Posts filed under ‘Army National Guard’

FRIDAY FOTO (July 1, 2022)

STILL LIFE WITH GALAXY.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sergeant Christopher Stewart ) Click on photo to enlarge the image

Army Sergeant Justin Covert mans an M1A2 .50-caliber machine gun on a Stryker vehicle during training on May 24, 2022 at Fort Irwin, California with the Milky Way galaxy visible overhead.

The original M2 “Ma Deuce” .50 Caliber Machine Gun is a belt-fed, heavy machine gun that mounts on most aircraft and vehicles and can be fired from a tripod. The system is highly effective against light armored vehicles, low- and slow-flying aircraft, boats and enemy personnel.

The Stryker is a wheeled armored vehicle that combines firepower, battlefield mobility, survivability and versatility, with reduced logistical requirements. Manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems, the Stryker family of vehicles consists of nine variants of eight-wheeled armored vehicles mounted on a common chassis that provide transport for troops, weapons, and command and control.

Fort Irwin, located in the Mojave Desert between Las Vegas, Nevada and Los Angleles, is home to the Army’s National Training Center.

For a short (2:14 minutes) video of Marines learning how to load and operate the M1A2, click here.

A very short National Guard video shows some of the ins and outs of the Stryker. Click here to see it.

July 1, 2022 at 7:46 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (April 29, 2022)

Desert Water Hazard.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Blake Wiles)

OK, hold on tight. This one will make your head spin.

This week’s photo shows U.S. troops with the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) performing a swimming obstacle course during a French Desert Commando Course (FDCC) pre-assessment  — that’s right a Desert Commando Course — in the East African nation of Djibouti on April 19, 2022.

During the FDCC, participants are evaluated on mountain confidence, knot tying, night obstacle courses, aquatic obstacle courses, and battle maneuver tactics as well as physical challenges like timed pushups.  Since 2015, the French Forces stationed in Djibouti, a former French colony, have invited U.S. service members at Camp Lemonnier (the only U.S. base on the African continent) to participate in the course at the 5th Overseas Interarms Regiment base in Dijbouti.

The 5th OIR is a troupes de marine regiment, and has been the Djibouti garrison since November 1969. Despite its name, the Marine troops are part of the French Army, not the Navy.

April 28, 2022 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (February 4, 2022)

I’m OK

(Minnesota National Guard photo by Anthony Housey)

What you’re seeing is actually a good thing.

If you click on the photo to enlarge it, what you’ll notice is the blue-gloved hand is making the OK sign. It’s part of the U.S. Navy-U.S. Coast Guard annual ice dive training course at the Minnesota National Guard’s Camp Ripley from January 29 to February 10, 2022.

A team of Coast Guard High-Risk Training Instructors have been conducting week-long classes in how to dive in a cold-weather environment. The course, run by Dive Rescue International, and taught by qualified Navy divers and experienced civilian instructors will provide real-world ice and cold weather dive training in arctic conditions.

Training topics range from inspecting and putting on their diving equipment to diving and using their special equipment under the frozen lakes.

Camp Ripley provide arctic conditions for real-world ice and cold weather dive training. On the third day of training the “real feel” temperature at Camp Ripley was 27 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit).

Training began with setting up tents, cutting proper holes in the ice (short video),dry suit familiarization, and SCUBA cold-water set up training before the students dove under the ice.

February 4, 2022 at 7:20 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Happy Birthday National Guard

Happy 385th Birthday!

If you thought the creation of the U.S. National Guard dates back to the rebels who stood against tyranny at Lexington and Concord, you’d be wrong by more than 130 years.

The Minuteman statute by Daniel Chester French (photo via Wikipedia)

According to the National Guard (and who would know better?) the official birth date of the Army National Guard is December 13, 1636. That’s when the Massachusetts colonial legislature directed the colony’s existing militia companies to be organized into three regiments.

The selection of Dec. 13, 1636 is based upon the Defense Department practice of adopting the dates of initial authorizing legislation for organized units as the birthdates of the active and reserve components of the armed services.
The descendants of those first regiments – the 181st Infantry, the 182nd Infantry, the 101st Field Artillery, and the 101st Engineer Battalion of the Massachusetts Army National Guard – share the distinction of being the oldest units in the U.S.
The enemy in colonial days was usually Native Americans fighting to save their lands and way of life. Later in the 17th and 18th centuries colonial militias battled the French and their Indian allies in a series of conflicts known, handily, as the French and Indian wars. By 1775 they were fighting British redcoats in the war for independence.
National Guard troops have served in nearly every U.S. conflict and war since then, and have responded to floods, fires, hurricanes, tornados, civil disorders and other emergencies both in their home states and elsewhere.

