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First Battalion of the 184th Infantry: Much more than weekend warriors

The First Battalion of the184th Infantry, located in Modesto, has served as part of the California Army National Guard in the Central Californian region for more than 100 years. Both men and women have served in the 184th since as far back as the Civil War, and continue to serve both domestically and abroad.

Although the 184th Infantry was officially established in 1924, its lineage can be traced back to the beginning of the Gold Rush Era in the 1850s, according to the Department of Army Office of Heraldry. The need for militia increased as these volunteer troops were organized and sent to protect borders against bandits such as Pancho Villa. In 1862, Sacramento based troops helped form the “California Column." The Column helped the Union regain Arizona and New Mexico, defeating the Confederate Army. After the Civil War, the guardsmen were activated to serve in law enforcement roles, including the protection of prisoners in Stockton and in Chico in 1876-1877.
The Battalion has been called to action for federal events such as the Spanish American War, Indian Wars in the New Mexico Territory, the Civil War, WWI in France, WWII in the Pacific Theater such as Okinawa, and Iraq during the Second Gulf War along with numerous mobilizations for civil unrest, fires, floods, and earthquakes. Men from the battalion were called in to help suppress riots at Folsom Prison in 1926, and the Watts Riots of 1965, to the Big Sur fire of 1977. Most recently, the battalion has been deployed to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and to fight in the War on Terror. The Guard also assists with marijuana eradication programs such as CAMP within California.

The National Guard is the Governor’s army, explains Colonel (RET) Tim Hodgson, unless of course the President needs them.

“It is America’s life insurance policy,” said Hodgson. "They are citizens first and soldiers second, giving them the popular nickname ‘weekend warriors.’ They still give up time to train and answer the nations call. Twice a citizen.”

He explains that teachers, doctors, and farmers are among those who dedicate time from their lives to the Guard.

“They are all local people who join a local Guard.”

Hodgson, who retired after a career lasting from 1966-1998, entered as a student and came out as a Colonel. His family’s history in the guard began with his father, who served from 1950-1981. Since he joined, his service has led him to many locales, from Egypt to Hawaii.

The valley ethic makes these men and women particularly hard working, responsible and dedicated, says Hodgson. The Battalion has been tremendously successful, some of the top in the U.S., participating in Secretary of Defense Special testing programs (OSD Test #3), and various air assaults (Night Stalkers).

The guard has evolved tremendously. What began as an artillery infantry unit in the 1860s has since shifted its focus to transportation, air assault and finally, a mechanized battalion. However, the guardsmen and women are also known for their community support in activities such as Toys for Tots. Hodgson describes them as an intricate part of the community.

“The Valley Guard has always risen to the challenge and responded to the nation's call. They are always 100 percent ready and totally professional,” he added. “People come out of the supermarket and into the rifle squad. It is pretty amazing to be that dedicated.”

Units of the 184th Battalion

Modesto: Headquarters, First of the 184th
Visalia: Company A
Dublin: Co. B
Auburn: Co. C
Oakdale: Co. D
Fresno: Co. E

The Battalion’s Motto: “Let’s Go!”

It is one of two infantry battalions in the California Army National Guard. It is part of the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

While there are several notable events, one of the most interesting roles the 184th Battalion has played was in the Philippines. The Battalion received an American flag that was believed to be the first to have flown over the islands after liberation in 1944. The blood splattered and torn flag is displayed at Janey Way in Sacramento.

Members of the 184th were part of the famous “Lost Battalion.” The battalion was cut off for five days by German forces in the Argonne Forest during WWI in 1918.

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