June 25, 2005
By Sgt. 1st Class Michael Hampton
BOWLING GREEN, Va. -- When Soldiers of the 229th Engineer Battalion and the 28th Engineer Brigade took a pass on combat operations and exchanged Kevlar helmets for hard hats, the result was a win-win situation. During annual training 2005, the two units pulled their assets together in support of Operation Virginia for Virginias and headed to the town of Bowling Green to turn a wooded parcel of land into a baseball field.
Soldiers got real, hands-on training moving earth and dozing down trees, clearing the way for what is to become a training ground for a new generation of future big leaguers. This was no small task, according to civilian project manager Randy Pitts.
“The area was thick with hard woods and stumps and needed heavy grading. Without the help of the Virginia National Guard, the cost would have made it very difficult if not impossible to get this field up and running anytime soon.”
The parcel was recently purchased by the Caroline County Youth Athletic Association (CCYAA), an all- volunteer non-profit organization that owns and operates the fields for little league baseball and other athletic activities in Caroline County. The project came about as a result of a CCYAA board members’ association with the Virginia Guard who was also familiar with the Virginians for Virginia program.
Virginians for Virginia got its start in 1991 as a joint partnership between Southwest Virginia Community College and the Virginia Army National Guard to support economic development in the region. The theme Virginians for Virginia was coined by Virginia Guard member, Chief Warrant Officer Raymond Bowles.
Since that time Virginians for Virginia has helped many communities within the Commonwealth enhance their economic base and provide venues of recreation and service for the areas in which they serve. The program also provides valuable training opportunities for Soldiers as 2nd Lt. Philip Taylor explains. “We have many new Soldiers who have just recently returned from AIT. This program is an excellent way for them to become proficient while cross-training on other types of equipment.”