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Virginia-based National Guard infantry battalions receive national and state awards

(WDBJ)
Published: Oct. 10, 2017 at 2:48 PM EDT
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The Virginia National Guard’s Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team was recognized as the most combat-ready Army National Guard battalion in the country with the Walter T. Kerwin, Jr., Readiness Award Oct. 9, 2017, at the Association of the United States Army Guard and Reserve Breakfast in Washington, D.C.

Gen. Robert B. Abrams, commander of U.S. Army Forces Command, presented the award to Maj. Scott A. Nivens, the battalion executive officer, and Command Sgt. Maj. Irving N. Reed, Jr., the battalion command sergeant major.

Lt. Col. Christopher J. Samulski, commander of the battalion, was not able to attend because of his deployment with the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team to the U.S. Virgin Islands where Soldiers of the 116th are assisting with hurricane recovery operations.

"This unit sustained readiness while either on an operational deployment or during a series of exercises, and sustained readiness creates a culture of being ready all the time, not just episodically,” Abrams said.

AUSA, along with the National Guard Association of the United States and Reserve Officers Association, presents the Kerwin Award each year to the most outstanding Army National Guard and Army Reserve units.

The Chief of National Guard Bureau selects the Army National Guard winner.

Evaluation criteria for the Kerwin include the areas of assigned personnel strength, percentage of personnel qualified in their duty position, attendance at monthly drill weekends and annual training, individual weapons qualification scores and physical fitness test scores.

Battalions also must have an effective maintenance program for all units and must achieve readiness objectives as outlined by U.S. Forces Command.

The battalion, also known as the Red Dragons, served on federal active duty conducting security operations in Qatar from May 2016 to April 2017, and they also conducted multiple domestic operations response missions in 2016 assisting citizens of Virginia during times of hazardous weather.

In September 2017, the battalion received the Major General Milton A. Reckord Trophy for training excellence at the National Guard Association of the United States General Conference in Louisville, Kentucky.

NGAUS presents the Reckord Trophy each year to the Army National Guard battalion that achieves the highest state of readiness in the country. The command team for the Bedford-based Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment also accepted the Pershing Plaque for marksmanship excellence as the Army National Guard unit attaining the highest figure of merit during annual qualification firing with assigned individual weapons.

“This award illustrates a solid training program, planned by outstanding leaders and executed by terrific Soldiers,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, about the Reckord Trophy.

“It shows that the units in the Virginia National Guard know what right looks like, and we can compete at the national level. Most importantly, it shows that we are trained and ready to accomplish our state and federal mission, and it sets an example for commitment to high standards that every unit should follow.”

The Christiansburg-based Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment was recognized as the recipient of the Eisenhower Trophy as the top company-level unit in the Virginia Army National Guard.

The award is presented to the unit that ranks the highest in areas of assigned personnel strength, percentage of personnel qualified in their duty position, attendance at monthly drill weekends and annual training, individual weapons qualification scores and physical fitness test scores.

Alpha Company received the state-level National Guard Pershing Trophy and Certificate of Victory for achieving the highest marksmanship scores in the Virginia Army National Guard in annual qualification with assigned individual weapons.

The Lexington-based Bravo Company, Charlie Company, and the Lynchburg-based Headquarters Company also received the Virginia Army National Guard Excellence in Training and Superior Unit awards.