Arkansas
Army
Guard
AR-ARNG Resources

:: AR-ARNG
:: Careers
:: Information
:: History

Related Sites

:: Army Well-Being
:: Education Services
:: Sign Up

Our Mission

To provide professional personnel and ready units that are capable of responding to the needs of our nation, state, and communities.


History

Early History

     The Arkansas National Guard’s roots go back to 1804. At that time, the legislative body governing the Indiana Territory, of which Arkansas was a part, enacted a law making all free males liable for military service excepting superior court judges, supreme court judges, the attorney general, the supreme court clerk, all licensed ministers, jail keepers, and those exempted by the laws of the United States. This created the first real instance of a localized militia in the Arkansas region. However, Arkansas was still a very sparsely populated area, and though militia did exist, their function was more social in nature than anything else. It would be almost a half century before these forces would see combat.

Early Wars, Statehood, Mexican War, Other Early Actions

     Arkansas was admitted to the Union as the twenty-fifth state on June 15, 1836.  Almost ten years later, on May 27, 1846, Governor Thomas Drew issued a proclamation calling for volunteers to fight in the Mexican War.  All of the Arkansans who fought in the war were volunteers; militia raised from the civilian population, and, as such, were precursors to the National Guard as we know it today.  When the companies of the various counties came together there were twenty-two companies of cavalry and seven of infantry.  From these, ten companies of cavalry were selected for service in the Arkansas Regiment of Mounted Volunteers - a regiment that consisted of Arkansans from every conceivable social strata.  Archibald Yell, a former governor, and at the time a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, gave up his seat and enlisted as a private, later to be elected to the position of colonel.  He met his end in true heroic fashion while leading a desperate charge into Mexican lancers.  Another famous and highly controversial Arkansan, Albert Pike, also joined the war effort.  A prominent Little Rock lawyer and commander of the "Little Rock Guards",  Pike offered his company to the governor as cavalry willing to serve in Mexico.

WW 1 and 2, Specific Citations and Meritorious Service

     The United States declared war on Germany April 6, 1917. While Congress was debating the declaration of war, the 1st Regiment was mobilized March 31, 1917 and began reporting to Fort Roots in North Little Rock.  The 2nd and 3rd Regiments mobilized August 5th and were encamped around the new state capitol by August 8th.  After completing mobilization paperwork and physicals, the regiments moved to Fort Roots, and then to Camp Pike on the 24th.  In addition to the three infantry regiments, the following Arkansas National Guard units were mobilized:  1st Arkansas Ammunition Train, 1st Arkansas Ambulance Company and 1st Arkansas Field Hospital.  

     In mid-September the Arkansas units were notified that they were to be part of a newly created division, initially called the 18th but later named the 39th.  The 1st Regiment became the 153rd Infantry Regiment, the 2nd Regiment became the 142nd Field Artillery Regiment, and the 3rd Regiment was split between the 154th Infantry Regiment and 141st Machine Gun Battalion. 

     The Ammunition Train was redesignated the 114th, and the Ambulance Company became the 153rd as did the Field Hospital.  The Arkansas units were ordered to Camp Beauregard in Alexandria, LA and began moving by train in late September.  A total of 110 officers and 6,317 enlisted soldiers arrived at Camp Beauregard.  The rest of the 39th Division was made up of National Guard units from Louisiana and Mississippi, and later, was brought up to strength with the addition of soldiers from Ohio, Illinois and Kentucky.  The 39th, less its artillery units, left Camp Beauregard August 1, 1918 and sailed for overseas service August 6th.  Shortly after arriving in France, the division was broken up and personnel used as replacements on the front lines.  142nd Field Artillery Regiment (originally the 2nd Infantry) was delayed by training as it converted from infantry to artillery.  It sailed for France August 31st and arrived September 7th.    The 142nd was certified for combat November 8th, 1918 and the armistice was signed on the 11th, preventing the 142nd from participating in combat.

     Most former Arkansas guardsmen returned to the United States during January and February of 1919 and were discharged at Camp Pike.  The 142nd stayed in France to conduct tests and exercises to develop techniques for motorized artillery battalions and won a commendation for efficient performance.  The 142nd sailed from France aboard the USS Amphion June 3, 1919 and personnel were discharged at Camp Pike June 26th.

     Four Arkansas National Guard units saw service in World War II, and all were called to duty before the start of the war on December 7, 1941.

