Ready on the spot: National Guard members are today's Minute Men

  • Published
  • By Angela Woolen
  • Robins Public Affairs
Three hundred years ago people revolted against British rule. Farmers and local community members rose up to fight. They were called Minute Men, ready to be called to action in a minute.

That legacy lives on in the National Guard today.

A little more than 1,100 miles away is a statue at the Minute Man National Historical Park in Concord, Mass., where community soldiers fought the British at the North Bridge. That statue was built in 1875 by Daniel Chester French.

Here at Robins, a replica of that statue stands in front of the Air National Guard's Mission Support Group building. It was dedicated in May 2009, at the request of then-Col. Murray Hansen, who wanted an ANG focal point.

Now a brigadier general, Hansen is the Wisconsin Air National Guard chief of staff.

One hand of the statue rests on a plow, "the symbol of our connection to the community," said Chief Master Sgt. David Fite, 116th ACW chief enlisted manager for civil engineering.

Some of the people who went to war were doctors and lawyers or regular community members.

"The musket symbolizes our availability to always be there in times of need," Fite explained.

Fite was at the dedication ceremony for the Robins statue and has also visited the statue in Concord.

"Back then the military was all community based and we are still community based," he added.

The Georgia National Guard employs a person from each county in the state.

According to the book, "Georgia Air National Guard History 1941-2000," Georgia has sent guardsmen to every major conflict.

Airman Samantha Grabowski, 116th Medical Group health care management journeyman, joined the Guard after seeing guardsmen and women helping out during Hurricane Katrina.

"I was big on volunteering in school and I was not sure if I wanted to do it full time," she said. Master Sgt. Kathy Robinson, NCOIC at the equal opportunity office, has a similar story.

She was a housewife and kept seeing commercials for the National Guard on television.

"I always wanted to do something bigger but I didn't want something that would take me away from home," Robinson said.

During basic training and her first deployment with the Army National Guard, she missed her family. She transferred to the Air National Guard two years later and has been a guardsman for 16 years now.

This is what minute men did during the Revolutionary War. Ready to leave in a moment's notice to serve their country, the Guard does the same service today.

"We are integrated with every civic organization. It takes everybody to make it work," Fite said.

The 116th has about 1,100 employees, including 500 part-time personnel. They have helped in times of peace, war, in natural disasters such as hurricanes and national tragedies like the Boston Marathon.

We're proud of our heritage," Fite said.