Virginia National Guard to dedicate new headquarters to D-Day veteran from Roanoke

Sgt. Bob Slaughter somewhere in Germany, 1945. (Courtesy photo)

RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia National Guard’s newly-built Joint Force Headquarters will be officially named and dedicated for D-day veteran Sgt. John Robert “Bob” Slaughter at 10 a.m. Jan. 8, 2019, at Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia.

Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, will join members of Slaughter’s family and distinguished guests to dedicate the headquarters building, which officially opened in May 2018.

Slaughter, who passed away in 2012 at the age of 87, fought in World War II as a squad leader with the VNG’s 1st Battalion, 116th Regiment, 29th Infantry Division at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, during the D-Day invasion June 6, 1944. Slaughter had enlisted years earlier at age 15.

After his discharge in 1945 and lengthy civilian career in the newspaper industry, Slaughter became the leading force in bringing the National D-Day Memorial to Bedford, Virginia, in an effort to honor the 19 Bedford residents who lost their lives during the D-Day invasion, and four more who died later in the Normandy campaign.

The ribbon was cut for the building that will now bear Slaughter’s name in May of 2018. The VNG Joint Force Headquarters building is a 102,000 square foot facility which sits on 13.6-acre site in the northern part of Defense Supply Center Richmond. It cost about $30 million and took nearly two years to build.

The headquarters building provides workspace for the Adjutant General of Virginia, the Virginia National Guard Joint Staff and Air National Guard Staff formerly located at Mullins Readiness Center in Sandston, Virginia.

In addition to the state-of-the-art facility and numerous historical display areas on the inside, the exterior of the building features an M41 Walker Bulldog tank, an F-84 Thunderstreak fighter jet, a UH-1 Huey helicopter and 105mm M101A1 towed howitzer that mark the Guard’s service in many of our nation’s conflicts.

There are future plans to further honor Slaughter with a display of personal items provided by his family inside the headquarters building.

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Full bio for John Robert “Bob” Slaughter:

John Robert “Bob” Slaughter, although born in Greenville Tennessee, grew up in Roanoke, Virginia and joined the Virginia National Guard at the age of 15. When the Virginia National Guard was mobilized and the 29th Infantry Division activated in early 1941, Bob Slaughter was a Private First Class serving in Company “D” of the 116th Infantry Regiment. After completing their training at Camp Meade, Maryland, and participating in the 1942 Carolina Maneuvers, the soldiers of the 29th Infantry Division deployed to Great Britain in September 1942.

After arrival, Slaughter volunteered to become a member of the 29th (Provisional) Ranger Battalion and underwent extremely strenuous training, overseen by battle-experienced British Commandos. The 29th Ranger Battalion was later deactivated and Slaughter returned to Company D, the Heavy Weapons Company in the 1st Battalion of the 116th Infantry. It was with this company that Slaughter would go ashore on Omaha Beach on the morning of 6 June 1944.

Despite tremendous casualties, the men of the 116th and their American and Allied comrades persevered. Driving inland over the ensuing weeks, Slaughter and comrades found that fighting in the hedgerows was as difficult and dangerous as the D-Day landings. By the time breakout was achieved and the city of Vire liberated, Sergeant Slaughter had been wounded for the second time and was recovering in an Army hospital. The 116th and the rest of the 29th found themselves engaged in another new and equally deadly combat environment requiring a new set of tactical skills in order to reclaim the port city of Brest from the Germans. Slaughter rejoined the 116th in Aachen in time to participate in the winter of 1944 campaigns and then the attack into Germany. When the war ended, the 29th had linked up with the Russian Army on the Elbe River. Excluding time spent in the hospital, Slaughter had spent almost eleven months in continuous combat and had celebrated his twentieth birthday.

Returning home to Roanoke in July 1945, Slaughter put the war behind him. Married in 1947 and working as a newspaperman, he started a family. The pull of his memories as a Virginia National Guardsman and the desire to honor his fallen comrades never completely left him, however, and he became the driving force behind the building of the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford , Virginia. Sergeant John Robert Slaughter passed away on 29 May 2012 leaving his family and all the men and women of the Virginia National Guard to cherish his memory and his legacy of leadership. Ever Forward.