     The first unit called to active duty was the 154th Observation Squadron on September 16, 1940. After extensive stateside training, the majority of the squadron departed New York City and arrived in North Africa November 8, 1942. The airplanes arrived in early December, having flown from Florida to South America and across the Southern Atlantic via Ascension Island to Africa. Only 23 of 36 planes that started the trip arrived in North Africa.

     Flying A-20s, P-38s, P-39s and P-51s, the 154th flew combat missions from several airfields in North Africa. The 154th is credited with flying the first combat mission in a P-51 in the Mediterranean April 9, 1943. The squadron moved to Bari Airdrome east of Naples, Italy in February 1944. There the 154th flew combat missions all across Europe until the end of the war. The squadron earned a distinguished unit citation for its service in operations over the Ploesti oil refineries in August 1944 .

     The 153rd Infantry Regiment was ordered to active duty December 23, 1940 and spent the next 10 days at what is now the University of Central Arkansas. The 153rd then moved to Camp Robinson and completed basic training. Moving to Camp Forrest, TN, the regiment spent six week in maneuvers and returned to Camp Robinson for a few days of leave before shipping out to Camp Murray, WA August 20, 1941. The 1st and 3rd Battalions were then posted to Annette Island and Seward, Nome and Yakutat, Alaska. The 2nd Battalion was stationed on Umnak Island, west of Dutch Harbor and took part in the occupation of Adak Island and the assault on Kiska. The 153rd returned to Camp Shelby, MS March 21, 1944 and was deactivated on June 30th and its soldiers assigned as replacements. Many returned to Camp Robinson as cadre.

     The 206th Coast Artillery Regiment (Anti-aircraft) was ordered to active duty December 31, 1940 and began moving to Fort Bliss, TX in early January 1941. After extensive training, the 206th left Fort Bliss in August and arrived at Dutch Harbor, Alaska August 16, 1941. In June 1942 the 206th participated in the defense of Dutch Harbor against two attacks by carrier based Japanese planes. The regiment returned to Fort Bliss in March of 1944, deactivated and headquarters personnel were reassigned. The 1st Battalion was redesignated the 596th AAA (automatic weapons), but was broken up after a month and its personnel used as replacements. The 2nd Battalion was redesignated the 597th AAA (automatic weapons) and participated in the Central Europe and Rhineland campaigns. The 3rd Battalion, which was created in Alaska, was redesignated the 339th Searchlight Battalion, but was disbanded in less than three months and its personnel used as replacements.

     The 142nd Field Artillery Regiment was ordered to active duty January 6, 1941, moved to Fort Sill, OK where the 3rd Battalion was disbanded. In February the Regiment moved to Camp Bowie, TX and began extensive training. On February 25, 1943 the 142nd Field Artillery Regiment was disbanded. The headquarters was redesignated the 142nd Field Artillery Group, the 1st Battalion became the 936th and the 2nd became the 937th. These were independent battalions equipped with the 155mm howitzer.

     The 142nd FA Group left Camp Bowie September 25, 1943 and arrived in England on November 3, 1943. It crossed Utah Beach June 10, 1944 and participated in the European offensive with up to five battalions attached. When the war ended it was 25 miles from the Elbe River.

     The 936th left Camp Bowie August 9, 1943, arrived in Algiers September 2, 1943 and landed in Naples, Italy November 11, 1943. It participated in the drive across the Rapido River, the liberation of Rome and the assault on Mount Cassino. When the war ended the 936th was across the Po River, about 45 miles from Venice. It had fired 139,364 rounds in combat and was awarded battle streamers for the following campaigns: Naples-Foggia; Rome-Arno; North Appenines and Po Valley.

     The 937th left Camp Bowie on August 10, 1943, arrived in Algiers September 2, 1943 and landed in Naples, Italy November 11, 1943. It participated in the drive across the Rapido River and the liberation of Rome. It then prepared for and participated in the amphibious landings in southern France August 15, 1944. One of vessels carrying the 937th was hit by a German bomber resulting in 1 KIA, 2 MIA, 83 WIA and the loss of the fire direction equipment and one battery of howitzers. The 937th fired over 200,000 combat rounds and was awarded battle streamers for the following campaigns: Naples-Foggio; Rome-Arno; Southern France (with arrowhead); Rhineland and Central Europe.

Other
Resources
Links

:: US Army
:: AKO
:: Army National Guard
:: DefenseLINK
:: NGAA

Page last updated on:

22 July 2012