National Guardsmen and a Coast Guardsman monitor Hurricane Ida response efforts in the Houma Navigation Canal in Houma, Louisiana, Sept. 13, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Vincent Moreno)

 

A crew from the California National Guard fights the Dixie Fire in northern California, Aug. 16, 2021. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by 1st Sgt. Harley Ramirez)

 

The Puerto Rican National Guard assisted aid-relief efforts in hurricane-battered Haiti since August 2021. Here they help with treatment of a woman from the La Flandre community on Aug.22, 2021. (Puerto Rico National Guard photo by Sgt. Agustin Montanez)

 

Alabama National Guard Soldiers vaccinate Covington County citizens at Jaycee Park in Livingston Alabama on March 23, 2021. (Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. William Frye).

 

A pilot from the 55th Fighter Squadron performs pre-flight procedures inside an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Hulman Field Air National Guard Base, Indiana., Aug. 19, 2021.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. Jonathan W. Padish)

The official birth date of the Air National Guard as a reserve component of the Air Force is September 18, 1947. On that date, the first Secretary of the Air Force was sworn in under provisions of the National Security Act of 1947, the authorizing legislation for the United States Air Force and the Air National Guard. Soon afterwards, National Guard Army Air Forces units began to be transferred to the Air National Guard as a reserve component of the Air Force.

The oldest Air National Guard unit is the 102nd Rescue Squadron of the New York Air National Guard. This unit was originally organized in accordance with existing law, and authorized in the New York National Guard as the Aero Company, Signal Corps, on November 22, 1915. The oldest Air National Guard unit in continuous existence since its organization is the 109th Airlift Squadron of the Minnesota Air National Guard, which was organized and federally recognized as the 109th Observation Squadron, on January 17, 1921.
From fighting COVID-19 to flying jet fighters, the Guard has come a long way since the 1630s.

Illustration depicting the first muster of Massachusetts Bay Colony militia in the spring of 1637. (U.S. Army)

December 13, 2021 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (On Saturday, December 11, 2021)

Impressionistic View.

(U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lieutenant Katie Tamesis)

Some of the best photos are taken out the back of a military helicopter.

Whatever the Air Force photographer did with her field of focus, it made the view of Fall foliage in Georgia look like the work of a French impressionist.

What we actually have here is a Marine Corps CH-53 “Sea Stallion” helicopter crew member overlooking the Bemiss Drop Zone at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia on November 16, 2021.

Airmen along with Georgia Army National Guard soldiers and Marine Corps helicopter crew members conducted airborne operations training to exchange tactics, techniques and procedures from across three branches of the military and to strengthen joint agile combat employment mission capabilities.

December 11, 2021 at 11:59 pm 1 comment

FRIDAY FOTO (November 26, 2021)

Native American Heritage Day.

(U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery ) released)

November is National American Indian Heritage Month, honoring the hundreds of Native American tribes and peoples of the United States. And the day after Thanksgiving is Native American Heritage Day.

Mindful of that, we thought this would be a good FRIDAY FOTO as we near the end of November. It shows Vincent Goesahead Jr. of the Crow Nation during the opening ceremony commemorating the centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, on November 9, 2021.

The road to a national commemoration of that heritage has taken several twists over the 20th Century. Originally treated as members of sovereign “nations” for treaty-making purposes, Native Americans were not extended U.S. citizenship — and the civil rights that went with it — until 1924.

Nevertheless, a significant number of Native Americans have served in all of the nation’s wars beginning with the Revolutionary War, according to the Defense Department website.

Twenty-nine service members of Native American heritage have been awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest medal for valor: 25 soldiers, three sailors and one Marine. That Marine is the fabled Greg “Pappy” Boyington of the Cactus Air Force in World War II — who a member of the Brule Sioux tribe.

In 1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial commemoration, President Gerald Ford proclaimed October 10-16, 1976, as “Native American Awareness Week.”

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed November 23-30, American Indian Week.

It wasn’t until November 14, 1990, President George H. W. Bush declared the month of November as National American Indian Heritage Month to honor the hundreds of Native American tribes and people in the United States, including Alaska. Native Hawaiians and those in U.S. territories in the Pacific are honored in Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month each May.

Those who claim to be American Indians in the active duty force as of July 2021, number 14,246, or 1.1 percent of the total force, according to the Defense Manpower Data Center.

