December 30 , 2003, 08:59
276th Engineers hold Family Appreciation Day
By Lt. Col. Chester
RICHMOND, Va. – Mobilizing an Army National Guard battalion is tough any time of the year but it is especially challenging around the holidays. The families and friends of the soldiers answering the call are key to the soldiers being able to accomplish the mission. Headquarters Company, 276th Engineer Battalion took time to extend a warm thank you to those who are so very important to the soldiers mobilizing, and the Commander-in-Chief of the Virginia National Guard, Governor Mark Warner, took time from his schedule to extend his appreciation to the soldiers and their families for their sacrifice, dedication and patriotism in support of America's war on terrorism.
Headquarters Company, 276 th Engineer Battalion, entered active federal service on Dec. 18. The mobilization is for an 18 month period. Before the unit traveled to it mobilization station at Ft. Dix, N. J. on Jan. 5, 2004, the unit wanted to bring family members in to briefing them on various aspects of the mobilization. Given the time of year and all of the different activities going on it was decided that it would be a good idea to not only brief family members on the many changes that will impact on so many of them in the coming months but to show appreciation for all they are doing to support their soldiers.
Where to have the family appreciation day became the question. The location had to large enough to accommodate the soldiers and their families for the required briefings. It had to be big enough to for the soldiers, their families, and who knows, maybe even Santa Claus to share in a holiday meal after the briefings. And very important, it must be fitting of what these soldiers and their families are doing. Let's see, this is a Virginia Army National Guard unit stationed in Richmond, important briefings are going to be given to important people, a place to share a holiday meal together, and a location fitting of the sacrifice, dedication, and patriotism these soldiers and their families are demonstrating in America's war on terrorism. The answer was apparent; the State Capitol would be the appropriate place.
The staff of the 276 th Engineer Battalion worked with Maj. Gen. Claude Williams and his staff; Sec. John Marshall, Secretary of Public Safety; and Governor Mark Warner's staff to make the idea a reality. Within five days the necessary ground work was laid and arrangements were made for the soldiers and families of Headquarters Company, 276th Engineer Battalion to use the General Assembly Building and the Old City Hall adjacent to the State Capitol complex for their briefings and family appreciation activities.
Timothy Kaine, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, addressed the soldiers and their families. He expressed appreciation for what they were doing for commonwealth and country. Then Governor Warner presented Lt. Col. Edward Morgan, commander of the 276th Engineer Battalion, with a Virginia state flag that had been flown over the Capitol. Governor Warner asked that Morgan fly the flag wherever the unit goes and then charged him to bring the soldiers back home safely. Following the remarks Governor Warner and Lieutenant Governor Kaine visited with the soldiers and their families.
The visit made by the Commander-in-Chief of Virginia National Guard will long be remembered by these soldiers and their families. The soldiers are prepared to answer freedom's call and go forward and accomplish their mission wherever that mission may take them.