Tank, fighter jet added to displays at new JFHQ-VA HQs site

Contractors working for the Virginia National Guard placed an M41 Walker Bulldog tank and an F-84 Thunderstreak fighter on display pads outside the site of the new Joint Force Headquarters – Virginia building April 8, 2018, at Defense Supply Center Richmond in Chesterfield County, Virginia. (U.S. National Guard photo by Col. Charlton Dunn)

CHESTERFIELD, Va. — Contractors working for the Virginia National Guard placed an M41 Walker Bulldog tank and an F-84 Thunderstreak fighter on display pads outside the site of the new Joint Force Headquarters – Virginia building April 8, 2018, at Defense Supply Center Richmond in Chesterfield County, Virginia. The tank and fighter jet join a UH-1 Huey helicopter and 105mm M101A1 towed howitzer on display outside the news headquarters building.

The text to be displayed with each of the new artifacts is copied below:

F-84F Thunderstreak

This F-84F Thunderstreak is dedicated in honor of all Virginia National Guardsmen who served during the period of the Cold War, from the end of World War II until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Their discipline and dedication were fundamental to the prevention of a superpower military conflict. The F-84 was the first production fighter aircraft to use inflight refueling. It was the first fighter capable of carrying a nuclear weapon, the Mk 7 nuclear bomb. The Virginia Air National Guard’s 149th Tactical Fighter Squadron was activated at the height of the Cold War in 1961 as a result of tensions surrounding the Berlin Wall. Twenty-two Virginia ANG members were sent to Chaumont-Semoutiers Air Base, France, in December 1961 to support the 7180th Tactical Fighter Wing, a deployed unit of the 108th Tactical Fighter Wing. The squadron remained activated in Richmond for nearly a year before being released.

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M41 Walker Bulldog

The M41 Walker Bulldog is an American-made light tank developed for armed reconnaissance and scouting. The M41’s light weight and powerful armament made it a good fit for close infantry support and aerial delivery. The Bulldog was named for the well-known WW2 Armored leader, General Walton Walker. Walker was killed in a jeep accident during the Korean War on 23 December 1950. There were several variations of the Walker Bulldog produced and, although replaced in the U.S. Army in the 1960s, it remains on active duty in other countries to this day.

This M41 Walker Bulldog is dedicated in honor of all Virginia National Guardsmen who served in Cavalry, Ammunition Train, Convoy Escort, Combat Engineer, or Armor units from 1916 to the current day. The Virginia National Guard’s Armor units were equipped with the Bulldog in the 1960s. Starting with the mobilization of the National Guard for duty on the Mexican border in 1916, Virginia’s Guardsmen have served proudly in a number of different conflicts and deployments throughout the world. Their unyielding devotion to their country, their state, and their comrades is symbolized in the solid armor of this vehicle and its hard-hitting 76mm cannon.

Background on artifacts already in place:

A multi-unit effort resulted in the addition of a UH-1 March 10, 2018. Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to Fort Pickett’s Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site prepared the aircraft that was then transported by Soldiers assigned to the Danville-based 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 429th Brigade Support Battalion from Fort Pickett to DSCR. Soldiers assigned to Sandston-based Bravo and Delta Companies, 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment used the mission as an opportunity to simulate a downed aircraft recovery scenario and battle damage assessment and repair mission.

The M101A1 howitzer was christened by then-Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe December 8, 2017, at the new headquarters location.

Soldiers from the Virginia Army National Guard Combined Support Maintenance Shop prepared the howitzer for display after receiving it from the Center of Military History in Anniston, Alabama, in April 2017. The 111th Field Artillery Regiment was equipped with the same model M101 howitzer in World War II, and its operational lifespan continued into the Vietnam War-era.

The 102,000 square foot headquarters facility is being built on a 13.6-acre site in the northern section of DSCR with a cost of approximately $30 million. It will provide workspace for the Adjutant General of Virginia, the Virginia National Guard Joint Staff and Air National Guard Staff currently located at Mullins Readiness Center in Sandston, Virginia.

