Kentucky National Guard History

The Kentucky National Guard, like other state National Guards, has been known under various names such as state militia or state guard. It has the distinction of being one of the oldest military forces in the United States. Its history dates back to 1775 when Kentucky was known as Fincastle County, a part of western Virginia. The fundamental concept of a state or local military organization has existed since 1636, when the Colony of Massachusetts formed a regiment of “Trained Bands.”

Throughout her history, Kentucky has cherished the tradition of rendering military duty with zeal when called upon. Kentucky’s history teams with incidents of self-sacrifice unsurpassed in daring and achievement. Kentuckians have answered the call to arms in all wars of our country.

Since its inception, the Kentucky National Guard has not only stood ready as an alert fighting force ready to defend Kentucky and the United States against those who would destroy our democratic way of life but this voluntary citizens Army has also served in times of national disaster. The skill and proficiency with which the Guard has served Kentucky further contributes to the fact that it is, and will continue to be, a necessary and indispensable organization for the continuing existence of the Commonwealth.

To see the more of the rich and distinguished history of the Kentucky National Guard please Click Here.

Click here for information on the Centennial of World War I.

KyNG History Articles

Letters from Bataan: A Kentucky POW’s letters found after 75 years
April 13, 2023
Kentucky Army National Guard Sgt. Jennings Bryan Scanlon from the Service Record, World War I and II in an undated photo album. Scanlon mobilized to the Philippine Islands with the 192nd Tank Battalion shortly before World War II began in the Pacific and was captured as part of the Bataan Death March. Scanlon died shortly after in a POW Camp. (Photo courtesy of the Harrodsburg, Ky. veterans' community).

Time capsule left by decorated Kentucky Guard MP unit found in Fort McCoy barracks nearly two decades after unit left for Operation Iraqi Freedom
March 20, 2023
Soldiers with the Kentucky National Guard’s 617th Military Police Company are shown ikn November 2004 at Fort McCoy, Wis. The unit, before they were deployed to Iraq, were mobilized at Fort McCoy and had left a time capsule in a barracks at McCoy that was discovered in late 2022 by contractors working on Fort McCoy barracks. The company placed the makeshift time capsule in the walls of the barracks thinking they’d come back to it after their deployment completed in 2005 but they forgot about it. The 617th completed their mobilization at Fort McCoy from October to November 2004 and then their demobilization a year later. The unit also is one of the most decorated combat National Guard military police units after completing that deployment. (Contributed photo)

Kentucky National Guard celebrates 230th birthday
June 27, 2022
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Wilkinson, left, the Kentucky National Guard’s assistant adjutant general for Air; Airman 1st Class Maryah Bridges, center left; Spc. John Stark, center right; and Col. Joe Gardner, the Kentucky Guard’s Chief of Staff for Army, cut a ceremonial cake during a celebration honoring the 230th birthday of the Kentucky Guard in Louisville, Ky., June 24, 2022. The organization was established in 1792 by Gov. Isaac Shelby, 19 days after the Commonwealth became the 15th state of the Union. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Dale Greer)

A letter to the troops about Juneteenth
June 19, 2022
Letter to the Soldiers and Airmen of the National Guard Bureau written by Gen. Daniel Hokanson and Chief Master Sgt. Tony L. Whitehead about the significance of Juneteenth

Operation HERoes Hosts Kentucky’s First All-Female Honor Flight
June 14, 2022
An all-women veteran group boarded an A320 Airbus out of the Blue Grass Airport for Washington, D.C., June 11, 2022, for an historic all-female veteran honor flight.

Today marks the 150th Anniversary of the death of Lieutenant Hugh Wilson McKee.
June 11, 2022
Hugh Wilson McKee, US Naval Historical Center Photograph.

KY Native Charles Young Posthumously Promoted to BG by U.S. Army
February 3, 2022
Photograph shows Major Charles Young (1864?-1922)who served in the u.S. Army and was the third African American to graduate from West Point and first to become a colonel. Major Young was awarded the Spingarn Medal in March 1916 for his work in Liberia. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2013 and 2015)

Brigadier General Jackson Morris, 29th Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky, 1920-1923.
February 1, 2022
Jackson Morris while serving in World War I.

George Lee McClain, Adjutant General of Kentucky 1935-1939
January 23, 2022
John McClain as TAG 1935-1939

Isaac Shelby – Placing the Commonwealth and the Kentucky Militia on a Strong Footing
January 4, 2022
Isaac Shelby, portrait

Publications


Bluegrass Guard Magazine

To read past issues of our publication, click the photo above.

Three U.S. Air Force North American F-51D Mustang fighters from the 165th Fighter Squadron, 123rd Fighter Group, Kentucky Air National Guard, in flight. The 123rd FG flew the F-51 from 1946 to 1952.