116th Regiment honors veterans during the annual Muster

Chief of the National Guard Bureau Gen. Frank J. Grass presents coins to five World War II veterans include three from D-Day, at the 47th Annual Muster hosted by the 116th Infantry Regiment Foundation, Inc. November 6, 2014, at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton, Va. (Photos by Maj. Matthew J. Nowak, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs)

Chief of the National Guard Bureau Gen. Frank J. Grass presents coins to five World War II veterans include three from D-Day, at the 47th Annual Muster hosted by the 116th Infantry Regiment Foundation, Inc. November 6, 2014, at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton, Va. (Photos by Maj. Matthew J. Nowak, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs)

STAUNTON, Va. – Soldiers and veterans from across the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team united to attend the 47th Annual Muster hosted by the 116th Infantry Regiment Foundation, Inc. at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton November 6, 2014. Chief of the National Guard Bureau Gen. Frank J. Grass served as the guest speaker in front of a packed room of Soldiers, veterans and their guests.

“The word ‘muster’ means to assemble troops for an inspection,” said Col. William Coffin, commander of the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. “This Muster has brought camaraderie among Soldiers and veterans for the last 47 years. It celebrates our rich history as a regiment and honors all those who served and are serving.”

During the Muster, the brigade commander gave a “State of the Brigade” address to highlight the training accomplishments of each battalion from the previous training year. Coffin focused on the training conducted during the National Guard’s eXportable Combat Training Capability exercise during annual training, the changes faced during the upcoming training year, and transformation scheduled for 2017.

The Muster has established rich traditions to honor past and present members of the 116th. One tradition is calling out the name of a service member who passed away since the previous Muster to pay respect.

Five World War II veterans, including three from the Normandy D-Day landings, were recognized and honored throughout the event. They were given quilts made specifically for them by Quilts of Valor, an all-volunteer group that comforts service members and veterans through their quilts.

Grass talked about the National Guard’s involvement in military operations around the world from fighting ebola in Africa to current operations in Iraq. He also spoke about the State Partnership Program and how it is helping to build relationships among our partner countries around the world.

Pulaski’s Company D, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment received the Brigade Superior Unit Award. The award is given to the unit with the best overall training numbers that included the best overall APFT scores, weapons qualifications, and attendance in the brigade.

The Muster was not the only one event of the day. Earlier that morning, Soldiers provided a color guard and marched during Staunton’s Veterans Day parade. Leaders and veterans from the 116th attended the play “Tuesday Mourning” at the nTelos Theater in Staunton. The play is a story about six boys growing up in Bedford who became a part of military history during the D-Day landings in Normandy as part of Company A, 116th Infantry Regiment.

As part of other events around Veterans Day, Coffin was a guest speaker at the Association of the United States Army Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson Chapter’s Dinner at Mary Baldwin College. Coffin spoke about what is happening within the brigade and recognized all veterans.

“It is only because we have outstanding Soldiers who volunteered to serve. I am proud to be part of this distinguished group and proud of all of our veterans who have sacrifice time away from their families and jobs to be part of something they can never forget,” said Coffin.