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History of the Alaska National Guard

The Alaska National Guard began before statehood with the Alaska Territorial Guard (ATG). The ATG was formed in 1942 in direct response to the invasion of several Aleutian Islands by Japan. The ATG was made up of diverse indigenous people and the immigrant population of the territory of Alaska. Their mission was to protect the coastline of Alaska and the American terminus of the Lend Lease air route to Russia on which war planes were flown from Montana to Whitehorse, Canada, from Whitehorse to Ladd Field (Fort Wainwright) and from Ladd Field to Nome and then on to Russia to fight the Third Reich.

From this was born the "Eskimo Scouts" which was the start of the Alaska Army National Guard.

During the early part of 1952, Col. Lars Johnson felt that the Army National Guard program was far enough along to proceed with the organization of an Air National Guard component. He had approached Gov. Ernest Gruening about the idea the second week after Johnson's arrival in Juneau as adjutant general, and the governor had said, "It's a good idea. Why not? Why don't you work on it?"

The Alaska Air National Guard was organized officially on September 15, 1952, as the 8114th Air Base Squadron. Five officers and eleven enlisted men answered the roll call at the first unit training assembly that day at Elmendorf Air Force Base, the unit's first home. The 8114th's first plane of its own arrived in February of 1953, a T-6G trainer. Federal recognition was granted on July 1, 1953, and the unit was re-designated as the 144th Fighter-Bomber Squadron.

Currently, the Alaska National Guard has both Air National Guard units and Army National Guard units that are spread out over the entire state of Alaska.