BISMARCK The North Dakota National Guard, along with the South Dakota National Guard marked 150 years of service to their communities, state and nation Jan. 27.
That day in 1862 was the birth date of the organization's formation. The day marked 15 decades of honorable and distinguished service for members who have served in the very beginning of the militia to present-day soldiers and airmen of the N.D. National Guard.
"The North Dakota National Guard has an impressive record of service to this state and nation, from the early days of the organization's formation to the outstanding contributions our Guardsmen are making today here at home and in foreign lands," said Gov. Jack Dalrymple. "Throughout our history, North Dakota has been able to count on the men and women who have worn the uniform of the National Guard and our state has been forever shaped by their extraordinary service and sacrifice."
The N.D. National Guard shares its heritage with the S.D. National Guard which is traced to the Dakota Territorial Militia in the early 1860s.
The militia system was a descendant of the English colonial militia system carried over from the English colonies. On Jan. 27, 1862, the first unit of the Dakota Territorial Militia organized under Capt. Nelson Miner in the territorial capital of Yankton. On that date, the seeds were planted for what would eventually become the North Dakota and South Dakota National Guard.
During the period following statehood in November 1889, up until the Spanish- American War, the N.D. National Guard recorded no significant activities except of training and maintaining organizations. Since that time, N.D. National Guard units have served in nearly every major war or conflict, as well as providing assistance to the state in times of domestic emergencies such as floods, fires, tornadoes and winter storms.
"Like our early militia members, the soldiers and airmen of the North Dakota National Guard have met every challenge presented to them in an exemplary manner at home and abroad," said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, N.D. adjutant general. "We are proud of our rich shared heritage with our sister state, South Dakota, as we look forward to a bright future of service to our state and nation."
Throughout the history the N.D. National Guard members have served with distinction in federal active service in support of wars and conflicts such as: the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Operation Just Cause, the Persian Gulf War, operations in Kosovo, Operation Provide Comfort, Operation Northern Watch, Operation Southern Watch, Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.
Members of the N.D. National Guard are the recipients of 11 Medals of Honor. Ten were awarded for heroic action during the Philippians Insurrection in 1898-1899. In 2008, Master Sgt. Woodrow "Woody" Wilson Keeble was awarded the nation's highest honor post humorously for actions during the Korean War. Keeble is also a recipient of North Dakota's Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award.
At home in North Dakota, the Guard has responded to wildfires and tornados, assisted stranded motorists during blizzards and ice storms, and has aided law enforcement authorities with search and rescue missions. The Guard has also served on flood fighting duty for the last three years to include 142 days on flood fighting duty in 2011.
Present-day N.D. National Guard has mobilized more than 3,800 soldiers and more than 1,800 airmen in the last decade in support of the global war on terrorism. Currently, about 275 N.D. Guardsmen are serving overseas while more than 4,000 remain in the state for emergency response and national defense.