Maine Army National Guard
The Maine Army National Guard maintains 29 armories, and is present in 26 communities. Since 1820, the Maine National Guard has frequently aided the people of Maine in floods, storms and forest fires. Today, the Maine Army National Guard stands ready to continue the long standing tradition and a rich military heritage of service to its State and Nation.
FY99 was an exemplary year for the Maine Army National Guard in the fulfillment of its dual federal and state missions. Elements of Company E, 120th Air Traffic Control Group deployed to Kuwait in support of active duty units patrolling the Iraqi southern No-Fly Zone. The 112th Medical Company and their UH-1 Blackhawks participated in Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia.
The 133rd Engineer Battalion sent troops to Southern California where they built the 147 mile anti-drug border fence along the Mexican border. The 133rd Engineers gained valuable field training at home by building a community center for the people of Berwick. Our Blackhawk Air Ambulance crews also performed a number of rescues in the Maine backcountry.
To relieve the drought, the 1136th Transportation Company performed a hay-hauling mission in cooperation with the University Cooperative Extension Office. B Company, 3/172nd Mountain Infantry conducted training exercises at Canada's training base at Val Cartier, and deployed a platoon of troops to Germany to conduct Combat Maneuver Training. This year the 152nd Field Artillery conducted a Lanes evaluation during annual training at Fort Drum, New York.
The constitutional militia tradition in Maine predates the State's admission into the Union. Citizens from what is presently known as Maine, served in the Massachusetts Militia in both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.
The Maine National Guard was officially established in 1820 as a State Militia, when Maine entered the Union (as a result of the Missouri Compromise). Forty years later, more than 72,000 soldiers from Maine fought to preserve the Union during the Civil War (1861-65). Heading the list of distinguished units from Maine, was the 20th Maine Infantry Regiment under command of Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain. Under his leadership, the 20th Maine held the Union Line at Gettysburg under great odds preventing a Confederate breakthrough which would have altered the momentum of the War.
The Battle of Gettysburg, the largest battle ever fought in the Western hemisphere, is often called the turning point of the Civil War. The battle was a narrow victory for the Union and could have been a Confederate victory if it were not for a series of critical events. One such episode involved the 20th Maine Infantry. Organized in the Maine Volunteer Militia in August 1862, the 20th Maine mustered into Federal service several weeks later. Assigned to the Army of the Potomac, the regiment fought in the Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville campaigns. At Gettysburg, the 20th Maine was commanded by Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain, a former professor at Maine's Bowdoin College. After marching all day and night to reach Gettysburg, the regiment was ordered late in the afternoon of July 2 to occupy critical terrain between two hills, Big Round Top and Little Round Top. Chamberlain was ordered to hold this position on the extreme left flank of the Union line at all costs; if outflanked by the Confederates, the entire Union position would be in jeopardy. It was not long before the 15th and 47th Alabama Regiments attacked. The 20th Maine held off six attacks by the determined Alabama men, however, Colonel Chamberlain knew that his regiment, low on ammunition, could not withstand a seventh. He therefore ordered a counterattack with fixed bayonets, and the 20th Maine charged down the slopes of Little Round Top into the startled Confederates and broke their attack. The 20th Maine took 400 prisoners and stopped the Confederate threat to the Union flank. The crucial role these Maine militiamen played in the Union victory at Gettysburg exemplifies the military qualities of leadership, initiative, unit cohesion and gallantry. Joshua Chamberlain was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions of July 2, 1863.
Chamberlain continued his distinguished military career and was wounded several times. Because of his distinguished record, he was selected to oversee the surrender of arms by the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox. The U. S. Army also recognized him through his promotion to Brevet Major General of Volunteers prior to being discharged. Brevet Major General Chamberlain, chosen to accept the Confederate surrender, ordered Union troops to present arms to their former enemy as a mark of respect. After the war Chamberlain was elected Governor of Maine, and completed his military career as a Major General in the Maine National Guard. The proud lineage of the 20th Maine is continued today in the Maine Army National Guard's 133d Engineer Battalion.
