Va. National Guard hosts closure ceremony in Clifton Forge

Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, presents the last Virginia flag to fly in front of the Clifton Forge Readiness Center to Dr. John J. Rainone, president of Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, to symbolize the transfer of the readiness center to college Nov. 29, 2017, in Clifton Forge, Virginia. (U.S. National Guard photo by Cotton Puryear)

CLIFTON FORGE, Va. — The Virginia National Guard hosts a closure ceremony at the former location of the Clifton Forge Readiness Center Nov. 29, 2017, to formally mark the transfer of the facility to Dabney S. Lancaster Community College. Soldiers lowered and folded the U.S. and Virginia flags in front of the facility for the final time, and Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, presented the Virginia flag to Dr. John J. Rainone, president of Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, to symbolize the transfer of the readiness center to college.

Lt. Col. Edward Lewis, commander of the Headquarters Battalion, 29th Infantry Division, presented the U.S. flag to Chief Warrant Officer 2 Don Carlson, the last Virginia National Guard facility commander. The Troutville-based 29th Division Band provided music for the event.

The Clifton Forge Readiness Center was home to the 29th Division Band and Detachment 1, Company B, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The 29th Division Band was the first unit to relocate to the new Roanoke Regional Readiness Center, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Aug. 4, 2017, in Troutville, Virginia, to officially open the new facility. Detachment 1 consolidated with the company headquarters in Lexington earlier this year.

“We are incredibly grateful for the support from Clifton Forge and Alleghany County, and I want to personally thank them for everything they have done for our Soldiers and families over the years,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “This was no easy decision. We are faced with tough realities with our facilities resources, and consolidating into regional readiness centers makes sense. We are excited about returning to the Roanoke area, but at the same time we are also sad to be closing the chapter of our direct involvement in such a wonderful community.”

In the event of a situation like severe weather requiring Guard assistance in the Clifton Forge or Alleghany County area, Soldiers will still be able to rapidly respond with troops and equipment stationed in Lexington and Staunton, Williams said.

According to the Virginia National Guard Facilities Management Office, funding was secured for the Clifton Forge Readiness Center in 1982, and the new facility was intended to consolidate the functions of the aging and outmoded armories in Covington and Clifton Forge. Construction on the new site on the Dabney S. Lancaster Community College campus began in 1987 and was completed in 1990. At the 1992 dedication ceremony, the building was officially named the Gary Lee Miller National Guard Armory, in honor of a local infantry officer who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism in Vietnam. An alternate name of the building is the Hale Collins Convocation Center, in honor of a state senator from Alleghany County.

The relocation of the 29th Division Band was the first in a series of moves to the Roanoke Regional Readiness Center as the Virginia National Guard continues to develop the facility. Near term plans include setting up a field maintenance shop. A regional maintenance facility and additional troop units will transition to the facility in the future, Williams said.

The 29th Division Band consists of 34 enlisted Soldiers and one chief warrant officer. Its mission is to support the Virginia National Guard with musical performances around the state. A group of Soldiers from the band recently returned from Kuwait where they performed at the transfer of authority ceremony for the 29th Infantry Division as they ended their federal active duty mission.

In addition to the full band, the 29th Division Band contains 18 different musical performance teams. These include the concert band, marching band, ceremonial band, rock band, jazz ensemble, jazz combo, brass ensemble, brass quintet, saxophone ensemble, clarinet ensemble, flute ensemble, trombone ensemble, an F horn/euphonium ensemble, the fife and drum, the color guard and a sound reinforcement team.

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Va. National Guard officially opens Roanoke Regional Readiness Center

Va. National Guard officially opens Roanoke Regional Readiness Center