Virginia National Guard connection to National D-Day Memorial

Soldiers assigned to the Troutville-based 29th Infantry Division Band perform ceremonial music and provide a color guard and fife and drum team to help pay tribute to the valor, fidelity and sacrifice of the Allied Forces who participated in the June 1944 invasion of Normandy and commemorate the 79th anniversary of D-Day June 6, 2023, at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia. The National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, was dedicated on June 6th, 2001. It was constructed in honor of those who died on D-Day, fighting in one of the most significant battles in our nation's history. 

More than 800 members of the 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division were killed, wounded or missing during the D-Day assault on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, but their courage and bravery helped create a foothold that allowed follow on forces to continue the assault and set the stage for Allied victory in Europe.

When the 116th Infantry was activated Feb. 3, 1941, Virginia communities provided Soldiers to serve in the unit, and Bedford provided Soldiers to serve in Company A, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division. During the assault on Omaha Beach, 19 of the “Bedford Boys” of Company A died. Bedford’s population in 1944 was about 3,200, and proportionally the Bedford community suffered the nation’s most severe D-Day losses. 

Recognizing that Bedford represented both large and small communities whose citizen-Soldiers served on D-Day, Congress warranted the establishment of the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford.

Initiated by D-Day veteran J. Robert “Bob” Slaughter, the structure encompasses more than 50 acres at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. At its center stands a monumental forty-four foot tall arch, embellished by the military name, “Overlord,” that was given to the crucial operation. The arch is highlighted by a reflecting pool that surrounds a captivating scene that is symbolic of the arduous trudge soldiers made onto the blood stained beaches of Normandy, France. 

Read more about the National D-Day Memorial at Virginia National Guard leaders present a wreath honoring the United States of America along with other Allied countries who took part in the D-D-Day invasion at the observance of the 71st anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy, France, June 6, 2015, at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia.29928.

The Virginia National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters was officially named and dedicated for Slaughter Jan. 8, 2019, at Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia. Slaughter, who passed away in 2012 at the age of 87, fought in World War II as a squad leader with the VNG’s 1st Battalion, 116th Regiment, 29th Infantry Division at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, during the D-Day invasion June 6, 1944. Slaughter had enlisted years earlier at age 15.

Read more about the dedication at

The 111th Field Artillery Battalion was designated as the initial artillery unit to land at Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. After being mobilized into active federal service for World War II in February 1941, the battalion earned four campaign ribbons in the European Theater of Operations, including the initial Normandy landings and suffered 39 battle deaths. They were in federal service for nearly five years while serving in the 29th Infantry Division.