Virginia Guard artillery Soldiers inducted into Honorable Order of Saint Barbara

Chief Warrant Officer Thomas Mooney and Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Arties are inducted into the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara at the annual gathering of field artillery Soldiers Dec. 5, 2016, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. (Photo by Sgt. Saul Rosa, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs)

Chief Warrant Officer Thomas Mooney and Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Arties are inducted into the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara at the annual gathering of field artillery Soldiers Dec. 5, 2016, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. (Photo by Sgt. Saul Rosa, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A thunderous roar echoed throughout the streets of Virginia Beach as ceremonial howitzer fire welcomed two Virginia National Guard Soldiers to the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara at the annual gathering of field artillery Soldiers Dec. 5, 2016.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Thomas Mooney and Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Arties joined the elite group of artillerymen, also known as “red legs.” The contributions of family members were also recognized by inducting Karen Howell, wife of Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald M. Howell, into the Artillery Order of Molly Pitcher.

“When I was on stage I was looking at my wife with pride,” said Mooney. “We were married when I joined the Army 24 years ago, so this is one of the proudest moments in my life and she supported me throughout my career, so I could achieve this.”

Lt. Col. Jared Lake, commander of 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, welcomes Karen Howell, wife of Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald M. Howell, into the Artillery Order of Molly Pitcher Dec. 5, 2015, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. (Photo by Sgt. Saul Rosa, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs)

Lt. Col. Jared Lake, commander of 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, welcomes Karen Howell, wife of Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald M. Howell, into the Artillery Order of Molly Pitcher Dec. 5, 2015, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. (Photo by Sgt. Saul Rosa, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs)

According the United States Army Field Artillery Association, “the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara recognizes those individuals who have demonstrated the highest standards of integrity and moral character; displayed an outstanding degree of professional competence; served the United States Army or Marine Corps Field Artillery with selflessness; and contributed to the promotion of the field artillery in ways that stand out in the eyes of the recipient’s seniors, subordinates and peers alike. The Artillery Order of Molly Pitcher recognizes individuals who have voluntarily contributed in a significant way to the improvement of the field artillery community.

“The Order of Saint Barbara is an honorary military society of the United States field artillery,” said Capt. David Coyle. “The order links field artillerymen of the past and present in a brotherhood of professionalism, selfless service and stead fastness symbolized by Saint Barbara.”

Coyle explained that Saint Barbara was the daughter of Dioscorus and was locked in a tower by her father because of her immense beauty. Dioscorus commissioned a bath house to be built with a set design and shortly after left on a journey. Barbara converted to Christianity in the tower. While her father was away, she altered the designs on the bathhouse to include three windows to represent her new faith. Her father was furious when he returned and found changes. He sentenced his daughter to death, and as he returned home, he was struck by lightning.

“When gunpowder made its appearance in the western world, Saint Barbara was invoked for aid against accidents resulting from explosions,” said Coyle. “Some of the earlier artillery pieces would blow up instead of firing their projectile.”

Katie Coyle explained that the Artillery Order of Molly Pitcher honors the heroic contributions and history of Molly Pitcher and her dedication to her family and the artillery at the birth of the nation. Those who are inducted mirror her commitment and passion and their voluntary efforts have improved the field artillery community. In American folklore, Molly Pitcher is credited with taking over for her husband as a cannon crew member when he was carried off the battlefield during the Revolutionary War.

“To be able to induct Command Sgt. Maj. Howell’s wife into the Order of Molly Pitcher means almost more to me than inducting new members in the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara,” said Lt. Col. Jared Lake, commander of 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. “She’s had to endure quite a bit being an artilleryman’s wife, so being able to recognize her for taking care of and supporting him meant a lot to me.”

Story by Sgt. Saul Rosa. 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs

 

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