RICHMOND, Va. –
Approximately 300 personnel from the Virginia Department of Military Affairs were on duty in Richmond Jan. 16, 2010, supporting the inauguration of Bob McDonnell as the 71st Governor of Virginia. Soldiers from the Virginia Army National Guard, Airmen from the Virginia Air National Guard and members of the Virginia Defense Force conducted a variety of missions including providing ceremonial music, firing a 19-gun salute, conducting a flyover with F-22 Raptors and providing command and control of the inaugural parade elements. A formation of Virginia Guard Soldiers and Airmen also led the inaugural parade.
“I think it was a successful display of the Virginia National Guard at its best,” said Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia. “It served as a showcase of our great Guardsmen in their salute to our new commander in chief.”
The Virginia Defense Force also had personnel on duty for the mission, and Newman was said he was impressed with the support from the all-volunteer force. “The Virginia Defense Force continues to be a full partner in every operation we conduct,” Newman said.
The support mission also provided an opportunity to exercise the Guard’s ability to effectively conduct operation with state partner agencies. “Even though this is a ceremonial mission, every time we work together with other state agencies allows us to improve our response capability and inter-agency cooperation,” Newman said.
- Personnel from the Virginia Department of Military Affairs conducted the following mission
- Approximately 45 Soldiers from the Petersburg-based 29th Army Band provided ceremonial music for all the inaugural activities.
- Approximately 20 Soldiers from the Richmond-based Battery A, 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team fired a ceremonial 19-gun salute.
- Fighter pilots from the 192nd Fighter Wing from Langley Air Force Base conducted a fly over with F-22 Raptors.
- Brig. Gen. Bob Tucker, Virginia National Guard director of interagency operations, commanded the lead marching formation of the inaugural parade consisting of a color guard and 60 personnel from the Virginia Army National Guard and Virginia Air National Guard.
- Approximately 60 personnel from the Virginia Army National Guard, Virginia Air National Guard and Virginia Defense Force provided command and control for the inaugural parade and assisted with staging and marshalling the parade marching elements.
The DMA conducted rehearsals at the state capitol Jan. 15 in order to prepare for the event.
“It's just so exciting to be here today as a Virginia Soldier,” said Sgt. James A. Harper, a section chief from the 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment. Harper’s job was to provide the command to “fire” to his gunner as part of the 19-gun salute. “We're going to be firing our cannons as soon as the governor raises his right hand,” he said before the ceremony began.
For Harper, the day was a chance to continue being of service. “This is all about God and country here,” he said. “Serving my commonwealth is very important and patriotism keeps bringing me back. “What makes it even better is that most of us have been deployed two and three times and it just gets more exciting as it goes along.”
Soldiers of the 1st Battalion received new howitzers last year and trained on them for two weeks, culminating in a dedication ceremony held May. 1, 2009 at Fort Pickett.
“We're excited to be here, and we're excited to be able to show off our new cannons and just support the inauguration,” said 1st Lt. Brooks Rembert of the 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment. “Since we got the cannons, we've only been able to do a live fire once. This is a chance for us to show off for the people of Virginia their field artillery. The best part about field artillery is getting to shoot big guns, make lots of noise.”
A very different and more pleasing sound came from the instruments of the 29th Army Band before the inauguration and during the ceremony. The band alternated with the Hampton University Choir with music before the swearing in, then played the traditional “Ruffles and Flourishes” to welcome the Virginia Guard’s new commander in chief after he was sworn in.
“I love being here, and I'm glad we get to do it,” said Staff Sgt. John Reynolds of the 29th Army Band. “It's a wonderful opportunity for us. The best part about doing this is being here with the crowd, all these people, and letting them enjoy some of what we do and getting to be part of history.”