Dec. 16, 2010

Military police, aviation maintenance units honored in Richmond

By Cotton Puryear
Virginia Department of Military Affairs

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Virginia Beach-based 229th Military Police Company and the Sandston-based Detachment 2, Company B, 777th Aviation Support Battalion gathered Dec. 12 at the Sheraton Richmond Park South Hotel in Richmond to conduct a Freedom Salute in honor of their service in Iraq and Kosovo.

  Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Virginia Beach-based 229th Military Police Company and the Sandston-based Detachment 2, Company B, 777th Aviation Support Battalion received the Virginia Governor's National Service Medal Dec. 12 as part of the Freedom Salute honoring their service in Iraq and Kosovo. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs)

Virginia National Guard Soldiers from the Virginia Beach-based 229th Military Police Company and the Sandston-based Detachment 2, Company B, 777th Aviation Support Battalion received the Virginia Governor's National Service Medal Dec. 12 as part of the Freedom Salute honoring their service in Iraq and Kosovo. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs)

Click HERE to see more photos from the event on the Virginia National Guard Flickr site.

“We are here today to recognize young men and women who have raised their hand and said ‘Let me go’ when our nation asked them to go,” said Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia. “I also want to thank the family members who are here today because without your support we couldn’t be as successful as we are.”

Long presented Soldiers with the Virginia Governor’s National Service Medal as part of the ceremony. The medal was created in 2005 by then-Governor Mark R. Warner to recognize the service of the men and women of the Virginia Army and Air National Guard called to active federal service since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The award was first presented Nov. 11, 2005 at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond.

Approximately 120 Soldiers from the 229th returned to Virginia July 29 after serving in Iraq since October 2009. The Soldiers began their tour on federal active duty Aug. 3, 2009. The unit was expected to provide police training to the Iraqi Police, but was task organized and provided additional training to also conduct protection service detail missions.

While headquartered in Virginia Beach, the 229th deployed with Soldiers from all over the state. Approximately 60 Soldiers are from the Hampton Roads area, about 20 are from the Richmond and Petersburg area, approximately 40 are from the Roanoke and Southwest Virginia area, about 10 are from the Northern Virginia area and the other Soldiers are from various locations across the state.

Approximately 20 Soldiers of the Detachment 2 mobilized in August 2009 for deployment in Kosovo to serve in the peacekeeping duty mission of the NATO Kosovo Force 12 rotation and returned to Virginia in August 2010. The helicopters in Kosovo provide a valuable support to the peacekeeping mission, and the Soldiers from the detachment were in the lead for aviation sustainment.

While headquartered in Sandston, the Soldiers from Detachment 2 come from all over the state including three from the Richmond area, three from Central Virginia, six from Northern Virginia and six from the Hampton Roads area.

The Freedom Salute Campaign is one of the largest Army National Guard recognition endeavors in history, designed to publicly acknowledge Army Guard Soldiers and those who supported them during the President's call to duty for Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

The Freedom Salute will recognize the Soldiers, their families, employers and organizations that contributed significantly to supporting the unit during its deployment.
 
As part of the Freedom Salute campaign, each Soldier is scheduled to receive an American flag in a wood display case, a Defender of Freedom certificate as well as commemorative coins and medallions.

The 229th was requested by name to provide route security for Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Iraq on Jan. 22, 2010. When the Iraqi national elections were conducted in March 2010, Soldiers from the 229th helped maintain security, working side by side with Iraq Police. During the six-day time period of the elections, Soldiers lived with their Iraqi Police counterparts at the Provincial Division of Police and the Patrol Headquarters.

The unit was also very active in conducting humanitarian missions while in Iraq. On their own initiative Soldiers improved the conditions and safety at a local elementary school in West Rasheed, Baghdad as well as establishing a partnership with the adjoining hospital. In addition to distributing school supplies donated by family members, the company also filled in a sinkhole and installed 26 windows.

Soldiers in the company conducted more than 400 combat patrols and travelled more than100,000 miles on Iraqi roads. The company provided personnel for traffic control points for several high level ceremonies to help make sure they were conducted safely.

No Virginia Guard Soldiers were killed or wounded in action during the company’s tour of duty in Iraq.

The Soldiers of the detachment deployed as an integrated Task Force comprised of nine different states and territories in support of Operation Enduring Freedom for Multi-National Task Force-East where they supported 11 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters with both aviation unit and aviation intermediate maintenance.

The Soldiers completed scheduled aviation maintenance and around the clock unscheduled maintenance support as well as downed aircraft recovery team operations that directly impacted the aircraft mission readiness in Kosovo. They were responsible for providing 24 hour a day, 7 days a week DART coverage during all phases of deployment.

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