WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Virginia National Guard field artillery Soldiers explained the capabilities of the M119A2 howitzer, answered questions about the Guard and took part in a demonstration of 400 years of Virginia artillery during the Military Through the Ages event March 21, 2015, at Jamestown Settlement in Williamsburg, Va. Hundreds of re-enactors portrayed military organizations from Roman times, the medieval period, Hundred Years’ War, War of the Roses, French and Indian War, American Revolution, War of 1812 and American Civil War as well as World Wars I and II, the Vietnam War and the Falklands War with Soldiers from the Hampton-based Battery B, 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team representing the modern military.
“To me it is like a homecoming for the Virginia National Guard,” said Homer Lanier, interpretive program manager for the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation. “The origins of citizen-soldier service started here in Jamestown in May 1607 when Capt. John Smith and his fellow colonists came ashore.”
From the time that Smith organized a militia to defend the colony there has not been a day since without a military presence in Virginia to defend freedom at home and overseas.
“In Europe before 1607, you had standing armies if you were in a war, and if you weren’t in the path of that war, it didn’t impact you,” said Donald N. Hulick, the demonstration field coordinator for Military Through the Ages. “Here in Virginia starting in 1607, that changed. Everybody had to be ready to defend their home. This is the birthplace of the whole concept of the citizen-soldier.”
The event also gave the Soldiers the opportunity to train on crew drills and fire blank ammunition to improve their proficiency to prepare for live-fire training scheduled for their April drill weekend.
“We conducted demonstrations of how do live fire missions in a real-world situation,” explained Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Blood, battalion master gunner for 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment. “We are also using this as a certification for some of our new Soldiers, and we are also giving them an opportunity to cross train in another job while they are out here.”
Because Military Through the Ages is a timeline event that begins with the Roman Legions of 64 A.D., Lanier said that having the Virginia Guard present was an important part of completing the links of the timeline. On the demonstration field, the Virginia National Guard artillery Soldiers completed a timeline of artillery that began with an artillery piece from the Jamestown era, a mortar from the Revolutionary War era and a howitzer from the Norfolk Light Artillery Blues from the Civil War period. The 111th Field Artillery traces their lineage back to the Norfolk Light Artillery Blues.
“We are looking at 400 years of continual service of the citizen-soldier right here,” Hulick said. “This wouldn’t be the event it is without the 111th Field Artillery.”
Jamestown has hosted Military Through the Ages since 1984, and the Virginia National Guard has participated almost each year, Lanier said.
Accordingto the news release from the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, the 2015 event featured more than 35 groups based in Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, North Caroline and Pennsylvannia. The re-enactors and modern day groups display how uniforms, weapons and military tactics have evolved over time and also showcases military vehicles and equipment. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the re-enactors, and the Virginia National Guard Soldiers who took part expressed how much the enjoyed meeting with the public and explaining their mission and what the Virginia National Guard does to support both commonwealth and country.
“Military Through The Ages gives us a unique opportunity to not only continue training our crews but to interact with the community and tell our story,” said Brig. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “I think it is extremely important that people know that citizen Soldiers have defended the commonwealth since the very beginning in 1607, and we appreciate the leadership at the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation including us and showing such wonderful hospitality to our troops.”