3rd Battalion - 116th Infantry Regiment - "Stonewall Brigade to "Bedford Boys"
The 3d Battalion began in 1742 when Colonel James Patton organized the Augusta County Regiment of Militia which protected settlers against Indians and later the French, during the period prior to 1775. During the Revolutionary War, the battalion fought under General Andrew Lewis who was the commander of the 2nd Virginia Regiment.
The geographical area covered by the 3d Battalion furnished several regiments which formed in 1861 as the First Virginia Brigade, Army of the Shenandoah, Confederate States Army, commanded by Brigadier General Thomas Jonathan Jackson. It was at the battle of First Bull Run, 21 July 1861, that the brigade won the famous nickname "Stonewall Brigade". Descendants of these illustrious units still officially call themselves "The Stonewall Brigade".
The Virginia Volunteers were first designated as the Virginia National Guard in 1916 and both the First and Second Virginia Regiments were called into Federal Service for duty on the Mexican Border from 1916 to 1917.
In 1917, the First, Second, and Fourth Virginia Regiments were combined to form the 116th Infantry Regiment of the newly formed 29th (Blue and Gray) Infantry Division. The Blue and Gray Division was formed at Camp McClellan, Alabama, and was composed of National Guard units from Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia.
The 116th Regiment saw heavy action in France during World War I, and as a result, the Infantry battalions earned the motto "Ever Forward" for their reputation of never having given ground in battle.
Between World War I and World War II, the Division became part of the National Guard and was called into Federal Service again on 3 February 1941, training at Fort Meade, Maryland and Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia. During World War II, the 116th Infantry Regiment spearheaded the invasion at Normandy, France, and saw intense action throughout the remainder of the war in Europe.
The 29th Division was inactivated on 17 January 1946 at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, and has not been on active Federal Service since World War II. Its wartime battle cry "29 Let's Go" reflects the aggressive spirit of the Division.
On 5 October 1985, the 29th Infantry Division (Light) was reactivated at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and is currently composed on National Guard units from Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The 3d Battalion 116th Infantry is a subordinated unit of the 1st Brigade "The Stonewall Brigade", 29th Infantry Division (Light). The brigade headquarters in located at the Thomas D. Howie Memorial Armory in Staunton. The battalion headquarters is stationed in Winchester at the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Armory.
The 3d Battalion is composed of 3 infantry companies and 1 headquarters company. The headquarters company is located in Winchester and the infantry companies are in the communities of Manassas, Woodstock, and Leesburg.
As of July 1999, the battalion had added numerous prestigious awards to the unit trophy case, including the Milton Reckord Trophy, a competitive award presented by the National Guard Association for superior training accomplishments numerous times. The battalion has also earned the Walter Kerwin Award for Combat readiness, a nationwide competitive award presented by the Association of the United States Army. The battalion has also been the recipient of the Army Superior Unit Award from the Department of the Army which includes a guidon streamer which has been added to the unit flag, the colors. Also, each soldier in the battalion has the right and honor to wear the Army Superior Unit Award citation ribbon. Four captains in the battalion have been recognized with the General Douglas MacArthur leadership award which is only presented to five officers in the entire United States each year, one from each region.
Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, deployed to Camp Blanding, FL, from June 2 to 16, 2001, to serve as the opposing force (OPFOR) for Florida's 54rd Separate Infantry Brigade.
The Army is rich in history and tradition -- Soldiers of today look at those who served before them with pride and respect. The Soldiers of the unit known as the "Bedford Boys" know that they have much to live up to. Company C, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment is comprised mostly of Soldiers from Bedford, VA. During the invasion of Europe on D-Day, June 6, 1944, this National Guard unit was among the first to hit Omaha Beach. In the first moments of the bloody battle, 19 Soldiers from Bedford gave their lives for their country. The town lost the most Soldiers per capita of any city in the country. Since then, the Soldiers of this company have been known as the Bedford Boys.
Deployment to Afghanistan in early 2005 was the first time the unit had deployed since World War II. When they got the orders to mobilize, the executive officer of the original Bedford Boys came and shook all the Soldiers' hands.