Regimental Muster for 116th Infantry held in Staunton

Col. John Epperly, commander of the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, gives the “State of the Brigade Address” Nov. 10 at the 45th annual 116th Regimental Muster in Staunton. (Photo by Sgt. David A. Begley, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team)

STAUNTON, Va. — Soldiers, friends and family of the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team past and present gathered Nov. 10 at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton to reconnect and to celebrate the 45th annual Muster of the 116th Infantry Regiment. Each year, Soldiers and veterans come together to honor the unit’s long legacy.

“The Muster is a great opportunity to see old friends and learn more about America’s ‘Stonewall Brigade,’ past, present and future,” said retired Brig. Gen. Theodore G. Shuey Jr., the honorary colonel of the 116th Infantry Regiment.

The theme of this year’s Muster centered on the new Stonewall Brigade Museum in Verona which opened its doors Saturday.

“This is the 270th anniversary of the founding of the Augusta militia, which became America’s Stonewall Brigade,” said Shuey. “It’s a great history and we’re honored to be able to capture it for all those who have gone before, and in many cases made the supreme sacrifice for our freedom.”

Originally, the museum was located in the Thomas Howie Memorial Armory in Staunton, but after the events of 9/11, new security measures closed off the museum from public access. Shuey, along with the rest of the museum’s organizers, hope the easier access will encourage members of the community to visit.

During the muster ceremony, Col. John Epperly, commander of the 116th IBCT, gave a “State of the Brigade Address,” adding the unit’s recent accomplishments to its already prestigious history.

The brigade deployed several troops in support of the derecho and Hurricane Sandy, as well as operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Task Force 183, led by the Portsmouth-based 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, was the largest deployment of a single unit since World War II. This year marks the first time in nine years that all elements of the brigade have been home.

“We honor the service of members past and present,” said Epperly. “Especially World War II vets. Your legacy is secure.”

Highlights of the evening included guest speakers Glenwood Hankins, a D-Day vet, and Bernard Marie, who was only five years old on D-Day when the men of the 116th stormed Omaha beach to liberate him and his family.

Marie concluded his speech by voicing the sentiments so many Americans feel today.

“I cannot forget what they did.”

Following the dinner, the Soldiers held a candlelight ceremony in memory of their departed comrades. Roll call, a moment of silence, and the playing of “Taps” paid tribute to the regiment’s fallen warriors.