Among those making speeches at that event were groups of veterans from the Civil War and the Spanish American War who offered advice to the troops. Civil War veteran J. Albert Dole’s sobering encouragement emphasized that “they were better to die as a patriot than let dishonor fall upon the flag of the free,” reported the Pomona Progress the next day.
Three years ago, California National Guard troops were activated and sent to garrison the Mexican border to cut down on smuggling and other problems there.
And it was hardly the first time.
Almost 96 years ago, Pomona’s National Guard troop was shipped to the border at a time when outright war with Mexico was a real possibility.
Fortunately for all concerned, the crisis never reached the shooting stage, but it came close.
The members of Pomona’s Company D, 7th Regiment of the California National Guard, were sent off in July 1916 following a raid in March by Pancho Villa on Douglas, Ariz. and other towns and interests on either side of the border.
In pursuit of Villa, U.S. troops led by Gen. John J. Pershing were sent across the border in June. Along the way, on June 21 at Carrizal near Vera Cruz, Pershing’s force ran headlong into Mexican troops. A battle ensued with 11 Americans and 24 Mexicans dead.
When word arrived about the battle, President Woodrow Wilson immediately activated National Guard units from throughout the nation, including California’s 1st and 7th Regiments, to protect the border.
On their way to what they feared was outright war, the soldiers of Company D and the 7th Regiment Band (headquartered in Pomona) were given what turned out to be two spectacular sendoffs from the homefolk.