January 2, 2009

29th Infantry Division rings in the holiday

By Sgt. Andrew H. Owen
29th Infantry Division Public Affairs

Spc. Meghan Robinson shakes hands with Lt. Col. John Wranek after being presented with a certificate of appreciation for her outstanding performance while serving the 29th Infantry Division. Robinson is a human resource specialist in the personnel office of the 29th Division Special Troops Battalion. (Photo by Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, 29th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

FORT BELVOIR, Va. — Units from the Virginia National Guard gathered all over the commonwealth this month at their home stations and armories to celebrate the holiday season with their families and comrades-in-arms. One unit in particular, the 29th Infantry Division, celebrated this year at the Fort Belvoir Community Club Dec. 7.

While the Soldiers of the 29th Division Headquarters, Headquarters Company and the Special Troops Battalion held their morning formations outside the community club, family members were welcomed into the facility to escape the cold December chill.

After the formalities of the formations were finished, Soldiers were directed into the building where they mingled with friends and family while they waited to register and check in. After checking in for the holiday meal Soldiers and family were given a ticket for door prizes and the option to buy tickets for a 50/50 raffle drawing.

Upon being seated in the festively decorated ballroom the Soldiers and their families were given a briefing on the importance of the Family Readiness Group, in times of deployments and the times between. “Their efforts are critical for this organization, for us to survive,” said Brig. Gen. Grant L. Hayden, division commander. “Especially in a time of mobilization.”

Staff Sgt. Ryan Yancey makes a grand entrance to the ballroom of the Fort Belvoir Community Club. Yancey who played Santa Claus at this year’s division holiday meal is a human resource specialist in the personnel office of the 29th Infantry Division Headquarters, Headquarters Company. (Photo by Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, 29th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

Following the traditional meal of turkey, ham, stuffing and all the fixings, the division and STB took the opportunity to recognize the efforts of the Soldiers and officers with awards and promotions. In addition to certificates of appreciation, the division commander and STB commander handed out their coins of excellence to deserving soldiers and civilians alike.

When the handshakes and applause from the pinning of medals and new insignia quieted the holiday meal concluded with the door prize give away and the 50/50 raffle. Door prizes such as coffee mugs and holiday plants were donated to the winners by sections of the division and battalion staff.

Although the children were excited by the arrival of Santa Claus and the chance to tell him what they wanted for Christmas this year, that excitement may have paled in comparison to that of Spc. Jewell Hicks who won the cash prize of the 50/50 raffle. While Hicks was excited and surprised to win, possibly the most excited was her teenage son who exclaimed, “We won! We Won!”

With the holidays and 2008 at a close, it will be exciting to see what the new year will have in store for the 29th. “As 2009 comes we know we’ll have lots of challenges ahead, but we are up to the task,” said Lt. Col. James Wranek, STB commander.

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