Guard Muster brings Arizona together

Guard Muster brings Arizona together

Soldiers and Airmen from the Arizona National Guard assemble together in a mass formation during the Arizona National Guard Muster Dec. 7 at Arizona State University's Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. More than 3800 Guard Members from throughout the state were present for the historic muster formation. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Brian A. Barbour)

TEMPE, Ariz. - They mustered for overseas contingencies and domestic emergencies and recently the men and women of the Arizona National Guard mustered to honor the service and sacrifice of all Arizona veterans at Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Stadium here, Dec. 7.


Maj. Gen. Michael T. McGuire, the Adjutant General for Arizona, assembled Guard members from across the state into one formation for the first time in over a century.


McGuire said it was an honor to stand in front of more than 4,000 troops who volunteer to serve nation and state in the Army and Air National Guard.


“To achieve service they sacrificed to be here and that takes endurance and strength of character,” McGuire said during the ceremony.


The Muster is a time-honored National Guard tradition dating back to 1636 when America’s first colonial militia assembled in Salem, Massachusetts. The purpose of the event was to acknowledge the dedicated service of Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen after 13 years of fighting overseas.


“It was inspiring to see so many Guardsmen together and it reminds us what a great force we make together, both Army and Air Force together in one place,” said Tech. Sgt. Elena Chacon, Arizona National Guard Headquarters.


The ceremony was a mix of military tradition and technology which featured  music by the 108th Army Band and USO Show Troupe, remarks by state leaders, video productions and an F-16 Fighting Falcon flyover by the 162nd Wing.


“The flyover was very impressive and the whole program left me feeling very patriotic,” said Steve Gilbert, an Air Force veteran, who came to watch the Muster with his Marine Corps veteran son and daughter because they wanted to support Guard members.


The ceremony included the presentation of major Arizona Army and Air National Guard units as well as video remarks from Governor Jan Brewer and live remarks from Governor-Elect Doug Ducey, General McGuire, and retired Army Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakly of ASU. 


Ducey, who will be the next Commander-in-Chief of the Arizona National Guard when he takes office in January, assured the crowd that he will  support  Arizona’s troops.


"As governor, I will always be there, as you are there for us," Ducey said.  


The ceremony also paid special tribute to Pearl Harbor Day, all Arizona veterans, and fallen service members, with a special tribute to the seven Arizona Army National Guard members killed overseas and the Gold Star families in attendance.


“Gold Star families know more than anyone that service doesn’t come without sacrifice and it is an honor to have them here,” McGuire said.

After the muster, everyone enjoyed an afternoon of family actives at the Arizona National Guard’s Community Expo adjacent to the Stadium. The Community Expo’s fall carnival atmosphere was filled with nearly 200 exhibits, food vendors, live entertainment, and a Kid’s Zone with face painting, bounce houses and a visit from Santa Clause.


“The expo was great because it gave my family a chance to see different aspects of the Guard they usually don’t get to see,” said Chacon.


“After the muster, the Expo looked and felt more like a family reunion because Soldiers and Airmen who don’t get to see each other that much suddenly were reunited,” said Chacon. “It was great to see fellow Guardsmen I haven’t seen in years.”


McGuire also thanked the 3,300 community and family members in attendance.


“Endurance and strength is not just shown by Guardsmen, it is also shown by the families in the stands and  our community partners that made this day possible,” he said.


Nearly 8,000 Arizonans serve in the state’s Army and Air National Guard. Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, they have supported more than 10,000 individual deployments to overseas contingencies.