RICHMOND, Va. –
More than 200 Virginia National Guard and Virginia Defense Force personnel were on duty Jan. 15, 2022, in Richmond, Virginia, supporting the inauguration of Glenn Youngkin as the 74th Governor of Virginia. VNG Soldiers, Airmen and members of the VDF conducted a variety of missions including marshaling the inaugural parade elements, playing ceremonial music, firing a 19-gun artillery salute with blank ammunition and conducting a flyover with F-22 fighter jets. A formation of Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen also led the inaugural parade, and the Adjutant General of Virginia presented a casing from the artillery salute to the new governor.
“It is an honor for the Virginia National Guard and Virginia Defense Force to support the Governor’s Inauguration and recognize our new commander in chief,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “As we take part in the ceremony, we remember that more than 2,000 of our personnel are currently mobilized on federal active duty conducting missions overseas and training in the United States to deploy in the coming weeks.”
The Virginia National Guard is a unique dual-status force with a federal mission to serve as the combat reserve of the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force to help fight our nation’s wars and a state mission to provide a response force that answers the call of the governor to protect the commonwealth.
Williams said the inauguration has tremendous training value for the VNG’s civil support mission. “Every opportunity we have to work with our partners in state and local government helps us be better prepared if we are called to assist with any sort of domestic response operation,” Williams said.
Williams presented the new governor one of the shell casings from the ceremonial 19-gun salute at the completion of the inaugural parade.
Personnel from the VNG and VDF conducted the following missions:
• Soldiers and Airmen assigned to the VNG’s Joint Staff provided mission command for all VNG and VDF personnel taking part in the inauguration.
• VDF personnel volunteered their time to provide command and control for the inaugural parade and assisted with staging and marshaling the parade marching elements. The VDF is authorized by the Code of the Virginia as the all-volunteer reserve of the VNG and serves as a force multiplier integrated into all domestic response operations. Members of the VDF volunteer their time for training and community support and are only paid when called to state active duty by an authorization from the Governor of Virginia.
• Soldiers assigned to the Troutville-based 29th Infantry Division Band provided ceremonial music for all the inaugural activities.
• Soldiers assigned to the Norfolk-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team blank fired a ceremonial 19-gun salute with four M119A3 105mm howitzers. As these Soldiers fired the salute, the majority of the battalion is on federal active duty conducting training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to prepare for their deployment to the Middle East.
• Brig. Gen. K. Weedon Gallagher and Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Smith, the Virginia Army National Guard command team, led the marching formation of the inaugural parade consisting of a joint color guard and personnel from the Virginia Army National Guard and Virginia Air National Guard. The joint color guard consisted of the U.S. and Virginia flags and the organizational colors of the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and Virginia Defense Force. At previous inaugurations, the organizational colors for the 29th Infantry Division, the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the 329th Regional Support Group were included in the marching formation, but all three unit headquarters are currently mobilized on federal active duty.
- Pilots from the Virginia Air National Guard’s 149th Fighter Squadron, 192nd Operations Group, 192nd Wing performed a two-ship F-22 Raptor flyover during the ceremony. The F-22 Raptor is the U.S. Air Force's premier air dominance fighter aircraft, and they launched and recovered from Langley Air Force Base, Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton, Virginia, home of the 192d Wing. Pilots from the 149th Fighter Squadron represent the most talented collection of combat tested, weapon-school and instructor-pilot qualified Citizen Airmen in the Air National Guard.
• VNG Soldiers, Airmen and members of the VDF provided mission tracking and coordination support at the Virginia Guard Joint Operations Center in Richmond and at the Unified Command Post in Richmond.
- Additional Soldiers, Airmen and VDF personnel provided administrative, logistics and public information support for the mission.
Current VNG federal active duty mobilizations:
- Approximately 500 Virginia and Maryland National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division are currently on federal active duty in the Central Command Area of Operations as Task Force Spartan to provide leadership, command, control and in-depth staff analysis for Operation Spartan Shield.
- Approximately 80 Soldiers assigned to the Virginia Beach-based 329th Regional Support Group are currently on federal active duty in the Central Command Area of Operations under the operational control of Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve serving as the base operating support-integrator for multiple installations.
- Approximately 1,000 Virginia and Kentucky National Guard Soldiers assigned to Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team are on federal active duty as Task Force Red Dragon conducting training to provide a security force in support of Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa.
- Approximately 300 VNG Soldiers assigned to the Norfolk-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team are on federal active duty conducting training to provide personnel and site protection using the Counter-Rocket, Artillery and Mortar System, or C-RAM in the Central Command area of operations in the Middle East.
- Approximately 120 VNG Soldiers assigned to Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Headquarters are on federal active duty to take responsibility for the NATO-led Kosovo Force Regional Command-East, and approximately 140 Soldiers assigned to the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, 29th Infantry Division are mobilized to serve as their aviation task force. NATO KFOR troops conduct peace support operations contributing to a safe and secure environment for all people in Kosovo while healthy political dialogue continues between Kosovo and Serbia.