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NEWS | Aug. 17, 2017

Street sign unveiled in honor of the 54th FA Brigade centennial

By Sgt. Amanda H. Johnson | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

Virginia Army National Guard leaders unveiled a new road sign honoring the 54th Field Artillery Brigade Aug. 12, 2017, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, Virginia, during the observation of the unit’s 100th anniversary.

“It’s important as we go into the centennial celebration that you’ve seen a lot of publicity about the U.S. involvement in World War I, to remember that World War I was the beginning and the starting point of what I see as the modern expeditionary focus of the Army National Guard,” said Brig. Gen. Walter L. Mercer, Assistant Adjutant General- Army for the Virginia National Guard. “The 54th and its involvement in World War I is a perfect example of that fact.”

The 54th Field Artillery Brigade was constituted in July 1917 and assigned to the 29th Infantry Division, saw service in World War I and II, and the lineage continued for decades as one of Virginia’s field artillery units. Mercer and Col. Weedon Gallagher, commander of the 329th Regional Support Group, joined current and former members of the unit for the centennial observation.

“The 54th FAB was re-designated as the 329th RSG in September 2008,” said Gallagher. The 54th FAB and the 329th RSG are one and the same from a heraldry standpoint, which is a significant point of pride in the RSG, he said. “Soldiers in our formation are aware that we are standing in the shadow of veterans and heroes of the 29th Infantry Division’s Artillery Brigade who served through both World Wars.”

Due to inclement weather, the ceremony was moved from the actual location of the street sign to the 203rd RED HORSE auditorium. At the beginning of the ceremony, Virginia National Guard Soldiers posted the colors clad in WWI uniforms.

“Our honors make it perfectly clear that the 54th Brigade’s story bears witness to the efforts and sacrifices of generations of Virginia’s citizen Soldiers,” said retired Col. John L. Young III, former commander of the 54th FAB, the guest speaker for the event. “The brigade and everyone in it have every reason to be proud of its first 100 years.”

Young was able to describe the link between Soldiers of the FAB and the 329th RSG in a way that nobody else could have accomplished, said Gallagher. He explained it was an honor to host the group of retired members of the 54th FAB at the ceremony.

“Opportunities to put retired members and current members of the formation in the same space at the same time must be pursued and always produces fantastic esprit de corps,” he said.

The 329th RSG submitted a request through Lt. Col. Tim Pillion, post commander of Camp Pendleton to rename the road in honor of the 54th FAB. Once approved, Camp Pendleton fabricated the sign to ensure completion of the request.

“It is both fitting and proper that this road named here today, in the very shadow of Sands Armory, itself named for one the 54th’s most renowned commanders, honors the 54th Field Artillery Brigade, its history, its legacy units, and all the officers and Soldiers who have proudly served in its ranks over the past 100 years,” Young said.

Gallagher and Young unveiled the street sign with the unit’s combat service identification badge printed beside the name, “54th Field Artillery Brigade Rd.” The audience applauded as the Hampton Roads-based Norfolk Light Artillery Blues, a civil war reenactment unit, fired a volley from their howitzer in honor of the ceremony.

“From World War I to the Global War on Terrorism, the 54th has served actively and proudly,” said Young.

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