‘Always ready, always there’: guardsmen not just ‘weekend warriors’

Since Dec. 13, 1636, National Guardsman have answered the nation’s call serving in the Department of Defense’s oldest fighting force.

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Williams, 733rd Mission Support Group NCO of operations, poses for a photo at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Dec. 8, 2017. Williams has been through nine uniform changes, multiple deployments and various career changes during his 28 years of service as an active duty and guard member. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kaylee Dubois)

Since Dec. 13, 1636, National Guardsman have answered the nation’s call serving in the Department of Defense’s oldest fighting force.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kirsten DeHart, Virginia Air National Guard, 192nd Fighter Wing nondestructive inspection journeyman, poses for a photo at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., Dec. 9, 2017. DeHart joined the Air National Guard because it allowed her to stay in her hometown and focus on college while serving her country. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kaylee Dubois)

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --

Since Dec. 13, 1636, National Guardsman have answered the nation’s call serving in the Department of Defense’s oldest fighting force.

With more than 500,000 U.S. service members in the Army and Air Force components, guardsmen are charged with serving both the state and nation, deploying overseas and providing immediate assistance during natural disasters. They do this while also staying connected to American communities and providing a better understanding to the nation’s services, missions, contributions and sacrifices. 

For U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kirsten DeHart, Virginia Air National Guard, 192nd Fighter Wing nondestructive inspection journeyman, the opportunities offered by the service peeked her to join the Air National Guard.

“There are so many different jobs you can do and things you can experience,” said DeHart. “One of my favorite things about my job is I get to see and work with the jets. Every time I’m on the flightline, I just think about how cool my job is.”

Being able to stay in her hometown and focus on college was a main factor in DeHart’s decision to join the Air National Guard.

“The benefits are what motivate most people, but there are people in the guard that just want to serve their country,” said the airman first class. “I am excited and proud to come to work here and serve my country.”

Lately, DeHart has been thinking about transferring to the active-duty side of her job, so she can serve her country full time.

While DeHart wants to move into the active-duty world, many guardsman come from previous active-duty service, like U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Williams, 733rd Mission Support Group NCO of operations.

After 12 years as an active-duty Soldier, Williams left to care for his terminally ill wife. He finished his last two years of his enlistment with the Army National Guard.

“I left and I carried mail from 1994 until 2006, then re-enlisted in the guard again,” said Williams. “My wife told me I needed to get back into the Army because I had it in me and might as well go back to finish my time.”

Williams said his age kept him from joining active duty, but for him, nothing is different between the two forms of service—he still needs to pass his physical training test and qualify as a Soldier.

However, after dedicating 18 years of service, Williams requested to finish his last two years as an active duty Soldier.

Through nine uniform changes, multiple deployments and various career changes, Williams will have a total of 28 years of service between active duty and the guard by the time he retires.

With the wide range of backgrounds found within guard units, Williams felt a different connection with his comrades. He said he enjoyed his time in the guard and all the people he met along the way.

“I enjoyed the camaraderie (while on active duty), but there’s a different type of connection you share with your guard friends” said the sergeant first class. “Since people have other jobs in the civilian sector, you can network and use that to help each other. You have people in construction, auto mechanics – just all walks of life.”

Although the members of the National Guard may spend a shorter amount of time in uniform than active-duty members, Williams said his peers sweat, bleed and fight just the same.

“Guardsman want to serve their country,” said Williams. “You can serve your country in a lot of different ways, but they want to help their state and serve their country in uniform.”

With such an extensive Army career, Williams suggests knowing your reason for joining before choosing between any active or guard service.

“If you want just an experience of what the military is like, join the guard. If you want to live the life after you have experienced then join active duty,” said Williams. “If you feel strongly about freedom, then join the military and join any branch. Each branch of service has their own unique benefits, just do your research and check all the branches.”

Today, the men and women of the Army and Air National Guard are not just weekend warriors. The training the guardsmen receive prepare them to join active-duty forces overseas at any moment or put their lives on standby to protect their homeland.

