Dec. 3, 2009
Virginia National Guard to conduct ceremonies for Richmond and Roanoke armory closings
By Maj. Cotton Puryear
Virginia Guard Public Affairs
RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia National Guard will conduct ceremonies to mark the official closure of the Richmond and Roanoke armories Dec. 5 and 6. The closing ceremony for the Roanoke armory will take place Dec. 5 at 10 a.m. at 32 Reserve Avenue and the closing ceremony for the Richmond armory will take place Dec. 6 at 3 p.m. at 500 Dove Street.
The decision to close the Richmond facility was part of Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine’s 2010 budget reduction plan. Closing the Richmond facility, along with closing the Roanoke armory, will result in a projected 2010 budget reduction of $115,000. The city of Roanoke plans to destroy the building where the units are currently stationed in order to make room for future development.
The number of Virginia Army National Guard Soldiers and units impacted by the Richmond closing are:
- Headquarters, 91st Troop Command, consisting of approximately 40 Soldiers, will relocate to the Sandston Readiness Center.
- Headquarters Company, 276th Engineer Battalion and Company A, 276th Engineer Battalion, consisting of approximately 175 Soldiers, will relocate to the Petersburg Readiness Center.
- Headquarters Company, 1710th Transportation Company, consisting of approximately 65 Soldiers, will relocate to the Emporia and Virginia Beach Readiness Centers.
- Battery A, 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, consisting of approximately 95 Soldiers, will relocate to the Sandston Readiness Center.
The number of Soldiers and units impacted by the Roanoke closing are:
- 29th Army Band, consisting of approximately 40 Soldiers, will relocate to the Petersburg Readiness Center.
- 229th Chemical Company, consisting of approximately 60 Soldiers, will relocate to the Rocky Mount Readiness Center.
- Company E of the 429 Brigade Support Battalion, consisting of approximately 125 Soldiers, will relocate to the Lynchburg Readiness Center.
- Detachment 1 of the 229th Military Police Company, consisting of approximately 50 Soldiers, will relocate to the Virginia Beach Readiness Center and consolidate with the rest of the company.
Richmond Armory Historical Information:
Planning began as early as 1962 to replace the three existing Richmond armories with one to hold most of all three city commands: the Richmond Greys, Richmond Howitzers and Richmond Light Infantry Blues. The Dove Street Armory was built over a two-year period, 1964-1965, and the dedication was held on May 10, 1965.
At the time it housed five units plus the state Officer Candidate School program:
- Headquarters, 176th Engineer Group
- Headquarters, 276th Engineer Battalion and two engineer companies - all formerly part of “Richmond Grey’s”
- 2nd Howitzer Battalion, 111th Artillery - formerly two batteries of “Richmond Howitzers”
- 1st Recon Squadron, 183rd Cavalry - formerly a headquarters company and four companies of “Richmond Light Infantry Blues Battalion”
This armory had several significant units mobilize from it during its existence:
Nov. 21, 1990: the Headquarters Detachment, 176th Engineer Group, numbering 73 Soldiers, including five females, mobilized and deployed for Operation Desert Storm. It returned home in May 1991 with no losses.
Feb. 9, 1991: the 213th Medical Brigade (Augmentation) consisting of five nurse-officers was mobilized and serve at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in support of the Gulf War. Its commander, Maj. Christine M. Kilgore, became the Virginia Guard’s first woman to command a mobilized unit.
Dec. 18, 2003: the Headquarters, 276th Engineer Battalion was mobilized for Operation Iraqi Freedom. All of the line companies came from towns outside of Richmond.
Dec 11, 2004: the 183rd Personnel Services Detachment, numbering 46 Soldiers, was mobilized and deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The unit’s commander, Capt. Robin Branch, became the first woman in the Virginia Guard to take a unit to a theater of operations. All Soldiers returned home safely in January 2006.
Dec 1, 2008: the Headquarters, 276th Engineer Battalion and Company A (Forward Support Company), 276th Engineer Battalion, were mobilized in support Operation Enduring Freedom. The unit returned from Afghanistan just before Thanksgiving 2009.
Largest deployment since before WW II on a mission of Aid to Civil Authorities saw more then 800 soldiers from Dove Street deployed across Richmond and central Virginia in aftermath of Hurricane Agnes in May 1972.
Roanoke Armory Historical Information:
The original facility was dedicated on Sept. 17, 1955 as a five-unit armory. Units at that time were:
- Headquarters Company, 116th Infantry
- Service Company, 116th Infantry
- Medical Company, 116th Infantry
- Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry
- 90th Army Band (later redesignated as the 29th Army Band)
Capt. Darrell Spicer, commander of the Headquarters Company of 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry at time of dedication, had enlisted in Roanoke’s Company D, 116th Infantry in 1938. He landed with them on D-Day and earned the Silver Star in the battle for St. Lo.
Guest Speaker at dedication was Maj. Gen. Edgar C. Erickson, the Chief of National Guard Bureau. This was notable as usually the CNGB does not attend armory dedications.
Other VIPs included the Honorable Thomas B. Stanley, the Governor of Virginia, Brig. Gen. Samuel G. Waller, the Adjutant General of Virginia, and Maj. Gen. William Sands, the commanding general of the 29th Infantry Division.
As part of the Virginia Guard transformation approved by Gov. Mark Warner in June 2005, the headquarters for 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team moved to Lynchburg and was replaced by Company E, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team and Detachment 1, 229th Military Police Company, 91st Troop Command.
Since Sept. 11, the following units from Roanoke have mobilized for federal active duty:
- Approximately 110 Soldiers of the 229th Chemical Company mobilized Feb. 24, 2002 for service in Iraq.
- Approximately 170 Soldiers of Company E, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team mobilized May 11, 2007 for service in Iraq.
- Approximately 40 Soldiers of Detachment 1, 229th Military Police Company, 91st Troop Command mobilized Aug. 3 for federal active duty and are currently serving in Iraq.