FORT BELVOIR, Va. –
Maryland and Virginia National Guard leadership each honored members of the 29th Infantry Division for their recent overseas deployment during ceremonies Dec. 2-3, 2017, in Maryland and Virginia.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran and Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, as well as Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, thanked the Soldiers and families of the 29th ID for their dedication, service and sacrifices over the past year at a holiday reception Dec. 2, 2017, at the Virginia Governor’s Mansion in Richmond, Virginia.
On Dec. 3, Maj. Gen. Blake C. Ortner, the commanding general of the 29th Infantry Division, presented the Virginia Governor’s National Service Medal to more than 100 Virginia National Guard Soldiers of Headquarters Battalion, 29th ID at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
Created in 2005 by then-Governor Mark R. Warner, the Governor’s National Service Medal recognizes the service of the men and women of the Virginia Army and Air National Guard called to active federal duty since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Later that day, Ortner and Brig. Gen. Timothy E. Gowen, the Assistant Adjutant General – Army for the Maryland National Guard, recognized Maryland Army National Guard Soldiers of the 29th for their overseas service during a Freedom Salute ceremony in Cheltenham, Maryland.
The Freedom Salute recognized Soldiers, their families, employers and organizations that contributed significantly to supporting the unit during its deployment. The Freedom Salute Campaign is one of the largest Army National Guard recognition endeavors in history, designed to publicly acknowledge Army Guard Soldiers and those who supported them during their call to duty.
“These were great opportunities to recognize our outstanding Soldiers and the tremendous job they did,” Ortner said. “The ability to demonstrate the attention and focus that our senior leaders at the governor and Adjutant General level have for our Soldiers is not only great for the Soldiers but shows their families as well how important they are to our states and this nation. We couldn’t be prouder of them.”
In July 2017 two groups of more than 500 29th Infantry Division Soldiers from Maryland and Virginia returned home after serving overseas for more than seven months.
One group, Task Force 29, mobilized in August 2016 and served in Jordan where they conducted joint training and engagements with personnel from the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army, as well as other allied countries. While in Jordan the Soldiers of TF 29 coordinated and executed more than 150 security cooperation engagements and coordinated multiple exercises and subject matter expert exchanges, such as medical evacuation exercises designed to demonstrate the capability of Jordanian air assets. They also planned and coordinated multiple engagements with JAF female soldiers and participated in 13 exchanges focused on NCO duties and responsibilities in battalion and brigade command post operations.
In October 2016 another 450 members of the 29th ID headquarters entered federal active service and mobilized to the Middle East in support of Operation Spartan Shield. During the deployment, the 29th ID Soldiers provided mission command for joint training exercises and military-to-military engagements with partner nations to promote regional stability and theater security cooperation. Task Force Spartan conducted more than 1,300 military-to-military engagements, planned, and executed 15 bilateral and multilateral exercises in 10 countries, coordinated and executed 17 minor military construction projects, and completed more than 30 project assessments.
“It was wonderful to see Soldiers in the 29th ID with their families being recognized by the leadership in Maryland and Virginia,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Smith, the 29th ID command sergeant major. “Our Soldiers did an outstanding job in both Jordan and Kuwait and stand ready for the next mission.”