Header image- Full color drawing of Stout Field Headquarters building

History of the Indiana National Guard

The Indiana National Guard can trace its beginnings back to 1801, when the Indiana Territory organized militia companies to defend local settlements. Forefathers of Indiana National Guard’s 151st Infantry Regiment fought with General William Henry Harrison at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. But the founding of militia elements that later came to be recognized as the National Guard of the United States, of which the Indiana National Guard is a part, happened much earlier in our nation’s history.

The National Guard celebrates its birthday every year on Dec. 13. On this date in 1636, the first militia regiments in North America were organized in Massachusetts. The birth of the National Guard's oldest organized units is symbolic of the founding of all the state, territory and District of Columbia militias that collectively make up today's National Guard.

The National Guard pre-dates the United States Army, which was founded in 1775, and all other military forces of the United States of America. The Militia Act of May 8, 1792, permitted militia units organized on that date to retain their “customary privileges.” The Militia Act of 1903, National Defense Act of 1916 and subsequent law extend this provision of the militia act.

The Indiana Air National Guard began on August 1, 1921 with the establishment of the 137th Observation Squadron at Fagley Field in Kokomo. The squadron was redesignated the 113th Observation Squadron on January 25, 1923. The unit relocated to Schoen Field and then to Stout Field, Indianapolis in October 1926.

38th Infantry Division History

38th ID crest

The original 38th Division was organized at Camp Shelby, Mississippi on Aug. 25, 1917 from National Guard units from Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia. The Indiana units that formed the 38th Division, including the 137th and 139th Field Artillery Regiments, the 151st, 152nd and 76th Infantry, drew volunteers from existing independent companies all over the state. Chances are, some of the earliest members of the Indiana National Guard came from your community.

Early Indiana Volunteers

Forefathers of the 151st Infantry Regiment fought with Gen. William Henry Harrison at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. In the run-up to the Mexican War, in the summer of 1846, the 2nd and 3rd Regiments of Indiana Volunteers were organized from existing independent companies from across the state of Indiana.

These local militias included the Bartholomew Guards, Brown County Blues, Clay County Volunteers, Dearborn Volunteers, Greene County Volunteers, Hoosier Boys, Indiana Riflemen, Johnson Guards, Lawrence Greys, Madison Rifles, Clark Guards, Monroe Guards, Posey Guards, Shelby Rifles, Spencer Greys, Lanesville Legion, Sullivan Volunteers, Switzerland Riflemen, Washington Guards and Washington Riflemen.

Local militias again reorganized in May and June, 1882, as the 2nd Regiment, Indiana Veteran Legion and 1st Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Legion as the nation prepared to fight the Spanish-American War.

The independent militias forming these regiments included the Carroll Veterans (Delphi); Elkhart Veterans (Elkhart); Evansville Rifles; Hager Veterans (Terre Haute); Howard Veterans (Kokomo); Indianapolis Light Infantry; Jennings County Veterans (North Vernon); Lebanon Rifles; McCune Cadets (Rockville); McKeen Cadets (Terre Haute); Miller Grenadiers (Richmond); Old Wayne Veterans (Richmond); Phil Kearney Veterans (Covington); Pulaski County Blues; Remington Guards; Richmond Light Guard; Sherman Guards (Frankfort); South Bend Light Infantry; South Bend Veterans (South Bend); Tippecanoe Veterans (Lafayette) and the Waterloo Rifles.

Some Important Events in the History of the 38th ID

  • The Indiana Legion was redesignated Indiana National Guard on March 5, 1895.
  • On April 17, 1918, a tornado struck the 38th ID training camp at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, giving the Division its nickname “Cyclone Division.”
  • The 38th ID was drafted into federal service on Aug. 5, 1917 and deployed to France in September 1918 during the closing days of World War I.
  • The 38th ID earned the nickname “Avengers of Bataan” from General Douglas MacArthur because of its success in the Battle of Bataan in the Philippines during World War II. The nickname appeared in news articles, and an unofficial tab was made for wear above the Cyclone (CY) shoulder sleeve insignia.

Sawicki, James A. Infantry Regiments of the U.S. Army, Wyvern Publications, 1981.
Sawicki, James A. Field Artillery Battalions of the U.S. Army, Centaur Publications, 1977.

About Stout Field

image of Lieutenant Richard H. StoutStout Field’s history stretches back to 1926, when the city of Indianapolis decided to open a municipal airport on 200 acres under the control of the 113th Observation Squadron of the Indiana National Guard.

