STAUNTON, Va. –
Veterans of the 116th Infantry Regiment and Soldiers of the Virginia Army National Guard’s Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team gathered to remember the unit’s history and enjoy fellowship at the 53rd annual muster Nov. 13, 2021, in Staunton, Virginia. This year’s theme was “Remembering Our History: The Global War on Terrorism & Honoring Our Deploying Soldiers.”
Maj. Gen. John M. Epperly, Deputy Commanding General, Army Futures Command, was the keynote speaker, and Col. Christopher J. Samulski, commander of the 116th IBCT, provided an update on the past year for the brigade.
Retired Brig. Gen. Charles B. Faulconer, Jr., Honorary Colonel of the Regiment, announced the Bedford-based Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th IBCT, as the recipient of the 116th Regiment Superior Unit Award. Samulski and Command Sgt. Maj. Irving N. Reed, Jr., presented the award to Capt. Daniel K. Fida and 1st Sgt. Thomas E. Barrett, the Alpha Company command team.
“The brigade has continued to distinguish itself across the formation as the premier fighting force in the Army as well as a vital and necessary asset for the governor, citizens of Virginia and even our nation’s capital,” Samulski said in his Report of the Brigade Commander.
“I want to begin by thanking our Soldiers and families that have endured, on a moment’s notice, the call to support and defend our citizens here in our own towns and state,” Samulski said. “In the last year, the brigade has mobilized to protect and serve due to civil disturbances in Lynchburg, Richmond and Louisville, Kentucky. Over 1000 of our troops from multiple battalions have conducted civil support missions across the two states that comprise this brigade.”
Samulski said while the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe, the brigade was notified of the following federal active duty mobilizations:
- Virginia and Kentucky National Guard Soldiers assigned to Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team are scheduled to mobilize later this month as Task Force Red Dragon to provide a security force in support of Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa.
- Soldiers assigned to the Norfolk-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th IBCT will deploy to the Central Command Area of Responsibility to provide personnel and site protection using the Counter-Rocket, Artillery and Mortar System, or C-RAM.
- Soldiers assigned to the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Headquarters will mobilize for federal active duty in early January 2022 to take responsibility for the NATO-led Kosovo Force Regional Command-East.
“As we began preparing for these missions, I would be remiss to not remind everyone of the month-long mobilization to our nation’s capital in which this brigade was not only called upon but responded to our nation’s call within four hours and was on the grounds of the Capitol that evening,” Samulski said. “The brigade was tasked as the lead brigade for the Task Force Capitol Grounds in command of 9,000 Soldiers and 22 battalions over 14 different states. Our Soldiers endured cold, wet conditions for the month of January and February to ensure our peaceful exchange of administration continue just as we have done over the last 240 years.”
Epperly, a former commander of the 116th IBCT and 29th Infantry Division, said in his keynote address the brigade’s mobilizations all over the world were meant to ensure our enemies would never again attack our homeland.
“We have been successful in that endeavor,” Epperly said. “Since 2001, America has not endured a major terrorist attack on the scale of 9-11. However, that success and security has come at a price. Each of you here tonight has played a role in our two-decade fight to secure America. You may have fought on the front lines overseas or secured the homefront, regardless you have made a remarkable difference. “
Epperly said the Global War on Terror has been a generational fight, and not since World War has the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the entire National Guard, been called on so much and so often.
“The story you have written is now immortalized in the colors behind me with the first new battle streamers earned by the brigade since 1945,” he said. “That story continues to be written. Very soon, elements of the brigade will deploy to the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Gulf Region, the eastern Mediterranean Sea Region and to Kosovo in the center of the Balkans. These ancient lands, and the persistent conflicts that seem to engulf them, continue to represent freedom’s frontier.”
He said it speaks well of American citizen Soldiers, that the nation is able to place such trust in them.
“It is a trust that you have re-affirmed over the last two decades,” Epperly said. “The Global War on Terror has allowed America and the world to rediscover the national treasure that is the American Citizen-Soldier.”