Louisiana Army National Guard
Today's Louisiana Army and Air National Guard consists of 74 units spread among 43 cities and towns of the state and numbers some 11,500 Army and Air Guardsmen. As a result of various reorganizations the present Army Guard is composed of a State Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 204th Area Support Group, the 256th Separate Infantry Brigade, the 225th Engineer Group and various Medical, Maintenance, Aviation, Military Police, Armored Cavalry and Special Forces units and the 156th Army Band.
The National Guard of the United States is the only component of the Armed Forces with a dual federal - state role. The Guard is organized, trained and equipped to be available in times of national emergency, upon the call of the President. It can also be called upon by the Governor for state duty, to preserve peace and order and protect life and property in the event of natural disasters or civil disturbances. The federal Government is responsible for equipping, training and paying the Guardsmen (except the state pays them for active state duty). The state is also responsible for providing Guard personnel and training facilities.
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Mitch, the Louisiana Army National Guard opened its armories for two days to collect goods from concerned citizens. More than 500,000 pounds of medicine, water, clothing, food and personal items were collected.
Task Force Aguan deployed to Honduras in February for New Horizons 99-2, a six-month engineering rebuilding exercise. The LAARNG led the exercise by repairing roads, bridges and culverts and building schools and clinics. Medical personnel also conducted medical exercises to provide basic care to the population.
In April 1999, a tornado tore through the community of Benton in North Louisiana. The LAARNG provided security, clean up and debris removal support. The LAARNG also hauled 4.3 million gallons of water to several communities during droughts and more than 18 tons of day to drought-stricken cattle farmers throughout the state. the LAARNG launched a second Youth Challenge Program for high school dropouts and will conduct a Starbase Program for select New Orleans public schools. Finally, the LAARNG was recognized for an unprecedented 10th year in a row as one of the top three National Guard organizations in the Army communities of Excellence competition.
Today's Louisiana National Guardsmen have fifty million dollars worth of Army and Air Force equipment and the federal Government provides fifteen million dollars in supporting funds each year. The Louisiana National Guard has state owned or controlled training facilities valued at over twenty-five million dollars. The National Guard Bureau serves as the channel of communications and funding between the states and the Departments of the Army and Air Force. The Governor, by virtue of his office, is the Commander-in-Chief of the Louisiana Army and Air National Guard. The Adjutant General, appointed by the Governor's orders, performs his duties under the laws of Louisiana and applicable federal laws and regulations. The Adjutant General and his staff are full-time employees of the State-funded Military Department. They are, in addition, in drill status as officers of the federally recognized National Guard.
Since its original organization to assist in maintaining law and order within the various states, the Guard has extended its responsibilities to assist in natural disasters. Louisiana has had its full share of disasters ranging from the great Mississippi River floods of the 1920s to the tornadoes, fires, explosions and vicious hurricanes of more recent years. The Louisiana National Guard, strategically located in all major communities of the state, possesses the organization, manpower, training and equipment to handle such emergencies. The Guard keeps alert plans in a constant state of readiness to enable it to assemble members quickly and hurry manpower and equipment to critical areas in an emergency.
The Louisiana Army National Guard dates back to the 18th Century when a militia was formed from among the civilian inhabitants of Colonial Louisiana to assist Royal French and Spanish troops in protecting the colony and preserving the peace. Our oldest unit still serving today is the famed 141st Field "Washington Artillery" whose lineage dates back to 1838. The Louisiana Army National Guard has more than 11,000 soldiers who serve part-time in one of the oldest traditions in America, the National Guard.
A militia was formed from among the civilian inhabitants of Colonial Louisiana throughout the 18th Century to assist Royal French and Spanish troops in protecting the colony and preserving the peace. The militia was largely responsible for the success of the Galvez expedition which wrested Baton Rouge from the British in 1779. In 1786 there were militia companies in New Orleans, Opelousas, New Iberia and Iberville, Pointe Coupee and Attakapas Parishes, and on the German Coast. Predecessors of the Amercan militia were the 300 young Frenchmen and Americans who formed a Volunteer Battalion to preserve order pending arrival of United States troops upon the acquisition of Louisiana from France in 1803.
