Ohio National Guard History

Originally established as part of the Northwest Territory Militia, the Ohio National Guard was born in Marietta, Ohio, July 25, 1778. Driven by a commitment to protect the family, farm, and country, colonial citizen-soldiers fought battles not only at home but in distant places as well.

During the War of 1812, these Militiamen completely eliminated the Indian threat in Ohio. In 1846, Ohio furnished over 8,000 men for the Mexican War, nearly one-eighth of the Army land force. In 1861, when President Lincoln asked for 13,000 troops to fight the Civil War, 30,000 responded. By the end of 1865, a total of 350,000 Ohioans served in the War between the States.

In March of 1864, new legislation resulted in the active Militia adopting the name “National Guard of Ohio,” In 1898, Ohio had 15,000 men answer the first call to the Spanish-American War. Over 225,000 Ohio Guardsmen served in World War I, and approximately 200,000 were mustered into service for World War II. Following World War II, the Ohio National Guard was recognized to include, for the first time, a separate Air Guard. Since that time the Ohio National Guard has been called upon during the Korean War, the Berlin Buildup, Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, the Bosnia Crisis, and more recently Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and the Global War on Terror.

While these National Guard members served in their federal mission, Ohio’s citizen-soldiers also responded to save the lives and property of Ohioans in times of need: The 1924 Lorain Tornado, the 1936-37 Ohio River Flood, the 1974 Xenia Tornado, the 1978 statewide blizzard, the 1985 Niles Tornado, the 1990 Shadyside Flood and the 1993 Lucasville Prison Riot.

Ohio’s Guardsmen stand ready to assist with emergencies in other states via the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. When Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated several Gulf States, more than 1,500 soldiers and airmen from multiple units in the Ohio National Guard answered their call help. Currently, the Ohio National Guard has more than 10,000 Army Guard and 5,000 Air Guard members. Based throughout the state, they stand trained and ready. In addition to national defenses and emergency responses with the state, today’s Guard members have taken on new challenges. Throughout Ohio, the National Guard has initiated programs that will add significant value to our communities. The Guard has participated in statewide drug eradication programs that have seized millions of dollars in illegal drugs, weapons and illicit materials annually. Our Drug Demand Reduction Programs in local schools have educated more than 50,000 children to the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. We have also helped prepare high school students to pass the ninth-grade proficiency test through a tutoring program conducted in local schools, armories, and air bases. Our members have also participated in other community-focused programs such as building safe playgrounds for urban area children.

The Ohio National Guard has a long and distinguished history of service to the state and nation. As America’s community-based defense force, the Ohio National Guard stands ready to meet the challenges of the 21st Century!