In 1941, Utah Gov. Herbert Maw created a state militia to defend Utah from "the ravages of foreign enemies within our borders."
But Utah never had a need for a militia and nobody was drafted into it. Legislators now are moving to disband the Utah Defense Force.
"It was never used. We just felt it was archaic," Rep. Neal Hendrickson, D-West Valley City, said.
"There's always the National Guard the governor can call out. I don't think there would be a need for a militia," said Hendrickson, sponsor of repeal legislation.
It's part of a larger effort in the Legislature to clean up the Utah Code. An interim government operations committee has voted to abolish 15 obsolete laws, removing more than 350 dusty pages from the state code.
At the time, the Utah Defense Force may have seemed like a sensible precaution. The European War was under way and Japan was occupying Indochina, though Pearl Harbor had yet to be attacked, triggering U.S. involvement in World War II.
Maw introduced the idea almost as an aside during a second session of the 1941 Legislature to pay off some debt and take care of unfinished business. In May of that year, Maw waited until the end of an address to the Legislature to bring up the subject of a defense force.
He asked for a militia "in order that our people and industries might be preserved from the ravages of foreign enemies within our borders and in order that Utah might be in a position to cooperate fully with national government."
It played no role in rounding up Japanese-Americans during World War II because that was a federal action, said Max Evans, director of the Division of State History.
The Topaz internment camp in Utah's West Desert held nearly 8,000 Japanese-Americans, nearly all from California, starting in 1942.
Evans said he knows next to nothing about the Utah Defense Force. "It sounds like a very interesting story," he said. "I suspect we may have some things in our collections."
The law gave Maw carte blanche to enlist for a year or more any "able-bodied" Utah citizen for a force that would be in addition to the National Guard but paid similarly to the guard.
The job of the Utah Defense Force was to go "in fresh pursuit of insurrectionists, saboteurs (and) enemies or enemy forces," even into other states.
Membership in the Utah Defense Force did not exempt men from the U.S. draft.
Hendrickson said he expects the Utah Legislature to disband the defense force in January in a non-controversial vote.