In the past, we here at 4GWAR Blog have celebrated the Native American code talkers: Navaho Marines and Comanche, Choctaw and Meswaki Soldiers who thwarted German and Japanese troops listening in on U.S. field telephone and radio communications in World War I and World War II.

On the Pentagon website there are feature stories on Comanche, Lakota and Lumbee Native Americans serving in today’s Army and Navy.

For those who see bitter irony in celebrating the Native Americans who wore the uniform of the national government that frequently warred on them, took their land and tried to obliterate their culture, we offer this photo, of the Apache leader Geronimo, and a caption dripping with irony, that grew out of the response to the 9/11 attacks on the Homeland.

November 27, 2021 at 12:31 am Leave a comment

WORLD WAR CV: Services’ Deadlines for Mandatory Vaccination Loom; Air Force Falls Short

Deadlines Near.

Three days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Defenses Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a directive on August 26 that mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for service members are necessary to protect the health and readiness of the force.

Because the three available anti-COVID vaccines were only approved for human application by the FDA under an emergency use authorization (EUA), no one — including members of the military — could be compelled to get vaccinated. More than 73 percent of active duty personnel had received at least one shot of the vaccines by mid-August. However, thousands more service men and women declined to roll up their sleeves for inoculation, according to SEAPOWER.

Hawaii National Guard medic Sergeant Cassandra N. Park, administers the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine to Colonel Jon A. Ishikawa, commander of the 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, October 1, 2021, at Kalaeloa, Hawaii. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by 1st Lieutenant Anyah Peatross)

In announcing FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 in individuals 16 years of age and older in August, Dr. Janet Woodcock, the FDA’s acting administrator, said “the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards of safety and effectiveness, and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product.”

The Army, Navy and Air Force finalized their deadlines for all service members in the active duty forces, Reserves and National Guard to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in mid-September.

The deadline for the Air Force was November 2 for active duty airmen and December 2 for reserves and the Air National Guard. The Navy deadline is November 28 for active duty sailors and Marines, with reservists having until December 28. The Army deadline for all active duty service members is December 15. Army reservists and the National Guard  have until June 30, 2022 to be fully vaccinated. The services are each handling their own logistics for vaccinations, according to the official website of the Military Health System.

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Air Force Lags.

The Air Force missed having its entire force vaccinated by November 2. In all, 10,352 Airmen and Space Force Guardians — including 1,866 who have received medical or administrative exemptions — remain unvaccinated out of a total Active-duty force of approximately 326,000, Air Force Magazine reported November 3.

Senior Airman Sara Sanchez from the 6th Health Care Operations Squadron prepares a COVID-19 vaccine for distribution at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Sept. 30, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lauren Cobin)

Eight hundred uniformed personnel have refused the shot and nearly 5,000 Airmen and Guardians waiting to find out if their religious exemptions will be approved. Nearly 7 percent of the Active-duty force has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, 95.9 percent of them are fully vaccinated.

That still puts the Air Force behind the Navy, which was 99 percent vaccinated as of November. 1. As of that date, 93 percent of Active-duty Marines and 90 percent of Active-duty Soldiers were vaccinated.

Among those who remain unvaccinated, 1,634 have received medical exemptions; 232 have received administrative exemptions, such as separation or retirement; and 4,933 are pending a decision related to a request for religious exemption.

Another 2,753 unvaccinated individuals are categorized as “not started.” The Air Force said some of those individuals are deployed to overseas locations where vaccines are not readily available, the magazine noted.

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USAF Boots Recruits Who Refuse the Shot.

Forty would-be airmen or Guardians have been separated from Air Force and Space Force recruit training after refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, Military.com reported October 29.

Air Force officials confirmed that 40 basic military and technical trainees have been discharged under entry-level separation characterizations for refusing the vaccine.

Entry-level discharges can be awarded to personnel who have yet to serve 180 days; it usually carries no designation such as a good, bad or other-than-honorable discharge, simply equating to a separation from service with a potential for reenlistment if the individual chooses to get the vaccine, the website noted.

November 3, 2021 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (September 24, 2021)

Under Delft blue clouds.

(U.S. Army photo by Army Captain Nadine Wiley De Moura)

A soldier with the Texas National Guard descends to the first drop zone at Houtdorpeveld, in the Netherlands during  NATO’s largest airborne technical exercise on September 14, 2021. Exercise Falcon Leap , with more than 1,000 paratroopers from 12 different nations, led by the Royal Netherlands Army to highlight interoperability in observance of the 77th Anniversary of Operation Market Garden during World War II.

