RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia National Guard hosted a brief observation of the 76th anniversary of D-Day June 6, 2020, at the Sgt. Bob Slaughter Headquarters at Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia. Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, and Chief Master Sergeant James J. Profita, the VNG’s Command Senior Enlisted Leader, placed a wreath at the M101A1 105mm light howitzer outside of the headquarters in memory of VNG Soldiers lost on D-Day.
“It’s important to take time out of a busy schedule to remember that today marks the 76th anniversary of D-Day,” Williams said. “At this time on that fateful day, the 29th Division lost approximately 2400 soldiers, and in the 116th Brigade there were 1,007 casualties, 247 of which were killed in action. We have to remember the sacrifices of our forebears suffered to ensure the defeat of Nazi tyranny and their example should give us strength in these uncertain times and the National Guard can be the example for our communities and our nation.”
This 105mm howitzer is dedicated to the memory of all of the VNG Soldiers who served in the 29th Infantry Division in World War II. It has been painted to commemorate the bravery of the Soldiers assigned to the 111th Field Artillery Battalion involved in the landing on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France June 6, 1944. There, VNG artillerymen struggled through high seas and heavy enemy fire with their cannons mounted on amphibious vehicles. Though many of the weapons were lost at sea, the battalion never wavered in their determination to reach shore and support their fellow Soldiers.
Read more about the historical displays at the VNG headquarters:
Chaplain (Col.) Ben Sprouse read a portion the prayer President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s read on D-Day: “Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.”
Read the full prayer:
Sgt. 1st Class Calvin Bailey read the Order of the Day issued by General Dwight D
. Eisenhower on D-Day
: “You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hope and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.”
Read the full order:
More than 800 members of the 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division were killed, wounded or missing during the assault on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, but their courage and bravery helped create a foothold that allowed follow on forces to continue the assault and set the stage for Allied victory in Europe.
The VNG’s Joint Force Headquarters was officially named and dedicated for Roanoke native and D-Day veteran Sgt. John Robert “Bob” Slaughter Jan. 8, 2019. Slaughter, who passed away in 2012 at the age of 87, fought in World War II as a squad leader with the VNG’s 1st Battalion, 116th Regiment, 29th Infantry Division at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, during the D-Day invasion June 6, 1944. Slaughter had enlisted years earlier at age 15. After his discharge in 1945 and lengthy civilian career in the newspaper industry, Slaughter became the leading force in bringing the National D-Day Memorial to Bedford, Virginia, in an effort to honor the 19 Bedford residents who lost their lives during the D-Day invasion, and four more who died later in the Normandy campaign.
Read more about the headquarters dedication:
When the 116th Infantry was activated Feb. 3, 1941, Virginia communities provided Soldiers to serve in the unit, and Bedford provided Soldiers to serve in Company A, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division. During the assault on Omaha Beach, 19 of the “Bedford Boys” of Company A died. Bedford’s population in 1944 was about 3,200, and proportionally the Bedford community suffered the nation’s most severe D-Day losses. Recognizing that Bedford represented both large and small communities whose citizen-Soldiers served on D-Day, Congress warranted the establishment of the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford.
Learn more about the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford:
Today the 29th Infantry Division is an Army National Guard operational-level headquarters located at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Its wartime mission is to provide mission command to subordinate brigades and forces tailored for an assigned mission. It is one of eight divisions in the Army National Guard.
The 29th recently mobilized Soldiers to participate in Operation Spartan Shield and Operation Inherent Resolve, both in the U.S. Central Command area of operations.
The 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment and the 29th Infantry Band are aligned under the 29th. The division currently has training relationships with North Carolina’ s 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team and 113th Sustainment Brigade, Florida’s 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Maryland’s 29th Combat Aviation Brigade, Alabama’s 226th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade and Arkansas’s 142nd Field Artillery Brigade.