Operation Nordwind 100 miles to the south. When the enemy attacks late on New Year's Eve, the Americans are caught off guard. Mass confusion ensues as units are cut off from one another and surrounded. The 71st Infantry withstands the worst of a German flanking attack. Despite being drastically outnumbered, the New York National Guardsmen repulse eight enemy attacks and thwart the German attempt to break through the American lines.
March 17, 1945 – After arriving in France in January, the 101st Cavalry Group begins an attack on the German Siegfried Line, breaking through and advancing into Germany.
May 2, 1945 – The 71st Infantry Regiment climbs the 8,000—foot—high Mt. Wanneck and engages in a surprise attack to capture Germany's "National Redoubt" in the Austrian Alps.
May 6, 1945 – After clearing the Fern Pass and reaching the Italian border, the 71st links up with the U.S. 10th Mountain Division. Two days later, all German forces unconditionally surrender.
May 8, 1945 – The 101st Cavalry captures German Field Marshall Albert Kesselring, commander of all German forces on the Western Front, near Salzburg, Austria. The same day, the German government unconditionally surrenders.
THE COLD WAR:
June 1948–May 1949 – Berlin Blockade:
The Soviets cut off West Berlin. The Western Powers launch a round—the—clock airlift to supply the residents, forcing the Soviets to end the blockade.
August 29, 1949 – Soviets Detonate Atomic Bomb: Both superpowers now possess a weapon that could destroy the other.
1950s – By 1948, the 27th Infantry Division returned to duty in the New York National Guard. As the Cold War progressed, military planners believed a war with the Soviet Union would require vast numbers of tanks. As a result, several infantry divisions were converted to armored divisions.
1950–1953 – Korean War: Soviet—backed North Korea invades South Korea on June 25, 1950. After initially being driven back to the tip of the Korean peninsula, American forces staged an amphibious landing, driving the North Koreans toward the Chinese border. In October, the Chinese Army attacked American and Allied forces, causing a retreat. A stalemate ensued before an armistice was sign on July 27, 1953. Korea was left divided.
1960s – The primary mission of the National Guard during the Cold War was to prepare for the seemingly inevitable war with the Soviet Union. The New York National Guard manned the newly developed Nike Missile Systems, the last line of defense if Soviet bombers got past American interceptor fighter jets. There were 20 Nike missile sites around New York City.
1961 – Bay of Pigs Invasion, American—backed Cuban exiles attempt to overthrow Communist leader Fidel Castro but fail.
1961 – Berlin Crisis, Western Powers ignore an ultimatum to withdraw troops from West Berlin. Soviet and East German forces erect a wall to divide the city.
1961 – Cuban Missile Crisis, When American spy planes discovered Soviet nuclear missile bases on Cuba, the world feared a nuclear war. Both sides eventually made concessions over the placement of missiles.
1962–1973 – Vietnam War, A Communist—led insurgency erupts in South Vietnam. The U.S. sends military advisors to train the South Vietnamese army, but the army does not defeat the insurgents. The U.S. deploys over 500,000 American troops to Vietnam. 58,159 Americans were killed in the conflict. The war in Vietnam was fought almost solely with Regular Army forces.
1970s – The war in Vietnam created intense controversy and debate. The Selective Service Act authorized the government to draft men for military service. The draft laws exempted anyone who volunteered for six years of National Guard service. As the war escalated, many young men sought to join the National Guard to avoid combat in the jungles of Vietnam.
The National Guard training mantra "one weekend a month; two weeks a year," resulted in the derogatory nickname, "Weekend Warriors." New York's National Guard focused on improved training and provided vital assistance during emergencies across the state.
American involvement in Vietnam ended in 1972. When the draft ended in 1973, the importance of a well—prepared reserve force to support the all—volunteer military became critical.
1980s – The 1980s resulted in a massive defense buildup under President Ronald Reagan. The National Guard received increased funding, modern equipment, and improved annual training. By 1989, the National Guard's strength reached a national peacetime high. The Army had adopted a "Total Force" policy to fully incorporate the National Guard with the Regular Army. The number of realistic training exercises involving both Guard and Regular Army units increased substantially.
1980 – Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, The U.S. begins covert military aid to Afghan resistance fighters.
1989 – Berlin Wall Collapses, Popular uprisings across Eastern Europe climax in the destruction of the Berlin Wall. The Soviet Union dissolves and democratically elected governments emerge, causing an end to the Cold War.
1990s – With the end of the Cold War, American leaders no longer saw the need for vast military budgets. The 1990s left the New York National Guard with outdated weapons, equipment, and vehicles, and armories in disrepair. Recognizing the National Guard as the state's vital and versatile emergency response force, New York began to make significant investments in its Guard forces under Governor George Pataki.