Market Garden was a massive Allied attempt to leapfrog the German Siegfried defense line with two sub-operations:

Market — an airborne assault by two American and one British airborne divisions, joined by a Polish airborne brigade to seize key bridges in the Netherlands — the last one crossing the Rhine River bordering Germany.

And Garden — a ground attack led by British armored forces, moving over the seized bridges to create a 64-mile salient into German territory with a bridgehead over the Rhine, creating an Allied invasion route into northern Germany.

For a number of reasons — including incomplete planning, bad intelligence about German forces, weather delays and insufficient aircraft to ferry an airborne Army of more than 40,000 troops — the operation failed in its ultimate objective: Punching a hole in German defenses and crossing the Rhine. More than 15,000 Allied troops were killed, wounded or captured. German casualties exceeded 6,000.

September 24, 2021 at 5:39 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Righting Old Wrongs — Honoring the Harlem Hellfighters

All-Black WW I Regiment Honored.

President Joe Biden signed legislation August 25, to award a posthumous Congressional Gold Medal to the 369th Infantry Regiment, commonly known as the “Harlem Hellfighters,” in recognition of their bravery and outstanding service during World War I.

‘Hell Fighters’ from Harlem By H. Charles McBarron (Click photo to enlarge image)

During World War I, the 369th spent 191 days in frontline trenches, more than any other American unit. They also suffered the most losses of any American regiment, with 1,500 casualties.

On August 10, the U.S. Senate passed legislation to award the medal to the Hellfighters. It was the third Gold Medal to go to an African American unit, after the Tuskegee Airmen in 2007 and the Montford Point, North Carolina, Marines in 2011.

“The Harlem Hellfighters are an example of courage under fire,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York), the Senate Majority Leader. “It has taken too long for this country to recognize their bravery.” Other supporters of the legislation were New York’s other senator, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as Representatives Tom Suozzi and Adriano Espaillat, both of New York and Representative Joyce Beatty of Ohio.

Originally formed before the war as the 15th Regiment of the New York National Guard, it was an almost entirely African-American unit. They were the first black U.S. troops sent to France, arriving in late 1917, as part of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF).

A U.S. Model 1917 Bolo knife.

The unit was relegated to labor service duties instead of combat training. As part of the 185th Infantry Brigade the 369th was assigned on January 5, 1918 to the all black 93rd Infantry Division.

Although he had commanded black troops (the famed 10th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers) in the Spanish-American War, AEF commander General John J. Pershing and others refused to integrate the armed services. Many white American soldiers refused to serve in combat with blacks. The Army decided on April 8, 1918 to assign the 369th to the French Army, which had been requesting American units as replacements. The men were issued French weapons, helmets, belts and pouches, although they continued to wear their U.S. uniforms.

“The American Negro soldier in France was treated with the same contempt and undemocratic spirit as the American Negro citizen is treated in the U.S.,” said civil rights activist, historian and author W.E.B DuBois.

The regiment, wearing French helmets while serving with the French army in 1918. (National Archives via wikipedia)

The original caption of the photo above read: “Negro troops in France,” Noting the unit had been under fire, it added: “Two of the men, Privates Johnson and Roberts, displayed exceptional courage while under fire and routed a German raiding party, for which the Negroes were decorated with the French Croix de Guerre.”

Henry Johnson wearing his French Croix de Guerre, the only decoration he received during his lifetime, for his heroism in France during World War I.

Private Henry Johnson was  cited for his heroism on the night of  May 15, 1918 on the Western Front in France. While on sentry duty with another soldier of the 369th, Johnson fended off a night raid by as many as a dozen German soldiers. Johnson and the other soldier fired on the Germans until they ran out of ammunition. They then used hand grenades and rifle butts to fight the Germans. When the other soldier was knocked unconscious, the Germans tried to carry him off as a prisoner, but Johnson battled back using his rifle as a club and then slashing at the Germans with his bolo knife. He may have killed four Germans single-handed in the dark while rescuing his comrade. 

Despite 21 wounds, Johnson did not receive the Purple Heart medal or any other citation from his country, even though former President Theodore Roosevelt described him as “one of the five bravest American soldiers in the war.” He received the Purple Heart posthumously in 1996 and the Distinguished Service Cross in 2002. The DSC was upgraded to the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award for bravery in combat, and posthumously presented by President Barrack Obama in 2015.

