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Iowa Army National Guard

The Iowa Army National Guard maintains 56 armories, and is present in 53 communities.

The Iowa Army National Guard stood ready to aid their fellow citizens during FY99. Most recently they responded when record-setting rains caused flooding in Northeast Iowa during the sumer of 1999. The IA ARNG made its communities safer through the STARBASE leadership program and by supporting law enforcement authorities in curbing the flow and use of illegal drugs. Combat engineer units added to the value to local communities by demolishing crack houses.

The National Maintenance Training Center located at Camp Dodge provided a world-class training environment for National Guard, Army Reserve and Active Component general support and direct support maintenance companies. 26 units rotate annually through the Center's shops to enhance their soldiers' skills and unit mobilization readiness.

The Iowa National Guard established itself as a leader in automated information and distance learning. The Center of Excellence initiative propelled us further in these areas as we partnered with the Iowa Communications Network and the Military Interactive Multimedia Instruction Center to discover and apply new levels of computer-assisted education for airmen and soldiers. We understand that our ability to train soldiers at home while significantly reducing training costs will be paramount to achieving unit readiness in the future.

The Iowa Territorial Militia, organized in 1838, was first mobilized in 1839 to go to war against Missouri in a border dispute later referred to as the Honey War. (Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed before the two militias clashed, and the official state line was established by a Supreme Court ruling).

In 1846, the Territory of Iowa responded to President James K. Polk's call to arms for the war with Mexico. Twelve volunteer companies were organized before President Polk notified Governor James Clarke that an Iowa regiment would not be needed. Although an all-Iowa regiment did not materialize, Iowans did serve in the Mexican War. Captain Edwin Guthrie of Fort Madison and Major Frederick Mills of Burlington raised an independent company of one hundred men, which was accepted and became "Company K" of the Fifteenth United States Infantry. The company became part of General Winfield Scott's army, taking part in the capture of Veracruz, the Battle of Churubusco and the occupation of Mexico City.

With the advent of statehood in 1846, the Iowa Territorial Militia became the Iowa State Militia. The Iowa Militia was called out only once before the start of the Civil War, in response to the Spirit Lake Massacre of 1857. While the Indians involved quickly fled over the Minnesota border to be hunted down by federal troops, Iowans patrolled their side of the border to guard against future raids.

In April of 1861, the War Department issued a call for volunteers and asked for one regiment from Iowa. Governor Samuel Kirkwood was uncertain if Iowa could raise the number of volunteers necessary to meet its quota, but enough men enlisted to form ten regiments. By the end of the war, Iowa had the highest per capita involvement of any state, North or South. In total, Iowa furnished 48 infantry regiments, 9 cavalry regiments and 4 batteries of artillery. Iowa also furnished one black regiment and a thousand replacement troops. Iowa's 76,000 soldiers conducted themselves with honor throughout the war. Twenty-seven received Congressional Medals of Honor. Thirteen thousand died. Many more died from disease than from bullet wounds. Three Iowans became major generals during the war: Samuel Curtis of Keokuk, Grenville Dodge of Council Bluffs and Francis Herron of Dubuque.

Iowans fought in many battles. Iowans first saw battle at Wilson's Creek, Missouri and Pea Ridge, Arkansas. Early in the war, many Iowa units accompanied General Ulysses S. Grant in his campaign to gain control of the Mississippi River. They took part in the great battles of Fort Henry, Fort Donelson and Shiloh. At Shiloh, five Iowa regiments "saved" Grant's army by holding the center of the Union line (called the "hornets' nest" by attacking Confederates) until late in the first day of the battle. This campaign ended with the great Union victory at Vicksburg, Mississippi, on July 4, 1863. Iowa soldiers then fought in Mississippi and Tennessee. Finally, in late 1864 and early 1865, thousands of Iowans took part in General William Tecumseh Sherman's famous "March to the Sea" through Georgia and South Carolina.

Iowa also gained fame for a unique military unit known as the Graybeard Regiment. The unit was composed of men too old to serve in combat (over 45). Nearly all were over 50. Many were in their 70s, and a few were in their 80s! The Graybeards enlisted in spite of the fact that they had a total of 1,300 sons and grandsons on the fighting front. The elderly men were not expected to fight but were given duties of escorting trains and guarding railroads and prisoners. Near Memphis, a supply train they were guarding was fired upon by rebels; two of the Graybeards were killed, but the rest got the train through. During their service, they guarded 160,000 prisoners. Iowa was the only state to have a Graybeard Regiment.

