150 Years of the Wyoming National Guard
A century and a half ago on November 7th, 1871, Governor of the Wyoming Territory John A. Campbell spoke to the Wyoming Legislative Assembly in his State of the Territory Address, “I desire earnestly to invite your attention to the imperative necessity that exists for the passage of a militia law.” He argued that due to the lack of a militia law, Wyoming inhabitants were left without any armed organization for protection in the sparsely populated region of Wyoming. Thirty-six days later on December 13th, the Council and House of Representatives of the Territory of Wyoming responded positively to the Governor’s request and enacted laws concerning the formation of militia companies, namely that the militia must be volunteer men between 18 and 45 years old with elected officers, and that they may be called out in cases of war, invasion, riots, and other critical events.
While December 13th, 1871 is not the Wyoming Guard’s official birthday, it does mark an important anniversary for how our militia came to grow into what we are today. Several small units organized and disbanded over the next couple of decades to respond to local emergencies; however, in 1888 the first Wyoming units to be recognized by the federal government formed as Companies A and B of the 1st Wyoming Regiment, also known as the Laramie Grays and Cheyenne Guards respectively.
Since its first federal call to action in the Filipino theater of the Spanish-American War in 1898, the Wyoming National Guard has served in every major American war and conflict, not to mention countless emergencies within the United States and peacekeeping or humanitarian missions here and abroad. The mission and composition of the Wyoming Guard have altered many times since its formation. Our Army Guard began as an infantry regiment and since then has added horse cavalry, mechanized cavalry, engineers, medevac, aviation, and artillery among other units to their long resume.
The Wyoming Air National Guard formed in 1946. Their mission has changed as well over the decades. From a fighter interceptor squadron to medevac and transportation to aerial firefighting, the Wyoming Air Guard has also built an impressive reputation.
It has been 150 years since the Wyoming legislature formally recognized the need for a territorial militia. Since then, the Wyoming National Guard has proved itself time and time again to be a crucial part of our state’s and nation’s security.