Army Reserves Birthday

Next Event Date: Monday, April 23, 2018

The U.S. Army Reserve traces its beginnings to April 23, 1908, when Congress passed Senate Bill 1424. This act authorized the Army to establish a reserve corps of medical officers. The Secretary of War could order these officers to active duty during time of emergency. This was the nation's first federal reserve. Four years later, a provision of the Army Appropriations Act of 1912 created the Regular Army Reserve, a federal reserve outside the Medical Reserve Corps authorized in 1908.

The first call-up of the Army Reserve came in 1916 as a result of tensions between the United States and Mexico caused by the Mexican bandit, Francisco "Pancho" Villa, and the subsequent punitive expedition after Villa led by Brig. Gen. John J. Pershing. For a time, it looked like there might be a war between Mexico and the United States and for the first, but not the only time, the Army looked to its citizen-soldiers for added strength and expertise. This first mobilization was an important development for the Army Reserve -- and a great shakedown for the Army's reserve components prior to America's entry into World War I -- as was another piece of legislation that was passed in 1916.

The National Defense Act of 1916 established, by statute, the Officers Reserve Corps, the Enlisted Reserve Corps and the Reserve Officers Training Corps. One year later in 1917, the initial Reserve organization, the Medical Reserve Corps merged into the Officers Reserve Corps. On April 6, 1917, America entered World War I. By the end of June 1917, there were 21,543 officer reservists and 35,000 enlisted reservists. Less than a decade earlier, there had been no reservists. The Reserve's importance to Army medicine, its original specialty, was particularly striking: Reserve medical officers outnumbered Regular Army doctors more than four to one. Of the Army nurses on active duty on April 6, 1917, almost half (170 out of 403) were Reservists.