Regiment History

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Brief History 116th Infantry Regiment

The oldest continuous service regiment in the Virginia National Guard and seventh oldest in the United States Army is the 116th Infantry, dating from 1742. The 1st Virginia Regiment was raised July 17, 1775, in Williamsburg as a state militia unit and later for service with the Continental Army, and its lineage lives on today in the 116th Regimental Combat Team.

116th Infantry “The Stonewall Brigade” Regiment service dates from 1742, and “Ever Forward” through the French and Indian War, the American Revolution through the War of 1812, American Civil War, Spanish American War, Mexican Border Service in 1916-1917 then to World War I and II continuing today to Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn.

116th Brigade Combat Team (About the BCT)

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“Jackson’s Foot Cavalry” — so called for their ability to cover more than 30 miles a day.

The 116th Infantry, part of the 29th Infantry Division, saw service in World War I, and Soldiers of the 116th Infantry spearheaded an attack in October 1918 during what was known as the Meuse Argonne Offensive. During this attack, Sgt. Earle Gregory of the 116th Infantry earned the Medal of Honor, the first Virginia Guardsman to receive the award. Virginians all, they formed a division of troops under the command of General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in 1862. In March of 1862, they numbered about 10,000 and had orders to defend the Valley from Northern forces four times their size. Maj. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s   famous spring campaign through the Shenandoah Valley employed audacity and rapid, unpredictable movements on interior lines. Jackson’s 10,000 men marched 646 miles (1,040 km) in 48 days and won four battles as they engaged three Union armies (52,000 men), preventing them from reinforcing a Union offensive against Richmond. Then the Brigade boarded trains and marched to reinforce General Lee near Richmond.

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During World War II, Soldiers from the 29th took part in the massive invasion of Normandy France that began the morning of June 6, 1944, to be known forever as “D-Day.” More than 800 members of the 116th Infantry were killed, wounded or missing during the assault on Omaha Beach, but their courage and bravery helped create a foothold that allowed follow on forces to continue the assault. Two days after D-Day, Tech. Sgt. Frank Peregory of Company K, 116th Infantry from Charlottesville, became the second Virginia Guardsman to earn the Medal of Honor when he single-handedly killed or captured 30 enemy soldiers defending a trench line.

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More recently, the 116th Regimental Combat Team and other Virginia Guard Soldiers and Airmen served during The Sinai Peace Keeping Mission, Operation Desert Storm and since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, more than 15,000 Virginia Guard Soldiers and Airmen have served on federal active duty in support of Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Enduring Freedom, Guantanamo Security Mission, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. Soldiers of the Regiment help maintain security in the United States and further the cause of freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as serving in the NATO peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and Kosovo.

Ten Virginia Soldiers have lost their lives to hostile enemy contact during the Global War on Terror.