History of The Iowa National Guard
CW2 David L. Snook
Iowa National Guard Historian
The history of the National Guard is really the history of America itself. The roots of the National Guard go back to the various colonial militias organized by English colonists in the 1600s. The name "National Guard" was first applied to units of the New York State Militia. It was a tribute to the Revolutionary War hero, the Marquis de Lafayette, during his visit to the United States in 1825. After the American Revolution, the Marquis had returned to France where he commanded the Paris militia, the famous "Garde Nationale," during the French Revolution. By the 1880s, the new designation had been adopted by state militias throughout the United States. In 1877, the Iowa Militia was officially redesignated as the Iowa National Guard.
Whether as militiamen or Guardsmen, citizen soldiers have played a central role in every major military conflict in our nation’s history. Even so, the topic of National Guard history has been generally overlooked by professional historians. There are only a few good general histories of the National Guard, the most notable being The Minute Man in Peace and War by Jim Dan Hill. There is no comprehensive, overall history of the Iowa National Guard. It is the objective of this publication to, at least partially, fill that void.
This book has been written by members of the Military History Section, Joint Forces Headquarters, Iowa Army National Guard. It focuses on the heritage and achievements of the Iowa Militia/Iowa National Guard from territorial times until the present. After the comprehensive reorganization of the nation’s military forces in the late 1940s, the Air National Guard and the Army National Guard became separate components within the National Guard Bureau. This narrative deals primarily with the history of the Iowa Army National Guard. Air Guard history is addressed, but to a lesser degree. There is already an excellent history of the Iowa Air National Guard – The History of the 124th Fighter Squadron/132nd Fighter Wing, Iowa Air National Guard (1982).
The history of the Iowa National Guard reflects the character of the people of the state. It is a chronicle of their bravery, dedication and willingness to serve, during both national and state emergencies. Researching the history of the Iowa National Guard has been a rewarding endeavor. It has been both educational and inspirational. We hope you will enjoy the story.