HISTORY OF THE
GUAM NATIONAL GUARD
The National Guard of the United States is the oldest component of the Armed Forces and one of the nation’s longest-enduring institutions. Its roots are traced back to October 7, 1636 during the formation of the Militia of Massachusetts Bay Colony.
The Guam National Guard can be traced back to a quasi-military organization on the island known as the Guam Militia. A native militia was first organized by Governor Mariano Tobias during the Spanish colonial period on Guam in 1771 but was later disbanded in 1885. On March 15, 1917, U.S. Naval Governor Roy C. Smith established the Guam Militia as a result of petitions from the island residents to have universal military training for their young males. Hence, it became mandatory for males aged 16 to 23 years to attend drills for two hours on Sunday mornings at their respective districts. Once a member reached the age of 23 years, that member passed automatically into the Militia Reserve. In September 1924, the Guam Militia grew to as many as 1140 members consisting of 32 officers and 1108 non-commissioned officers.
On December 1, 1936, the Guam Militia was reorganized to a voluntary basis after the compulsory system of training was abolished and the old organization disbanded. Male applicants between the ages of 17 an 35 years, of good character and good physical condition were eligible for enlistment. The period of enlistment was for two years. Under the new system, the Reserve Militia was eliminated and members of the Militia were equipped with the U.S. Springfield Rifle, Model 1903 and required to attend drills. The new organization was patterned after the California National Guard. Three years later in 1939, the Guam Militia Regiment strength decreased to 276 members consisting of 49 officers and 227 non-commissioned officers.
In 1953, the Guam Legislature passed Public Law 23, a military code to provide the necessary basis for the establishment of a National Guard in Guam. As a result of the new law, the Guam Militia became inactive in 1956. On December 24, 1980, President Carter signs Public Law 96-600 introduced by the 96th Congress officially authorizing the establishment of the Guam National Guard. Governor Paul M. Calvo served as the first Commander-in-Chief and Brigadier Robert H. Neitz was appointed as the first Adjutant General.
On July 21, 1981, the Guam National Guard’s Command headquarters was officially established with 32 original charter members. The organization’s authorized strength has grown to over 1,700 members between its Army and Air Guard commands.
The Guam Army National Guard has made significant international, national, and local contributions within our area of operations from 1 October 1996 to 1 July 2002.
Given its mission, location in the Western Pacific, and its position as the youngest National Guard organization, the Guam Army National Guard consistently displays superior performance in the face of exceptionally difficult tasks.
The Guam National Guard provided assistance to local law enforcement agencies on several occasions. One of its first state activations was during the 1984 Micronesian Hotel stand-off and the 1987 Department of Corrections crisis. The Guam National Guard performed many territorial missions providing assistance to our villages and people during and following natural disasters, most notably during Typhoon Omar in July, 1992, the KAL Flight 701 disaster in August, 1997and Typhoon Paka in December, 1997.
Members of the Guard also provided administrative and logistical support for numerous venues during the South Pacific Games in 1999 where Guam hosted over 3000 athletes.
The Guam National Guard, in its twenty-eight year history, has participated in various official state functions such as state ceremonies, funerals, and affairs of state, providing color guard detail, staff and logistical support. The Guam Army National Guard has further assisted with funeral details to retired Army personnel.
The Guam National Guard has actively participated in the Counter Drug Program by assisting the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency at the Won Pat International Airport and the Port of Authority of Guam. Furthermore, the Guam National Guard’s Counterdrug Program, through its Drug Demand Reduction efforts, extended its influence in local schools by providing outreach programs.
During Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Guam Air National Guard members volunteered to assist the Active Component Air Force with the loading of cargo for troops in the Middle East.
The 731st Military Police Company (POW Processing) was activated during Operation Desert Storm. The unit set records in processing enemy prisoners of war, having processed over 1,900 enemy soldiers in a 24 hour period. The 731st MP Company holds the distinction of being the only Reserve Component unit in the Pacific to be activated, mobilized and deployed for combat service during the Persian Gulf Conflict.
The Guam National Guard has also assisted in numerous humanitarian missions including: Operation Fiery Vigil in 1991, during which Guam Air Guardsmen provided their assistance to displaced family members from Clark Air Base following the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines; Operation Pacific Haven where the Air Guard provided assistance to Kurdish refugees following their evacuation from Iraq in 1996; Operation Pacific Bridge where members of the Guam Army National Guard’s 909th Quartermaster Detachment provided our sister island Palau with critical water supply in 1996; providing potable water support to the southern portion of the island during the island's water shortage in 1999; and Operation New Horizons where members of the Guam Army National Guard’s 1224th Engineer Detachment helped build a school and medical clinic in Honduras in 2001.
The Guam Army National Guard is among the highest per capita Guard organizations in the nation with over 1300 members for 150,000 residents. It has consistently received first place standings for the Army National Guard Directors Award and the Recruiting Achievement Award for possessing the lowest attrition rate and the highest average recruiting and retention rate in its region. In the last six years, the organization has also consistently ranked within the top five percent in the nation in total end strength and percent assigned.
The Guam National Guard dedicated its new $8.2 million Readiness Center on 13 July 2000 and celebrated its opening in the summer of 2001. Of the 54 National Guard units of the United States and it territories, Guam, For 19 years, had been the only one without a readiness center. The Guard’s current leadership accomplished this feat within three years and secured funding for its future growth.
