The Wyoming National Guard has a rich and varied history. Its first units were formed in 1870; in 2015, 145 years later, we have more than 40 units in two military branches.
Wyoming Army National Guard
Wyoming took the first steps toward organizing what would become the Wyoming Army National Guard 95 years after the first major battle of the Revolutionary War.
In 1870 Wyoming Territorial Governor John A. Campbell authorized division of the territory into three military districts. A year later, Wyoming’s Territorial Assembly passed a law, effective Dec. 31, 1871, giving legal sanction to the formation of volunteer militia companies of not less than 40 men.
A number of colorful, but apparently short-lived, units, organized over concern of possible conflicts with American Indian tribes, came and went, including the “Cheyenne Rangers,” the 1st Regiment, “Wyoming Home Guard,” and the “Wyoming Rangers.”
The first federally recognized Wyoming unit was the “Laramie Grays,” organized in 1888. The “Grays,” Company A, 1st Wyoming Regiment, was followed the same year by Company B, known as the “Cheyenne Guards.”
Constitutional provisions for units in Buffalo, Rock Springs, Green River, Douglas, Sheridan, Evanston and Rawlins came in 1890 when Wyoming became a state.
The first federal mobilization of a Wyoming Army National Guard unit came in 1898 with the Spanish-American War.
Since 1898, the Wyoming Guard has been mobilized for active service in the Mexican Punitive Campaign, both World Wars, the Berlin Crisis, and Korea.
The combat action of the Wyoming Army Guard’s 300th Armored Field Artillery Battalion during the Battle of Soyang in Korea, was commemorated in 1983 as part of the National Guard Heritage Painting series at the Pentagon.
Most recently, Wyoming Army National Guard units have served in Desert Storm and as part of the peacekeeping force in Bosnia, Operation Iraqi Freedom. Operation Enduring Freedom and Support to Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana.
Wyoming Air National Guard
The Wyoming Air National Guard was first organized in a small hangar on the southwest side of Cheyenne Municipal Airport, as the Army Air Forces’ highly decorated 402nd Fighter Squadron was deactivated Nov. 10, 1945, and reactivated as the 187th Fighter Squadron.
The unit was allotted to the National Guard on Aug. 10, 1946, under Maj. Robert E. Sedman. Flying P-51s, on April 1, 1951, it was activated for service during the Korean conflict, with personnel assigned to Clovis Air Force Base, New Mexico; Germany; Okinawa; and South Korea. In Korea 18 Wyoming pilots flew 1,500 combat missions.
The most dramatic change came for the WyANG in 1961 when it changed from a fighter unit to flying C-119 Flying Boxcars and airlifting medical patients, as the newly designated 187 Aeromedical Transport Squadron. On June 21, 1963 it received C-121 Super Constellation, aircraft and expanded its military airlift role to worldwide mission capabilities.
In 1972, the Wyoming Air Guard received its first turbo prop C-130 Hercules, which has proved to be one of the toughest and most versatile aircraft ever built, and which the unit continues to fly more than 40 years later.
In 1975, the unit was selected for the unique role of aerial firefighting. Two Wyoming C-130s were equipped with Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems (MAFFS) and began water/fire retardant bombing of fires throughout the United States. The unit still flies the MAFFS mission in support of the U.S. Forest Service. At the end of 1997 the unit flew the MAFFS mission in Indonesia – the first time a U.S. airborne firefighting mission had been done outside of the continental United States.
The unit regularly flies humanitarian aid missions, cargo and troop transport mission and performs combat operations around the globe.