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Washington Army National Guard

The Mission of the Washington Army National Guard is to fully participate in the national defense as a part of the Department of Defense community, to fully participate in state emergency operations as a part of the Washington State emergency response community, to recruit, train and retain quality men and women who will serve their state and nation as citizen-soldiers, to build and maintain National Guard community centers and facilities, thus safeguarding federal property and providing for the administration and maintenance of assigned military units, and to utilize the federally provided equipment as Department of Defense provides and allows, in support of state needs.

The Washington National Guard is also charged with working with other agencies in drug demand reduction efforts through education and providing role models of a drug-free environment to the community

Various units had been organized in the Washington Territory in the late 1870s, among these being the "Walla Walla Guards" and "The Columbia Mounted Infantry". The "Dayton Grays" and the "Grant Guards" were units later formed in the Walla Walla area. These units were to constitute the First Regiment of the National Guard of Washington.

War was declared against Spain in April 1898 and the President called for 125,000 volunteers to serve a two-year period. Immediately all members of the Washington National Guard were discharged to enlist in the U.S. Army. Upon formation of various units, they were shipped by boat to San Francisco and from there to Manila. The Regiment participated in more than two dozen battles during the Philippine Insurrection. On 31 October1899, the Regiment was mustered out of Federal service. The Washington National Guard had no organized forces after the war with Spain. Accordingly, Governor Rogers reestablished the State forces.

Following the declaration of war against Germany on 6 April 1917, action was taken to mobilize all forces of the United States. The National Guards of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming made up the 20th Division. On 18 July 1917, the 2Oth Division was redesignated as the 41st Division. Units of the Washington National Guard sailed for France on 13 December 1917. Various units of the 41st Division saw action in France and 61 Washington Guardsmen were killed in action or died of wounds received during WWI. By the end of 1919, all Washington National Guardsmen were demobilized at Camp Lewis, the post where they had been mobilized two years earlier.

The early 1920s saw much reorganization both in the Regulars and the National Guard. Greater emphasis came to be placed on coastal defense, and installations such as Fort Worden, Fort Casey and Fort Flagler, manned by Coast Artillery units, were essential to our national defense.

1939 and 1940 saw a great deal of reorganization in the Washington National Guard. The stage was being set for WWII, with both the Regulars and the Guard adding personnel and units. Effective 16 September 1940, the 41st Division and attached elements were ordered to Active Duty.

The National Guard demobilized at the end of WWII and for all purposes briefly ceased to exist. On 10 October 1945, a report by the General Staff Committee made provisions for a National Guard. This report spelled out the mission, strength, composition, organization and distribution of the various State units. National Guard troops allotted to the State of Washington, both ground and air forces, was 12,539. Prior to WWII, the 41st Division was split between Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming. Under the reorganization plan, only Oregon and Washington would provide personnel for the Division.

In June 1948, elements of the Guard were called up for flood relief in the Ellensburg area, Woodland, Okanogan County, Clark County and other areas. The National Guard not only rescued people, but also provided valuable assessments relative to property loss and needed flood control measures.

On 22 July 1950, approximately 12 units of the Washington National Guard were ordered to active duty. None of these units were sent to Korea, but many individual soldiers went as replacements for other units.

Since the beginning, the Washington National Guard has provided services and manpower to Washington State communities in order to provide a better quality of life for all of its citizens. As an example, Guard assistance was rendered to communities who suffered natural disasters such as the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in May 1980, springtime river flooding at various locations across the state, and the Central Washington forest fires in the summer of 1994. Soldiers of the Washington National Guard brought in communications, airlifted food and supplies, evacuated the sick and injured, furnished trucks and other equipment, and provided security against looting.

Additionally, units of the Washington Army National Guard were activated for and participated in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1990-91; and participated in Operation Joint Guard, a NATO peacekeeping mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

During FY99 the Washington Army National Guard sustained quality units of over 6,000 trained and ready citizen-soldiers, providing responsive forces for national security and service to the citizens and communities of Washington.

On any given weekend, Washington Army National Guard units trained for their federal mission and conducted Annual Training at Yakima Training Center and locations such as the Joint Readiness Training Center, Europe and the Pacific Rim. Units and soldiers also began training for upcoming peacekeeping deployments to Bosnia and Kosovo. The Washington Army National Guard developed community-based initiatives to enhance the safety, security and economic development of the state. FY99 saw the activation of the 10th Military Support Detachment, the first multi-component wheeled engineer company, a chemical battalion, information operations teams and the pairing of the 81st Infantry Brigade with the California-based 40th Infantry Division.

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