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NEWS | Jan. 30, 2016

116th IBCT senior leaders visit Task Force Normandy

By Cotton Puryear | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

Senior leaders of the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team visited Virginia National Guard Soldiers serving on federal active duty with the Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in late January 2016 in Qatar. The battalion, also known as Task Force Normandy, began their mission of conducting security operations in November 2015.

During the visit, Col. William J. Coffin, commander of the 116th IBCT, Lt. Col. Samuel T. Donnelly, brigade operations officer, and Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas H. Yancey, 116th IBCT command sergeant major, spent three days on the ground and met with leaders from Task Force Normandy’s higher headquarters, toured duty locations, met with Soldiers and also took part in awards and promotion ceremonies.

“It was a great opportunity to meet with Soldiers, check on how they are doing and how well they are integrated in the mission with Area Support Group – Qatar,” Coffin said. “The Soldiers are doing great. They are motivated and staying very busy. I was very happy to see the momentum they have and how they have been able to improve the security situation for the ASG.”

During their off duty time, Coffin said that Soldiers have computer access to work on both military and civilian distance learning opportunities. The high operational tempo of conducting 24 hour operations has also provided opportunities for junior leaders to gain valuable real-world experience.

The leaders were also able to see first hand the art work of 1st Lt. Daniel Tarrant who used some of his off duty time to paint a mural depicting the 116th Infantry Regiment storming the beach of Normandy in June 1944.

Task Force Normandy will be on duty several more months and will hand over the mission to their fellow Virginians from the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, also known as Task Force Red Dragon.

“We are very fortunate to have Task Force Red Dragon coming in to take over the mission from Task Force Normandy,” Coffin said. “We are looking forward to a very smooth transition between the two units.”

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