Even though the Great War had been raging in Europe since 1914, in 1916 most Northfielders were more interested in what was going on at the border with Mexico. Why? Because their friends and relatives were serving in Company D of the 2nd Infantry Regiment of the Minnesota National Guard.
After Mexican leader Pancho Villa started raiding in Texas and New Mexico, President Wilson called National Guard units into federal service to guard the border, and Northfield’s Company D was officially mobilized. The mobilization point for Northfield’s Company D was at Fort Snelling in St. Paul. Their camp was called Camp Bobleter after Colonel Joseph Bobleter, who had commanded the 12th Minnesota during the Spanish-American War.
Northfield’s Co. D returned January 24, 1917 after serving a few months at the Mexican border, marked mostly by dust and tedium. The Northfield News described their return on January 26, 1917: “Home again! And mighty glad to get back. Without the loss of a man, with every man in fine physical condition the soldiers of Co. D returned to Northfield Wednesday afternoon with six months in the service of their “Uncle Sam” to their credit.”
Only a few months later, the United States had officially entered the Great War in Europe. But by May 2017, Northfield had given up Company D since there were not enough men who would fill its ranks at war strength for a federal force.
Some men from Company D did serve in World War I, but on an individual basis in other branches of the military, not with their original National Guard unit based in Northfield.
Company D men proudly served their unit, their city, and their state, and many of them gained valuable experience that would help them get through the Great War and beyond.