Alaska guardsmen celebrate 375th birthday of National Guard

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Army and Air Gaurdsmen mingle March 23 at the Joint National Guard Ball in downtown Anchorage. Alaska Guardsmen celebrated the National Guard's 375th birthday at the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center. National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. N. Alicia Goldberger.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Army and Air Gaurdsmen mingle March 23 at the Joint National Guard Ball in downtown Anchorage. Alaska guardsmen celebrated the National Guard's 375th birthday at the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center. National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. N. Alicia Goldberger.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Master Sgt. Janet Lemmons, the first sergeant for the 176 Mission Support Group, reads off a portion of the National Guard's History March 23 at the Joint National Guard Ball in downtown Anchorage. Alaska Guardsmen celebrated the National Guard's 375th birthday at the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center. National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. N. Alicia Goldberger.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Master Sgt. Janet Lemmons, the first sergeant for the 176 Mission Support Group, reads off a portion of the National Guard's History March 23 at the Joint National Guard Ball in downtown Anchorage. Alaska guardsmen celebrated the National Guard's 375th birthday at the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center. National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. N. Alicia Goldberger.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Army and Air Gaurdsmen stand shoulder-to-shoulder March 23 at the Joint National Guard Ball in downtown Anchorage. Alaska Guardsmen celebrated the National Guard's 375th birthday at the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center. National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. N. Alicia Goldberger.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Army and Air Gaurdsmen stand shoulder-to-shoulder March 23 at the Joint National Guard Ball in downtown Anchorage. Alaska guardsmen celebrated the National Guard's 375th birthday at the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center. National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. N. Alicia Goldberger.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Alaska's Army and Air National Guardsmen gathered for a joint National Guard Ball at the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center in downtown Anchorage March 23, honoring the National Guard's 375th birthday.

During the event the Guard's history was highlighted, starting at its officially recognized birth on Dec. 13, 1636, when the Massachusetts Bay Colony charter was enacted.

"I think it's important to maintain our heritage and our origins as Soldiers and Airman," said State Command Sergeant Major Gordon T. Choate, the senior noncommissioned officer of the Alaska Army National Guard.

The military members celebrated a few months late, at a time when there were fewer deployments and other activities, said Maj. Gen. Thomas Katkus, the adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard.

The ball also afforded an opportunity to present local employers with awards for their support, and to recognize soldiers and airmen of the year.

The evening of history and tradition was enjoyed by military members and families, and attended by key members of the community, including the adjutant general, civic leaders and state officials.

"It's kind of cool to be a part of history," said Air Force Capt. Brian T. Musselman, a chaplain from the 176 Wing. "Three hundred and seventy-five years, and two of those belong under my belt."
Alaska National Guard leadership encouraged and supported the ball.

"Military traditions are key to our participation," Katkus said. "One thing we do right is our customs and courtesies. Young members need to know our traditions back our values."

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