A formal, permanent National Guard of Washington came gradually and haltingly into existence in the decade before statehood. Spearheading the initiative was Rossell O’Brien, an Olympia official and sponsor of a privately funded Guard company, the Capitol Guards. He was just in time. The new Guard units deployed to support communities when a rash of urban fires destroyed downtowns across the state. Then those units volunteered en masse to serve the nation in a foreign conflict. Historian Bill Woodward locates this origin story in the South Sound area, and explains how the Guard’s “dual mission” continues to serve state and nation in the 21st century.