192d Fighter Wing

192d Fighter Wing

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Issue #14 of the 2018 Commonwealth's Guardian bi-weekly newsletter is available for download in PDF format at https://go.usa.gov/xUkYn. Please share the newsletter link with anyone you think would enjoy keeping up to date with the Virginia National Guard. Please visit https://go.usa.gov/xUkfU to subscribe to the newsletter via email. In This Issue: 529th CSSB ordered to mobilize for federal active duty Read more: https://go.usa.gov/xUkYa Virginia cyber warriors join New England exercise Read more: https://go.usa.gov/xUkYY Bissell takes command of NATO Headquarters Sarajevo Read more: https://go.usa.gov/xUkYg Va. National Guard aviation battalion trains around the state Read more: https://go.usa.gov/xUkY4 192nd Security Forces Squadron trains to shoot, move and communicate Read more: https://go.usa.gov/xUkYb DMA conducts first-ever Supervisor Course Read more: https://go.usa.gov/xUkYW
This #VaANG recruiting video from 2001 is #throwbackthursday gold. #tbt
192nd Security Forces squadron trains to shoot, move and communicate. Read more here - https://go.usa.gov/xUWZg Photos here - https://flic.kr/s/aHskEepSJQ
Check out the 192nd's own SSgt. Cunningham co-hosting the sixth episode of the Air Combat Command's podcast "The Reflective Belt"
For this #throwbackthursday, 2nd Lt. Allison Gilbert, a Physician's Assistant from the Virginia Air National Guard's 192d Fighter Wing, treats a young patient with the help of interpreter, 1st Lt. Roberto Balderon from the Salvadoran Army July 16, 2002. The 192 FW's Medical Squadron took a 14-day humanitarian mission to Morazan, El Salvador. They visited the four towns of Guatajiagua, Sociedad, Cacaopera, and Chilanga for medical support of the local people. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michele G. Misiano) #TBT #VaANG
Happy Independence Day 192nd Fighter Wing! Thank you all for helping to keep our country free. Enjoy your families today and be safe. Honored to serve with you all! - Chief Bouley
"Please join me in congratulating our 149th Fighter Squadron's Maj. 'Mongo' Dietrich who was awarded the United States Air Force 2017 Fighter Instructor Pilot of the Year," said Col. Frank J. Lobash, 192nd Fighter Wing commander. "This is an incredible accomplishment that once again shows the amazing talent and dedication our F-22 fighter squadron brings to the fight everyday." Lt. Gen. Mark C. Nowland, U.S. Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, hosts the 2017 Air Force Fighter Awards Ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington D.C., June 25, 2018. (Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)
Issue #13 of the 2018 Commonwealth's Guardian bi-weekly newsletter is available for download in PDF format at https://go.usa.gov/xUrKZ. Please share the newsletter link with anyone you think would enjoy keeping up to date with the Virginia National Guard. Visit https://go.usa.gov/xU4R5 to add your email to the subscription list. In This Issue: 149th Fighter Squadron celebrates its 71st year Read more: https://go.usa.gov/xUrb2 Soldiers, Airmen awarded for marksmanship excellence Read more: https://go.usa.gov/xUrbT Flora to succeed Mercer as Assistant Adjutant General – Army Read more: https://go.usa.gov/xUrbj Hubbard takes command of 183rd RTI Read more: https://go.usa.gov/xUrbW 192nd Fighter Wing welcomes new wing command chief Read more: https://go.usa.gov/xUrbZ Governor signs DMV drivers license veteran indicator bill Read more: https://go.usa.gov/xUrbB
#Throwbackthursday to when the Virginia Air National Guard enlisted 50 Airmen in just three days during 1970. See anyone you served with? #VaANG #VANGUARD #TBT read more here: https://go.usa.gov/xQsqU
“Civil Support Team operations are extremely complex, and excellence doesn’t just happen,” said Brig. Gen. James W. Ring, Virginia National Guard Director of the Joint Staff. “We are extremely proud of the outstanding performance of the Soldiers and Airmen of the 34th CST on the external evaluation and greatly appreciate the time and effort that went into their success.”
Welcome Chief Master Sgt. Christopher L. Amburn! He is the newest member of the VaANG and the incoming 192nd Fighter Wing command chief.
The VaANG is making a difference around the world. 203rd RED HORSE Squadron is building a school for children in rural El Salvador as part of Operation Beyond the Horizon 2018. Accompanied by the 192nd Security Forces Squadron and 192nd Medical Group, the mission provided training opportunities for the Airmen and new facilities for Salvadoran children.View photos here - https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1826178330771708.1073741976.111055992283959&type=1&l=b1d569b546
Today, the 149th Fighter Squadron, Virginia Air National Guard, celebrates its 71st year as a unit. Read about what Airman 1st Class Dagejah Hampton and Lt. Col. "Scrappy" think makes the 149th FS great - https://go.usa.gov/xQhhc
Airmen of the 203rd RED HORSE squadron, Virginia Air National Guard, begin construction of a school, kitchen and latrine facility during May 2018 in rural El Salvador. The project was designed to bring vital services and resources to rural communities as part of Operation Beyond the Horizon, conducted by U.S. Army and Air Force active, guard and reserve components along with the El Salvadoran military and civic agencies. (Courtesy photo)
Happy Father's Day!
In case you missed it when the 203rd RED HORSE squadron volunteers were featured on the evening news for building a playground for kids in Norfolk, we talked with them too and went back to get photos of the finished project. According to one of the teachers there, the kids love the new playground. Great work RED HORSE! Read more here - https://go.usa.gov/xQtQ3
Members of the 203rd Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer (RED HORSE), 192nd Fighter Wing, volunteered their time to construct a playground April 20, 2018, at the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Norfolk, Virginia. The effort was in coordination with the United Way of South Hampton Roads to help a Head Start preschool program remain in the neighborhood it primarily serves.
Approximately 100 U.S. Flags are displayed in celebration of National Flag Day June 14, 2018, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. Flag Day was officially established by President Woodrow Wilson on May 30, 1916. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Bryan Myhr)