JAMESTOWN, Va. - Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Norfolk-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team showed off their firepower during the annual Military Through The Ages event March 16-17, 2019, at the historic Jamestown Settlement near Williamsburg, Virginia.
The Thunder Soldiers were joined by about 500 re-enactors portraying armed forces from the modern era all the way back to the founding of the Jamestown Settlement in 1607 and earlier. The Virginia National Guard traces its lineage back to those original forces who protected the fledgling settlement on the banks of the James River.
During the two-day event, the 1-111th blank-fired their M119A3 howitzer during individual demonstrations, as well as during a comparative fire program that showcased firepower through the last 400 years, including a 17th-century swivel gun.
In addition to the Thunder Soldiers participating in the event, re-enactors depicted soldiers from Ancient Rome, the Hundred Years’ War, the War of the Roses and more modern conflicts, including the American Revolution, Civil War, both World Wars and the Vietnam War.
“I love this event. I think it’s one of the best models for people to come out and show how much appreciation they have for the military,” said Sgt. Taylor Cunningham, one of the Soldiers there representing the 1-111th. “We can give out some history and some insight of what the military is like, not just how it was in the past, but what it’s like now.”
Commander of the 1-111th, Lt. Col. Shawn Talmadge, highlighted what the event means for the National Guard.
“What great opportunity, to come out here to share with the community our history,” said Talmadge. “It’s an honor to be here in Jamestown. It highlights what we’re here for – we are citizen Soldiers, members of the community. We get to tell our story.”
Talmadge also said the event benefits his Soldiers in a unique way.
“All these folks are walking up to us saying, hey, tell me your story. Tell me about being a National Guardsman, tell me about being in today’s military. What a great opportunity to engage the public.
“My guys love coming out here,” continued Talmadge. “This is highlight of the year. They’re getting a thank you for their hard work. The weather is beautiful, the community is coming by, shaking their hands, and telling them ‘thank you.’ They don’t hear that enough. It puts a smile on their face, to know hey, I’m a part of the National Guard, it’s an honorable profession, and my community appreciates me. It rejuvenates and shows them appreciation they deserve.”
The weekend’s events also featured a program honoring women in the military through the ages, highlighting their original support roles, and showcasing their modern advancements as Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and Marines, including their participation in combat roles.
Cunningham, one of the 111th’s female Soldiers after the job field was opened to women in 2016, was recognized during the program and received a round of applause from the audience.
“It’s amazing to see how women started in small support roles, from making clothes, being cooks and medics, and then later down the line, especially during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, that’s when they started putting women closer to combat,” said Cunningham. “Now, 2016, I was able to break into a combat role. It’s been a great blessing.”
The event culminated with a military pass-in-review featuring all of the re-enactors participating in the even, with Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, serving as the reviewing officer. Williams presented awards in a number of different categories including the event visitors’ favorite re-enactor unit, as well as for the unit deemed the best by their fellow participants.
More photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/albums/72157679457020448