LATHAM, New York--A 60-year old helicopter pilot from Rochester, and a 17-year old from Castleton-on-Hudson who wants to be a mechanic, represented the past and future of the National Guard during the annual Guard Birthday observance on Wednesday, Dec. 13 at New York National Guard headquarters in Latham.
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Michael Zanghi, who has served over 42 years in the Army, joined Pvt. Sean McCauley, a Castleton resident, who enlisted in July to serve as a wheeled vehicle mechanic.
Traditionally the youngest service member present joins the oldest in cutting the birthday cake. The oldest service member represents the history and traditions of the National Guard, while the youngest represents the future of the Guard.
The National Guard claims Dec. 13, 1636, the date the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s legislature established formal militia companies in the colony.
In his remarks, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Mark Shumway, the New York Army Guard’s command chief warrant officer who presided over the ceremony emphasized that the National Guard fights the nation’s wars and serves at home during times of emergency.
Currently there are hundreds of New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen deployed overseas. Meanwhile more than 2000 members of the Army an Air Guard and Naval Militia are currently serving to help the state cope with the ongoing migrant crisis, Shumway said.
Zanghi, the New York Army National Guard Aviation Office safety officer, has served in the Army Guard since 1981 in a variety of aviation positions.
He started out flying the venerable UH-1 “Huey helicopter and most recently flew the CH-47F heavy lift helicopter in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
He is due to retire in February and hopes to continue working in the aviation safety field as a civilian.
Representing the traditions of the National Guard is “humbling”, but he’s also proud to do so, he said.
“The doors that were available to me, the doors that were open for me, the opportunities have been immense,” he said.
“It’s not been a job. It’s always been something that’s been really fun, and that is why I am still here,” he said.
McCauley, a senior at Maple Hill Sr. High School in Schodack, said he enlisted in the Army National Guard because he wanted to be a mechanic and this would be the best way to do so.
He was originally thinking of joining the Marine Corps, but the Army National Guard would seem to be the better option, McCauley said.
When he completes his training, he will serve in detachment of the 224th Security and Support Aviation Regiment which operates the C-12 fixed wing transport at Albany International Airport in Latham.
Representing the future of the National Guard is a “big responsibility and I’m willing to take it,” he said.
Along with the cake-cutting ceremony, the event included a symbolic oath affirmation ceremony for McCauley and six other new Army and Air Guard recruits administered by Zanghi.
--Private Ethan Bernard, age 17, from Ballston Spa, who enlisted in September to serve as a combat medic with the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment in Utica.
--Private 1st Class Glenn Bryant, age 17 from Kingston, who enlisted in June of this year as a military police Soldier in the 206th Military Police Company here in Latham.
--Airman Elaine Emery, age 19, from Greenfield City, who enlisted October 21 to serve as an Aerospace Medical Service Technician with the 109th Airlift Wing in Scotia.
--Airman Jamisen Hotujec, age 20, from Glenmont, who enlisted in mid-November to serve as a Heavy Aircraft Integrated Avionics Technician with the 109th Airlift Wing.
--Airman Nasiru Kotey, age 22, from Albany, who enlisted last Thursday, December 7, to serve in the 109th Airlift Wing as a Heavy Aircraft Integrated Avionics Technician.
-Private Joshuah McGahan, age 18, from Kingston, who enlisted in July to serve as a combat medic with the 466th Area Support Medical Company in Queensbury.
The National Guard, which is composed of the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard, traces its official birthday to December 13, 1636.
That day the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the colony’s legislature, 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 in what is now New York City, 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.
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 the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Today there are 11,000 members of the New York Army National Guard and 5,800 members of the New York Air National Guard.
Some notes from New York National Guard history include:
--New York gave the country the term National Guard for its militia forces when the 2nd Battalion, 11th Regiment of the New York Militia renamed themselves the National Guard to honor the Marquis de Lafayette, a hero of the American Revolutionary War who had commanded a force called the "Guard de National" in the early days of the French Revolution.
--The 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment was portrayed in the 1940 movie "The Fighting 69th" starring Jimmy Cagney and Pat O'Brien. The movie was based on the historic unit's service in World War I.
--The New York Army National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division was given its nickname "The Rainbow Division" during World War I by General Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur, then a colonel, was charged with organizing a division of National Guard troops from across the country to deploy to France in 1917. He described the division as reaching across the country "like a rainbow."
--The band of the New York National Guard's 369th Infantry Regiment, an African-American unit originally formed as the 15th New York, is credited with introducing jazz music to Europe during World War I. The 369th became known as the Harlem Hell Fighters.
--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 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 Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing flies the largest ski-equipped aircraft in the world, able to land on snow at the South Pole Station.
-The New York National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division headquarters and support units served in Iraq in 2005 and was the first National Guard division headquarters to deploy to a combat zone since the Korean War in 1953.