LATHAM, NY (12/12/2017) (readMedia)-- The New York National Guard will celebrate the 381st birthday of the National Guard with a traditional military cake cutting ceremony at New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs headquarters on Wednesday, Dec. 13.
The oldest and youngest Guard members present will cut the cake. Members of the press are invited to attend.
WHO: Major Gen. Raymond Shields, the commander of the New York Army National Guard will preside over the cake-cutting ceremony. New York Air National Guard Chief Master Sergeant Michael Blake, a 58-year old Ballston Spa resident who has served in the military since 1977, will be the oldest cake cutter. New York Army National Guard Specialist Jade Richards, age 19 and a Watervliet resident who enlisted in 2015 will be the youngest cake cutter.
WHAT: Commemoration of the National Guard's 381st Birthday. The National Guard is the oldest armed service in the United States, predating the American Revolution, and traces its lineage back to the legislation organizing the Massachusetts Bay Colony militia which was approved on Dec. 13, 1636.
WHERE: New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs Headquarters, 330 Old Niskayuna Road, Latham, N.Y. 12210.
WHEN: 2 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017.
Members of the media interested in covering this event should contact the Division of Military and Naval Affairs Public Affairs Office at 518-786-4581 for access to this secure facility.
Chief Master Sgt. Michael Blake:
Chief Master Sgt. Michael Blake enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1977 and served as an Active Duty Marine until 1986 when he joined the New York Air National Guard. The Ballston Spa resident is a member of the 109th Airlift Wing based at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia. He services as Maintenance Group Superintendent.
Specialist Jade Richards:
Specialist Jade Richards enlisted in the New York Army National Guard in November 2015. The Watervliet resident is assigned to the 42nd Infantry Division's Signal Company, Detachment 1 based at the Glenmore Road Armory in Troy. She serves as a signals support systems specialist.
The National Guard:
The National Guard, today composed of the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard, traces its birthday back to December 13, 1636 when the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony passed a law establishing formal militia companies in the colony. These companies were made up of all adult males older than 16 and were expected to meet and train in military skills regularly.
In New York, the first citizen-soldiers were members of the Burgher Guard, organized by the Dutch East Indian Company in 1640 to help protect New Amsterdam from their English neighbors in Massachusetts and Virginia or from hostile natives.
After New Amsterdam became the English colony of New York in 1665, a militia modeled on the system used in Massachusetts and other English colonies was put in place.
There are 10,300 members of the New York Army National Guard and 5,800 members of the New York Air National Guard.
Some notes from New York National Guard history include:
• New York gave the country the term National Guard for its militia forces when the 2nd Battalion, 11th Regiment of the New York Militia renamed themselves the National Guard to honor the Marquis de Lafayette, a hero of the American Revolutionary War who had commanded a force called the "Guard de National" in the early days of the French Revolution.
• The 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry was portrayed in the 1940 movie "The Fighting 69th" starring Jimmy Cagney and Pat O'Brien. The movie was based on the historic unit's service in World War I.
• The New York Army National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division was given its nickname "The Rainbow Division" during World War I by General Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur, then a colonel, was charged with organizing a division of National Guard troops from across the country to deploy to France in 1917. He described the division as reaching across the country "like a rainbow."
• The band of the New York National Guard's 369th Infantry Regiment, an African American unit originally formed as the 15th New York, is credited with introducing jazz music to Europe during World War I. The 369th became known as the Harlem Hell Fighters.
• The oldest Air National Guard unit in the nation is part of the New York Air National Guard. The 102nd Rescue Squadron of the 106th Rescue Wing traces its history back to the 1st Aero Company organized in the New York National Guard in 1908 as a balloon unit.
• The Soldiers of the New York National Guard's 105th Infantry Regiment faced the largest Japanese "Banzai" attack of the Second World War on 7 July 1944 on the Island of Saipan. The 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 105th Infantry had 650 men killed and wounded but killed more than 4,300 Japanese Soldiers. Three regimental Soldiers earned the Medal of Honor posthumously in that battle that day.
• The New York Air National Guard's 138th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, based at Syracuse, was one two Air National Guard units assigned to provide aircraft for the defense of the United States on March 1, 1953. Today the unit operates the MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft.
• The New York National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division served in Iraq in 2005 and was the first National Guard division headquarters to deploy to a combat zone since the Korean War in 1953.
Citizen Soldiers of the militia and National Guard have fought in all of America's wars from King Philips War against Native Americans in the New England Colonies in 1675 to Afghanistan today.