Iowa also had an all black unit called the First Iowa Colored Regiment. It later became known as the 60th United States Regiment of African Descent.

After 1865, Iowa's Civil War regiments were disbanded. The Iowa State Militia became, once again, a collection of volunteer organizations. In 1876, these companies were organized into regiments. In 1877, the Iowa Militia was designated as the Iowa National Guard. The Guard was again called upon for federal service during the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection (1898-1901). Four regiments were mobilized. Some of the units performed garrison duties in Cuba. The Fifty-first Iowa Infantry was engaged in combat service in the Philippines. It saw duty at the battles of Manila and Maniolos. Only one soldier from Iowa was killed in action, but many were lost to disease.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson mobilized the entire National Guard and sent it to preserve order along the Mexican border, and if possible, apprehend the Mexican revolutionary/bandit, Pancho Villa, who had been leading raids into United States territory. The Iowa troops that accompanied this force never saw battle, but the many hours of training and experience they received would be beneficial in one very short year.

In Europe, the Great War (World War I), which had started in 1914, was still raging. In 1917, the United States was drawn into the struggle, partly to support democracy and partly to maintain the maritime rights of neutral nations. The call was answered by thousands of Iowans, many having served on the Mexican border.

The first Iowa National Guard unit to be sent to France was the 168th Infantry. The 168th Infantry was a consolidated force made up of three prewar regiments of Iowa National Guard infantry. It was assigned to the 42nd "Rainbow" Division, one of the first American divisions to reach Europe. The 42nd Division took part in engagements at Baccart, Esperance-Souaine, Champagne-Marne, Essey-Pannes, and the final great Allied offensive at Meuse-Argonne. Brigadier General Douglas MacArthur was the Chief of Staff of the 42nd Division. Speaking to a French major, he said, "Is it any wonder that my father was proud of this regiment." The 168th, as the 51st Iowa, had served under the elder MacArthur in the Philippines.

The remainder of the Iowa National Guard forces that were mobilized for World War I were assigned to the 34th Division. These Iowans went to Mexico to train in the desert. They took as their insignia a white bovine skull superimposed upon a black Mexican water jug. The 34th earned the name "Sandstorm" because of the omnipresent sand in food and clothing. The 34th left for Europe on September 17, 1918. Upon their arrival in France, the division experienced a bitter disappointment. Instead of going into battle as a unit, they were used as a replacement pool. Back home, the Iowa National Guard training site at Camp Dodge was greatly expanded and functioned as one of 16 regional training sites for the United States Army.

After World War I, the National Guard was again reorganized. By the mid-1920s, the total strength of the Iowa National Guard was more than 6,000 soldiers. By the end of the 1930s, with World War II looming on the horizon, the Iowa National Guard consisted of the 34th Infantry Division (which also included soldiers from Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota), the 113th Cavalry Regiment and the 124th Observation Squadron.

When war erupted in Europe in 1939 and 1940, the United States responded by mobilizing the entire National Guard for one year of preparedness training to ensure its viability should the nation enter World War II. Thus, when the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brought the United States into World War II at the end of 1941, America was not wholly unprepared; National Guard forces had been mobilized for almost a year.

Upon mobilization on February 10, 1941, the 34th Division went into intensive training at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the 34th Division was chosen to be one of the first divisions sent overseas. From Louisiana, the Division was sent to Fort Dix, New Jersey, and then to Ireland for additional training. In November of 1942, the 34th took part in "Operation Torch," the Allied landing on German occupied North Africa. The Division was involved in numerous battles, such as Kasserine Pass, Fondouk Pass, Faid Pass, as well as Allied landings at Algiers and Tunis. By the time the Germans surrendered at Tunis in May of 1943, many brave men of the 34th had given their lives for their country. In Italy, the men of the 34th, also known as the Red Bull Division, were involved in the battles of Naples, Anzio, Cassino, Rome-Arno, North Apennines, and the Po Valley, where the U. S. 34th Division captured the German 34th Division to end the war in Italy.

During the course of World War II, the 34th Division amassed 517 days of combat. One or more 34th Division units, including the 168th Regiment, were engaged in actual combat for 611 days. The Division was credited with more combat days than any other division in the European theater. The 34th Division suffered 21,362 battle casualties, including 3,737 killed and 3,460 missing. The men of the Division were honored with countless awards and decorations, including 10 Medals of Honor and 15,000 Purple Hearts.