The name "National Guard" was adopted in Maine in 1893 ahead of its national acceptance. Although the entire Maine National Guard was mobilized for the Spanish American War in 1898, and many volunteers served in Cuba, only the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery was employed as a unit entity in Cuba itself. Many Guardsmen also volunteered to serve in the Philippine Insurrection during this epoch.
The 2nd Maine Infantry Regiment was federalized for the Mexican Border in 1916 and served as a security force in places such as Loredo and Zapata Texas. The 152d Maintenance Company of Augusta shares 2nd Maine Inf. military lineage.
Once again, less than one year later, in 1917, the 2nd Maine Infantry participated in a Mobilization this time for World War I. The unit was later reorganized and redesignated as the 103rd Infantry Regiment, a name that would remain in the Maine National Guard for another 41 years. As part of the 26th "Yankee Division" from Massachusetts the 103rd saw action in all of the Divisions major engagements in France to include: Aisne-Marne Offensive; St. Mihiel; Meuse-Argonne and the Defensive Sector. The unit was demobilized and returned to State of Maine control in 1919. [The "Colors" of the 103rd can be viewed at the Hall of Flags in the Maine State House].
Preparing for WW II, the 240th Coast Artillery was "called up" for Federal service in 1940. In fewer than six months, the remainder of the Maine National Guard was inducted into Federal Service, to flesh out the Army of the United States in a General Mobilization on 24 February 1941. The 103rd Infantry, the 152d Field Artillery and the 86th Brigade joined other New England units as part of the 43rd Infantry Division. The Division saw extensive combat in Guadalcanal; New Guinea; the Northern Solomons and Luzon in the Philippines. The unit was inactivated at Camp Stoneman in California on 1 November 1945.
The Maine National Guard was reconstituted after World War II in October 1946. In 1947, with the establishment of the Department of Defense, the Maine Air National Guard was born as a Reserve Component of the U. S. Air Force. Henceforth the name Maine National Guard is inclusive of both the Maine Army and Air National Guard. The 1st Battalion 152d Field Artillery, stationed in Aroostook County, has the longest continuing designated unit name.
The 703rd Gun Battalion from south central Maine was called up for the Korean Conflict, in a selected mobilization. Although not deployed to a combat area, the unit mobilization enabled other U. S. Army elements to do so. The 703rd Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion was ordered into active Federal service August 14th, 1950 at South Portland and served at various installations within the continental U. S. and was released from active service, April 13th 1952. Many individual Guardsmen volunteered for service during the Korean Conflict.
In 1961, the Maine Army National Guard's 2d Battalion, 20th Armor, was mobilized for the Berlin Crisis and served most of their duty tour of 8 months at Fort Campbell, KY and Ft. Stewart, GA. Their service was critical in that it released U. S. Army units from the Continental United States for duty in Europe. The military lineage of this unit remains predominantly in the 133 Engineer Battalion, located in central and southern Maine.
Although many soldiers and officers from the Maine Army National Guard served as volunteers in Vietnam, or South East Asia, none of the Maine Army National Guard was called.
In 1990, Desert Shield and Desert Storm began a practice of selected mobilizations, which would continue down to lower and to smaller sized detachments in the later 1990's. HHD 286th Supply and Service Battalion, the 3620th Transportation Detachment were mobilized and served in South West Asia. By late spring of 1991 most units had returned. Other units such as the 112th Medical Company (Air Ambulance) replaced U. S. Army units in Europe. The medical assets of the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, Maine Army National Guard were called and served mostly at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
From February 27, 1997 through October 30th 1997, a detachment from Company A, 133 Engineer Battalion of Skowhegan, Maine was called up in support of Operation Joint Guard, again proving the versatility of the Guard Soldier.
In January 1999, Kuwait was the duty station for elements of Detachment 1, Company E, 120th Aviation who was assisting with Air Traffic Control in Operation Southern Watch.
Part of the 112th Medical Company was deployed to Bosnia for several months and participated in Operation Joint Forge from August of 1999 to March of 2000. This will be their second mobilization in eight years.
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