The Arizona Army National Guard celebrated its sesquicentennial on September 2, marking 150 years of serving Arizona and the country from the Arizona Army National Guard Papago Park base at McDowell and 52nd Street in Phoenix.
Members of the National Guard, representatives of the county and state, and guests gathered in the base’s Allen Readiness Center to join in the 150th-birthday festivities. The Salt River Fire Department Honor Guard helped present the colors.
The Arizona Army National Guard is a component of the U.S. Army. Members of the Pima and Maricopa tribes made up the first units to serve as Arizona’s first government-sponsored military force in 1865, when they helped defend their homeland against raiding tribes and participated in the U.S. wars that took place before Arizona became a state. On September 2, 1865, five companies of more than 350 soldiers and nine officers established the 1st Infantry Regiment of Arizona. Companies B and C included Pima and Maricopa volunteers, many of whom did not even have a pair of shoes. Since then, Arizona National Guard members have fought in every major U.S. military operation, from the Spanish-American War and both World Wars to current actions in the Middle East.
Since the Pima and Maricopa played a large role in the Arizona National Guard, they were represented at the sesquicentennial celebration.
At 1300 hours, the SRPMIC Honor Guard helped present the colors. Then SRPMIC Council Representative Ricardo Leonard gave the invocation, singing an O’odham song.
“As a Community member and prior military man myself, I take a lot of pride in being able to showcase the SRPMIC in a positive and professional manner both inside and outside of the Community by way of the Salt River Honor Guard,” said Ray Martinez Honor Guard commander. “It was truly an honor and privilege to take part by posting the colors during the celebration of 150th birthday for the Arizona National Guard, also receiving a history lesson on how the Pima and Maricopa’s played an important and integral role in the first National Guard of Arizona.
A video was shown that depicted Arizona history, including wars that took place in the Arizona Territory, and included a message from Arizona Governor Doug Ducey recognizing the National Guard’s 150 birthday and proclaiming September 2 as Arizona National Guard Day, and a message from Major General Michael McGuire, Adjutant General, Arizona, who offered his congratulations. Individuals who helped organize the event also were recognized, including Community member and firefighter Ray Martinez and Council Representative Leonard.
The cutting of the cake took place, ending with both Army and Air Force songs.