By Spc. Tarell J. Bilbo, 241st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
NEW ORLEANS – The Louisiana National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 141st Field Artillery Regiment, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, also known as the Washington Artillery, held its annual memorial wreath-laying ceremony at Lake Lawn Metairie Cemetery, Oct. 18, 2014, and its 176th annual Pass-in-Review ceremony at Jackson Barracks, Oct. 19, 2014.
These two traditional events reflect the long and decorated history of the 1-141st.
The wreath-laying ceremony, held Saturday, began in 1965 by the Washington Artillery Veterans Association to honor both the unit’s heritage and its fallen Soldiers.
“We honor those who came before us today with flowers, with cannon fire, with ‘Taps’,” said Lt. Col. Kenneth T. Baillie, commander of the 1-141st. “But most of all we honor those who came before us with our service and our commitment to the values that they held dear.”
Baillie stood in front of his battalion and expressed the significance of their presence at the memorial statue.
“Here on our monument is the record of our Soldier comrades who paid the supreme sacrifice in battle,” he said. “We proudly carry on their legacies, and we humbly hope that we can match and exceed that legacy.”
On Sunday, Guardsmen of the 1-141st participated in the battalion’s 176th Pass-in-Review ceremony. The pass in review dates from the earliest time in military history and demonstrates the glory and strength of the assembled troops who march in formation before their military leaders.
The LANG’s 156th Army Band began the ceremony by leading the battalion as each battery, led by its commander, marched onto the parade field in unison.
Once the Soldiers came to a halt and were standing at attention, Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, adjutant general of the LANG; Col. Damian K. Waddell, commander of the 256th IBCT; and Baillie, gave due recognition to the formations standing before them.
“You all look wonderful today and have done a marvelous job with this ceremony,” said Curtis addressing the battalion. “For all that you do and all that you represent, you have my deepest regards.”
During the ceremony, various Soldier and unit-level awards were given to the top performers from the Battalion.
Spc. Christian S. Owens received the Col. Numa P. Avendano Memorial Award for being named the outstanding enlisted Soldier of the year. Also, Sgt. Justin Underwood received the Lt. Col. Edward P. Benezech Sr. Memorial Award for being named the outstanding noncommissioned officer of the year.
Following the individual awards, the best performing units were awarded streamers to attach to their colors.
A Battery was awarded the “Continuous Fire” streamer, which is awarded to the battery with the highest achievements in live-fire exercises and artillery procedures throughout the entire training year, while G Company received the “Try Us” streamer, awarded for superior overall unit performance.
Baillie took time to congratulate the battalion for their outstanding performance and express his gratitude to the families of his Soldiers and the members of WAVA for their continued support.
“I want to thank all of you for your services and sacrifices,” he remarked. “I’m more proud than ever and consider myself privileged to be a part of this organization.”
As the ceremony drew to a close, the 156th began playing the tune “The Girl I Left Behind” as the battalion marched in front of the reviewing party.
The 1-141st is the oldest unit in the LANG and the oldest field artillery battalion outside of the original 13 colonies. It has a storied history in the state from its involvement in emergency operations, such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, to its involvement in the Civil War and recent deployments to Iraq in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn.