Texas Guard At 70!
MAJ Michael Quinn Sullivan, TXSG
AUSTIN - While its history can be traced to Stephen F. Austin’s colonial militia, the modern Texas State Guard is celebrating its 70th anniversary this week. Today’s guard features more than 2,000 men and women serving the state – peak participation since World War II.
“Whatever the task, the Texas State Guard has been, and will continue to be, equal to it,” said Commanding General Ray Peters, who leads the Guard under the direction of the Texas Adjutant General and the Governor. “This is Texans serving Texans in practical and pragmatic ways.”
On Feb. 10, 1941, Texas Gov. Lee O’Daniel signed the Defense Act creating the Texas Defense Guard. The U.S. Congress had previously authorized the states to establish defensive units to serve at the discretion of the governor in support capacities. When the federal authority for the “Defense Guard” expired in 1947, the Texas Legislature re-authorized the entity under the banner of the “Texas State Guard Reserve Corps.”
Today’s state guard is one of three components of the Texas Military Forces, alongside the Army National Guard and Air National Guard. But unlike the National Guard entities, the State Guard generally serves only within the borders of the Texas and answers only to the governor. When activated, guardsmen provide critical services in times of natural and man-made disasters. In recent years the Texas State Guard has played critical roles in a wide-range of situations, from the search-and-recovery of the Columbia to shelter management in last summer’s Hurricane Alex.
“The flexibility of having 2,000 professional, civic-minded and uniformed Texans serving in the State Guard means we can mobilize anywhere in the state within hours of activation by the governor,” said Peters. “We serve to support the needs of local authorities, and provide for the relief and comfort of our neighbors at the worst of times. Whether it’s search and rescue operations with the Texas Parks and Wildlife, providing logistical support to the National Guard, or offering emergency medical care during a disaster, our men and women are trained to do it all.”
With only a half-dozen full-time staff, the Texas State Guard is composed of volunteer citizen-soldiers from all walks of life.
“For 70 years the men and women of the Texas State Guard have been honored to serve the people of Texas,” said Peters.