“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Frankfort in Franklin County, Kentucky — The American South (East South Central)

"Fight as Kentuckians"

A Brief History of the Kentucky Guard


— 1941-1974 —

"Fight as Kentuckians" Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, November 28, 2020
1. "Fight as Kentuckians" Marker
Inscription.  The Harrodsburg Tankers, then known as the 38th Tank Company, comprised of a Kentucky Army National Guard unit stationed in Harrodsburg who were called to active duty prior to World War II. The Kentucky Guardsmen landed on the Philippines on Thanksgiving Day, November 20, 1941. On December 7 Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and only hours later began an attack on the Philippines. The Harrodsburg Tankers, along with the allied forces, fought the Japanese valiantly without reinforcements or resupply until ordered to surrender in April 1942. Those who could not escape to Corregidor were in the infamous "Bataan Death March". They were all eventually taken prisoner of war. Only 37 of the original 66 Kentucky Guard Members from Harrodsburg survived Japanese captivity.

Kentucky Army Guard units returned to the Philippines in 1944, and during weeks of hard-fought combat in the ZigZag Pass of Luzon Island helping free their fellow Citizen-Soldiers from captivity, earning them the name "Avengers of Bataan.” Other Kentucky Guard units fought from Sicily to Czechoslovakia in the European theater.

With the Guard called to federal active
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duty the state implemented the Kentucky Active Militia manned by those who were either too old or too young or not able to serve on federal active duty. Their mission was also to protect the lives and property of the citizens of the Commonwealth. Their most visible mission was supporting the annual Kentucky Derby activities. The Active Militia stood down as the regular Kentucky National Guard units were reestablished in the state in 1947.

Following World War II, the Kentucky Guard was completely reorganized to include the establishment of the Kentucky Air National Guard.

The conflicts of the Cold War presented new challenges to the Guard. Fifty-one percent of the Kentucky National Guard mobilized during the Korean War. While the Air Guard was stationed in Great Britain, augmentees were sent to Korea. Five Kentucky Air National Guard pilots gave their lives in the fight. The 623rd Field Artillery was called up to provide artillery support to X Corps during the Korean War.

During the Berlin Crisis the 413th Ordnance Company and the 2nd Battalion, 123rd Armor were assigned to Fort Stewart, Georgia; the 3rd Battalion, 123rd Armor was assigned to Fort Knox, Kentucky.

On January 26, 1968, the Pueblo Crisis off the coast of North Korea precipitated the recall to federal service of the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing
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at Shewmaker Air National Guard Base in Louisville. The wing headquarters and an enlarged 165th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron were moved to Richards Gebaur Air Force Base near Kansas City, Missouri, in July 1968.

During this call-up, the 123rd units flew approximately 20,000 tactical flying hours and delivered almost 320,000 reconnaissance prints to requesting agencies. The command was deployed on important missions to the Panama Canal Zone, the Alaskan Air Command and to Itazuke Air Base, Japan. Assigned personnel served on active duty for 16 months and returned to state service on June 8, 1969. Performance during that period attained the unit its first Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (AFOUA).

The Vietnam War found the 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery supporting the 101st Airborne Division. Charlie Battery sustained heavy casualties repulsing a North Vietnamese assault on Firebase Tomahawk on June 19.1969.

Guard units were called to help check race riots in Louisville in May 1968 and the antiwar demonstrations of 1970 at the University of Kentucky. The Kentucky Guard assisted during the truckers' strike in 1974 and in the wake of the tornadoes of 1974, as in all major natural disasters.
Erected by Kentucky National Guard.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: War, ColdWar, KoreanWar, VietnamWar, World II.
Location. 38° 11.306′ N, 84° 53.659′ W. Marker is in Frankfort, Kentucky, in Franklin County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Minuteman Parkway and West Frankfort Connector. Marker is at Kentucky National Guard Memorial at entrance to Boone National Guard Center. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 101 Minuteman Parkway, Frankfort KY 40601, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named "Fight as Kentuckians" (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named "Fight as Kentuckians" (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named "Fight as Kentuckians" (a few steps from this marker); Kentucky National Guard Memorial (a few steps from this marker); History of Memorial Project (a few steps from this marker); Daniel Boone (a few steps from this marker); Lewis and Clark in Kentucky — Kentucky Militia (within shouting distance of this marker); Welcome to Kentucky's Capitol and Capital (approx. 0.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Frankfort.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker.
Credits. This page was last revised on December 7, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 5, 2020, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 34 times since then and 7 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on December 5, 2020, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
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Mar. 7, 2021