Through numerous community-based, leadership, educational and informational programs, the Guam National Guard Counterdrug Program supports individuals and organizations dedicated to drug intervention and prevention, and the positive development of youth. From Fiscal Year 2001 to Fiscal Year 2002, its Drug Demand Reduction Program services has increased exponentially to encompass 90% of the schools on Guam, and expanded it program to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. At the same time its Drug Interdiction section worked with the Hawaii National Guard to bring its marijuana eradication program called Operation Green Harvest to the Mid Pacific Region. Twenty-two Plants from Guam, Rota, and Saipan with a street value of 3.2 million dollars were eradicated within one week of the operation.
Members of the 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry (Light), Guam Army National Guard possess a justifiable pride for their history of service. The battalion was born in the late 80’s and matured into a formidable force during the late 90’s and into 2000. In the last ten years, it has deployed every year to areas like Ft Lewis, Washington, Tinian, Korea, Okinawa, and Hawaii. It also recently played a key role in the training at two National Training Centers while serving as a world class opposing force at the National Training Center in California and at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Louisiana. It became the lead element for Guam’s response to Operation Nobel Eagle with the Airport Security Mission and the Guam Power Authority Security Mission and still had time for a second dual deployment to Schofield Barracks and the Joint Readiness Training Center. The Battalion is the mainstay of the Guam Guard and directly contributes to its distinguished history and continues the tradition of excellence and notable accomplishments.
The Guam Army National Guard’s 1224th Engineer Detachment (Utilities), as part of Exercise Tandem Thrust 1999, engaged in preliminary maintenance and construction activity in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Australia. They deployed halfway around the world to aid in the building of schools in Operation New Horizon 2001 in Honduras, and once again in Balikatan 2002 were it participated in a joint U.S. and Philippine Armed Forces Civil Action Project.
The 909th Quartermaster Detachment tested its mettle in FY 2002 and FY 2001 by competing in the annual ROWPU RODEO at Fort Story, Virginia. Given the long distance they had to travel and the training resources available on a small island in the Pacific, the 909th consistently performing well during the phase I competition.
On August 6, 1997, at approximately 1:42 a.m. Guam time, a Korean Air Boeing 747 traveling from Seoul to Guam crashed into a hill 3 miles short of Guam International Airport. The Guam Army National Guard quickly responded to the emergency, within two hours of the crash the Guam Army National Guard had activated its Emergency Operations Center, deployed its full time force, and alerted its members. The advance party of thirty soldiers converged onto the location to create paths to the crash site. Facing rough terrain, darkness and dense sword grass they assisted in pulling the survivor out of the wreckage and later providing security to the crash site.
In December 1997, for more than 27 hours, the people of Guam endured Supertyphoon Paka. The typhoon brought recorded wind gusts in excess of 201 mph and sea levels rising to 35 feet above normal. Damage to the island was estimated at more than $200 million. The typhoon destroyed homes, businesses and almost everything in its path. With 30 percent of Guam's residents homeless and electricity and water unavailable to 90 percent of the island, Guam’s citizen-soldiers reacted immediately to safeguard property and assist in the recovery operations in the wake of the devastation. All units of the Guam Army National Guard provided assistance to the people of Guam by establishing traffic control points at the island’s major intersections from sunrise to sunset in blistering heat, inclement weather and low light conditions. They assisted in debris removal in all villages and major thruways as well as provided shelter, physical security and food service to the homeless. A total state mobilization of the Guam Army National Guard, these men and women left their damage homes to provide relief to the citizens of Guam often taking care of their needs second to the needs of the island.
During FY99 the GUARNG participated in many significant operations. The organization started with a National Guard Bureau Command Logistics Review Team Inspection (CLRT-X) scheduled in March. The GUARNG passed the inspection and achieved a ”noteworthy” rating, the highest possible for such an inspection. Almost immediately after the CLRT-X, the GUARNG was called into state active duty to help provide relief to the overwhelming demand for local and federal uniformed officers during the XI South Pacific Games. This sporting event is second in size and participation to the Olympics. GUARNG Members administratively augmented state and federal law enforcement agencies and managed command and operation centers 24 hours a day while utilizing their operational expertise. Guam hosted this momentous event for over 4,000 athletes and dignitaries from 21 island nations.
In the summer of 2000, the Hawaii and Guam National Guard started the first State Partnership Program with the Republic of the Philippines. This partnership formation greatly enhanced the United States Pacific Command’s ability to conduct its engagement policies, improved relationships between The United States Government and the Philippines, and addressed operational-level issues for future multilateral planning and execution. Given the size and age of the Guam Army National Guard, this feat is unprecedented.
The men and women of the Guam Army National Guard have maintained its readiness as part of the overall national strategic defense. The Island's geographical location allows the GUARNG to utilize a host of diverse international training areas and opportunities to enhance its readiness and to respond rapidly to international crises within its immediate area. The High OPTEMPO pace that the Guam National Guard maintains and its maturity to the national and international stage in such as small amount of time in comparison to other Guard units is highly commendable and deserving of recognition for its service. The Guam National Guard today stands ever ready to protect our island’s people, property and liberty in times of war, peace and emergencies.