Territorial Governor William C. C. Claiborne wasted no time in organizing the militia throughout the Orleans Territory, and in 1813 the General Assembly of the new State of Louisiana passed a far-reaching act to create an effective militia which two years later played an important part in the defeat of the British on the plains of Chalmette. Militia units from Louisiana made up a sizeable part of General Zachary Taylor's victorious army in the Mexican War--1845-1848.
In 1860, immediately preceding outbreak of the War between the States, Louisiana militia troops totaled five divisions whose companies, battalions, regiments and brigades were spread among nearly every parish of the state. With the outset of the war, many militia units, including the Washington Artillery (initially organized in 1838), immediately volunteered for Confederate service, and were accepted. Other units remained in the state as home guards and subsequently engaged in numerous clashes with federal troops in South and Central Louisiana after the surrender of New Orleans in 1862. A total of 982 military companies were organized in Louisiana during the Civil War of which some 400 were militia companies.
During the Reconstruction, the state was controlled by federal troops which in many areas sponsored and organized militia units to help keep peace and quiet, but many of these militia units were carpetbaggers and adventurers from outside. Plus federal sympathizers and formerly disenfranchised colored citizens. It was not until 1877, upon withdrawal of federal occupation troops, that the native population of Louisiana regained control of the state and elected a Governor and Legislature and passed laws to re-create the Louisiana State National Guard in the pre-war tradition.
Upon the outbreak of war with Spain in 1898, the First and Second Regiments of Infantry and the Louisiana Volunteer Artillery, composed of Battery A (Louisiana Field Artillery), Battery B (Washington Artillery) and Battery C (Donaldsonville Cannoneers) entered federal service. The Second Louisiana Infantry moved into Havana on New Years Day, 1899.
When hostilities erupted on the Mexican Border in 1916 the Battalion Washington Artillery, First Regiment of Infantry, 1st Separate Troop of Cavalry and 1st Field Hospital answered the call and moved to the border, and then in 1917, only a couple of months after being mustered out, were called back for overseas service in World War I, largely with the 39th and the 42d Infantry Divisions.
Reorganization of the Louisiana National Guard began in 1920, two years after the war, and by the time it was called into federal service in 1940 for World War II, consisted of: 31st Division Headquarters and Headquarters 61st Infantry Brigade - New Orleans; 156th Infantry Regiment - New Orleans, Pineville, Lake Charles, Alexandria, Jennings, Baton Rouge, Morgan City, Houma, Jeanerette, Breaux Bridge, New Iberia, Lafayette and Crowley; 106th Medical Regiment (part) of New Orleans and 106th Quartermaster Regiment (part) of Alexandria (both served overseas in New Guinea area); 141st Field Artillery (AntiAircraft) - Shreveport, Monroe, Minden, Ruston and Natchitoches; 105th Separate Battalion Coast Artillery (AntiAircraft) - New Orleans, Franklinton, Bogalusa and 122d Observation Squadron of New Orleans (served in French Morocco area).
The accomplishments of the Louisiana National Guard in World War II were brilliant and numerous, and space is limited, but an idea of them can best be illustrated by listing the Battle Honors accorded three of its units: 141st Artillery - Algeria-French Morocco with arrowhead, Tunisia, Sicily with arrowhead, Naples-Foggia, Anzio, Rome-Arno, North Apennines, Po Valley, Southern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, Central Europe, and Distinguished Unit Citation Streamer embroidered Colmar. 105th Separate Battalion CA - Algeria, French Morocco with arrowhead, Tunisia, Sicily with arrowhead, Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno, North Apennines, Po Valley. 156th Infantry - Northern France, Central Europe, Rhineland and Normandy, and the Asiatic-Pacific theatre streamer without inscription.
The post-war reorganization of the Louisiana National Guard began in 1946. The following major units were organized. 39th Infantry Division (in part), 156th Infantry Regiment, 199th Infantry Regiment, 141st Field Artillery Battalion, 935th Field Artillery Battalion, 105th AAA AW Battalion, 204th AAA Group, 527th AAA AW Battalion, 769th AAA AW Battalion, 773d Heavy Tank Battalion, 122d Light Bombardment Squadron, and 135th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron. When the Korean Conflict broke out in 1950 the 773d Tank Battalion, 122d Light Bombardment Squadron and 135th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron were called into federal service. The 773d and 122d were returned to State control after Korea but the 135th was retained by the AirForce.
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