The Civil War
Many problems still plagued the organizers of the new National Guard. Paramount was the shortage of arms and equipment. Most of the weapons on hand were out-of-date Civil War muskets. Despite these early handicaps and the fact that service in the National Guard was without pay, the Oregon National Guard rapidly grew into an efficient, disciplined force. The lack of funds prevented annual camp training until 1891, after which annual camp training became a regular part of the National Guard training schedule.
Spanish American War
On May 24, 1898, the Second Oregon, along with the First California, five companies of the 14th US Infantry and a detachment of California artillery, sailed as the first of the United States Forces heading into the Pacific. The heritage of the Second Oregon who fought so valiantly in the Philippines rests today with the 162nd Infantry, Oregon Army National Guard. Three battle streamers won during these hard times now fly on their regimental flag.
World War I
On January 21, 1918 a detachment was activated to guard shipyards and public utilities along the Portland water front. They were relieved in April of 1918 by the newly organized Military Police Battalion, the predecessor to the Oregon State Police. The Home Guard trained throughout World War I and was activated on several occasions conducting security missions. On June 30, 1919 the purely "State Defense Forces" were changed to the Federal National Guard under the provisions of the National Defense Act of 1916 effectively merging the Home Guard into the Oregon National Guard.
World War II
By the time the 41st deployed overseas, the OSG had grown to over 5,000 men. According to General Cowgill, OSG Commander, the mission of the OSG was to "keep our state free of enemy invaders and saboteurs, and to keep up our military training and the production of food and war materials."
Governor Sprague published a message to the OSG that stated "It may be no occasion will arise to mobilize the Guard for duty. But it is of high importance that our State Guard be trained so that it can perform competently the duties it may be called on to perform." By 1944 all National Guard Armories except for Ashland and Woodburn which had no OSG units were under control of the State Guard.
The OSG trained throughout World War II in infantry tactics and became a competent military organization. The OSG also contributed trained soldiers to the war effort as many officers and enlisted men from the OSG went on to serve in the United States military.
General Rilea, the Oregon Adjutant General, mustered out the remaining units of the Oregon State Guard 30 June 1948 and stated "The invaluable service these war-busy citizens on the home front gave on a voluntary basis will be long remembered by the State of Oregon."
The Korean War
By 1970 the ORNGR had over 500 members, 99% of which were prior service. They were training for the mission of internal security of the state and boasted a unit in each city where there was an armory. Throughout the 70's the ORNGR trained to provide support to civil authorities and assisted the state during floods in Tillamook County and Multnomah County.
In 1983, the ORNGR underwent a major reorganization with increased numbers and new missions providing support to Oregon's Emergency Services Division and security teams for Bonneville Power and the Corp of Engineers dams and power stations throughout Oregon. During the same year, 1LT McTavish of the ORNGR was awarded the Oregon Distinguished Service Medal for his heroism in saving a family of four whose car had rolled off a boat launch into the Snake River.
In 1987 the Oregon Army National Guard conducted a statewide mobilization exercise in which ORNGR units trained to secure all equipment at the armories if the National Guard was deployed.
In 1989 the name of the ORNGR was changed to the current Oregon State Defense Force (ORSDF) by the Oregon Legislature to better coincide with federal laws.
In 1997 the Military History Detachment (MHD) was created to assist the Oregon Military Museum in its mission to stimulate scientific, literary and educational matters as they relate to State and National Military Departments, and the preservation of events concerning the Oregon Army and Air National Guard and Oregon's citizen members of all State and Federal Military Departments.
In November 2002 the ORSDF was reorganized to better mirror units of the Army National Guard with smaller company field units and two Battalion Headquarters. Today the ORSDF is tasked with being prepared for homeland security missions and assisting the 1-186 Infantry and 1-162 Infantry of the Oregon Army National Guard in accomplishing their state missions and training for their federal missions.
Last updated 06/05/08
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