WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- Virginia National Guard field artillery Soldiers past and present gathered for fellowship and recognition of outstanding duty performance at the annual Saint Barbara's Day Celebration and Regimental Muster hosted by 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Dec. 8, 2018, in Williamsburg, Virginia. Six Soldiers received the Honorary Order of Saint Barbara and one received the Ancient Order of Saint Barbara.
"Saint Barbara became the patron saint for those in danger from thunderstorms, fires and sudden death," said Lt. Col. Shawn Talmadge, commander of battalion. "Due to the unreliability of artillery equipment in the early years, our artillerymen sought Saint Barbara's protection from unexpected explosion and death. It is an honor to host this celebration. I enjoy seeing Virginia's artillery community come together to share stories and enjoy the camaraderie."
The night's ceremony and festivities began with the appointment of the 111th Field Artillery Regiment's Honorary Regimental Colonel as authorized by the U.S. Army's Regimental System. For the first time in over a decade, the regiment appointed retired Col. Fred Bolton, who served more than 30 years as a field artillery officer, as their honorary colonel. Following the appointment, Bolton ceremoniously ordered roll call of the regiment's six battalions.
The Honorary Order of Saint Barbara recognizes those who have demonstrated the highest standards of integrity, moral character, professional competence and contributed to the promotion of field artillery. This year's six Virginia Army National Guard recipients of the Honorable Order of Saint Barbara Award were Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Bennett, 1st Sgt. John Trammell, Chief Warrant Officer 2 David Mummert, Capt. Michael Dwyer, Capt. Jonathan Ward, Capt. Travis Roth and Maj. Gen. John Epperly.
The Artillery Order of Molly Pitcher recognizes individuals who have voluntarily contributed in a significant way to the improvement of the field artillery community. This year the honor was bestowed to Mrs. Mary Shaver and Mrs. Latanya Fair.
The Ancient Order of Saint Barbara award was awarded to Maj. Gen. Timothy Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. This award is reserved for an elite few whose careers have embodied the spirit, dignity, commitment and sense of sacrifice epitomized by Saint Barbara.
Talmadge and Command Sgt. Maj. Stanley Mosley also presented this year's "1-111th Best Battery" streamer to Capt. Chris Epperson and 1st Sgt. Ricky Barley of Bravo Battery. The streamer is awarded to the unit which demonstrates excellence throughout the training year in areas such as weapons qualification, physical fitness, drill attendance, tactical proficiency, and overall operations.
In addition to the evening's awards were the host commander's remarks and state of the regiment update by Talmadge. Epperly, the commander of the 29th Infantry Division, was the guest speaker for the evening, and he focused his attention on the future of the field artillery in the new and fast changing environments of today and tomorrow.
"The Saint Barbara's Day celebration shows that the 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment respects the traditions passed down from the artillerymen of the past," said Talmadge. "We are here to never forget the service and sacrifices of our forefathers while honoring the Regiment's past, present, and future members of the field artillery."