An Abbreviated History of the Mississippi National Guard
Revised December 15, 2008
On September 8, 1798, Winthrop Sargent, the territorial governor of Mississippi, issued an official order calling for the organization of a militia. More than 208 years later, descendants of that militia serve around the globe. They are proud members of the Mississippi National Guard.
The missions of the Mississippi Army National Guard (1798) and the Mississippi Air National Guard (1939) are now, and always have been, dual in nature.
The state mission is: to provide protection of life and property, and uphold the preservation of peace, order and public safety for the citizens of Mississippi, under the leadership and control of the governor.
The federal mission is straightforward: to serve for the common defense, under Presidential authority, in times of national emergency or war.
The earliest recorded action of the Mississippi Army National Guard came in 1806, when the 1st Regiment of the Mississippi Militia was mobilized to counteract actions by Aaron Burr, who was tried but acquitted of treason for attempting to form a new republic.
Since then, the Mississippi National Guard has a long history of service in the “homeland defense.” The Mississippi Emergency Service Medal has been authorized for more than 49 different operations, including: 14 hurricanes; seven floods; five tornados; and numerous civil disturbances that range from the textile strike in 1934 to civil strive in the 1960’s.
In 1927, Mississippi Guardsmen patrolled 70 miles along the flooded Mississippi River Delta, rescuing, evacuating and providing encampments for more than 30,000 refugees.
From September 30 to October 9, 1962, President John F. Kennedy federalized the entire Mississippi National Guard in connection with the integration of the University of Mississippi.
In October 1962, a major portion of the Mississippi Guard also responded to a major chlorine spill at Natchez.
The state and federal missions collided for the first time 42 years later: Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005; and Operation Iraqi Freedom. With more than 3,000 Soldiers and Airmen overseas, the Mississippi National Guard led a historic response to the worst natural disaster to hit the United States.
As threats to and within our state change, so does the Guard. The Mississippi National Guard’s 47th Civil Support Team was certified in October 2006. This full-time unit’s sole mission is to respond to weapons of mass destruction threats within the state. They are fully equipped, fully funded, and serve under the control of the governor.
Also, the full-time counter-drug helicopter team, formerly know as the Reconnaissance and Interdiction team, has been redesignated as Company C, 1st Battalion, 114th Aviation. Much more that just a name change, Company C is capable of being the eyes and ears for not only counter-drug duties, but also counter-terrorism duties.
Emergency service at home is, by no means, an easy mission. By nature, it invokes emotional involvement, it requires separation from loved ones, and it demands the same professionalism and courage required by the federal mission.
The Mississippi National Guard has served in the Creek War, War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War, World Wars One and Two, Korea, Operation Desert Storm, Haiti, Bosnia-Kosovo, Somalia, Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The Mississippi Dragoons, under Maj. Thomas Hinds, demonstrated the fighting spirit and resolve of the Mississippi Militia during the War of 1812.
The 1st Mississippi Regiment of Infantry, the "Mississippi Rifles" under the command of a young colonel named Jefferson Davis, turned the tide at the Battle of Buena Vista during the Mexican War. Colonel Davis's command "STAND FAST MISSISSIPPIANS" remains the motto of the Mississippi Army National Guard's oldest unit, and the Army’s sixth oldest active regiment, the 1st Battalion, 155th Infantry.
In less than 30 minutes at the Battle of Shiloh during the Civil War, the 6th Mississippi Infantry lost 300 of 425 men, the fourth highest loss suffered by a southern regiment in a single battle.
July 1917 the entire Mississippi National Guard called into service for World War I. Included in the call-up were two regiments of infantry, one regiment of field artillery, nine troops of cavalry, and one company of engineers. The first black registrants were also drafted for training.
Mississippi’s oldest Air National Guard unit, the 186th Air Refueling Wing in Meridian, was activated at Key Field on September 27, 1939, as the 153rd Observation Squadron. Less than 13 months later, it was ordered into active service.
The Guard was activated again for war on November 25, 1940, and served with honor on battlefields throughout Europe and the Pacific. The 31st Infantry (Dixie) Division gained fame, and was again called on for the Korean Conflict. Almost 95 percent of the Mississippi National Guard units were mobilized for the Korean Conflict.
In July 1953, the Mississippi Air National Guard’s 172nd Airlift Wing was formed at Hawkins Field in Jackson. It is recognized as the first Air National Guard unit in the nation to use night photo reconnaissance, the first ANG unit to have an aeromedical evacuation mission, and the first Mississippi National Guard unit to enlist females.
During Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Mississippi was the largest National Guard contributor to the war effort. Over 6,500 Mississippi National Guard members, representing 70 units and 57 communities, saw active duty during the Persian Gulf Crisis, with more than 1,300 deployed to Saudi Arabia.
In support of Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Mississippi National Guard has mobilized over 10,000 service members, with every deployable unit participating.
From protecting the skies over Washington D.C. with the 1st Battalion, 204th Air Defense Artillery; to patrolling the streets and conducting historic elections with the 155th Brigade Combat Team in Iraq; to hunting the Taliban in Afghanistan with the 2nd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group; to conducting theater-level logistics for all of Southwest Asia with the 184th Transportation Command Element; and to conducting combat aeromedical evacuation missions with the 172nd Airlift Wing, the Mississippi National Guard continues her faithful service to the United States of America.