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NEWS | Nov. 17, 2021

Veterans Day observed across Virginia and overseas

By Cotton Puryear | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

Virginia National Guard personnel honored the service and sacrifice of the men and women of the Armed Forces at ceremonies across Virginia as well as overseas Nov. 11, 2021, in honor of Veterans Day.

Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, delivered remarks during the Commonwealth’s Veterans Day Ceremony at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond, Virginia, and Sgt. Samuel Johnson led the Pledge of Allegiance. Johnson is assigned to Maneuver Training Center Fort Pickett and represented the Virginia National Guard at the Army National Guard Region II Best Warrior Competition.

“The last 24 months have underscored how important today is for a multitude of reasons one of which is to recognize the great things our men and women in uniform do for us,” Williams said. “The utilization of the VNG from 2019 to today has been extraordinary. Our Soldiers, Airmen and Defense Force personnel have been called forward at a rate that we haven’t seen since World War II supporting our state and our nation in a wide array of operations working with multiple state and federal partner agencies to help keep our fellow citizens safe.”

Williams also recognized the support of the VNG’s civilian workforce, families and employers.

“None of these operations would be remotely supportable if it were not for the tremendous behind the scenes work of our state and federal civilian workforce. And of course, our success is a reflection of the continued service and sacrifice of our families and employers and they are truly a key element of the National Guard,” he said.

Williams also provided an update on the historic operational tempo of the VNG and VDF over the last year, and shared the significant pace of current and planned federal active duty mobilizations.

“By this coming January, more than 2,000 Virginia National Guard personnel will be mobilized on federal active duty,” he said. “That’s the most since the Iraq surge in 2007, and when you add in Soldiers from Maryland and Kentucky serving in the 29th Infantry Division, it is the most Soldiers the division has mobilized since 1942.”

Members of the Virginia Defense Force volunteered their time to assist with traffic flow and parking for the ceremony.

View photos from the Commonwealth’s Veterans Day Ceremony at and read the full text of the AG’s remarks at

In Kuwait, Task Force Spartan and 29th ID Soldiers joined fellow service members, civilians and veterans at Camps Arifjan to remember Veterans Day with a ceremony.

During the ceremony, Col. Charles Lockwood, commander of Area Support Group - Kuwait, reminded attendees that “the price of freedom is high, and we cannot forget those who paid for it.”
“It is appropriate that we remember those who serve or are currently serving our country and also our partner nations’ service members, and honor our fallen comrades whose lives were cut short fighting for our freedom,” said Maj. Gen. John Rhodes, Task Force Spartan and 29th ID commanding general.

Aside from the ceremony, Soldiers at Camps Arifjan and As Sayliyah also took part in a run in the morning, with those at CAS closing out the day with a night ruck march.

View photos from 29th ID Veterans Day activities on their Facebook page at

Brig. Gen. James W. Ring, VNG Director of the Joint Staff, and Brig. Gen. Doyle Gillis, VNG Assistant Adjutant General for Army Strategic Initiatives, joined the leadership of Task Force Pickett at a Veterans Day ceremony held in Blackstone. View photos on the Fort Pickett Facebook page at

Col. Christopher J. Samulski and Command Sgt. Maj. CSM Irving N. Reed, Jr., the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team command team, shared a Veterans Day message on the brigade's Facebook page as the unit was conducting pre-mobilization training for their upcoming federal active duty deployment to Kosovo.

"On Veterans Day, we honor generations of Americans who have put country over one’s self," they wrote. "They are our lifeblood that have secured our freedoms through service and sacrifice. The history of the 116th Infantry Regiment boasts a lineage of heroes and veterans who fought against evil and for the ideals of freedom across the globe. Once again, the 116th IBCT will deploy Soldiers in support of global mobilizations in the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and Kosovo.  We are proud and confident the veterans we produce will continue the noble legacy of citizen service to help secure safety and liberty for our country."

Read the full message on the 116th IBCT Facebook page at

Maj. Scott Nivens, commander of the Virginia Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion, was the keynote speaker at the Halifax County High School Veterans Day Ceremony.

“First and foremost, let’s begin today by recognizing all those among us who have been a part of the great brother and sisterhood we call the U.S. Military: our veterans, active duty service members, Guardsmen and reservists,” Nivens said. “Your service and sacrifice have kept our country safe and free.”

Nivens honored and recognized the importance of veterans helping make the United States the “land of the free” from the American Revolution to Global War on Terrorism.

“The 21st century has given us a myriad of technological advances, but our veterans of past, present and future, will always be the most important element of our country’s defense and technology will never change that,” he said.

He challenged the students to serve their community and nation any way they can, regardless of whether or not they choose to join the military and become a veteran themselves.

“This country needs you, and the ability and energy you bring,” Nivens said. “Be dedicated in your studies, play hard in athletics, cultivate your character and never forget how to show respect and gratitude to the nation and those who defended it. I look forward to seeing the mark you will make on the world as you depart this wonderful high school one day. You are the future!”

Virginia National Guard air crews assigned to the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, 29th Infantry Division flew as part of the joint aerial service review flyover during the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier centennial commemoration at Arlington National Cemetery. Concurrently with the joint full honors procession, the joint flyover took place over the cemetery with aircraft formations from each service to honor the Unknown Soldiers. View photos on the Arlington National Cemetery Facebook page at

The 29th Infantry Division Band was spread all across Virginia helping observe Veterans Day in three separate events in Henry County, Roanoke and Norfolk.

Members of the band performed at Bassett Historical Center in Henry County, the fifes and drums played at the General Douglas MacArthur Memorial as well as playing taps, and they also performed at Fairview Elementary School in Roanoke. They also performed at the Virginia Veterans Day Parade in Roanoke Nov. 6 and the Veterans Day program in Lynchburg Nov. 13.

View photos from the ceremonies on the 29th ID Band Facebook page at

Cadets from Commonwealth ChalleNGe marched in the Veterans Day parade at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. View photos and a video clip on the ChalleNGe Facebook page at


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