New Hampshire National Guard
New Hampshire has had a National Guard since 1879 but it traces its origins back to the 17th Century. Colonial New Hampshire's governor, John Cutt, organized the New Hampshire militia in 1680. This militia served in all of the Colonial Wars, and was part of an expedition that captured the French fort of Louisbourg in 1745 during the French and Indian War. New Hampshire troops included Roger's Rangers, famed for their guerrilla tactics. Roger's journals, published in London in 1765, were widely read by British army officers.
New Hampshire soldiers helped secure independence during the Revolutionary War. On December 14, 1774, a group of patriots under the command of Captain Thomas Pickering, of Portsmouth, attacked and captured Fort William and Mary at Newcastle, New Hampshire. The "shot heard 'round the world" was not fired at Lexington, Massachusetts until the following April. Powder taken during the fort's capture was used during the Battle of Bunker Hill. Present at this battle were the 1st and 3rd New Hampshire Regiments, commanded by Colonels John Stark and James Reid, respectively. General Stark was later to gain fame for defeating part of British General Burgoyne's army at the Battle of Bennington.
During the Civil War, New Hampshire furnished seventeen infantry regiments, one cavalry regiment, one heavy artillery regiment, and one light artillery battery to the Union cause. The 5th New Hampshire Volunteers, led by Colonel Edward E. Cross, is considered one of the finest units to serve in the Union Army. The 5th New Hampshire suffered the highest casualties of any Northern infantry regiment, having fought valiantly at Seven Pines, Malvern Hill, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.
New Hampshire National Guard soldiers fought during World War I as part of the Yankee Division, which was composed of National Guard units from around New England. Twenty-two soldiers from New Hampshire earned the Distinguished Service Cross. Private First Class George Dilboy of Keene received the Medal of Honor posthumously.
During the Second World War, New Hampshire Army National Guardsmen fought in both the European and Pacific theaters. The 172d Field Artillery landed at Utah Beach (one week after D-Day) and fired over 97,000 rounds in combat. The 197th Coast Artillery Regiment (Anti-Aircraft) landed in Australia in March 1942. Soldiers from this unit provided anti-aircraft cover in Perth and later saw action in New Guinea and the Philippines.
New Hampshire Army National Guardsmen were called to service again during the Vietnam conflict. Over 500 Guardsmen from Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth, Franklin, Laconia, and Somersworth arrived in Vietnam in September 1968. Twenty-eight Purple Hearts were earned by soldiers from the 3-197 th Field Artillery during the war. The unit was the largest unit from the Northeast to serve in Southeast Asia, and, while there, fired 137,400 rounds of howitzer ammunition.
Soldiers from the New Hampshire Army National Guard served in Operation Desert Storm. The 744th Transportation Company earned a Meritorious Unit Commendation for its support of VII Corps units. The 744 th hauled hundreds of tons of ammunition and food over Main Supply Route Dodge, the "Killer Highway" into Kuwait and Iraq to keep the rapidly moving ground forces supplied.
In December 1995, soldiers from the 114th Public Affairs Detachment received mobilization orders and departed for Europe. The unit supported Operation Joint Endeavor in Bosnia. They returned to New Hampshire in August 1996.
During 1999 the New Hampshire Army National Guard deployed a Mobile Public Affairs unit to the Central American Republic of Honduras to cover military operations aimed at helping that country after Hurricane Mitch. Under the State Partnership Program, NHARNG members deployed to Belize to assist The Belize Defense Force in legal affairs as well as setting up an officer candidate program.
To improve homeland defense against terrorist weapons of mass destruction and reinforce the entire State-level emergency response community, a Rapid Assessment Initial Detection (RAID) Light Detachment was initiated. In preparation for Y2K, the Military Support to Civil Authorities team conducted a series of tabletop exercises designed to support the state in the event of a disaster. They also conducted a wide-scale exercise involving hundreds of soldiers to ensure preparedness for any emergency.
As a community based organization, the NHARNG routinely provides services that benefit the people of New Hampshire by supporting the Boy and Girl Scouts of America, the Civil Air Patrol and other community groups. The NHARNG assisted the Governor's Office with transportation support for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, DC.
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