CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice greeted more than 140 West Virginia National Guard soldiers today, returning home after a year spent defending our country, which culminated in a nine-month deployment to the Middle East.
In addition to the soldiers in attendance, the Governor congratulated hundreds of their family members, friends, and loved ones during a welcoming home ceremony at Laidley Field in Charleston.
“We owe every single thing in our lives to these brave men and women and their families for the sacrifices that they make and everything that they do for each and everyone of us each and every day,” Gov. Justice said. “I’m could not be more proud.”
The soldiers returning today are among the hundreds of West Virginia National Guardsmen and Women who Gov. Justice honored at a deployment ceremony at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center just over one year ago.
“My wife Cathy and I saw all of these beautiful men and women leave and I said to them, ‘Godspeed,’” Gov. Justice said. “It may not seem like that long ago for some. But I know that time has not passed quickly for the families of these great young men and women, and we thank them.”
Last August, approximately 450 members of the 1-150th Cavalry Regiment and 1-201st Field Artillery – mostly West Virginians – joined forces with additional soldiers from Ohio, North Carolina, and South Carolina, combining to create the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, which consisted of 4,200 soldiers in total.
All units of this team traveled to Ft. Bliss, Texas and spent approximately three months making final preparations for their deployment to the Middle East in support of Operation Spartan Shield. Their mission was to sustain theater readiness to conduct unified land operations and to support partner nations in making the region safer.
The 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team replaced the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, as part of a regular rotation of forces in support of Operation Spartan Shield. This deployment marked the second time a National Guard unit has rotated into command for this operation.
“On behalf of my family, and all of our families, God bless you. You are a national treasure,” said West Virginia National Guard Adjutant General Maj. Gan. James Hoyer, addressing the loved ones of the returning soldiers. “The sacrifices that you all make to let our National Guard soldiers do their jobs is absolutely amazing.”
Several rounds of deployed West Virginian soldiers have returned home in recent months. Maj. Gen. Hoyer added that today’s ceremony marked one of the West Virginia National Guard’s largest such returns.
“It’s so wonderful to have you home in these absolutely wonderful mountains,” Gov. Justice said. “Absolutely all of us, from the bottom of our hearts, love that you’re back in West Virginia.
“Thank you for all you’ve done and God bless you in each and every way.”
In the months ahead, many additional soldiers serving in the West Virginia National Guard are scheduled to return home from overseas deployments all around the world.
“On behalf of the entire state of West Virginia and as the former Commander in Chief of the best National Guard in the country, I am excited to recognize all the wonderful Soldiers and families who rejoice in the safe return of our National Guardsmen and women today,” said Senator Joe Manchin. “For generations, the WV Guard has kept Americans safe and free and protected our state during times of crisis. Those who returned home today from yet another deployment add to the proud and historic lineage of our West Virginia Guard. I am so deeply proud of each returning Soldier, and their families, and hope the reunions are sweet and full of love and laughter.”