RICHMOND, Va. –
Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen deployed as Task Force Cardinal returned to Virginia Aug. 1, 2023, after supporting Operation Lone Star in Texas since July 8. The troops staffed observation posts and conducted roving patrols along the border between Texas and Mexico to observe and detect potential illegal border crossings and criminal activities and reported to Texas law enforcement authorities.
VNG senior leaders joined Governor Glenn Youngkin, retired Maj. Gen. Craig Crenshaw, Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs, Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Terrance C. Cole, other state officials and Virginia State Police Troopers in greeting the troops as they got off the plane in Richmond. The Task Force Cardinal command team presented Youngkin with a Virginia flag flown over their base camp during the deployment to Texas.
“Welcome home!” Youngkin said after he greeted the troops getting off the plan in Richmond. “Task Force Cardinal, I am so proud of you. The call came from Operation Lone Star, and you answered it. You represented the Commonwealth of Virginia with professionalism, treated people with dignity and care, and you protected our border. Thank you.”
Youngkin also said he had two things to ask of the troops.
“When you go home, thank your family for me,” he said. “When you go to work, thank your employers for being patriots and supporting you.”
Youngkin stressed that their time in Texas was worthwhile, and again thanked the troops for their hard work.
“Rest assured the duty you just performed made a difference,” he said. “You are amazing professionals. All I can say from the bottom of my heart is thank you.”
Members of the Virginia Defense Force and employees with the Virginia Department of Military Affairs conducted reverse reception, staging, onward movement and integration for Task Force Cardinal troops after their return to Virginia Aug. 2-3 at Fort Barfoot, Virginia. After the administrative out-processing was finished, Maj. Gen. James W. Ring, the Adjutant General of Virginia, Brig. Gen. Todd Hubbard, the Virginia National Guard Director of the Joint Staff, and Maj. Sidney Leslie, task force commander, presented Soldiers and Airmen with awards during a ceremony Aug. 3 at Fort Barfoot.
"Know that you just walked in the footsteps of so many citizen Soldiers of the Commonwealth of Virginia," said Ring during the awards ceremony. "On behalf of the governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and over eight and half million citizens of Virginia, thank you for your service. Also, thanks to the DMA staff and members of the VDF. Behind each and everyone one of you, as you get your pay and state awards, there’s a lot of support staff making that happen, so we thank them for that support. Also, as you go back home, make sure you thank your employers and, most importantly, thank your families and loved ones."
Approximately 110 task force personnel all received the Virginia National Guard Homeland Defense Ribbon, and 21 of those Soldiers and Airmen also received the Virginia National Guard Commendation Medal. Hubbard also presented three task force leaders with the Virginia National Guard Bronze Star Medal.
“I could not be more proud of how Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have conducted themselves while on mission here in Texas,” Leslie said. “They have been vigilant, provided timely and accurate reporting to Texas law enforcement agencies, followed all the prescribed procedures for the appropriate use of force and treated everyone they encounter with dignity and respect.
Youngkin approved the VNG troop deployment to support OLS after Virginia received requests for support to Texas via the Emergency Management Assistance Compact process. They deployed to Texas in a state active duty status funded by the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The VNG’s Portsmouth-based 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team was the headquarters for Task Force Cardinal and was augmented by Virginia Army and Air National Guard units based in Lynchburg, Winchester, Fredericksburg, Danville, Staunton and Hampton.