The National Guard in Austin during Korea, Vietnam and Beyond

The Austin National Guard has served in a number of capacities throughout the years

 

By Jaimie Timm

Mower County Historical Society

The first National Guard unit it Austin organized in 1882 as a cavalry troop. In 1883, the National Guard unit was reassigned to the 135th Infantry Regiment. The Austin National Guard participated in the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II and was also called up to state service in 1934 to prevent further violence connected to a strike by Minneapolis truckers.

“Looking Back” can be found in each issue of Austin Living magazine. The May-June issue is now out.

After their long and distinguished service during the Second World War, Co. H became part of the 47th (Vikings) Infantry Division in North Dakota and Minnesota in 1947. After World War II, the unit was reorganized and re-designated so many times that is can be difficult to follow. Although some of those changes are mentioned below, not all are included.

During the second half of 1950, the National Guard in Austin ramped up its training and inspection schedule to prepare for war mobilization. They were called to federal duty on Jan. 16, 1951, and eventually left for Camp Rucker in Alabama. Members of Company H were sent to Korea separately and, for the first time, did not return to Austin as a unit. Instead, the guardsmen mustered out at whatever camp they were stationed at when their term of service expired. In 1959, the unit was again re-designated to become Combat Support Company, 2nd Battle Group, 135th Combat Arms Regiment, 47th Division.

In 1963, the unit was again reassigned and became a detachment of Rochester-based 4th Battalion Headquarters Company of the 135th Infantry Regiment. Two years later, the unit again reorganized, increased its troop strength, and undertook intense training (including studying jungle warfare) in preparation for possible deployment during the Vietnam War. However, in 1968, the Austin unit became a motor vehicle unit and was removed from the selected reserve force designation and, as a result, was no longer selected for immediate call-up for Vietnam.

Minnesota National Guard members training at Camp Ripley.

Over the next years, local guardsmen helped with tornado clean-up in Waseca in 1967, helped with flood control after the two, 100-year floods in Austin in 1978, participated in Operation Haylift to help farmers get feed for the livestock during a drought, and handed out supplies after the Halloween ice storm in 1991.

Seven National Guard soldiers from Austin volunteered for Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and other members have deployed to Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

In 1982, the unit received the Eisenhower Trophy as the best unit in the state and received a Superior Award from the National Guard Bureau for the best training of all units in Minnesota that same year.

In 2011, Austin’s National Guard unit was re-designated from the 1135th Combat Support Company, but today the unit is the 224th Transportation Company of the 347th Regional Support Group.

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