Governor recognizes Va. Guard during State of the Commonwealth Address

Lt. James Breckenridge and Pfc. Norman Malone of the 1173rd Transportation Company and Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, represent the Virginia National Guard during Governor Bob McDonnell’s State of the Commonwealth Address Jan. 9, 2013, in Richmond. (Photo by Bob Brown, Richmond Times Dispatch)

RICHMOND, Va. — During the 2013 State of the Commonwealth Address delivered at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond Jan. 9, 2013, Governor Bob McDonnell recognized the Virginia National Guard for accomplishments during the year.

“We don’t have to look far for inspiration from our brave and caring people,” McDonnell said in the address. “On the rain-soaked night of October 30th as Hurricane Sandy’s waters rose swiftly in Accomack County, Virginia National Guard Soldiers trudged through high water to clear a path to transport seven adults and a child out of harm’s way. Another rescue required Guardsmen to carry a citizen 200 yards through chest-high water to safety. Virginia Guard personnel rescued 42 citizens during Hurricane Sandy.”

McDonnell recognized 1st Lt. James Breckenridge and Pfc.Norman Malone of the 1173rd Transportation Company, 1030th Transportation Battalion, and the Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, who were all three in the gallery of the Virginia General Assembly for the address. Breckenridge and Malone both took part in the rescue missions in the wake of the hurricane.

“We salute you for your brave service to Virginia,” he said.

McDonnell also pointed out that the return of Soldiers from Afghanistan this summer, all Virginia Guard units were home for Christmas for the first time since Sept. 11, 2001. Soldiers from the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division Headquarters returned from duty in Afghanistan in July 2012.

In the last 11 years, more than 15,000 Virginia Guard Soldiers and Airmen were mobilized for combat operations and other missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations around the world.

The Virginia National Guard has lost 10 Soldiers to hostile enemy activity during the Global War on Terror.

“Our Virginia Guard is rightly recognized as among the best in the nation,” McDonnell said. “They have served all of us well.”

In 2012, the Virginia National Guard was recognized as among the best in the nation in many areas including the 192nd Operations and Maintenance Groups earning the Air Force Oustanding Unit Award, the Gate City-based 1032nd Transportation Company winning runner up honors in the national field kitchen food service competition and Army aviation maintainers from the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 151st Aviation Regiment earning the UH-72 Maintenance Team of the Year Award.

In addition to supporting Hurricane Sandy recovering operations, the Virginia National Guard brought more than 200 personnel on state active duty from June 30 to July 4, 2012, to support recovery operations in the wake of severe thunderstorms that struck across Virginia and caused wide-spread power outages.

Soldiers distributed water and ice in Bedford, conducted reconnaissance patrols in the Fredericksburg and Lexington areas and Soldiers, Airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force provided mission command and sustainment support in Sandston and Fort Pickett.

Since 2001, the Virginia National Guard has called up more than 7,300 personnel for state active duty to support state and local emergency response organizations as part of a coordinated state-wide response, as well as missions in Louisiana, Mississippi, West Virginia and Vermont.

“Whether defending our freedoms abroad or securing our communities during times of natural disasters at home, these courageous individuals have demonstrated what it means to serve with honor,” McDonnell said after declaring December 2012 to be Virginia National Guard Month in Virginia.

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