Aug. 14, 2009
Winchester readiness center to be named in honor of fallen Virginia Guard Soldiers
Virginia Governor's Office News Release
RICHMOND — Governor Timothy M. Kaine today announced that the new Virginia National Guard Readiness Center in Winchester will be named the Cherry-Beasley Readiness Center in honor of Staff Sgt. Craig W. Cherry and Sgt. Bobby E. Beasley, two Virginia Army National Guard Soldiers killed in the line of duty while serving in Afghanistan in 2004. The readiness center operations center will be named in honor of retired United States Senator John Warner.
“It is fitting that the new readiness center in Winchester be named in honor of two Soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country and defending the ideals of freedom,” Governor Kaine said. “This new readiness center is the kind of facility that will help our Soldiers better prepare for challenging missions both here in Virginia and overseas, and naming it in the honor of these two Soldiers will serve as a reminder of the serious nature of those missions.”
A formal dedication ceremony is scheduled for October 4, 2009, at the new facility.
Beasley and Cherry, both infantrymen assigned to the Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, were killed when an Improvised Explosive Device destroyed their vehicle on August 7, 2004, during a patrol near Ghazikel in eastern Afghanistan. The Winchester Readiness Center is the headquarters for the 3rd Battalion.
Cherry, a native of Winchester, was 39 at the time of his death and was married with three children. He served in the U.S. Army from 1983-1987, then served in the Missouri Army Guard from 1987-1998 before transferring to the Virginia Guard in late 1998.
Beasley, a native of Inwood, West Virginia, was 36 at the time of his death and married. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1980-1992 and, after spending one year in the Naval Reserve, he enlisted in the Virginia Guard in 1993.
The deaths of Beasley and Cherry marked the first combat deaths of a mobilized Virginia Guardsman since the end of World War II in 1945. No Virginia Guard units served in theater during the Korean or Vietnam wars and while eight units served in Desert Storm (1990-1991). (One Virginia Guard soldier died during Desert Storm as a result of non-combat injuries suffered in a vehicle crash).
To honor the sacrifice and memory of these two Soldiers, their operating base in Afghanistan was renamed from “Camp Bulldog” to “Camp Cherry-Beasley.” In addition, an Afghan training village located at Fort Pickett was named “Cherry Village” in 2008 in honor of Cherry.
Naming the readiness center operations center for Senator Warner is in recognition of his efforts to secure the funding for the building’s construction, as well as his support for the Virginia National Guard during his years of service as a United States Senator.
“There would be no new readiness center in Winchester without the tireless efforts of John Warner,” said Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia. “Senator Warner was one of the greatest supporters of the Virginia National Guard in Washington, and naming the nerve center of the state-of-the-art facility in Winchester is in recognition of his important contribution to the readiness of Virginia Guard Soldiers serving in Virginia and overseas.”
Warner, a veteran of World War II, served as Secretary of the Navy from 1972 to 1974 and as a five-term United States Senator from Virginia from January 2, 1979, to January 3, 2009.
The 51,183-square-foot readiness center building cost about $10 million to build, compared to the former building that opened in 1940 and measured 15,522 square feet.
The new facility features a number of classrooms, a distance learning center where members of the Guard can take online courses, a gym and a weight room and high-tech virtual weapon training rooms.