AZ Guard Celebrates 150 years of service

AZ Guard Celebrates 150 years of service

PHOENIX – Ricardo Leonard, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Councilman, conducts a blessing during the open ceremonies of the Arizona National Guard’s 150th birthday event at Papago Park Military Reservation, September 2. During the event presentations by National Guard leadership, historians, and performances by the 108th Army Band highlighted the Guard’s history since its establishment in 1865. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Army Staff Sgt. Adrian Borunda/Released)

PHOENIX – The Arizona National Guard celebrated 150 years of service during a ceremony at Papago Park Military Reservation, September 2.

In front of hundreds of Soldiers, Airmen, veterans, and citizens, Maj. Gen. Michael T. McGuire read Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s declaration of Sept. 2, 2015, as Arizona National Guard Day.

During his address, McGuire spoke on the strength of the Arizona National Guard and the importance of community partnerships.

“The National Guard draws from every group because we believe that our defense is a right that must be protected by the people,” McGuire said.

The U.S. War Department established the First Arizona Volunteer Infantry Regiment, comprised of five companies of more than 350 enlisted Soldiers and nine officers on Sept. 2, 1865. These early companies were primarily made up of Hispanics from Sonora and Native Americans from the O’odham and Maricopa tribes.

In honor of this heritage, the birthday celebration included members of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian community who opened the ceremony with a blessing from Councilman Ricardo Leonard and presentation of the colors by the Salt River Fire Department Honor Guard.

“Seeing the history of the Arizona National Guard, where we have come from and all we have done, instills pride to be a part of such historically and culturally rich organization,” said Army Sgt. Timothy Conrad, B Company 153rd Brigade Support Battalion training NCO.

Since its inception, the Arizona National Guard has been represented in every major military action of U.S. involvement. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the nearly 8,000 Soldiers and Airmen serving in the Arizona National Guard have supported over 11,000 individual deployments across the globe and continue to stand ready to deploy, if called upon, at a moment’s notice.

If you would like more information on how you can become part of the Arizona National Guard visit https://dema.az.gov.