The regiment traces its heritage back to the Augusta County Regiment of the Virginia Militia, organized on 3 November 1741 at Beverly's Mill Place, which later became Staunton. Elements of the regiment were called up during the French and Indian War and Dunmore's War. The regiment provided a company, organized on 18 March 1754 and commanded by Captain Andrew Lewis, to the Virginia Regiment. Organized between 11 and 25 August 1755, companies of the regiment led by William Preston, David Lewis, and John Smith became part of the Rangers.
During the American Revolutionary War, elements of the regiment were called up for active service. Captain William Fontaines's Company became part of the 2nd Virginia Regiment and was organized on 21 October 1775. Captain John Hayse's Company became part of the 9th Virginia Regiment and was organized on 16 March 1776. Captain David Stephenson's Company became part of the 8th Virginia Regiment. Captains David Laird and John Syme's Companies were organized on 3 December, becoming part of the 10th Virginia Regiment.
On 31 December 1792, the regiment was expanded to form the 32nd and 93rd Regiments. Elements of 32nd and 93rd were called up during the War of 1812. Around 1839, the two regiments became the 32nd, 93rd, and 160th Regiments. Parts of the 32nd and 160th were called up during the Mexican–American War on 6 January 1847 as the Light Infantry Company of the 1st Regiment of the Virginia (alternately the Augusta) Volunteers at Richmond. The regiment mustered out at Fort Monroe on 27 July 1848.
On 13 April 1861, volunteer companies of the 32nd, 93rd, and 160th Regiments became the 5th Regiment, Virginia Volunteers. They mustered into Confederate service on 1 July 1861 as the 5th Virginia Infantry, part of the Army of the Shenandoah's 1st Brigade, which later became the Stonewall Brigade. The remainder of the three regiments became the 52nd Virginia Infantry after being mustered on 1 May 1862. The 5th and 52nd Virginia Infantry surrendered with the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House on 9 April 1865.
Former troops of the 5th and 52nd Infantry became separate infantry companies in the Shenandoah between 1871 and 1881. These units were part of the Virginia Volunteers. On 2 May 1881, the companies became the 2nd Regiment of Infantry at Staunton. Headquarters moved to Harrisonburg on 22 April 1886. The regiment was disbanded on 2 April 1887 and broken up into separate infantry companies again. On 20 April 1889, these became the 2nd Regiment of Infantry again, now with headquarters at Winchester. The headquarters moved to Woodstock on 15 June 1893.
During the Spanish–American War, the regiment was merged with parts of the 1st Regiment of Infantry. It was called up between 10 and 21 May 1898 and designated the 2nd Virginia Volunteer Infantry, under the command of Colonel James C. Baker. On 2 June, the regiment began its movement to Jacksonville, Florida, where it became part of the Seventh Army Corps at Camp Cuba Libre when it arrived on 3 June. The regiment, along with the 4th Virginia and the 49th Iowa, became part of the Third Brigade of the corps' Second Division. On 12 August, the Protocol of Peace was signed, ending the combat phase of the war. The Second Virginia was ordered to be mustered out, and on 19 September left its temporary camp at Pablo Beach for home stations. The regiment reached Richmond during 20–21 September, where they received a thirty-day leave on 23 September. At the end of the thirty days the regiment's companies were assembled and mustered out at home stations between 13 and 20 December of that year, with a strength of 46 officers and 1,146 enlisted men. The regiment was disbanded on 29 April 1899 and reorganized from then until 1902 as separate infantry companies. On 19 May 1905, it merged with separate infantry companies formerly part of the disbanded 3rd Regiment of Infantry, which was another regiment that had been formed in 1881 in central Virginia and called up for the Spanish–American War. On 1 September 1908, it became the 2nd Infantry (Virginia Volunteers).
The regiment became part of the Virginia National Guard on 3 June 1916. The regiment was called up on 30 June at Camp Stuart as a result of US-Mexican tensions on the border. It was sent by train to Brownsville, Texas, on 6 July, arriving on 11 July. In late July, the regiment's machine gun company was formed. The regiment became part of the 1st Provisional Brigade there in early August. On 10 January 1917, the regiment became part of the 2nd Separate Brigade after the command structure of National Guard units in the Brownsville District was reorganized. The regiment departed Brownsville by train after several delays on 11 February. On 16 February, it arrived in Richmond. The regiment mustered out on 28 February 1917 at Richmond.