While the 34th Division trained in Louisiana, the 113th Cavalry Group, which had just made the transition from horses to tanks, began training as a mechanized cavalry group at Camp Bowie, Texas. Sent to Scotland for additional training early in 1944, the 113th Cavalry Group landed at Omaha Beach in Normandy on June 29, 1944. Some advance elements of the Group had been on the beachhead since D-Day (June 6).

As part of the 9th U. S. Army, the 113th Cavalry Group was the head reconnaissance force for the 30th Infantry Division, taking part in the breakout from St. Lo, the liberation of Paris, the liberation of Belgium and Holland, and the invasion of the Rhineland. By April of 1945, the 125th Squadron of the 113th was the furthest east of any Allied force in the entire northern portion of Germany. On April 30, the 125th Squadron made contact with elements of the Russian 121st Division near Apollensdorf.

The formal end of the war took place at midnight, May 8, 1945. For the men of the 113th Cavalry Group, it was the end of a long, hard trail that had stretched over 800 miles from the original landing at Omaha Beach. The Group had survived 309 days of combat, destroyed or captured over 600 tanks, armored cars, half-tracks, and other vehicles, and taken more than 21,000 prisoners.

In 1941, the air component of the Iowa National Guard was the 124th Observation Squadron. Officially recognized in February of 1941, the unit was mobilized on September 15. Known as the "Iowa Hawks," the unit consisted of 27 officers (including 15 pilots and 1 flight surgeon), 110 enlisted men and 5 aircraft. Using O-47s, the Squadron patrolled the Gulf of Mexico, searching for enemy submarines, from July of 1941 until 1943. In 1943, the unit was designated the 124th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron and served as a replacement training squadron until its deactivation on April 30, 1944.

After World War II, the Iowa National Guard had to be entirely rebuilt. By the end of 1949, the Iowa National Guard had been reorganized. Guard units included a large percentage of well-trained combat veterans, equipped with excess equipment from World War II. The Air Force had begun to incorporate the Air Guard into its organization, allocating more federal funds, expanding its mission, and providing it with more training opportunities. The Army National Guard, however, soon suffered a variety of problems - lack of modern equipment, reduced federal funding and inadequate training opportunities. Despite these limitations, the Guard would soon respond to the next international challenge - the outbreak of war in Korea in 1950.

Several Iowa National Guard units were mobilized for the Korean conflict. The 132nd Fighter Wing (Des Moines and Sioux City) was federalized on April 1, 1951. The 132nd received its initial training at Dow Air Force Base, Bangor, Maine. In January of 1952, the unit was designated the 132nd Fighter-Bomber Wing and assigned to the Air Force Tactical Command. Many Iowans were later transferred to other Tactical Air Command units worldwide, including Korea, and the unit assumed the role of a reserve training unit. The 132nd and its subordinate units, the 124th Fighter-Bomber Squadron (Des Moines) and the 174th Fighter-Bomber Squadron (Sioux City), returned to state control on January 1, 1953.

Other Iowa National Guard units mobilized during the Korean War included the 133rd Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron (Fort Dodge), the 232nd Air Service Group (Des Moines and Sioux City), the 3657th Ordnance Company (Cedar Rapids), and the 194th Field Artillery Battalion (Spencer, Algona, Mapleton and Estherville). The 194th FA received its mobilization notification while at annual training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, in September 1950. It was initially sent to Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. After spending the winter of 1950-51 at Fort McCoy, the battalion deployed to Germany, where it served until March 1953, when it reverted to state control.

The next Cold War challenge for the Iowa National Guard was the long and controversial conflict in Vietnam, which lasted from the early 1960s until 1975.

Partly in response to the Korean War experience, a reorganizational effort within the Defense Department led to the creation of the Selective Reserve Force (SRF) in the early 1960s. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara believed that, since funding was not available to train and equip the entire National Guard adequately, he would focus on preparing a core group of 150,000 Guardsmen for immediate overseas deployment, if needed. SRF units were supposed to be authorized 100% strength, receive priority training funds and modern equipment. Ultimately, three elements of the Iowa National Guard received SRF designation - the 2nd Battalion (Mechanized), 133rd Infantry, the 234th Signal Battalion and the 3657th Ordnance Company. In 1968, one of these organizations, the "Second Mech," along with the 185th Tactical Fighter Group of the Iowa Air National Guard, was mobilized for service in Vietnam.

