VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. –
Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Virginia Beach-based 576th Engineer Utilities Detachment, 276th Engineer Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group, received the Virginia Governor’s National Service Medal during a ceremony March 26, 2023, in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Col. Todd Hubbard, Virginia Army National Guard chief of staff, presented the awards and thanked the Soldiers for their service. Lt. Col. Joseph M. Fleishman and Command Sgt. Maj. Galem T. Coleman, the 276th command team, Delegate Karen Greenhalgh and a representative from Rep. Jen Kiggans’ office were also on hand to recognize the Soldiers. The award presentation took place at the conclusion of a Yellow Ribbon reintegration event presented by Virginia National Guard Family Programs.
“I want to say how proud we are of the job you did while deployed,” Hubbard said. “This team did some phenomenal work.”
"You are not only great Soldiers but great people," Sgt. 1st Class Shaun Howard, the 576th detachment sergeant. "We could not have trained you to be the people you are. We need to thank the families for that."
The Virginia Governor's National Service Medal recognizes the service of the men and women of the Virginia Army and Air National Guard called to active federal duty since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The 576th served on federal active duty supporting U.S. Central Command’s Operation Spartan Shield from May 2022 to February 2023.
During the deployment, about 55 Soldiers assigned to the 576th supported U.S. Central Command's Operation Spartan Shield where they completed vital infrastructure projects and made significant improvements to U.S. and partner nation's physical security through the creation of traffic control points, gates, bunkers, guard towers and battle positions in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The unit operated in decentralized squads and teams and influenced multiple top ten priority engineering projects for U.S. Army Central.
Soldiers of the 576th established relationships with multiple base and maneuver commanders in the region and these relationships allowed the engineer battalion commander to position engineer forces across the Middle East.
They completed 113 named projects and hundreds of work orders over 24,000 hours of labor, including more than 3,000 hours of vehicle operations without a reportable accident. The detachment fostered relationships with partner nations; revamped movement with roads, helipads, and runways; enhanced protection with guard towers and barriers; bolstered sustainment with sanitary and water system projects; synergized intelligence by erecting surveillance assets and fabricating operations centers; enabled strategic fires assets with electrical and security repairs; and empowered mission command at the engineer company commander level.
“This unit is one of the best engineer units in the Army, not just the National Guard,” Hubbard said. “I’m very proud to welcome you home.”
The 576th EUD was named the most outstanding U.S. Army engineer company in the Army National Guard by the Society of American Military Engineers for 2022. Unit leaders will travel to San Antonio, Texas, to receive the Itschner Award May 4, 2023, during the Society Ball and Awards Gala. The award honors Lt. Gen. Emerson C. Itschner, who served as the Army chief of engineers from 1956-1961.
"Winning the Itschner Award required outstanding individual effort supported by families," said Capt. Shane McNamara, the 576th commander.
This was the first overseas mobilization for the 576th, which was stood up in 2017. The unit moved from Onancock to Virginia Beach in 2019.
With the return of the 576th, no Virginia National Guard units are currently mobilized overseas.
Over the past two years, more than 2,000 Virginia National Guard personnel have mobilized on federal active duty overseas, the most since 2007.
Since Sept. 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.