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NEWS | Dec. 10, 2016

Governor, First Lady host receptions recognizing federal active duty service

By Cotton Puryear | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe hosted receptions for the Virginia National Guard Dec. 10 and 11, 2016, at Virginia’s Executive Mansion in Richmond, Virginia, to recognize the Soldiers and Airmen who returned from federal active duty deployments this year and their families as well as families of those personnel who are currently deployed.

“I can’t tell you how much we appreciate your service,” Governor Terry McAuliffe said. “We love our Guard, and I couldn’t do my job as Governor without them. Any time I have had to declare a state of emergency and call up the Guard, their service as been indispensable, and we are so proud of the everything the Guard is doing overseas to help keep us safe.”

This year more than 1,500 Soldiers and Airmen served on federal active duty, and nearly 850 are still deployed and spending the holidays away from their families and loves ones. They are among the more than 15,000 Virginia National Guard personnel who have mobilized on federal active duty for homeland security missions and combat operations as well as security, peacekeeping and stabilization missions since September 11, 2001.

“We are honored to have these Soldiers, Airmen and families here to celebrate and say thank you for all that you do to protect our freedoms here at home and all that the families do to support them while they are away,” Dorothy McAuliffe said.

Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, and members of the Virginia National Guard Family Programs Office joined the McAuliffes in thanking the Soldiers, Airmen and their families for their service, sacrifice and support for the missions around the world.

More information on units currently serving on federal active duty:

More than 450 Virginia and Maryland Army National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division mobilized in late October 2016 for federal active duty in the Middle East in support of Operation Spartan Shield. They will provide mission command for more than 18,000 personnel, and this will be the largest number of troops they have led since World War II. Read more at

Approximately 80 Virginia and Maryland Guard Soldiers assigned to the 29th Infantry Division began federal active duty in early August 2016, and are providing mission command in the Middle East in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. Read more at

Approximately 40 Soldiers each assigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, and Detachment 2, Company B, 777th Aviation Support Battalion, began serving on federal active duty in early June 2016. The units will be based in Kuwait and provide rotary wing aviation and aviation maintenance support to the U. S. Central Command area of operations. Read more at

Approximately 450 Soldiers assigned to the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, also known as the Red Dragons, began serving on federal active duty in May 2016. They replaced the Virginia National Guard’s Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, also known as Task Force Normandy, and are currently conducting security operations in Qatar. Read more at

Approximately 25 Soldiers assigned to the 116th Military Engagement Team, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team began federal active duty in March 2016, and they will conduct military-to-military engagements with partners in U.S. Army Central Command’s area of responsibility including Kuwait, Jordan, Oman and Tajikistan. Read more at

More information on units returned from federal active duty in 2016:

More than 120 Virginia Air National Guard engineers reunited with friends and family Oct. 26, 2016, at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach after serving on federal active duty in Southwest Asia since March. Leaders from state government and the Virginia National Guard were also on hand to thank the Airmen for the service and welcome them home.

Airmen assigned to the Virginia Beach-based 203rd Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers, or RED HORSE, completed 35 projects at 11 different locations in seven countries in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and Operation Inherent Resolve. While deployed, the Airmen of the 203rd RED HORSE served under the 557th Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron, as part of the 1st Expeditionary Civil Engineering Group, an organization made of up more than 600 personnel from the 203rd and other RED HORSE and Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force, or PRIME BEEF, units that was a mix of active duty and Air National Guard.



Approximately 30 Soldiers assigned to the Virginia National Guard’s Virginia Beach-based Delta Platoon, 229th Military Police Company, 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group returned to Virginia Sept. 3, 2016, after serving on federal active duty at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since November 2015. The platoon conducted security operations in support of Joint Task Force – Guantanamo and its mission to conduct safe and humane care and custody of detained enemy combatants.

The platoon provided security during high-visibility missions in support of Joint Task Force – Guantanamo and conducted external security force operations where they processed more than 4,500 individuals and vehicles through an entry control point into a restricted area, spent more than 1,500 hour operating observation posts and conducted more than 2,000 mounted and dismounted patrols over rigorous terrain with no accidents. They conducted more 6,000 hours of Quick Reaction Force operations and completed more than 140 random access measures with no errors. They leveraged technological assets to increase area security and reinforced its fighting position through various structural improvements.



The last groups of Soldiers assigned to the Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, also known as Task Force Normandy, returned to Virginia July 27, 2016, after serving on federal active duty since September 2015. More than 450 Soldiers from units based in Winchester, Woodstock, Leesburg and Suffolk provided security for installations in the U.S. Army’s Central Command area of operations in Qatar with just 90 days notice for the mission. The first groups of Soldiers returned to Virginia July 19.

As part of their security mission, Soldiers searched nearly 140,000 vehicles and more than 303,000 individuals, and they conducted nearly 970 security patrols. Their higher headquarters praised the battalion for making significant improvements in base security plans. They also drove approximately 253,000 miles without any safety issues or accidents.


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