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The month of May was designated National Military Appreciation Month by Congress in 1999. May was chosen to overlap with Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day, dates already set aside to recognize members of the U.S. military who are serving or died while serving our country.
Military Spouse Appreciation Day is another day of honor in May, set aside to recognize the sacrifice of spouses and families who provide support through deployments, relocations and the inherent stress of doing the job expected of a U.S. Armed Forces member.
Please take the opportunity to thank a military member this month and spend a little time getting to know more about them while you’re at it!
Soldiers and Airmen of the Arkansas National Guard participated in and assisted with the unveiling and dedication ceremony of the Global War on Terrorism Memorial at the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock, Sept. 11, 2018. Photo by Spc. Stephen M. Wright.
The Arkansas National Guard (ARNG) was established as a community-based arm of the U.S. Army in 1804. Over 8,600 men and women currently serve in Arkansas, providing emergency response assistance in support roles that augment civil authorities. As “citizen soldiers,” they work in their communities for the majority of their service period (as opposed to being on full-time “active” orders) and participate in monthly and annual training to remain ready to serve in deployments to support active-duty military components around the world.
Pvt. Timothy Lemon, the newest member of the 1036th Engineer Company, 875th Engineer Battalion of the Arkansas Army National Guard, helps fight floodwaters in the small town of Payneway, May 12, 2011. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Chris Durney
When natural disasters strike Arkansas communities, the ARNG is often called to help with search and rescue operations, community clean-up, and security support. Over the past year, ARNG members have provided COVID-19 response support to the Arkansas Department of Health and county health units at the Governor’s request, helping deploy vaccines via Vaccination Strike Teams. The Strike Teams are made up of two medics who administer the vaccines and two administrative personnel who provide administrative, documentation and logistical support.
Arkansas Air National Guard Master Sgt. Ellen Garrett secures a COVID-19 nose swab for testing at a drive-thru at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in downtown Little Rock. Photo by Mr. John R. Oldham, Arkansas National Guard, Released
There are four main ARNG training sites in the state: Robinson Maneuver Training Center at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock, Fort Chaffee Joint Maneuver Training Center near Fort Smith, Ebbing Air National Guard Base in Fort Smith and the Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville.
At Camp Robinson, visitors are invited to learn more about the ARNG by touring the Arkansas National Guard Museum. The Museum received the 2020 American Museum Association Award for Outstanding Achievement in Collection Care Conservation for their Weapons Conservation Lab.
Bishop Chester L. Thompson, Senior Pastor of the Zion Hill Baptist Church in Camden, delivers a presentation about the historic Civil War Battle of Poison Spring at the monthly history roundtable held at the Arkansas National Guard Museum, Feb. 22, 2017. Photo by Sgt. Stephen Wright]
Ebbing Air National Guard Base is home to the 188th Wing of the Air National Guard. The 188th has three primary missions that focus on Remotely Piloted Aircraft (MQ-9 Reaper), Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (Distributed Ground Station-Arkansas), and Targeting (Space-Focused). This kind of high-tech military readiness appeals to many young recruits and supports a broader range of national security efforts than the “boots on the ground,” traditional model.
Fort Chaffee provides access to hunters to practice their sport on its 65,000-acre property near Fort Smith. They offer sportsman and recreational permits, modern gun and muzzleloader deer permits, and services to help individuals with natural resources and hazardous waste management. There are also several museums and monuments located on Fort Chaffee that are of interest to visitors.
PFC Tabitha Dillman competes in the land navigation portion of the 77th Combat Aviation Brigade’s Best Warrior Competition at Robinson Maneuver Training Center in North Little Rock. Photo by CIV Zac Lehr
There are some great tourist attractions and military landmarks in Arkansas to visit with the family. Here are a few ideas for you to consider as you’re planning your family’s summer vacation:
The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum is located in North Little Rock, on the Arkansas River. It features restored military vessels you can tour, memorials, and tons of information about the legacy of Arkansas and Arkansans in maritime branches of the armed services. If you’re looking for a unique idea for a party, you can even rent out the USS Razorback submarine for an overnighter!
The MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History in Downtown Little Rock is an award-winning museum located in the building where General Douglas MacArthur was born. The museum’s collections preserve the stories of Arkansans who served in various military branches back to the days preceding statehood.
The Arkansas Air & Military Museum in Fayetteville is primarily focused on those Arkansans who spent their military careers in the air. You can learn the history of aviation in Arkansas thanks to an extensive collection in the museum. There are plenty of photo-ops with historic aircraft as well.
In honor of Veteran’s Day 2018, volunteers planted U.S. Flags at the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock. Photo by OC Charles D. Davis
Two cemeteries have been set aside to serve veterans in the state, the Little Rock National Cemetery and the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery. The National Cemetery Administration maintains the former. And the latter is managed by the Arkansas Department of Veterans’ Affairs and serves all honorably discharged veterans.
Are you a veteran, or do you have a member of the Armed Forces in your family? Thank you for your service and sacrifice!
Images courtesy of Arkansas National Guard Public Affairs Office
HEADER IMAGE: Unit colors were on display in formation when Col. Bradley Cox assumed command of the Arkansas Army National Guard from Brig. Gen. Kirk Van Pelt June 8, 2019. Photo by John Oldham
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