The current state headquarters in Sandston houses the adjutant general and his senior staff, as well full-time federal and state employees and traditional Soldiers and Airmen of the Virginia National Guard Joint Staff and Air National Guard staff. The readiness center also houses the Joint Operations Center that manages Virginia National Guard operations during routine and emergency response operations. The Virginia Army National Guard staff is located at Fort Pickett near Blackstone, and the Virginia Defense Force staff is located at Waller Depot in Richmond.

The Virginia National Guard Joint Staff provides support for the entire state in the areas of operations, human resources, family programs, sustainment and logistics and public affairs.

The Virginia National Guard currently has several activities and units already on DSCR including the U.S. Property and Fiscal Office Supply Support Activity that includes the Guard’s Central Issue Facility, the Combined Support Maintenance Shop and Company B, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

The current facility in Sandston only provides 58 percent of the authorized space for a state headquarters, and the new facility increases available space to 98 percent, explained Col. Charlton Dunn, the Virginia National Guard construction and facilities management officer.

The funding for the State Headquarters is predominantly federal, with the Department of Military Affairs contributing approximately $471,000 of its own state funds to provide space for its employees, Dunn said. The Virginia Air National Guard is providing approximately $1.02 million for the Air Guard staff with the remaining funds to be provided by the Virginia Army National Guard.

The new facility will be built in compliance with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver requirements and will make use of ground-source heat pumps, photovoltaic solar panels and natural gas to create an energy efficient building now and for future generations of employees, Dunn said. This project utilizes Construction Manager at Risk, Building Information Modeling, and a commissioning agent to ensure the best product at appropriate initial and lifecycle costs within existing time constraints.

The text to be displayed with each of the artifacts already in place is copied below:

The M101A1 105 mm Light Howitzer

The M101A1 105 mm Light Howitzer is a general purpose vehicle-towed light field artillery weapon used for direct or indirect fire. The basic design of this artillery piece pre-dates the U.S. involvement in WW II. The M101A1 howitzer continued in frontline use throughout the Vietnam War and later operations. It began to be gradually replaced but was not completely phased out of field use until the 1980s.

This 105mm howitzer is dedicated to the memory of all the Virginia National Guardsmen who served in the 29th Infantry Division in WW2. It has been painted to commemorate the bravery of the officers and men assigned to the 111th Field Artillery Battalion 6 June 1944 at Omaha Beach. The artillerymen struggled through high seas and heavy enemy fire with their cannons mounted on the back of amphibious vehicles. Ultimately the battalion lost 11 of its 12 assigned cannons but never wavered in their determination to reach the shore and support their fellow Guardsmen. After D-Day, the Virginia National Guardsmen of the 29th Infantry Division remained in almost continuous combat for 10 months. Fighting through France, Holland, and Germany they added other battle streamers to their flags to accompany the one that says: “The Beaches of Normandy.”

The Bell UH-1H Iroquois

The Bell UH-1 Iroquois (nicknamed “Huey”) is a utility military helicopter powered by a single turboshaft engine, with two-blade main and tail rotors. It was developed by Bell Helicopter to meet a United States Army’s requirement for a medical evacuation and utility helicopter. It first flew in 1956. The UH-1 has long been a symbol of US involvement in Southeast Asia in general and Vietnam in particular, thereby becoming one of the world’s most recognized helicopters. In Vietnam primary missions included general support, air assault, cargo transport, aeromedical evacuation, search and rescue, electronic warfare, and later, ground attack. During the war 7,013 UH-1s served in Vietnam and of these 3,305 were destroyed. In total 1,074 Huey pilots were killed, along with 1,103 other crew members.

This UH-1H is dedicated in honor of all Virginia National Guardsmen who served and flew in Army Aircraft from WW2 to the present day. It is also dedicated in honor of the thousands of Vietnam War vets of all services who call Virginia their home and who served their country with honor and courage.

In 1972 Company A, 28th Aviation Battalion, VANG received its first Uh-1’s. By 1974 it had 23 troop/cargo carrying Uh-1D ships along with eight Uh-1C “gunships.” In 1978 the 986th Medical Detachment (Air Ambulance) was organized, flying six UH-1V’s configured to carry wounded. The 986th was mobilized and deployed to Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield/Storm in 1990-1991. It flew MEDEVAC’s, transporting both Allied and enemy personnel for treatment, saving many lives. After thirty years of outstanding service the last UH-1 left Virginia Guard in July 2003.


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