On January 26, 1968, the 185th Tactical Fighter Group (TFG), Iowa Air National Guard, from Sioux City, was mobilized together with the 174th Tactical Fighter Group (TFS), its subordinate unit. The 174th, along with three other Air National Guard fighter squadrons, flying F-100 aircraft, was ordered to Vietnam. The 174th TFS, code named "Bats," flew over 6,500 close air support and bombing/strafing missions from its base at Phu Cat. In addition to receiving many individual awards, the performance of the 174th TFS earned the Presidential Unit Citation Award and the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award. The Group returned to state control on May 26, 1969.

The 2nd Battalion (Mechanized), 133rd Infantry, Iowa Army National Guard, was also mobilized for service in Vietnam. The "Second Mech," with units located at Sioux City, Le Mars, Cherokee, Ida Grove, and Mapleton, was mobilized on May 13, 1968, assigned to the 69th Infantry Brigade (Kansas Army National Guard) and stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado. Although the battalion colors remained at Fort Carson, 264 officers and enlisted men were ordered to duty in Vietnam. Twelve soldiers of the battalion were killed and 76 were wounded in action. Members of the battalion received over 2,600 awards and decorations for their Vietnam service. The battalion returned to state control on December 13, 1969.

On August 2, 1990, the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein seized control of the small, but oil-rich, neighboring sheikdom of Kuwait. The first callup of Iowa National soldiers began in September of 1990. This marked the first federal mobilization of the Iowa National Guard since 1968. On September 30, the 1133rd Transportation Company (Mason City) deployed to the mobilization station at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. On Veterans Day, 1991, they flew from Volk Field, Wisconsin, to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. It would be 267 days before they would return home.

Other Iowa Guard units followed. In November, the 134th Medical Company (Washington), the 209th Medical Company (Iowa City), the 1034th Quartermaster Company (Camp Dodge), and the 1187th Medical Company (Boone) were mobilized. In December, the 1168th Transportation Company (Red Oak and Perry) was mobilized, followed by the 186th Military Police Company (Camp Dodge). In January, 1991, the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 34th Military Police Battalion, and the 3654th Maintenance Company (Knoxville, Chariton, Oskaloosa, and Camp Dodge) were mobilized. The last units of the Iowa National Guard to be mobilized were those of the 224th Engineer Battalion from Fairfield, Mount Pleasant, Burlington, Ottumwa, Centerville, Muscatine, and Keokuk. Individual members of the 132nd Tactical Fighter Wing (Sioux City) and the 185th Tactical Fighter Wing (Des Moines) were also mobilized. A total of 2,016 Iowa Guardsmen (1886 ARNG and 130 ANG) were called to active duty during Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

The 1133rd Transportation Company drove 2.1 million miles while sustaining the highest operability rate (98%) of any unit in their battalion. The 1168th Transportation Company logged over 525,000 miles and received the Meritorious Unit Citation for its outstanding contributions during the war. Medics of the 209th Medical Company treated thousands of patients, including prisoners of war. The 209th Clearing Company (Iowa City) was the only unit in the U. S. Army to serve in three nations during the conflict - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq. Iowa military police units escorted and processed over 38,000 enemy soldiers and handled security at prisoner of war compounds. The 1034th Quartermaster Company provided millions of gallons of fresh water, while serving in their new role as a water distribution company at Log Base Echo near the Tri-Border region of Saudi Arabia.

The 3654th Maintenance Company was called upon to serve stateside at Fort Irwin, CA, and the 224th Engineer Battalion was stationed in Germany to serve as the combat engineer battalion for the 8th Infantry Division.

Nearly one-fourth of the total personnel of the Iowa National Guard had been mobilized. This was the highest percentage of any state in the Fourth Army region and one of the highest in the nation.

Since the Persian Gulf War, units of the Iowa National Guard have continued to be deployed overseas, under the mantra of the Total Force policy. Contingents of the Iowa Air National Guard, representing both the 132nd and the 185th Fighter Wings, have frequently been called to help patrol the no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq. Three units of the Iowa Army National Guard, the 34th Transportation Detachment, the 186th Military Police Company and the 135th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, took part in Operation Joint Endeavor, the NATO peace keeping effort in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 2000 and 2001, two Iowa National Guard task forces - Task Force Alpha, made up of troops from the 133rd Infantry, and Task Force Charlie, made up from troops of the 168th Infantry - were sent to Kuwait to provide security at U.S. Military sites in that country.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:34:22 ZULU