CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The SC State Guard is commemorating 350 years of service. To celebrate, we are highlighting the unique history and continued service of the organization.
Nearly 1,000 men and women make up the all-volunteer force — some with previous military experience, some without — all ready to leave their civilian jobs at a moment’s notice when they are called to action.
The SC State Guard is one of the first to respond to “serious natural or man-made disasters,” with the mission of “quickly [responding] to protect people and property and to help communities recover.”
Throughout the last three and a half centuries, the SC State Guard has continued to carry out that mission.
Established in 1670, it is one of the oldest military organizations in the country.
Originally known as the First Provincial Militia, some variation of the SC State Guard has been continuously defending the state since English colonists first arrived on the banks of the Ashley River.
Perhaps some of the most famous Generals in the history of the organization are those under whom guardsmen served during the American Revolution: Francis Marion (the Swamp Fox), Thomas Sumter (the Gamecock), and Andrew Pickens (the Fighting Elder).
In 1903, the Militia Act was established, drawing separation between the National Guard and the State Guard.
According to LTC Scott Malyerck, who serves as the public affairs officer for the SC State Guard, the critical distinction between the SC National Guard and the SC State Guard is that “State Guard members do not get paid, nor can they be deployed outside of the state without the Governor’s approval.”
The SC State Guard does, however, act “in coordination with the National Guard, law enforcement, and other state, county, and municipal agencies.”
As part of the SC Military Department, the current SC State Guard serves under the direction of Adjutant General R. Van McCarty, with the Commander-in-Chief being Governor Henry McMaster.
Most recently, the SC State Guard has been heavily involved in many statewide COVID-19 response efforts.
Locally, members of the 1st Civil Support Brigade assisted MUSC in converting a fitness center into a COVID-19 MASH unit.
Although many events to celebrate the anniversary were planned, they have been cancelled due to COVID-19.