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NEWS | Jan. 29, 2023

Lt. Gov. Earle-Sears commends Virginia National Guard

By Cotton Puryear | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office

Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears commended the Virginia National Guard for the organization's service to commonwealth and country at a reception hosted Jan. 26, 2023, by the Virginia National Guard Association in Richmond, Virginia. Prior to the reception, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chief of National Guard Tony L. Whitehead spoke during a leader development event hosted by Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “I just wanted to thank you, and I don’t know you get thanked often enough,” Sears said. “We know you do so many things, and not just you, but also your families. If you are helping us, that means you are not at home with them.” Sears said that often when there is a crisis, the question asked is “Did you call the National Guard?” She said it speaks volumes of the trust and faith the public has in the organization and its ability to provide help. “We don’t take it lightly,” she said. “You are the ones who at a moment’s notice have to be ready to go. That’s an intense thing, and I don’t know what we would do without you.” The VNG is wrapping up a historic period of federal active duty service that has only been exceeded twice in the last 100 years. From August 2021 to February 2023, more than 2,000 Virginia National Guard personnel have mobilized on federal active duty in the United States and overseas. VNG Soldiers on duty in the U.S. provided aviation, engineer, transportation and unmanned aerial surveillance support to the Department of Defense-approved mission assisting Customs and Border Protection on the Southwest Border and cyberspace operations support to U.S. Cyber Command. Soldiers deployed overseas provided mission command for multi-national forces in Kuwait, mission command and base life support in Iraq and Kuwait, a security response force in the Horn of Africa, air defense site security in Iraq and conducted NATO peace support operations in Kosovo. VNG Airmen also supported a short-notice air superiority support in the United Arab Emirates. VNG Soldiers providing engineer utilities support in Kuwait recently completed their mission and are scheduled to return in early mid-February. With their return, all VNG units will be home for the first time since early 2021. Since September 11, 2001, more than 18,500 VNG Soldiers and Airmen have mobilized across the globe and here in the United States for homeland security missions. Here at home, VNG Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense responded to several severe weather situations over the last 18 months. In January 2022, the VNG staged personnel for possible severe weather response operations four different times over a three-week period at multiple locations across the state. VNG Soldiers assigned to the Powhatan-based 180th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group cleared trees along a power line route to help with electricity restoration efforts Jan. 8, 2022, in Louisa County, Virginia. After confirmation the power lines on the route were not active, Soldiers used chain saws to clear trees so Rappahannock Electric Cooperative crews could rehang the lines to help restore power in the area. VNG Airmen assigned to the Virginia Beach-based 203rd Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers, 192nd Mission Support Group, 192nd Wing use chain saws to help reduce debris and clear roads of fallen trees Jan. 7, 2022, in Stafford County, Virginia. The Airmen cleared about 25 trees to open a road that had been blocked since Jan. 3. After staging Soldiers and Airmen with tactical trucks and chain saws at multiple locations across the state for possible severe weather response, the Virginia National Guard transitioned back to routine operations Oct. 4, 2022. Personnel initially staged at readiness centers to prepare for possible impacts from Hurricane Ian, then resources shifted when a weather system threatened flooding on the Eastern Shore and in the Hampton Roads area. Soldiers deployed, linked up with local emergency managers and were ready to respond if needed.  

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