February 23, 2004

General Assembly commends Virginia Guard

By Maj. Cotton Puryear
Army Guard Public Affairs Officer

Delegate Kirk Cox presents a framed copy of House Joint Resolution 314 to Maj. General Claude Williams. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office)

RICHMOND, Va. - The Virginia General Assembly recognized the Virginia National Guard with a Joint Resolution commending the men and women of the Army and Air Guard for their efforts in the nation's War on Terror and response to disasters in Virginia as “an expression of the admiration and gratitude of the General Assembly and the people of Virginia.” Delegate Kirk Cox presented Maj. Gen. Claude Williams, the adjutant general of Virginia, with a framed copy of House Joint Resolution 314 in the center aisle of the House of Delegates chamber on Feb. 23. Also on hand were members of the Army and Air Guard who have served overseas since September 11, 2001.


Prior to presenting the resolution to Williams, Cox introduced the five soldiers and airmen to the members of the House of Delegates and read a brief summary of what role they played during their deployments overseas. The members of the House followed the presentation with a standing ovation.


During a reception before the presentation ceremony, Cox, Williams and Secretary of Public Safety John Marshall all stressed the critical role played by supportive families and employers in the success of the many missions being carried out by the Virginia Guard.


Five soldiers and airmen from the Virginia Guard were on hand during the ceremony to represent their fellow Guard soldiers stationed all over world. The were recognized on the floor of the House of Delegates and are shown holding up a framed copy of House Joint Resolution 314. From left to right: Staff Sergeant Gary F. Pesnell, Specialist Mathew B. Bulloch, Staff Sergeant Quinton P. Gillus, Senior Airman Holly M. Portillo and Private First Class Djann L. Alexander. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office)

The resolution acknowledged that the 7,500 soldiers of the Army National Guard and the 1,200 members of the Virginia Air National Guard have “played an increasingly vital role in protecting the nation and pursuing the war on terror” and recognized the service of Guard soldiers in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Kuwait, Virginia National Guard units deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, as well as being a vital part of the nation's homeland defense.


It also recognized the service of the Virginia National Guard in assisting in flood recovery operations in May 2002, helping local officials in the Valley cope with severe winter weather in February 2003, and, most recently, providing support in recovery operations following Hurricane Isabel in September 2003.


Members of Army and Air Guard participating in ceremony:


  • Staff Sergeant Quinton P. Gillus from Richmond, Va. Gillus served as Special Forces Communications Sergeant for Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha, Company B, 3rd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Virginia Army National Guard while deployed to Afghanistan.
  •  Private First Class Djann L. Alexander from Virginia Beach, Va, Alexander served as a Border Customs Agent in Kuwait for all incoming and outgoing military equipment and served as perimeter guard of an Iraqi Enemy Prisoner of War Complex as a member of the 229th Military Police Company, Virginia National Guard.
  •  Specialist Mathew B. Bulloch from Charlottesville, Virginia. Specialist Bulloch was deployed to Guantanamo Bay Cuba and provided external security to the Al Qaida and Taliban detainees as a member of Company A 2nd Battalion 116th Infantry, 29th Infantry Division (Light), Virginia Army National Guard.
  •  Staff Sergeant Gary F. Pesnell, Jr. from Herndon, Virginia. Pesnell served as the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) Supervisor while deployed to Thumrait Air Base, Oman.  He also supervised the Third Country National escort team.  After Thumrait closed, he was moved to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar and assisted with the installation of the HVAC system for a new 10,000 square foot base theater.  He was part of a 10-man team that tore down damaged aircraft hangers and completed minor quality of life construction projects for the base as a member of the 203rd Red Horse Flight, Virginia Air National Guard.
  •  Senior Airman Holly M. Portillo from Chesapeake, Virginia. Portillo also was deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar as part of a 30-person crew that constructed a new 10,000 square foot base theater for the new base. She was the lead engineering assistant responsible for surveying and layout of the building to include the foundation and steel frame. She was involved in every aspect of the construction from concrete placement, steel erection and wall construction to finish work.

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