RICHMOND, Va. –
Virginia National Guard Team:
Here are the prepared remarks I will deliver at the Commonwealth’s Veterans Day Ceremony at the Virginia War Memorial on Nov. 11, 2022:
My wife Cheryl and I often reflect on the role we play during my assignment as the Adjutant General of Virginia. There is no doubt I have the one of the greatest jobs in the Commonwealth, serving my state and nation, and I have to thank the Governor for the honor and opportunity to continue to serve. The last four weeks have highlighted why being the AG means so much to me. Several recent events reminded me of what it means to be a veteran and the important role YOUR Virginia National Guard plays in the defense of our nation and state overseas and here at home.
We recently welcomed home more than 1,000 Soldiers including the 1st Battalion 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team who returned from federal active duty as a security force in the Horn of Africa and just a few days later the 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment who served with the NATO peace support force in Kosovo. Soon we will welcome home Soldiers of the 116th IBCT Headquarters who were the lead for the NATO mission in Kosovo, and finally the Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 111th Artillery Regiment who provided air defense in Iraq. These troops are part of more than 2,000 Virginia Guard Soldiers and Airmen who have served on federal active duty in the last 18 months, the most since 2007.
These Soldiers and Airmen left their loved ones, communities, and jobs to answer the call. Like their counterparts in the Reserves and Active Duty, while they were gone, they missed youth sports games, church gatherings, birthdays, Thanksgiving and holiday celebrations, and they missed sharing their anniversaries with their spouses. We owe a tremendous thanks to their loved ones as well as their employers for their continued patriotic support which is so critical to our mission.
While we are so glad to have them home, please remember we still have personnel who will be away from their loved ones during the holiday season, so please keep them and all the members of the Armed Forces in your thoughts and prayers.
Recently I had the opportunity to attend the 29th Infantry Division Association’s annual conference, and while I was there I had the rare opportunity to share time and drink a beer with two National Guard Soldiers of the 29th Infantry Division who were part of the June 6, 1944, D-Day landings on Normandy – both were 102! It was somewhat surreal to be welcoming home young troopers from overseas tours and then to be spending time with D-Day veterans, and as I said at the beginning, I couldn’t help but think that I have the best job in Virginia! The legacy of service and sacrifice set by 29ers who served in World War II is carried on by a new generation who face a very different threat but still go above and beyond to help keep us free.
A reminder: the National Guard is a unique dual-status force with both a federal and state mission, and we can use the training and equipment from our combat missions to aid our response efforts to natural disasters and maintain security here at home. Recently, Virginia National Guard Soldiers were staged and ready to respond in the Hampton Roads and Eastern Shore areas when Hurricane Ian threatened severe weather in the region. Fortunately, here in Virginia we were spared the significant weather impacting our neighbors to the South where their states National Guard Soldiers and Airmen helped rescue hundreds of people, but we demonstrated once again how we are able to quickly respond to assist local and state emergency organizations when needed.
Our Army and Air Guard cyber experts recently partnered with federal, state and private sector partners in an exercise to help make sure the state’s critical data networks are more resilient and better protected against potential attacks. The relationships we build and maintain across a multitude of local, state, federal organizations and international partners is essential to making sure we live up to the National Guard motto of “Always Ready, Always There.”
It is important to remember YOUR National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are your neighbors, living in communities across state, and they stand ready to help their fellow Virginians in times of need. When they are not in uniform, they are business partners, employees and bosses, they are our teachers, coaches and first responders and they serve in local government. In each situation, they are leaders and role models serving with the same sense of duty and honor as with their military service.
As the combat reserve of the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force and part of Virginia’s multi-agency response capabilities, our team of Soldiers, Airmen, members of the Virginia Defense Force and our state and federal civilians are proud to join fellow Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Sailors to keep our commonwealth and country safe. On Veterans Day, we recognize their service, as well as the service of those who came before us, and we salute you today and every day!
Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams
28th Adjutant General of Virginia