“America can’t change what happened to Henry Johnson,” Obama said at the award ceremony. “We can’t change what happened to too many soldiers like him, who went uncelebrated because our nation judged them by the color of their skin and not the content of their character. But we can do our best to make it right,” he added.

As part of the French Army’s 161st Division, the 369th took part in the Meuse-Argonne offensive. On September 29, after a brutal struggle, during which heavy casualties were sustained, Sechault was taken and the 369th soldiers dug in to consolidate their advanced position. That action is depicted in the painting at the top earned the Croix de Guerre for the entire regiment. But the Meuse-Argonne claimed nearly one-third of the 369th as battle casualties.

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SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress, or parade, uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York in the photo.

August 26, 2021 at 1:27 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO/SHAKO (June 18, 2021)

JUNETEENTH!

It’s June 19, or Juneteenth, – the holiday marking the last gasp of legal slavery in the United States. What started out as a holiday in Texas has been gaining recognition and popularity — especially in this very troubled time of police shootings, protest marches and the still evolving reckoning about the place of race in American history.

At 4GWAR, we thought we’d take a look at the events that led to the Juneteenth tradition in the waning days of the Civil War — harking back to a posting we created in 2015 to mark the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth

EDITOR’s NOTE: That’s how we started our blog posting a year ago. Little did we know those words would foreshadow recent events in Washington and around the country. You can see that 2020 blog posting in it’s entirety here.

But tomorrow marks the first time June 19th will be celebrated as a federal holiday since Congress passed legislation and President Biden signed it into law on Thursday (June 17) . Some people are already worried whether the U.S. Mail will be delivered or the banks will be open on the 19th. Here at 4GWAR we’ll let other folks worry about all that.

We do have one concern that arose when we read a news story about the 14 Republicans in the House of Representatives who voted against making June 19th a federal holiday. That news didn’t surprise us, not nearly as much as the news that the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to make this date a federal holiday.

The 14 House members gave various reasons for their “No” vote — some of them pretty lame, like the added cost to taxpayers of another day off for federal workers. But a few voiced concern that the official name of the new holiday, Juneteenth National Independence Day, would confuse people about the July 4 holiday — or worse, “push Americans to pick one of those two days as their independence day based on their racial identity,”as Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky said.

That did concern us at 4GWAR. The last thing the United States needs right now is something to divide us even more. And at 4GWAR, where we’ve been writing about Juneteenth (off and on) since 2011, we feel any holiday that celebrates the fight for freedom from oppression — even if it commemorates somebody else’s history, like Bastille Day, Cinco de Mayo or Hanukkah — is still worth appreciation.

We’ve been wracking our brain to find a military image in U.S. history, emblematic of the fight for freedom in the American Civil War for today’s FRIDAY FOTO. We thought about the opening battle scene in Lincoln or the final one in Glory, but on their simplest level they show white guys (the oppressors) and black guys (the oppressed) in brutal hand-to-hand combat. Neither looked like material to bring people together in today’s hair-trigger atmosphere.

Finally, we thought of Gettysburg, the epic 1993 film about the epic 1863 battle. It, too, can be problematic. Its even-handed portrayal of the soldiers and leaders of the Confederacy has been criticized as Southern propaganda. And there are next-to-no people of color in it, except for one scene with a runaway slave. However, there is a scene that captures the one difference between the soldiers in blue and those in gray (or butternut brown) — slavery. Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of the 20th Maine’s speech to a group of hard-headed soldiers from another Maine regiment who refuse to fight because their enlistment has run out. Here’s a shortened version, with very clear imagery.

In a statement quoted by the New York Times, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat of Texas (she represents the Houston area) and a lead sponsor of the bill, said “Juneteenth is as significant to African Americans as July 4 is to all Americans.” We hope that Juneteenth will grow to be appreciated by all Americans, and that whites will see it as something more than a black holiday marking beginning — just the very beginning — of the United States of America doing the right thing about racial inequality. To paraphrase Henry Fonda’s character in The Ox-Bow Incident, a cowboy trying to stop a lynching who’s been told its none of his business. Slavery “is any man’s business that’s around.”

And we hope people of color will realize than in addition to the 180,000 black soldiers who fought for freedom, thousands — if not hundreds of thousands — of white men and boys died, not just to preserve the union, but to set other people free.

We all have a stake in the meaning of Juneteenth.

ANOTHER EDITOR’s NOTE: For regular 4GWAR visitors who expect to see a beautiful photo, or at least an interesting one with a story behind it on Fridays. We will post one on Saturday as a FRIDAY FOTO EXTRA.

June 18, 2021 at 8:59 pm Leave a comment

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