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Littleton National Guard post unveils historic exhibit



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This past Sunday, the Meadow Street's Readiness Center and National Guard Armory unveiled an historic display in celebration of its more then half-century in town. The projects caps the Armory's expansion of recent years, and provides an opportunity to reflect on the Guard's changing role in local, state, and national service. (Photo by Justin Roshak) (click for larger version)
May 09, 2018
LITTLETON—This past Sunday, the Meadow Street's Readiness Center and National Guard Armory unveiled an historic display in celebration of its more then half-century in town. The projects caps the Armory's expansion of recent years, and provides an opportunity to reflect on the Guard's changing role in local, state, and national service.

Located just inside the new glass entrance-way, the historic exhibit includes a half-century of Army mottos, from famous standbys like the Korea and Vietnam-era "Look Sharp, Be Sharp, Go Army!" and "Be All You Can Be" (1980 -2001), to less enduring attempts, such as the post-draft "Today's Army Wants to Join You" and the more recent "Army of One," which lasted only five years, and proved unpopular with tight-knit teams of soldiers.

The exhibit features historical photographs of every vehicle and weapon the Littleton post's soldiers have trained with with 1955: 90 mm anti-aircraft cannons and radar vans in the 1950's, artillery pieces and machine guns in the Vietnam era (including at one point, white phosphorus shells) as well as other tools like jeeps, camouflage nets, and ammunition cranes. It is a snapshot of US military history, as experienced by Littleton's first line of defense.

"I hope it gets a lot of attention from current and past soldiers," said Lt. Col. Justin Strevig.

He said it was "A reflection of the pride and comradery they had for service."

Strevig pointed out that the New Hampshire National Guard's roots go back to colonial times, and that its mission has changed to reflect the threats faced by the state and nation.

Littleton's National Guard Armory opened in 1955, funded by the 1950 National Civil Defense Act, which invested millions in federal dollars in local defense and preparedness facilities in response to rising Cold War tensions with the then-Soviet Union. In our own era, the September 11th, 2001 attacks shifted the Guard from a largely strategic reserve role to its highest level of active duty since World War II. As a result, many units outgrew their Eisenhower-era buildings, and Littleton's post was no exception.

The Armory's expansion, largely completed in 2016, added an entire new wing, and the base welcomed its new occupants, Alpha Battery. Composed of some 100 personnel, Alpha Battery is one of four batteries which constitute the Third Battalion of the 197th Fires Brigade, which includes elements from the Rhode Island, Michigan, Massachusetts, and West Virginia National Guards. Organized as field artillery, the Littleton post's soldiers train with truck-mounted M142 HIMARS, or High Mobility Artillery Rocket System.

The armory expansion was overseen by the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources and the Guard's own Environmental Office. Among other changes, they encouraged the post to return its architecture to its original 1950's design. As a result, the old section of the Armory looks more like it did under Eisenhower then it has in decades.

A recent internal audit examined conditions and procedures at 20 Guard locations in New Hampshire, of which three received the highest possible marks (i.e. no mistakes); Littleton was one.

The Littleton Readiness Center and local Guard Armory is located at 350 Meadow St.; visitors and citizens are welcome to visit the display.

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