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VIDEO: National Guard celebrates 383rd birthday

Soldiers load onto a Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan. (1st Lt. Verniccia Ford/U.S. Army)
December 13, 2019

The U.S. National Guard is celebrating its 383rd birthday on Friday and recognizing its mission motto to be “always ready, always there.”

The inception of the National Guard traces its start to the beginnings of the first militia regiments organized in North America, predating even the United States of America itself. On Dec, 13, 1636 at the direction of the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s General Court, those militia regiments were organized, according to the National Guard’s service history.

The modern descendants of those first militia regiments — the 181st Infantry, the 182nd Infantry, the 101st Field Artillery, and the 101st Engineer Battalion of the Massachusetts Army National Guard – hold the distinction of being the oldest military units in the U.S.

The Militia Act of May 8, 1792, under the auspices of the newly formed U.S. Constitutional government, permitted those militias organized before that date to retain their “customary privileges,” under the new nation’s military order. Subsequent laws, such as the Militia Act of 1903, the National Defense Act of 1916 solidified the National Guard’s position as having those military units older than the country itself.

On Friday the U.S. Army passed on the birthday for the National Guard, which exists in a reserve capacity under its command.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper also passed on the birthday wishes, and recognized the citizen soldiers and the citizen airmen of the Air National Guard, that comprise the reserve force.

Members of one of the first National Guard units, the soldiers of C Company, 181st Infantry of the Massachusetts National Guard, returned home from a 9-month deployment around the Horn of Africa last week, ahead of the 383rd birthday.