In 1929, Stout Field was named to honor Lieutenant Richard H. Stout (right), a pilot of the 113th Observation Squadron. Lt. Stout enlisted in the French Army before the United States entry in World War I. Stout originally served as a driver in the Ambulance Service and was awarded the Croix de Guerre with gold, silver and bronze stars for his bravery under fire. Later, he enlisted in the aviation branch of the Signal Corps. Following the war, Stout was commissioned in the Air Service Officer Reserve Corps, before joining the Indiana National Guard in 1926. He was killed in the crash of his plane on Schoen Field at Fort Harrison, Indiana on October 3, 1926.

By 1928, Stout Field was taken over by the state of Indiana after the city of Indianapolis relocated its airport three miles to the west. The 113th Observation Squadron moved its headquarters from Kokomo and began to improve the airfield. At this time there were few buildings and no paved runways. Throughout the 1930s and early 1940s, improvements were made to include building two additional hangars, a control tower and an administration building. Construction continued even after the 113th Observation Squadron was called to active federal duty in January, 1941.

World War II

During World War II, the Army Air Forces leased Stout Field from the state for $1 a year. By then Stout consisted of 259 acres, four hangars, other buildings and 15,000 feet of concrete runways. Renamed Stout Field Army Air Base, Stout had two key functions. First, it served as the headquarters of the I Troop Carrier Command, which directed glider training activity throughout the United States. Second, Stout Field served as a training base for glider training, C-47 pilot transition training and glider ferrying training. Following the end of the war, control of Stout Field reverted back to the state in 1947.

The first unit to be organized at Stout Field after World War II was the Headquarters, 122nd Fighter Group followed quickly by five more Air Guard units in 1947. Other Indiana Guard units and facilities began to move to Stout Field in the early 1950s. The United States Property and Fiscal Office moved from Fort Harrison to Stout Field in 1951.

Korean War

In 1951, the Indiana Air National Guard was mobilized for the Korean War. Some mobilized units remained at Stout Field during their active federal service tours. All were released from active duty in 1952. Soon after, the Indiana Air National Guard transitioned to jet aircraft thus making Stout Field too small to accommodate the needed longer runways. By 1955, all Indiana Air National Guard units relocated to new facilities at Baer Field in Fort Wayne and Hulman Field in Terre Haute.

Post-War Expansion

During the 1960s, more changes came to Stout Field. The Adjutant General’s staff and office moved from the State Headquarters in downtown Indianapolis to Stout Field in 1964. By 1965, all Army fixed wing operations were moved from Stout and rotary wing operations moved to Shelbyville in 1971.

By the 1980s, the Indiana National Guard Headquarters and USPFO had outgrown their space and needed to expand. Two buildings, the USPFO building and the Headquarters building were constructed in the late 1980s and were dedicated on 6 May 1990.

Modern Era

The Indiana National Guard continued to grow throughout the 1990s and into the 2010s. By 2012, most of the buildings on Stout Field were over 50 years old and could not handle the increased personnel capacity due to the demands on the Indiana National Guard after 9/11. It became necessary to expand the existing USPFO and Headquarters buildings.

The renovation of the joint headquarters began in 2012, and increased the size of the building from 37, 375 square feet to approximately 117,375 square feet. The facility is the home to the Indiana National Guard’s major command units, including the joint headquarters staff, Indiana Army National Guard, Indiana Air National Guard, and the 38th Infantry Division Band.

Indiana Coat of Arms

Indiana Shoulder Sleeve Insignia

Indiana Distinctive Unit Insignia

Vietnam War


painting of Delta Company- Indiana Rangers during Vietnam War
Delta Company - Indiana Rangers


On May 13, 1968, more than 12,200 Army National Guardsmen in 20 units from 17 states were mobilized for service during the Vietnam War. Eight units deployed to Vietnam and over 7,000 Army Guardsmen served in the war zone.

Company D (Ranger), 151st Infantry, Indiana Army National Guard arrived in Vietnam in December 1968. As part of the II Field Force, the Indiana Rangers were assigned reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering missions.

Operating deep in enemy territory, Ranger patrols engaged enemy units while conducting raids, ambushes and surveillance missions.

“Delta Company” achieved an impressive combat record during its tour in Vietnam; unit members were awarded 510 medals for valor and service.

—National Guard Bureau, The Indiana Guardsman, Vol. 6, Issue 2, p. 23. June 2010

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