RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia National Guard’s newly-built Joint Force Headquarters was officially named and dedicated for Roanoke native and D-Day veteran Sgt. John Robert “Bob” Slaughter Jan. 8, 2019, at Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia.
Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, joined members of Slaughter’s family and distinguished guests to dedicate the Sergeant Bob Slaughter Headquarters.
“We’re thrilled to have this opportunity to pay tribute to the greatest generation and to all other service men and women who have served the cause of freedom,” said Williams.
Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins also attended the ceremony and reflected on the occasion.
“It’s an incredible honor to be here on the day we honor a native Virginian and a true war hero in Sgt. Slaughter,” said Hopkins. “What an incredible occasion to dedicate this wonderful facility.”
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.
“Here in Virginia, there’s no more meaningful date than the 6th of June, 1944,” said VNG Command Historian Al Barnes. “Frankly, it’s a great honor for us here to serve in the building named after the guy who made that date so meaningful.”
Several members of Sgt. Slaughter’s family attended the ceremony, including his sister, Mary Henderson, and his son, Bob Slaughter Jr., who spoke about what it meant to see his dad honored in such grand fashion.
“To dedicate something like this to a sergeant is amazing,” said Slaughter Jr. “You would think this would be a general of some sort. I think it tells people about the citizen soldier. He would be very proud of this. I wish he could be here to see it.
“With this event, Sgt. Bob Slaughter, the 29th Division and the Virginia National Guard are now synonymous.”
Henderson spoke about how her brother got his start in the Guard at such a young age.
“Bob was 15 years old. We were sitting at the dining room table and he approached our father about joining the National Guard,” said his sister. “They had a big argument, and Bob won. Right after that, Pearl Harbor was bombed.
“He had just really made up his mind. There was no talking him out of it.”
The ribbon was cut for the building that now bears Slaughter’s name in May of 2018. The VNG Joint Force Headquarters building is a 102,000 square foot facility which sits on 13.6-acre site in the northern part of Defense Supply Center Richmond. It cost about $30 million and took nearly two years to build.
The headquarters building provides workspace for the Adjutant General of Virginia, the Virginia National Guard Joint Staff and Air National Guard Staff formerly located at Mullins Readiness Center in Sandston, Virginia.
There are future plans to further honor Slaughter with a display of personal items provided by his family inside the headquarters building.
“This is just an unbelievable honor,” said Slaughter Jr. “My father would be very proud of this.”
“He’d just be smiling from ear to ear,” agreed Henderson. “He would be very, very happy.”