Nov. 18, 2010

Stonewall Brigade holds annual Muster 

By Staff Sgt. Rebecca Petrie
116th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs

STAUNTON, Va. — Past and present members of America’s Stonewall Brigade gathered Nov. 13 for the 43rd Annual Muster of the 116th Infantry Regiment at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel to pay tribute to the unit’s long and honored history, and to those who serve.

 

Seventeen World War II veterans of the 116th Infantry Regiment pose for a photo Nov. 13 at the 43rd Annual Muster of the 116th Infantry Regiment. The 116th Regiment was first organized in 1742 as part of the Virginia militia, and has participated in every major U.S. conflict since the French and Indian War. The muster is a way for members of the unit to remember each other and to see old battle buddies. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Rebecca Petrie, 116th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs)

The 116th Regiment was first organized in 1742 as part of the Virginia militia, and has participated in every major U.S. conflict since the French and Indian War. The muster is a way for members of the unit to remember each other and to see old battle buddies.

“It’s the opportunity to see the people that you haven’t seen in awhile but also to build camaraderie,” said Col. Blake C. Ortner, the commander of the 116th Brigade Combat Team. “Especially between the historic veterans and the younger Soldiers we have now.”

Among those in attendance were 21 World War II veterans, including three D-Day veterans.

“The thing that I look forward to most is recognizing our veterans,” said retired Brig. Gen. Theodore G. Shuey Jr., the honorary colonel of the 116th Infantry Regiment. “My first muster was 1972 and I was a general’s aide. I was the only guy in the room who wasn’t a World War II veteran. It’s just been amazing to me in the 38 years since to watch how that’s evolved.”

Twenty-one World War II veterans are all that’s left, said Shuey. The majority of the attendance is now made up of the future of the brigade.

Following the dinner, the Soldiers held a candlelight ceremony in memory of their departed comrades. Roll call, a moment of silent prayer, and the playing of “Taps” paid tribute to the regiment’s fallen warriors.

Afterward, the commanders of the regiment and BCT reported on the activities and accomplishments of their units.

“Because the BCT is so scattered across the state, the muster is a great opportunity for those individuals who are there to hear about what else has been going on in the brigade,” said Ortner. “My report is really a report of what’s happened the past year and of what’s coming up, what people may not know about. Last year we publicly announced that 1st Battalion was departing on their short-notice deployment and that the brigade had a potential notification of a deployment as well. So it’s a good opportunity to get information out there and especially to let the former members know what the brigade’s doing and that they’re still remembered.”

This year, the brigade welcomed home 1st Battalion from an overseas deployment where more than 100 Soldiers received the Combat Infantryman Badge or Combat Action Badge for engagements with the enemy. Five hundred BCT Soldiers were called on to provide assistance to their neighbors in need during snowstorms, floods and other state active duty emergencies. The brigade also fielded new state of the art equipment like the Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelters and new computer systems. Unit strength has also reached 105 percent.

“This is most impressive because it happened in a volunteer force in time of war,” said Ortner. “That is a testament to the kind of Soldiers and the young people we have in the United States today, especially considering that less than one percent of this nation serves in uniform. That says a lot for those Soldiers who sign up today.”

The theme of this year’s muster, “66 Years Later,” centered on the resolution passed unanimously by the Virginia General Assembly honoring the World War II veterans of the 29th Infantry Division and Stonewall Brigade. Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, presented the resolution to the veterans who landed on the beach at Omaha and served with the 29th Infantry Division in World War II.

More than 12,000 Virginians have deployed since 9/11 and 15 guardsmen have died, said Long. The brigade continues to live up to its motto, “Ever forward,” as 1,400 more Soldiers prepare to deploy later this fiscal year.

“Honoring the invincible spirit of our veterans, who set the example and upheld the rich legacy of the regiment, ‘The Stonewall Brigade’ continues to lead the way for ‘The Commonwealth’s Guardians’ into the 21st Century.”

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