By Eric Durr, New York National GuardDecember 14, 2018
LATHAM-- The New York National Guard marked the 382nd Birthday of the National Guard with senior Guard leaders joining a young Soldier and Airman in cutting a birthday cake at New York National Guard headquarters in Latham, N.Y. on Thursday, Dec. 13.
Airman 1st Class Emily Irish, age 18 and a member of the 109th Airlift Wing and Pvt. Michael Mohabir, age 17, a member of the 1427th Transportation Company joined senior leaders in cutting the National Guard cake with a ceremonial saber.
Traditionally the oldest Guard member present joins the youngest in cutting the cake at these events.
Major General Ray Shields, the Adjutant General of New York and the commander of the New York National Guard, decided to have his key leaders present join the young troopers in the ceremony.
Irish is from Porter Corner, N.Y. and Mohabir is from Schenectady, N.Y. The 109th Airlift Wing is based at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia, N.Y. The 1427th Transportation Company is located at the Queensbury Readiness Center in Queensbury, N.Y.
He was proud to be part of the ceremony because he enjoys being in the Army Guard, Mohabir said.
Being part of the event was "pretty great because I am proud to be in the Air Guard," Irish said.
In his remarks, Shields thanked the members of the New York Army and Air National Guard and the federal and state civilian employees who work hard every day to accomplish missions.
"It's not about the organization. It's about the people who make up the organization," he said.
Shields also recognized two new Soldiers and two new Airmen by presenting them with New York National Guard challenge coins.
PFC Esteban Galva from Schenectady, Pvt. Tristan Mcewan from Leeds, Airman Arnaldo Jimenes from Rensselaer, and Airman Alexander White from Postenkill were recognized.
Galva joined the New York National Guard in December 2017 and serves as a supply specialist with Headquarters 42d Infantry Division. McEwan, joined the Guard in August and serves as an Infantryman with the Charlie Company 2/108th Infantry,
Jimenez and Alexander White, who are members of the 109th Airlift Wing Student Flight are training to serve in the Intelligence field.
The National Guard claims Dec. 13, 1636 as its official birthday.
On that date the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony passed a law establishing formal militia companies in the colony. These companies were made up of all adult males older than 16 and were expected to meet and train in military skills regularly.
In New York, the first citizen-soldiers were members of the Burgher Guard, organized by the Dutch East Indian Company in 1640 to help protect New Amsterdam from their English neighbors in Massachusetts and Virginia or from hostile natives.
After New Amsterdam became the English colony of New York in 1665, a militia modeled on the system used in Massachusetts and other English colonies was put in place.
These colonial militia's served as the basis for the first American Army when the Revolutionary war broke out in 1775 and the militia continued to play a role in the war, while the bulk of the continual serve was borne by the professional Soldiers of the Continental Army.
The 1792 Militia Act gave the President of the United States the power to call up the state militias when necessary but gave the states the power to appoint officers and set training standards.
Citizen Soldiers of the militia and National Guard have fought in all of America's wars from King Philips War against Native Americans in the New England Colonies in 1675 to Afghanistan today.
New York had one of the biggest and best organized state militias and gave the country the term National Guard.
In 1825 the Marquis de Lafayette, the French hero of the American Revolution visited New York on his way home from a tour of the United States. The 2nd Battalion 1th Regiment of the New York Militia turned out to honor the hero and decided to rename itself the National Guard in honor of Lafayette.
During the early days of the French Revolution, Lafayette had commanded a unit known as the Garde National, and the name change into an English version was made to salute him.
The name, though, stuck and in the early days of the Civil War, New York State renamed its militia the National Guard. Other state militia's followed suit and the name was finally codified as a national standard in the Dick Act which made the National Guard the primary reserve force of the Army.
New York can claim a number of significant moments in National Guard history.
The New York National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division was originally made up of National Guard units from around the United States and known as "the Rainbow Division" because the division reached across the country like a rainbow. That name was coined by the division's chief of staff who was later a brigade commander and division commander, General Douglas MacArthur.
The New York Army National Guard's 1st Battalion 69th Infantry has been immortalized in both song and story. The Irish folksong "The Fighting 69th" tells the story of the 69th Infantry during the Civil War and the 1940 movie "The Fighting 69the" tells the story of the regiment's experiences in World War I. The movie featured Pat O'Brien as Father Duffy, the 69th's famous chaplain, and Jimmy Cagney as a Soldier.
The New York National Guard's 15th Infantry, an African-American regiment in a segregated Army, became famous as the 369th Infantry Harlem Hell Fighters during World War I. The regiment fought with the French Army and its members earn numerous awards for heroism.
The regimental band is credited with introducing jazz music to Europe during World War I.
The oldest Air National Guard unit in the nation is part of the New York Air National Guard. The 102nd Rescue Squadron of the 106th Rescue Wing traces its history back to the 1st Aero Company organized in the New York National Guard in 1908 as a balloon unit.
The Soldiers of the New York National Guard's 105th Infantry Regiment faced the largest Japanese "Banzai" attack of the Second World War on 7 July 1944 on the Island of Saipan. The 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 105th Infantry had 650 men killed and wounded but killed more than 4,300 Japanese Soldiers. Three regimental Soldiers earned the Medal of Honor posthumously in that battle that day.
The New York Air National Guard's 138th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, based at Syracuse, was one two Air National Guard units first assigned to provide aircraft for the defense of the United States on March 1, 1953. Today the unit operates the MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft.
The New York National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division, which served in Iraq in 2005, was the first National Guard division headquarters to deploy to a combat zone since the Korean War in 1953.