BLACKSBURG, Va. — Maj. Gen. John M. Epperly, commander of the 29th Infantry Division, visited Virginia National Guard Soldiers supporting COVID-19 response efforts June 15, 2020, in Blacksburg, Virginia, and presented his challenge coin for particularly outstanding performance of duty.
“There is not much more noble work than what we are doing for the people of the commonwealth,” Epperly said. “The job we are doing here matters. There are various reasons for joining the National Guard, but serving our fellow Virginians when they are in need tops the list for the Soldiers of the 29th Infantry Division.”Epperly said even in the wake of all the security challenges around the nation, the COVID-19 response mission has not been forgotten.
“You are making a huge difference in the community, and it shows,” he said. “I appreciate everything the Soldiers of the 29th ID are doing to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. They leave jobs, family and friends to serve the people of Virginia, and we owe their families and employers an extra measure of gratitude as well.”
Many of the Soldiers have been on duty since March 31, and they are assigned to the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the Danville-based 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th IBCT and the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division Headquarters.
Soldiers have been assisting with logistics at mobile sites for COVID-19 testing, N95 mask fit testings for health care professionals and emergency medical services personnel, distribution of personal protection equipment, transporting test samples and food bank distribution.
Epperly recognized Soldiers identified by their chain of command for their initiative, professionalism, courtesy and compassion with the public at testing sites as well as strong work ethic, selfless service and dedication to duty. Several Soldiers were also recognized for maintaining high standards of physical fitness during periods of heavy operations tempo.
He also recognized a Soldier who assisted Roanoke Fire and EMS personnel during recent flood response operations.
Statewide, Virginia National Guard personnel have collected more than 43,100 COVID-19 samples, conducted more than 2,700 N95 mask fit tests, provided more than 41,300 hours of planning augmentation and distributed more than 411,000 pounds of food.