The 2nd Regiment, Washington National Guard was mobilized in April 1917 anticipating service in France. Rather than fighting the Hun, Guardsmen spent the next several months guarding war industry and infrastructure around Washington State. As fall arrived, the War Department instituted a numbered Regiment plan and the 2nd Regiment became the 161st Infantry Regiment. While the rest of the 41st Division headed to South Carolina for training, the 161st found itself in New York preparing to go “over there” in the war to end all wars. The 161st landed in France in December 1917 and was relegated to support duties. By mide-1918, many of the NCOs had left for Officer Candidate School and large numbers of enlisted soldiers were transferred to front line units as replacements. By October 1918, the Regiment was nearly at full strength filled with draftees and preparing for the final push into Germany. With the end of hostilities on November 11, 1918, the Regiment was mostly reunited and prepared to return home. The Regiment landed in New York and New Jersey February and March 1919 and released from active duty.
Many cities across the state held ceremonies to welcome the “boys” home.