Oregon Military Department Records Guide

Agency History - 1946-Present

The end of the war brought a brief return to prewar conditions. National Guard troops returned from federal service in 1945. The state defense council stopped functioning in 1947, and the state guard was deactivated at the end of June 1948. However, similar operations were revived on the eve of the Korean conflict. The Legislative Assembly passed the Oregon Civil Defense Act of 1949 in response to world tensions and the need for local defense forces to respond in the event of natural or man made disasters (O.L. 1949 ch. 434). The act created the Civil Defense Agency and the Civil Defense Advisory Council and authorized mobile reserve battalions to be called to duty upon orders of the Governor. In addition the internal security section was established responsible for planning internal state security under the direction of the Governor (O.L. 1949 ch. 446). Another 1949 law declared an emergency and formed a National Guard reserve unit. The Korean war caused all tactical and air National Guard units to be activated into federal service in 1950 and 1951. They returned to state control by the end of 1953; the same year the Legislative Assembly officially abolished the state guard.

The Adjutant General’s office had acted as a de-facto military department since its inception. Sometimes referred to as the military department, by the mid-1950’s it was divided into four operating units: administration and personnel, operations and training, purchasing and disbursing, and maintenance. The latter section maintained camps, rifle ranges, and other instillations scattered throughout Oregon. Located in Salem, civilian personnel were appointed by the Adjutant General and all assigned military personnel were detailed by the Adjutant General. Office functions included liaison with the federal government in military matters affecting Oregon, keeper of all National Guard and state guard personnel records, custodian of relics and memorabilia, quartermaster-general in times of peace, custodian of all state military camps and installations, and overseer of administration and training of the National Guard and storage and distribution of its equipment.

The Legislative Assembly recognized these operations when they reorganized the militia in 1961 and officially created the Military Department (O.L. 1961 ch. 764). The department retained all of the functions previously done by the Adjutant General’s office. Clauses in the law dealt with administration, personnel, leases and agreements on the use of armories, and disposition of receipts from federal and state monies, including the creation of a revolving fund.

The Department was organized into a three-tier operation by 1966. The Governor remained in titular control, with a personal staff and the Military council to advise him. The Adjutant General headed the department, and an administrative assistant and the State Armory Advisory Board reported directly to him. Everyday activities were divided among a primary staff with five broad management functions (administration, operations and training, U.S. property and fiscal office, comptroller, and installations) and a special staff with five specialized departments (public information, state maintenance, military support and plans, Air National Guard base detachment, and army technical personnel). These were overseen by the assistant Adjutant General. In addition, the United States Army Advisory Group was assigned to advise and assist in the training of all guard units in the state.

The 1961 militia law remains in effect. Amendments passed since then include conditions for the appointment of assistant Adjutant Generals, bills on the regulation of funds, an act making the department the official depository of historical items, a law on grants and donations for the Oregon national Guard Military Museum and resources center, and an act on property loss incidental to the activities of the national guard. Each community with a sufficient population to support guard activities has a guard unit assigned to it.

The Military Contingency Account, credited with funds from fines imposed by court martials, was abolished (O.L. 1963 ch. 169). All funds were to be deposited in the State General Fund under the State Treasury. The Legislative Assembly named all members of the Oregon National Guard Reserve as civil defense workers when acting in support of authorized civil defense missions.

The State Military Museum, designated as a repository for weapons, documents and artifacts relating to the history of Oregon’s National Guard and military history, is authorized by the Legislative Assembly (O.L. 1975 ch 235).

In 1989 the State Military Department was renamed the Oregon Military Department (O.L. ch 360). In addition, the Oregon National Guard Reserve was renamed the Oregon State Defense Force( O.L. 1989 ch 361). The Legislative Assembly voted to establish a scholarship fund for eligible Oregon residents serving in the Oregon National Guard (O.L. 1989 ch. 717). Resident fishing and hunting rights, long enjoyed by military personnel serving in but not residents of Oregon, are extended to spouse’s and dependent children (O.L. 1989 ch. 264).

Gulf War Veterans earnings were declared exempt from state taxation by the Legislative Assembly (O.L. 1991 ch. 177). In addition, United States Coast Guard units and reserves were included with other service branches to use ONG armories for business (O.L. 1991 ch. 421).

The 1995 Legislative Assembly enacted legislation creating a tuition waiver program enabling qualified Oregon National Guard members to attend Eastern Oregon, Western Oregon or Southern Oregon Colleges and receive a 90% tuition waiver (O.L. 1995 ch. 158. In addition, state employees of the Military Department may be required to obtain membership in the Oregon State Defense Force. The Adjutant General determines whether membership enhances the readiness and stability of the Department (O.L. 1995 ch. 571).

The definition of State Active Duty for Oregon National Guard members was amended to include federal and state drug eradication, interdiction and counter drug operations (O.L. 1997 ch. 486). The Oregon Military Department when carrying out federal asset forfeiture laws is designated a law enforcement agency (O.L. 1997 ch. 486).

The Oregon Military Museum, located at Camp Withycombe, was established by the Legislative Assembly to replace the State Military Museum authorized by the 1975 Legislative Assembly (O.L. 2001 ch. 656). The Legislative Assembly extended the right to purchase and use ODFW tags and license under resident guidelines to spouse’s and dependents of military members (O.L. 2001 ch. 90).

Protection involving credit and tenant issues was extended to ONG members called to 90+ days of active duty (O.L. ch. 387). In addition, the Legislative Assembly ensured military personnel returning from active duty would be re-employed within seven calendar days and receives pay and allowances while on active duty that corresponds with federal levels under (O.L. 2003 chapter’s 387 and 311).

Oregon Emergency Management, formerly part of the Oregon State Police, was re-established under the Oregon Military Department (O.L. 2007 ch. 401).

Delta On to current organization

State Archives • 800 Summer St. NE • Salem, OR 97310

Phone: 503-373-0701 • Fax: 503-378-4118 • reference.archives@state.or.us