The National Guard, a unique part of the American military, traces its origins to the birth of the first organized colonial militia regiments on December 13, 1636.
The Guard, which includes some of the oldest units in the US military, is a reserve component that can be called up on a moment's notice to respond to domestic emergencies or participate in overseas combat missions.
These 11 stunning photos from the past year show the Guard in action — dealing with fires, hurricanes, volcanoes, and more.
1. New York National Guard soldiers from Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 258th Field Artillery, clear a M777 Howitzer, at Fort Drum, Watertown, New York on May 22, 2018.
(N.Y. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Andrew Valenza)
2. A Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS), a C-130 Hercules modified for fire-fighting purposes, releases fire retardant over Shasta County, California, during the Carr Fire in early August 2018.
A Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS), a C-130 Hercules plane modified for fire-fighting efforts, releases fire retardant over Shasta County, California, during the Carr Fire in early August 2018.
3. Battery B, 2d Battalion 114th Field Artillery Regiment (Mississippi National Guard) hone their gunnery skills as they conduct table XVIII near Dona Ana, New Mexico on April 28, 2018.
(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Brittany Johnson)
4. Crews with the Florida National Guard's CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package and Urban Search and Rescue Florida Task Force 8 search door to door after Hurricane Michael to make sure residents in the area are safe and facilitate any urgent needs they might have.
(Florida National Guard photo by David Sterphone)
5. Firefighters battle a blaze during live burn training at the Anthony "Tony" Canale Training Center in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey on Sept. 18, 2018.
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)
6. In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, one of the largest storms to hit the Carolinas in years, National Guardsmen transported more than 300 cots and 800 blankets to eight different shelters across Fayetteville, North Carolina.
(North Carolina National Guard)
7. Florida National Guard members deliver various life-saving supplies to affected communities following Hurricane Michael.
(Florida National Guard)
8. An M1128 Stryker Mobile Gun System with 1st Squadron, 82nd Cavalry Regiment, Oregon Army National Guard shoots its 105mm cannon during a live-fire exercise, part of the squadron’s annual training, on July 26, 2018 at Orchard Combat Training Center near Boise, Idaho.
(Oregon Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Zachary Holden, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs)
9. Lightning flashes during the North Carolina National Guard's 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT)'s eXportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC) exercise.
(Photo Composite by SSG Brendan Stephens, NC National Guard Public Affairs)
10. Members of the Hawaii National Guard monitor the flow of lava as it nears a geothermal power plant early Tuesday morning, May 22, 2018.
(Photo courtesy of the State of Hawaii, Dept. of Defense)
11. An Idaho Army National Guard sniper, from the 116th Calvary Brigade Combat Team, practices his skills during the platoon's two-week annual training at the Orchard Combat Training Center on June 8, 2018.
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur)
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
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