Marshalltown’s Army-National Guard

Editor’s Note: This is part two of a two-part column on the history of Marshalltown’s Army-National Guard. The first installment published Sept. 12.

The April 26, 1923 Times-Republican reported 54 young men had signed up to join the (National Guard) company if it should be brought from Harlan to Marshalltown. On May 3, the T-R carried news the Harlan unit, Company H of the 168th infantry, was being transferred to Marshalltown. Edward Conley of Marshalltown became the first captain of the new unit and 35 men were sworn in May 9, 1923.

The company attended its first summer field training period in August at Camp Dodge in Des Moines and despite its limited home training, made a good record.

When Conley was promoted to the rank of major, John H. Young succeeded him as captain and when he resigned in 1930, he was succeeded by D. Miller White.

On Dec. 19, 1941, Marshalltown was selected for a unit of the new Iowa State guard and before the month ended over 25 applications for enlistment had been received. Also known as Company H, the unit was sworn into state service Jan. 19, 1942, with 60 men and three officers as a part of the 2nd Regiment, Iowa State guard.

This company was sworn in and was soon overseas, where it passed through some of the most bitter fighting in Africa and Italy, It distinguished itself as a part of the 5th Amy in other campaigns.

Capt. Earl C. Wickham was the first company commander, but when he was promoted to battalion commander, Young succeeded and was in command during most of this unit’s service. When the company finally was mustered out Sept. 16, 1947, Maj. Paul G. Norris Jr. (of the Times-Republican) was commander.

Peacetime duties were also part of guard duties.

In 1931, the guard was ordered to Cedar County, where farmers had objected to tuberculosis testing of cattle and had threatened several state veterinarians.

Marshalltown’s Company H was ordered to Tipton for a situation and a number of men where on active duty for a number of weeks. Later, the unit was called on for strike duty at Newton.

Later, a new company, D, was mustered into service June 26, 1947, with Capt. Don Patton commanding. He resigned a year later and Capt. Hovden, who won the Silver Star for gallantry in action in Italy during World War II, was made commander. This unit, like the previous Company H of the 168th infantry, was a heavy weapons unit in the famous 34th “Red Bull” division.

The 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center which killed nearly 3,000 Americans began the War on Terror, and the Guard saw duty again.

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Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com