Did you know that the National Guard has been around longer than the United States? The first units of the National Guard were actually colonial militias used to protect the thirteen original colonies. When World War I was beginning, the government of the United States originated the National Guard from the state militias. Many of the units were even lacking proper training and tools. Since the beginning days, there have been many trainings and lots of funding for the National Guard. These units are used and sent out in times of emergency or war.
Although Oklahoma is well known as a contributor to the 45th Infantry Division, the state has a rich history of military involvement that many people might not even be aware of. From initial support during World War I to current military operations worldwide, it's hard to imagine the United States Military without Oklahoma being involved. This article will explore the many ways that Oklahoma makes military contributions.
How Does Oklahoma Honor Veterans and Active Duty Military Members?
Many holidays are celebrated to recognize the troops of military units throughout the state. May is military appreciation month, consisting of many special days and holidays. This year, May 1, 2022, kicks off the month with Loyalty Day; this originated in 1921 for those to remember their heritage and their loyalty to their country.
This is not a federal holiday but a legal holiday that some choose to celebrate. May 8 has been marked as Victory in Europe Day every year since 1945 when Germany surrendered in World War II. May 12, 2022, is Military Spouse Appreciation Day. This was introduced in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan. May 20, 2022, is National Armed Forces Day, where we honor those who have and are serving. The month concludes with the most popularly celebrated May 30, 2022, Memorial Day. This is a day we remember those who have fallen in battle while fighting for our country.
There are also many parades, discounts, and celebrations throughout Oklahoma communities in May that vary by year. We can't forget the 4th of July when our country celebrates its independence that we would not have without our brave military, and Veteran's Day, when we get to honor our veterans specifically.
Many communities honor these holidays and veterans with parades and special events. Midwest City, Oklahoma, Del City, Oklahoma, and Blanchard, Oklahoma are just a few that often hold parades for these holidays. Many restaurants and stores offer discounts on these holidays and throughout the year for service members and veterans. In November, many schools have students write letters to veterans to send to them to celebrate Veteran's Day.
Oklahoma is proud of its military members and truly supports them throughout each year with these different events, museums, memorials, and parades. Without these brave citizens we have had to serve our state and country, we would not have the freedoms we do today. Oklahoma's veterans and active-duty military members deserve a round of applause every day for doing all they have done and will continue to do for our nation.
Military Points of Interest in Oklahoma
Oklahoma has a strong influence on the United States military. From housing the nation's largest Department of Defense munitions stockpile to expanding Air Force training at one of the many Air Force Bases spread across the plains, big things are always happening in the state. While many of the following locations are not open to the public, they are a great reminder of Oklahoma's role in the overall defense of the nation.
Fort Sill (Lawton, OK)
Fort Sill is located in Lawton, Oklahoma, and serves as the United States Army Field Artillery School. In addition to this, the area is also a Marine Corps Field Artillery School. As a central training facility for all branches of the United States Military, Fort Sill spans 94,000 acres – making it the most extensive military base in Oklahoma.
McAlester Army Munitions Base (McAlester, OK)
The McAlester Army Munitions Base is a manufacturing plant utilized by the Department of Defense. At these facilities, workers produce, recycle, and dispose of munitions obtained from the United States and other sources. This location holds 1/3 of the munitions stockpile for the Department of Defense – the largest in the nation.
Altus Air Force Base (Altus, OK)
The Altus Air Force Base provides advanced training programs for approximately 3,000 students annually. In addition to this training, the location also conducts support and maintenance training that helps support pilot programs. As a full-scale Air Force base, this location completes retirement phases for old aircraft while also training students on new aircraft.
Tinker Air Force Base (Dell City, OK)
Tinker Air Force Base is well known for the maintenance and overhauls that the location provides for the United States Department of Defense. As a prominent training facility and logistics hub for several military branches, Tinker is home to many different significant units stationed there. Tinker Air Force Base is also home to the U.S. Navy Strategic Communications Wing and the Defense Logistics Agency.
Vance Air Force Base (Enid, OK)
Vance Air Force Base is the home of the Air Education and Training Command. Coincidentally, it is also one of the largest military bases in Oklahoma. This particular location is vital to the strength of the United States military worldwide and trains pilots for the United States Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and many allies around the globe.
Tulsa Air National Guard Base (Tulsa, OK)
The Tulsa Air National Guard Base focuses on the fighter mission, involving air-to-air and ground-to-air operations that support ground forces and control enemy airspace. This unit will often mobilize when domestic issues occur that require search and rescue missions, disaster relief, and the protection of public services. The teams found here are critical for storage, training, and logistics, particularly during peacetime.