Nov. 10, 2009

116th Soldiers honor their lineage at 42nd Annual Regimental Muster

By Sgt. Andrew H. Owen
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

STAUNTON, Va. — Soldiers of the 116th Brigade Combat Team dressed to the nines in their formal uniforms to attend the 42nd Annual Regimental Muster Nov. 7 at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton to honor the unit's service to the commonwealth, the nation, the Soldiers, and the unit’s long and rich history..

  116th Regimental Muster

Lt. Gen. John M. Paxton, Jr., Director of Operations for the Joint Staff, speaks to the attendees of the 116th Regimental Muster in Staunton, Va. Nov. 7.  Paxton told the menebers of the 116th Brigade CombatTeam they are is important to America's defense today as they were in 1742 when the unit first began.  (Photo by Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

The 116th “Stonewall” Brigade of the 29th Infantry Division was first organized in November 1742 as the Augusta County Regiment, Virginia Militia and the unit has served in almost every major U.S. conflict since.

In attendance at the Muster were Soldiers of the unit both past and present. There were several veterans of the unit from World War II, some whom stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944, and some whom drove from as far as Florida to be in attendance.

“The muster's an opportunity for Soldiers to come back together every year, you get to see a lot of old friends who you might not have seen in a while,” said Capt. Heath Phillips, commander of Company B, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th BCT.  “It's an opportunity to remember soldiers from the past and see our World War II veterans. One of the highlights for me is honoring those individuals every year.”

“The connection tonight when you muster the Augusta county regiment, and the 116th and the Stonewallers goes back to 1742, it goes way back. So tonight we're all well served, said Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John M. Paxton, Jr., Joint Staff Director of Operations. “Not only if we connect ourselves historically to the past, but also a little bit maybe to some other services, some other conflicts, and certainly to what those connecting files mean in the days ahead.”

Historically, a muster was the day designated each year when all able-bodied men were assembled on the village green for a roll-call. Thus, in every community, it was known exactly how many men could be counted on in the event of an emergency. As the nation moved away from using militias, the Guard ceased to muster.

According to retired Brig. Gen. Theodore G. Shuey, Jr., Honorary Colonel of the Regiment, in 1967 the veterans of WWII felt the need to again muster, so for the last 42 years they have come together to celebrate the rich heritage of the unit. They first met at the armory in Staunton, and now in the ballrooms of the Stonewall Jackson Hotel and Conference Center.

Following the dinner the Soldiers were reminded of the rich history the unit has been a part of as well as the more recent accomplishments performed by the brigade.

  116th Regimental Muster

Brig. Gen. Stephen Huxtable, Virginia Assistant Adjutant General - Army , meets with veterans of World War II at the 42nd Annual 116th Regimental Muster in Staunton Nov. 7. (Photo by Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

“The brigade maintained personnel and equipment readiness while improving our duty MOSQ [training qualifications] to the highest level in ten years while reconnecting with the community by supporting numerous community support activities,” said Col. Blake Ortner, commander of the 116th BCT.

Following the presentation of the colors and the introduction of general officers in attendance, the chaplain held a memoriam to honor the fallen warriors affiliated with the regiment lost in the past year. An impromptu roll call, a moment of silence, and a bugle playing “Taps” solemnly paid tribute to the departed.

Seeing extensive action in France during WWI, the regiment earned the motto “Ever Forward” for its reputation of never giving up ground in battle, and during the Second World War, the 116th spearheaded the invasion of Normandy at Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944.

When you gather today, to talk about the lineage and the tradition of this regiment, you go back, to the fact that you're the 6th oldest regiment in the lineage of the United States Army,” said Paxton. “So that might and that fighting power you earned, you earned those stripes. Every single day.”

“You know your history, and you're proud of your history, you've lived your history and for everyone in the audience, in one way shape or form, you've made that history.”

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