February 14, 2002, 11:25 EST

Guard celebrates African American legacy

 
Command Chief Master Sergeant Robert Barnette of the Virginia Air National Guard spoke to those gathered at the Fort Pickett Conference Center of the legacy of excellence African Americans have left in defense of our freedom as Americans. (Photo Courtesy of the Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office)
BLACKSTONE, Va. - Soldiers, civilian employees, community leaders and guests of the Department of Military Affairs took time yesterday to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions that African Americans have made to community, Commonwealth and country. The theme of the 2002 Virginia National Guard celebration is The African American Legacy - Contributions and Service to National Defense.

As people gathered at the Fort Pickett Conference Center they experienced the music of Elder Farrar and Company of Blackstone. The music told the story of the celebration and touched the people there. Maj. Gen. Claude Williams, the adjutant general of the Virginia National Guard, stated the case of the Virginia National Guard very clearly when he said the Virginia National Guard cannot do its mission without everybody. The diversity of the Virginia Guard is what makes it the strong organization that it is. He went on to say that he is committed to the concept that every member of the Virginia National Guard be given the opportunity to rise to his or her own potential.

The keynote speaker was Chief Master Sergeant Robert Barnette, Command Chief Master Sergeant for the Virginia Air National Guard. As the Command Chief Master Sergeant, Barnette is the senior enlisted airman in the Virginia National Guard. Barnette emphasized the many contributions African Americans have made to the defense of the United States. He provided many examples such as the accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen were assigned to the 322d Fighter Group, which flew combat along with the 99th Squadron from, bases in Italy during World War II. These airmen had the distinction of never loosing a bomber that their unit was assigned to escort during a bombing mission. The accomplishment of these airmen is indicative of the contributions that so many African Americans have made and continue to make to the cause of our freedom.

 
Staff Sergeant Sharon Carter, Specialist Stephanie Mays and Specialist Tiffany Clary listen and are moved by the musical celebration of the African American Legacy to the Defense of this country provided by of Elder Farrar and Company of Blackstone. (Photo Courtesy of the Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office)



 
From left to right Clarence Simpson, Nottoway Board of Supervisors, James Harris, Mayor of Blackstone, and Ronnie Roarke, Nottoway County Administrator share in the celebration of the African American legacy to the defense of America held at the Ft Pickett Conference Center. (Photo Courtesy of the Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office)

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