NEWS | May 17, 2022

Virginia National Guard celebrates 415th birthday

By Cotton Puryear | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

The Virginia National Guard celebrated its 415th birthday May 13, 2022, with a ceremonial cake cutting at the Sergeant Bob Slaughter Headquarters at Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia. Cpl. (Va.) Doug Rumburg, Master Sgt. William Gorman and Sgt. Briana Alfaro, representing the Virginia Defense Force, Virginia Air National Guard and Virginia Army National Guard, cut the cake flanked by Deputy Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Jason Pak and Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. Prior to the cake cutting, Pak presented Williams with the Governor of Virginia's 415th Birthday of the Virginia National Guard Proclamation . The VNG traces the heritage and traditions of citizen service to the 1607 founding of America’s first permanent English colony at Jamestown when Capt. John Smith organized the colonists for defense. There has not been a day since May 14, 1607, without a military presence in Virginia to defend freedom at home and overseas. Read more about the VNG’s historical connection to Jamestown at https://go.usa.gov/xuseu. Read the full Governor’s proclamation at https://go.usa.gov/xuFbn. The last two years have seen unprecedented employment of the Virginia National Guard both at home and overseas. VNG Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force provided critical support to the state's COVID-19 response, assisted civilian law enforcement during periods of civil unrest, and also assisted state and local governments during hazardous weather response operations. Soldiers of the 29th Infantry Division recently returned from a federal active duty deployment to in Kuwait. When they were mobilized, the VNG had more than 2,000 Virginia National Guard troops deployed overseas, the most since the Iraq Surge in 2007. Including 29th ID Soldiers from Maryland and Kentucky, it was the most divisional troops deployed since World War II. The VNG still as troops deployed overseas providing air defense site security in Iraq, a security response force in the Horn of Africa and conducting peace support operations in Kosovo. Virginia National Guard History Overview: Prior to 1652, formal military organizations were formed as needed and disbanded after the threat passed, and then the House of Burgesses passed a bill that each county would organize militia companies into a regiment. The oldest continuous service regiment in the Virginia National Guard is the 116th Infantry, dating from 1742. The 1st Virginia Regiment was raised July 17, 1775, in Williamsburg as a state militia unit and later for service with the Continental Army, and its lineage lives on today in the Petersburg-based 276th Engineer Battalion. National Guard Bureau states on their website that the official birth date of the Army National Guard as a reserve component of the Army is December 13, 1636. On this date, the Massachusetts colonial legislature directed that the colony’s existing militia companies be organized into three regiments. This date is recognized based upon the Department of Defense’s practice of adopting the dates of initial authorizing legislation for organized units as the birthdates of the active and reserve components of the armed services. According to their web site. the Florida National Guard celebrates the first known muster of Citizen-Soldiers in the continental U.S. during a celebration in St. Augustine, Fla. The “first muster” took place on Sept. 16, 1565, when Pedro Menendez de Aviles gathered around him the soldiers of his small Spanish army, as well as the civilian settlers who had accompanied him to the newly established presidio town of St. Augustine. Because his plan called for the use of the majority of his regular soldiers, Menendez drew upon Spanish laws governing the milicia, or militia, in an imperial province. As both the civil governor and the commander-in-chief of the military establishment, he had the authority to call all free male settlers in the presidio province to active service. Virginia National Guard service dates back to the American Revolution through the American Civil War to World War I and II and on into Operation Desert Shield / Desert Storm and the Global War on Terror. The 29th Infantry Division, 116th Infantry Regiment, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 54th Field Artillery Brigade and 246th Field Artillery Regiment were all formed in 1917 from existing militia units as the United States prepared to enter World War I. Soldiers of the 116th Infantry spearheaded an attack in October 1918 during what was known as the Meuse Argonne Offensive. During this attack, Sgt. Earle Gregory of the 116th Infantry earned the Medal of Honor, the first Virginia Guard Soldier to receive the award. The 29th, 116th and 111th are still in active service today, and the 329th Regional Support Group carries the lineage of the 54th, and the 429th Brigade Support Battalion carries the lineage of the 246th. World War I marked the first time that volunteer state militia units were activated for federal duty under a formal Army structure and deployed overseas for combat operations. Guard Soldiers served with courage, honor and distinction, and that tradition continues on today as we have Guard personnel deployed all over the world. During World War II, Soldiers from the 