By Murrel Bland

The Kansas National Guard can trace its roots back to about 1855 when the militia was representing free state advocates. During the Civil War, which lasted from 1861 until 1865, about 4,000 of these Kansas soldiers served with union forces.

Since then, National Guard personnel, including those from Kansas, have been represented in all of the wars and other military actions that the United States has been involved in.

That was the message that Colonel Roger Murdock delivered. He was the featured speaker at the Congressional Forum Friday, Nov. 17 held at Children’s Mercy Park. The Kansas City, Kansas, Area Chamber of Commerce sponsors the forum.

Col. Murdock, who is chief of the joint staff for the Kansas National Guard, said there are more than 7,200 persons serving in the Army and Air Guard in the state.

The National Guard helps local law enforcement when an area suffers from weather disasters such floods and tornadoes. It also works closely with the Kansas Department of Emergency Management and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Col. Murdock said.

During peacetime, National Guard units report to the governor of any of 50 states and four U.S. territories. Some members of the Kansas Guard have been assigned to temporary duty in Puerto Rico to help restore electric power to the island, Col. Murdock said.

The Trembley White U.S. Army Reserve Center at 1325 N. 78th St., Kansas City, Kan., will soon become a National Guard building, Col. Murdock said. He said this will relieve overcrowding at other area National Guard buildings including those at 100 S. 20th St. in Kansas City, Kan., and in Olathe.

Col. Murdock said that the Kansas National Guard is recruiting qualified personnel as it is about 600 persons short. He said the Guard offers competitive pay, retirement benefits and help with college tuition.

Col.  Murdock, who works full time for the Guard, joined the Guard in 1985 as an enlisted man. He became an officer through Wichita State University in 1986. He has served in various National Guard positions and also served as an operations officer in Iraq from 2008 until 2009.

Col. Murdock lives in Ozawkie, Kan., with his wife and three sons.

Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is executive director of Business West