NEWS | Aug. 1, 2022

Naming Commission announces decision to retain 29th Infantry Division patch

By Cotton Puryear | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

The Naming Commission announced Aug. 1, 2022, they will recommend to retain the 29th Infantry Division patch. According to a new release from the Naming Commission, in a July letter to leading members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, retired Navy Adm. Michelle J. Howard, Naming Commission chair, gave notice of the commission’s intent to recommend the Army leave the 29th Infantry Division symbol unchanged, but modify the heraldry description to remove language that implies Confederate service and reconciliation of the North and South. “The description language should be modified to reflect the rich history of the 29th, with focus on the unification of American citizens through service in the 29th,” wrote Howard in her letter. She added that feedback from the 29th Infantry Division community helped inform the decision, writing: “the Community of the 29th ID indicates that they view the symbol as a unifying symbol forAmerica and is imbued with the sacrifices and service of past 29th ID members.” Read the full news release with the Commission’s recommendations to address heraldry items or symbols on the Naming Commission web site at https://ngpa.us/20913. “We applaud the decision of the Naming Commission to recommend the 29th Infantry Division patch symbol remain unchanged, and the Virginia National Guard will work with the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry on any appropriate modifications to the descriptive language,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “This is an opportunity for us to update the heraldry description to reflect not just the 29th’s remarkable service in World War I and World War II, but also through the Cold War and over the last 20 plus years in the Global War on Terror.” Williams said members of the Naming Commission conducted a series of community engagement sessions as well as solicited written submissions providing an opportunity for the 29th ID community to share the history of the 29th and the importance of retaining its distinctive symbolism. The VNG provided historical documentation and letters of support to educate the Commission about the importance of 29th ID patch to help them to understand what it means to the thousands of veterans who have worn the patch in service to our country, as well as how it is a symbol of liberation to our Allies in France. “The 29th Infantry Division community spoke, and the Naming Commission heard them,” William said. "This community includes our partners in the Maryland National Guard, members of the 29th Division Association here in the United States and in France, as well as thousands of family and friends of the 29th." Williams said Governor Glenn Youngkin, former Governor Ralph Northam and the members of the Virginia General Assembly also weighed in to support retaining the 29th patch. "The passionate outpouring of support helped the members of the Commission understand the importance of the 29th patch and why retaining it means much to the Soldiers who currently wear the patch and the thousands of veterans who have worn the patch over the last 105 years,” he said. The Commission also recommended the Secretary of Defense task service secretaries to review all heraldry items or symbols commemorating the Confederacy, and Williams said the VNG will work closely with the Institute of Heraldry to review symbols in Virginia units and update and provide modern context wherever appropriate. “It is incredibly important we remember our history, but at the same time we should welcome the chance to update our heraldry to reflect our entire scope of service going beyond World War I and World War II and include the amazing accomplishment of our Soldiers in more recent years,” Williams said. More about the 29th Infantry Division: Maryland and Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division Headquarters were recognized for their federal active-duty service June 26, 2022, in Baltimore. The Soldiers returned to the United States in late March 2022 after completing a nine-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. Task Force Spartan is a unique, multi-component, total Army organization, made up of active Army, National Guard, and Army Reserve support units and is led by a National Guard division headquarters on a rotational basis. In its role as Task Force Spartan, the 29th ID commanded two brigades and four battalion-level task forces. Units supporting Operation Spartan Shield provide capabilities such as aviation, logistics, force protection and information management. They also facilitated theater security cooperation activities such as key leader engagements, joint exercises, conferences, symposia, and humanitarian assistance and disaster response planning. The 29th Infantry Division is an Army National Guard operational-level headquarters located at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Its origins date back to World War I and is most known for its participation in the D-Day landings at Omaha Beach in World War II. Its wartime mission is to provide mission command to subordinate brigades and forces tailored for an assigned mission. It is one of eight divisions in the Army National Guard. The 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment and the 29th Infantry Band are aligned under the 29th. The division currently has training relationships with the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team from Florida and Alabama, the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team from North Carolina and West Virginia, the 29th Combat Aviation Brigade from Maryland, the 226th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade from Alabama, the 113th Sustainment Brigade from North Carolina and the 142nd Fires Brigade from Arkansas. From October 2001 to April 2002, the 29th Infantry Division was mobilized on federal active duty as the headquarters for Multinational Division (North), Task Force Eagle, in Bosnia-Herzegovina for the 10th rotation of NATO’s peace stabilization forces known as the NATO led Stabilization Force. Task Force Eagle provided command and control for units from the Army National Guard as well as forces from more than 11 other nations. Maryland and Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the 29th Infantry Division served on federal active duty in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2012 when they conducted two rotations assigned to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force Joint Command Afghan National Security Force Development Team. During that time they served as advisers and mentors to senior Afghan leaders with the mission to provide Afghan national army and national police subject matter expertise to facilitate ANSF growth and development. Prior to their service in Afghanistan, Maryland and Virginia Soldiers from the 29th Infantry Division deployed overseas for peace support operations in Kosovo from August 2006 to November 2007. Soldiers of the 29th assisted federal agencies in securing the nation’s capital during the 59th Presidential Inauguration and were among more than 25,000 National Guard members from 50 states and three territories who were activated to support the inauguration by augmenting the Capitol Police, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Park Police and D.C. Metro Police Department. They led a task force of more than 9,000 personnel from 24 states that was responsible for securing property at the U.S. Capitol, protecting government employees, providing logistical support, staffing traffic control points and providing crowd management. Virginia Delegate David Reid presented Maj. Gen. John Rhodes, 29th Infantry Division Commanding General, with a Virginia House of Delegates Joint Resolution 268 commending the 29th Infantry Division during the recognition event June 26, 2022, in Baltimore. “Thank you very much to the 29th Infantry Division for everything you have done in your 105 years of service, not just in World War I and World War II, but all the different conflicts you have been involved in for what would now be five generations,” Reid said. “It is a stellar history.” Before presenting the resolution, Reid read the last three paragraphs of the resolution: WHEREAS, to the men and women who have served and sacrificed as members of the 29th Infantry Division, the Blue and Gray represents what can be achieved when people of different backgrounds put aside their differences for the good of the nation and the defense of American ideals at home and abroad; now, therefore, be it RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, That the 29th Infantry Division hereby be commended for more than 100 years of service to the Commonwealth, the United States, and free people throughout the world; and, be it RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates prepare a copy of this resolution for presentation to Major General John M. Rhodes, commanding officer of the 29th Infantry Division, as an expression of the House of Delegates’ admiration for the division’s rich history of accomplishments and appreciation for the importance of the Blue and Gray as a symbol of liberty, solidarity, and commitment to service. Read the full resolution at https://ngpa.us/20370.

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