29th took part in the massive invasion of Normandy France that began the morning of June 6, 1944, to be known forever as “D-Day.” More than 800 members of the 116th Infantry were killed, wounded or missing during the assault on Omaha Beach, but their courage and bravery helped create a foothold that allowed follow on forces to continue the assault. Two days after D-Day, Tech. Sgt. Frank Peregory of Company K, 116th Infantry from Charlottesville, became the second Virginia Guard Soldier to earn the Medal of Honor when he single-handedly killed or captured 30 enemy soldiers defending a trench line. More information on some of the most significant Virginia National Guard accomplishments and missions over the last year: The Virginia National Guard staged personnel and equipment for three different winter storms over a two-week period in January 2022 as part of the statewide emergency response. During the first storm, VNG troops helped open a road in Stafford County and clear trees along a power line route in Louisa County. Teams staged and ready during the other two storms did not receive any missions after snow accumulation ended up lower than forecasted. Read more at https://go.usa.gov/xut7m. 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. Read more at https://go.usa.gov/xut7P. The Virginia National Guard’s support to Virginia’s COVID-19 response ended July 31, 2021, after more than 460 days of assisting with vaccinations, testing and administrative, logistics and planning support at locations across the state. During COVID-19 response operations, nearly 600 VNG Soldiers and Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force completed more than 1,100 missions to help keep their fellow Virginians safe during the global pandemic. They supported nearly 160 different local, state and federal agencies over the course of the mobilization. Read more at https://go.usa.gov/xuseM. The final group of Soldiers assigned to the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division Headquarters returned to the United States March 24, 2022, and were greeted by senior leaders from the Virginia National Guard when their plane landed at Fort Hood, Texas. They completed a 9-month deployment to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility as the headquarters of Task Force Spartan, which exercises command and control of Operation Spartan Shield. Read more at https://go.usa.gov/xustZ. The Virginia National Guard’s Norfolk-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team took responsibility for the U.S. Central Command Counter-Rocket, Artillery, Mortar Intercept Land-based Phalanx Weapon System mission from the Massachusetts National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment during a transfer of authority ceremony March 13, 2022, at Al Udeid Air Force Base in Doha, Qatar. Read more at https://go.usa.gov/xustK. NATO’s Kosovo Force officially welcomed the 30th rotation of U.S. Soldiers taking responsibility for the Regional Command – East mission during a transfer of authority ceremony March 4, 2022, at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo. During the ceremony, the Virginia National Guard's 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team took responsibility for peace stability operations from the Vermont National Guard's 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. KFOR RC-East is comprised of more than 10 contributing NATO partner nations working to ensure a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all people in Kosovo. More than 70 NATO VIPs from multiple nations attended the ceremony. Read more at https://go.usa.gov/xust5. The Virginia National Guard’s Task Force Red Dragon took responsibility for the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa’s security forces mission during a transfer of authority ceremony Jan. 8, 2022, Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti. About 1,000 Virginia and Kentucky Army National Guard Soldiers are mobilized as Task Force Red Dragon under the command of the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and they succeeded the Connecticut National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 102nd Infantry Regiment (Mountain), also known as Task Force Iron Gray. Read more at https://go.usa.gov/xustE. Col. Todd Pegg, commander of the Virginia National Guard's 329th Regional Support Group, transitioned base command authority to Lt. Col. Nathan Adkins, commander of 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Nov. 23, 2021, at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq. Pegg will now command the 329th RSG from Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, where he will oversee their Base Operating Support - Integrator missions at Al Asad, Erbil and Baghdad, Iraq in support of Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve. Read more at https://go.usa.gov/xut7s. Members of the Virginia Defense Force conducted the Highland Guardian 21 field training exercise Oct. 2, 2021, at multiple locations across Virginia to test their regional liaison, incident management assistance, access control and interoperable communications support capabilities. The exercise simulated a severe winter storm and how the VDF would support the Virginia National Guard’s role as a member of the state multi-agency response team. Read more at https://go.usa.gov/xut7e.

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