Dec. 7, 2011
Governor McDonnell Thanks 1,100 Virginia Guard Troops for Their Service as They Return Home from Iraq
Governor's Office News Release
RICHMOND — Governor Bob McDonnell today expressed his appreciation for the service of Virginia National Guard Soldiers returning home from federal active duty in Iraq. More than 1,100 Soldiers are scheduled to return to Virginia in December after months of service in support of Operation New Dawn. The first group of about 120 Soldiers scheduled to return to Virginia are from the Suffolk-based Troop B, 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team, and they are expected home Dec. 8.
As Virginia’s governor, McDonnell serves as the commander in chief for more than 10,000 members of the Virginia Army National Guard, Virginia Air National Guard and Virginia Defense Force.
“Every Virginian should feel a sense of pride at the selfless service exhibited by these citizen Soldiers,” Governor McDonnell said. “In addition to risking their lives for their country, the men and women of the Virginia National Guard put their lives on hold to answer our nation’s call of duty, and that is no easy task. Not only do we owe these brave Virginians a debt of gratitude for defending the ideals of freedom in a foreign land, but we also must thank their families and employers. Without the unending support of families and employers, these dedicated patriots could not perform their missions with the focus and determination necessary to succeed. I can think of no better gift for the families of these brave Virginians than to have their loved ones home for the holiday season.”
The return of the troops to the United States, and ultimately to Virginia throughout December, coincides with the 375th birthday of the National Guard on Dec. 13.
“While the National Guard recognizes it official birthday in 1636 in Massachusetts, we trace the heritage and traditions of the selfless service of citizen soldiers back to the founding of Jamestown in 1607,” Governor McDonnell said. “Those traditions live on today throughout the commonwealth, through all of the branches of the armed forces serving here, as well as the thousands of veterans who call Virginia home. Without the sacrifices made by these great Americans, we would not enjoy the freedoms we have today. As George Washington once said, ‘The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.’ This is our time to give thanks to these brave men and women for their service.”
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, more than 14,000 Virginia Guard soldiers and airmen have served on federal active duty in support of Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. Their missions have ranged from helping to maintain security in the United States to furthering the cause of freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan, to serving in the NATO peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and Kosovo.
Approximately 275 Virginia Army National Guard Soldiers from the Sandston-based 2nd Assault Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, 91st Troop Command returned to the United States on Dec. 3 and 4 after serving in Iraq since April of this year. The battalion conducted air assault and combat support aviation operations. They flew more that 16,500 combat flight hours during more than 1,800 combat missions while performing split-based operations from seven different locations. The battalion executed an average of 15 missions a day and flew more than 30,000 passengers. Additionally, they planned and executed multiple direct action air assault missions that were instrumental in reducing the number of attacks on United States forces. The remaining 50 Soldiers from the battalion are still conducting missions in Iraq and are scheduled to return home later this month.
About 105 Soldiers from the Christiansburg-based Company C, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, approximately 75 Soldiers from the Virginia Beach-based Troop C, 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry and about 130 Soldiers from the Fredericksburg-based Company D, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment returned to the United States Dec. 6, 2011 after serving in Iraq since August 2011. The Soldiers will spend about five to 10 days conducting a number of different administrative and reintegration training activities at their demobilization station at Camp Atterbury, Ind., to transition from active duty back to traditional National Guard status prior to returning to Virginia.
The Soldiers are part of a group of about 825 Soldiers from across the commonwealth who mobilized for duty in Iraq as Task Force 183 under the command of the Portsmouth-based 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment. Approximately 120 Soldiers from the Suffolk-based Troop B, 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment returned to the United States Dec. 1, 2011. They are conducting demobilization activities at Camp Atterbury and their return schedule to Virginia has not been finalized.
Additional Soldiers from the Fredericksburg-based Company A, 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, the Norfolk-based Troop A, 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment and Portsmouth-based Headquarters Troop, 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment are scheduled to return later this month as part of a phased redeployment as U. S. forces leave Iraq, but their exact return date has not been finalized. The Soldiers officially began federal active duty June 1.
The task force conducted 181 convoy escort missions. Units in the task force drove more than 50,000 miles escorting convoys throughout their area of operations and all commodities were delivered safely with no military vehicle accidents and no incidents with local population. They escorted more than 14 million gallons of fuel and more than 5,000 trucks hauling all military classes of supply like food and water, major end items, ammunition and repair parts. The supported sustainment convoys hauled commodities for all bases in Iraq, whether by direct support or handoff to other units at re-supply hubs that relayed supplies to their final destinations. Convoy escort teams reacted to 22 enemy attacks from small arms fire, indirect fire and IED detonations.
After the Soldiers return from Iraq, the Virginia Guard will have about 260 Soldiers and Airmen serving on federal active duty in Afghanistan.
“I ask that during this holiday season, as we give thanks for our families and our precious freedoms, we remember those serving our country in harm’s way, and their families, and we pray for the safe and speedy return home of these patriots,” Governor McDonnell said.