NEWS | June 1, 2022

Fallen service members honored, remembered at Memorial Day events

By Cotton Puryear | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force took part in Memorial Day observations across Virginia as well as overseas May 30, 2022. “Memorial Day offers us a purposeful opportunity express our gratitude and remember the dedication and courage of those men and women who paid the ultimate price in service to our country defending the ideals of freedom,” Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, wrote in his Memorial Day message. “As we remember those we have lost, we can honor their memory and pay tribute to their sacrifice by reaffirming our commitment to selfless service to both commonwealth and country.”      At the Commonwealth’s 66th Annual Memorial Day Ceremony held at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond, Virginia, Williams delivered remarks and laid a wreath at the Shrine of Memory honoring Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen along with Virginia Air National Guard Senior Master Sgt. Roberto Mercado. Maj. Brett Johnson, VNG chaplain, gave the invocation and benediction, Virginia Army National Guard Spc. Adam Marcus led the Pledge of Allegiance and Mercado sang the national anthem. Members of the Virginia Defense Force volunteered their time to assist with access control for the ceremony.      Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears was the keynote speaker and also laid the Commonwealth of Virginia Wreath with Deputy Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Jason Pak.
Photos from the Memorial Day Ceremony on Flickr at https://ngpa.us/19935. The Virginia National Guard’s Troutville-based 29th Infantry Division Band provided music Memorial Day Ceremonies at the Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery in Dublin, Virginia and the Virginia Veterans Cemetery at Amelia. Photos on the 29th ID Band Facebook page at https://ngpa.us/19936. Lt. Col. James C. Shaver Jr., Virginia Army National Guard Maneuver Training Center garrison commander, delivered remarks at a Memorial Day Ceremony at the Sailor’s Creek State Park in Rice, Virginia, and Sgt. 1st Class Richard A. Carr Jr. played taps. Shaver talked about the importance of strengthening community relationships around the MTC training area and shared his experience of growing up in the area around Sailor's Creek. "I ask that as you remember the fallen on Memorial Day, please do more than just observe a moment of silence," Shaver said. "Do something more in their honor to commemorate their sacrifice. Volunteer service is what makes this country great. From my experience, and I'm sure I speak for all the veterans in the room who have traveled across the world, America is still the best thing going and it is because of the actions of people like you who make this country great." At Camp Film City in Kosovo, VNG Soldiers assigned to Task Force Saint Lo participated in the 2022 Murph Challenge May 29, 2022.      According to the post on the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Facebook page, the Murph Challenge is conducted in honor of Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a U.S. Navy SEAL killed in action June 28, 2005, during Operation Red Wings in Kunar Province, Afghanistan. Due to his heroic actions he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on October 22, 2007.  The Murph Challenge consists of a one mile run to start, 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 squats and another one mile run at the end, all conducted while wearing 20 pounds of body armor. Photos on 116th IBCT Facebook page at https://ngpa.us/19937 In his remarks at the Virginia War Memorial, Williams remembered fellow Virginians whose names are etched on the original Shrine of Memory honoring those who died during World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War as well as the Virginia National Guard Soldiers lost to hostile enemy action while on federal active duty at the new Shrine of Memory for the Global War on Terrorism and Beyond. Read more about the Virginia National Guard’s fallen warriors remembered at the Virginia War Memorial at https://ngpa.us/19912. Williams also said it is appropriate to remember the men and women who died in the line of duty on official state or federal orders under Title 32 of the United States Code whose names are on the Commonwealth Public Safety Memorial. Thirty-two Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are remembered among the nearly 900 Virginia public safety officers at the memorial site at Capitol Square in Richmond. Read more about the Public Safety Memorial at https://ngpa.us/19913. “And not soon after Memorial Day, we will pay tribute to our D-Day heroes at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford on June 6,” Williams said. “More than 800 members of the 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division were killed, wounded, or missing during the assault on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, but their courage and bravery helped create a foothold that allowed follow on forces to continue the assault and set the stage for Allied victory in Europe.” Williams noted the employment of the Virginia National Guard over the last two years has been unprecedented. “The holiday weekend is a wonderful opportunity to rest and reflect with loves ones, but please remember not everyone is with their families,” he said. “Across the globe, Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen continue to do the hard work of keeping us safe. The Virginia National Guard has Soldiers providing air defense site security in Iraq, a security force in the Horn of Africa and conducting peace support operations in Kosovo. Please keep them and all the other members of the Armed Forces in your prayers, and we look forward to seeing them return home soon.” Williams said this year more than ever we owe a special thanks to our families and employers for their essential support to the Virginia National Guard and Virginia Defense Force. “Without them, we couldn’t do all the things we are asked to do,” he said. Williams also thanked the Virginia War Memorial for their great work in putting together Memorial Day ceremony and inviting the VNG and VDF to join the event. “Thanks to all of you here today helping us remember those who never returned from war and their loved ones who sacrifice daily without them,” he said. “There are so many familiar faces here making it feel that in many ways this event serves as a reunion but with an important element:  a rededication to our important task of remembering and telling the story of our heroes. We must never forget their sacrifice and how their courage and dedication contribute to our nation.”  

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