RICHMOND, Va. –
In Capt. Adrian Fonville’s family, military service is tradition. Both his grandfathers served, as did his mother, father and stepfather. His is an all-Army family. Today, Fonville serves as the Battalion Fire Direction Officer for 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and despite his family’s affinity for military service, he didn’t join the Virginia National Guard until he was in his mid-20s.
For Fonville, it was all about timing.
“I did not want to enroll in ROTC, I first wanted to fully explore my college experience unencumbered by military commitments then seek out options to achieve my lifelong goal of leading Soldiers in the United States Army,” Fonville said.
After graduating from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, he joined the National Guard and started working his way through the Virginia National Guard’s Officer Candidate School. When he started, he wasn’t fully set on a branch but was leaning toward pursuing a commission in the quartermaster corps. Luckily, his OCS leadership was able to provide some guidance.
“Maj. [Jonathan] Fair was my OCS cadre and he pulled me aside,” Fonville said. “He explained everything that was going on in the Virginia Army National Guard’s only field artillery battalion, and here I am.”
Over the last few years, Fonville has grown to love the field artillery and said it’s easy to see how incredible the career field when you see big smiles on the faces of the gun crews. It is, he said, the best career field in the Army.
“We’re the King of Battle, so we’re the most casualty producing weapon on the battlefield,” Fonville said. “That adrenaline rush alone is what makes everyone proud to serve as a redleg in the artillery community.”
In January, Fonville oversaw a 19-gun salute fired at the inauguration of the 74th Governor of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia. It was, he said, a career highlight.
“I’ve done some pretty high-profile events, but this is probably number one,” Fonville said.
The opportunities available to Fonville are far different than the ones that were available to his grandfathers. Both were enlisted men, and were limited in the roles they could fill in the U.S. Army as Black Americans. Fonville said part of why observances like Black History Month are important is because it provides an opportunity to learn from one another while building toward cohesion and understanding.
“Everyone should have exposure and I think it leads to what we like to call that ‘melting pot’ experience, and as we gain more competency about each other’s different ethnicities and heritage, I think it leads to a unified experience in America,” he said.