Virginia is again putting out the call for citizen-soldiers.
Gov. Charles S. Robb has resurrected the state's previously inactive militia known as the Virginia State Guard and individuals at National Guard armories across the state are recruiting everybody from former military personnel to doctors, nurses, lawyers, boat owners and airplane pilots as members.
The militia would be called to arms only whenever the Virginia National Guard is called out of the state. And that has made the State Guard's mission somewhat difficult to define.
"There's a mission gap," said Col. Richard W. Beason, commanding officer of the State Guard battalion in Manassas. "We have a bunch of talented people and they want to do something. "We have a lot of growing pains."
Members of the State Guard won't get paid, but they will wear Army-style uniforms, carry an Army rank and be required to attend one four-hour meeting a month. They won't have to attend a two-week summer camp and they won't earn any military benefits, as do members of the National Guard or reserve forces.
The last time the Virginia Army National Guard left the state was during World War II when the 29th Division was called to active duty in Europe. At that time the Virginia Protective Force, essentially the state guard, filled the vacuum left by the National Guard, which is often called to handle civil unrest or to assist police during hurricanes, floods or man-made disasters.
Since the infrequent departures of the National Guard would seem to give few chances for the State Guard to mobilize, some guard officials say the group's mission should be defined differently from the National Guard. One possibility is that the State Guard would provide extra manpower during emergencies, as it did in the Roanoke area last month, taking part in rescue and sandbagging operations during the floods that devastated portions of Virginia.
The Manassas group, one of three battalions in the 3rd Brigade began recruiting last summer. The other two battalions are in National Guard armories in Staunton and Winchester.
Approximately 2,300 men and women have joined the State Guard, since Robb, himself a Marine Corps reservist, mandated its reorganization in 1980.
The State Guard in Fredericksburg was one of the first to form and has an air brigade made up of pilots who fly their own airplanes.
Alexandria General District Court Judge Robert T.S. Colby is executive officer in the Manassas battalion. Colby has been involved in the military for 32 years, including active duty in the Army and inactive service in the Illinois National Guard and Army Reserve.
"Everybody who has been associated with military service has a feeling that they still have contributions to make -- whether you were an enlisted man or an officer," Colby said.
Colby suggested that because the State Guard's help would be used infrequently, the group could serve more as a vehicle to educate younger people in areas of the members' expertise. The Manassas group has recruited engineers, IBM employes, real estate agents, medical technicians, lawyers and nurses.
"We're not going to run and take any hills," Colby said, noting that the average age of the State Guard member is between 45 and 50. The work of the State Guard between emergencies might be centered around public safety, emergency medical services and refugee evacuation -- the type of assignments the members might draw during wartime or other national emergencies.
After State Guard members are trained in emergency communications, they could train teen-agers and young adults as well, Colby said. If the State Guard offered this type of classes, whether in police science, public aviation theory, or basic medicine, they could help young adults decide on pursuing related careers, the judge said.
Younger as well as older men and women can sign up for three-year commitments to the State Guard, and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Marilyn Hogancamp and her husband John of Manassas Park said they joined the State Guard because they like to do things together. John had been in the Marines for 21 years and Marilyn's first husband was also a Marine for 25 years, so the military life was familiar them both.
Marilyn Hogancamp is one of six women among the 120 State Guard members in Manassas. She has elected to be a cook because she likes working with food, but she says that women are needed in many other of areas of the State Guard including nurses, doctors and those interested in communications.
The Hogancamps attend monthly meeting of four hours in the National Guard Armory on Dumfries Road in Manassas.
Most meetings have concerned organization and recruiting, but the Hogancamps say the unit's members are developing a sense of identity. "They want to do something for the public, for their neighbor," Marilyn Hogancamp said.