1991 – The First Persian Gulf War,
Operation Desert Shield
August 2, 1990 – January 15, 1991
On August 2, 1990, the Iraqi Army invades Kuwait. The United Nations condemns the attacks. To prevent Iraq from invading Saudi Arabia, the United States and a coalition of military forces deploy to the Persian Gulf within days. The protection of Saudi Arabia is codenamed Operation DESERT SHIELD.
Over 1,200 New York National Guard soldiers from eleven units are called to help liberate Kuwait.
January 16 – February 28, 1991 – Operation Desert Shield,
When Iraq refuses to withdraw from Kuwait, Operation DESERT STORM begins. A massive air campaign weakened Iraqi defenses. The ensuing ground war is over in a little more than 100 hours.
March 1992 – November 1995 – Bosnia—Herzegovina, Yugoslavia splinters along ethnic and religious lines, and by 1992, a brutal civil war erupted. Almost 1 million people are killed or driven from their homes before the
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) intervenes. With the signing of the Dayton Peace Accord in 1995, American and NATO forces enter Bosnia—Herzegovina.
1999 – Kosovo, Serbian forces clashed with ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. When Serbian forces began ethnic cleansing, the United Nations authorized military intervention. After a two—week bombing campaign, peacekeepers enter Kosovo.
October 2001 – Soldiers of the New York National Guard assume peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and Kosovo.
September 11, 2001 – Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, New York National Guard soldiers are among the first responders at the World Trade Center.
October 7, 2001 – The United States and its allies began a military campaign to oust the Taliban government of Afghanistan. The Taliban was harboring Osama bin Laden and members of the Al Qaeda terrorist group responsible for the 9/11 attacks. By November, the Taliban was removed, but leaders of Al Qaeda were not captured.
2001 – 2008 – American and NATO forces continue to battle Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters while trying to strengthen and train the Afghan National Army and police. The fledgling civilian government struggles to provide basic services to Afghan citizens.
January 2008 – 1,700 members of New York's 27th Brigade Combat Team were mobilized for operations in Afghanistan, the largest single deployment of the New York National Guard in the current conflicts. Soldiers were drawn from every region in the state. The 27th became the lead unit of Combined Joint Task Force (CTJF) Phoenix and was deployed to ninety forward operating bases around Afghanistan. Its primary mission was to support the training of the Afghan National Army and Police.
March 21, 2003 – President George W. Bush orders an invasion of Iraq. Within weeks, U.S. troops enter Baghdad.
May 1, 2003 – President Bush declares major combat operations in Iraq ended. Despite the apparent defeat of the Iraqi forces, attacks against the U.S. troops increase. The U.S. Army faces a massive guerilla war against former Saddam Hussein loyalists and Al Qaeda—linked terrorist groups.
2003—2004 – The Utica—based 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment deploys to Iraq with the Regular Army's 1st Infantry Division. During its deployment, the unit conducted a wide range of operations, including 4,000 combat patrols. The soldiers captured over 4 million pounds of enemy weaponry and ammunition and conducted 200 raids to capture enemy insurgents. The New Yorkers also completed nearly 5 million dollars worth of infrastructure improvements, including new hospitals, schools, and water purification facilities.
April 11, 2004 – Two platoons of the 108th are called into the city of Samarra after insurgents overwhelm the local police forces. As the soldiers move into the city, their convoy is ambushed—killing one and wounding five others. All six came from Glens Falls, New York.
2004—2005 – The 69th Infantry Regiment is deployed to Iraq and is assigned the daunting task of securing the highway connecting Baghdad Airport with the fortified "Green Zone." This 6—mile stretch of road, nicknamed "Route Irish", was an inviting target. The busy road was used by supply convoys, diplomats, and civilians. The 69th began training Iraqi forces in the spring of 2005 to assume the security of Route Irish. By July 2005, the airport road could no longer be called the "most dangerous road in the world."
2007 – Violence lessens following a surge of U.S. troops, although bombings and other attacks continue to occur.
2009 – American forces began to withdraw from Iraq, leaving the country in the hands of its own security forces.
2010 – over 9,000 New York National Guard men and women have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. The mission continues: In March, the 827th Engineer Battalion Company headquartered in Horseheads, New York, deployed to Afghanistan to help rebuild that nation's infrastructure. The 442nd Military Police Company departed for Iraq in April. The New York National Guard continues to prepare for future deployments.
AID TO CIVIL AUTHORITY:
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.