Dec. 15, 2009

Artillery battalion celebrates Saint Barbara’s Day

By Capt. Fred Moore
1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. The 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment celebrated its traditional Saint Barbara’s Day celebration and ceremony Dec. 5 at Langley Air Force Base.

  St. Barbara's Day

Inductees take the oath for induction into the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara Dec. 5 at Langley Air Force Base. Saint Barbara is the patron saint of artillerymen. (Photo by Capt. Thomas Fleming, 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment)


Festivities started with the roar of cannon fire in front of the Langley Air Force Bayside Enlisted Club. The purpose is to honor Saint Barbara, the patron saint of artillerymen, protector from thunderstorms, fires and sudden death. She became the patron saint of artillerymen from the early development of artillery pieces as early cannons were unreliable and, at times, would explode, wounding and killing their crews.

Every December field artillery units across the U.S. Army and Marine Corps celebrate St. Barbara’s protection over crewmembers from the fate of the early cannon crews. This is traditionally recognized by a formal military dinner, often involving presentation of the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara.

The Honorable Order of Saint Barbara recognizes those individuals who have demonstrated the highest standards of integrity and moral character; displayed an outstanding degree of professional competence; served the United States Army or Marine Corps Field Artillery with selfless­ness; and contributed to the promo­tion of the field artillery in ways that stand out in the eyes of the recipient's seniors, subordinates and peers.

Six Virginia National Guard field artillery candidates were inducted into the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara including Capt. John Kowalski, Command Sgt. Maj. Terry Gibbs, 1st Sgt. Michael Fitzgerald, Sgt. 1st Class Stanley Britton, Sgt. 1st Class Larry Cuffee and Sgt. Maj. Ken Lamon (posthumously).

  St. Barbara's Day

Lt. Col. Preston Scott inducts 1st Sgt. Michael Fitzgerald into the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara. (Photo by Capt. Thomas Fleming, 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment)

Prior to induction of the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara it is customary to swear all non-field artillery guests with a light-hearted oath of secrecy.

The new members of the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara were welcomed by Scott and Howell with a medal of Saint Barbara, a certificate, and a customary draw from a brass 105 mm shell casing containing the afore-mentioned punch. The ceremony was concluded and guests spent the evening at Langley Air Force Base.

The Order of Saint Barbara is an honorary military society of the United States field Artillery. Both U.S. Marine and Army field artillery, along with their military and civilian supporters, are eligible for membership.

The order is managed by the U.S. Field Artillery Association and two levels of recognition exist. The most distinguished level is the Ancient Order of Saint Barbara and those who are selected for this honor have achieved long-term, exceptional service to the field artillery, surpassing even their brethren in the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara. The order links field artillerymen of the past and present in a brotherhood of professionalism, selfless service and sacrifice symbolized by Saint Barbara.

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