New York Guard Honors World War I Predecessors
Leaders of the 56th Brigade, New York Guard; local officials; and the New York Guard Band.
The World War I service of the New York Guard, New York’s all-volunteer state defense force, will be recognized on Sunday May 3 with a morning ceremony in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where a marker memorializes 40 members of the New York Guard who died while serving on state duty. Ninety-First Aqueduct Defense Memorial Service: A memorial service commemorating 40 members of the First Provisional Regiment of the New York Guard who died-many from the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918-- while on state duty protecting the New York City water system from potential German saboteurs during the 1st World War.
11 a.m., Sunday May 3, 2009
Sleep Hollow Cemetery, Sleep Hollow New YorkCoverage Opportunities: The New York Guard Band will be performing at the event, and members of the New York Guard and the Veterans Corps of Artillery (a historic military unit) will be present in uniform and available for interviews. Media wishing to cover this event should contact New York Guard Public Affairs NCO Staff Sgt. David Konig at 917-825-5990.
The 1st Provisional Regiment New York Guard:
During the 1st World War German agents appeared to have successfully destroyed a munitions plant on Black Tom Island in Jersey City, New Jersey, prior to American entry into the war in the spring of 1917. There was concern that the New York City water system of reservoirs and aqueducts could be sabotaged as well.
In February 1917 the New York National Guard’s 27th Division was ordered to patrol the reservoir system, but in August 1917 the 27th Division was called into federal service and sent to France, so a new force, the New York Guard, was formed to take the place of the National Guard. Across the country state’s created State Guards of older men, and those who could not meet military physical requirements to replace the National Guard.
New York formed the 1st Provisional Regiment to guard the aqueduct system in 1917 and 1918. These citizen volunteers, ranging from their teens to their 60s were armed with obsolete weapons and clothed in old uniforms but they did their duty, walking patrol day-after-day and night-after-night. Average strength was about 1,600 volunteers. More than 8,000 New Yorkers served in this home guard during World War I.
When the so-called “Spanish Influenza” swept across the world in 1918 and 1919, 32 New York Guard volunteers of the 1st Provisional Regiment were struck down in the last three months of 1918.
The 1st Provisional Regiment Memorial:
To honor the New York Guard members who died on duty a bolder from Bonticon Crag in the Shawangunk Mountains, along the line of the aqueduct that the Guard members protected, was moved to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and turned into a memorial on property dedicated by William Rockefeller.
The New York Guard:
The New York Guard of today is an all-volunteer uniformed force whose members augment and assist the New York Army National Guard in training, response to state emergencies, and in assisting National Guard units in mobilizing and deploying. Members of the New York Guard also serve on a special team which is trained to decontaminate victims of a chemical or biological weapons attack.
New York Guard members, who do not carry weapons, do all this in an unpaid status unless they are ordered into State Active Duty by the governor. Many New York Guard members have prior military service in the National Guard, but many have no military service behind them. The New York Guard has an authorized strength of just over 1,000 volunteers.
The New York Guard of World War I was disbanded when the New York National Guard returned from federal service, but in 1940, as the National Guard was federalized again, Congress authorized the creation of State Guards. During World War II, about 22,000 New Yorkers volunteers for service.
Page Last Modified: Jul 01, 2013