On 25 March 1917, the regiment was called up just before the United States entered World War I, which it did so the following month. The regiment was mustered in between 25 March and 3 April. The regiment guarded bridges and railroads in Virginia. The regiment was drafted on 5 August and a month later departed by train for Camp McClellan, Alabama, arriving there on the evening of 6 September. On 4 October, the 2nd Virginia consolidated with the 1st and 4th Virginia Infantry Regiments. The new regiment became the 116th Infantry, part of the 29th Infantry Division, then at Camp McClellan, Alabama. It served as part of the division's 58th Infantry Brigade alongside the 112th Machine-Gun Battalion and the 115th Infantry Regiment. Colonel Robert F. Leedy of the 2nd Virginia became commander of the new regiment, which included 105 officers and 3,686 enlisted men. Colonel Hansford L. Threlkeld took command on 1 January. He was replaced by Colonel William J. Perry of the 1st Virginia on 1 May. On 5 June, Lieutenant Colonel Hobart M. Brown took command. Brown led the regiment until it reached France.
The regiment conducted training in shooting, gas warfare, and using the bayonet for the next months until 11 June 1918, when it began movement to Hoboken. On 15 June the regiment embarked for France on the USS Finland from there. On 27 June the regiment disembarked at Saint-Nazaire, where it stayed for three days in a former British camp. It moved to Argillières, where additional training was planned. However, due to German pressure on the Allied front, the regiment was moved in early July to Auxelles-Bas. Threlkeld took command of the regiment around this time. In August, it transferred to La Chapelle, Bréchaumont, and Reppe. The regiment occupied trenches in the Haute-Marne sector of Alsace. On 21 August, Colonel A.J. Harris replaced Threlkeld. On 26 August, the 2nd Battalion was attacked by German troops supported by a heavy artillery barrage at 0430. The German troops were repulsed after two hours of fighting, most of which was conducted by Company F. In early September, the regiment moved to Offemont, near Belfort, and then to Hargeville and Souhesmele-Grande. Around 1 October, it camped in the Bois Bouchet as a part of the First Army's reserve.
The regiment fought in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive with the 29th Division. The regiment was attached to the French 18th Infantry Division. The 3rd Battalion was positioned on the southern slope of the ridge southeast of Côte des Roches, and the 1st Battalion was along the Canal de l'Est, south of the Samogneux–Brabant road. The regiment's 2nd Battalion was in reserve 1,500 meters northeast of Neuville. During the night of 7 to 8 October, the regiment's battalions moved into the starting positions. The attack began at 0500 on 8 October, with the 3rd Battalion advancing with its right on Ravin d'Haumont. After encountering scant resistance, it reached the immediate objective in four and a half hours. The 1st Battalion then attempted to move through the 3rd, but was checked by machine-gun fire from the Bois de Brabant-sur-Meuse. At 1400 the 1st was able to advance through the 3rd and both battalions continued into the forest. Advancing against machine guns, high-caliber artillery, anti-tank guns, and gas, they reached the normal objective at 1540 and stopped at the Ravin de Molleville (at the southern edge of Molleville Farm) on the right and the ridge in Boissois Bois on the left, but withdrew to the ridge in the Bois de Brabant-sur-Meuse, overlooking the Ravin de Bourvaux. The two battalions had contact with the French on the right, but none with the 115th Regiment to the left. Headquarters Company Sergeant Earle Gregory received the Medal of Honor for his actions in singlehandedly capturing 19 German soldiers on 8 October.
At 0500 on 9 October, German troops counterattacked the 116th and the 115th's extreme right, but were repulsed. The 1st Battalion renewed the attack and advanced a kilometer into the Molleville Forest by 1130. On 10 October, parts of 1st Battalion were relieved by the 113th Infantry Regiment's 2nd Battalion. 1st Battalion then extended its line to link up with the 115th Regiment. During the night division commander Charles G. Morton relieved Harris of command and replaced him with division machine gun officer Lieutenant Colonel Reginald H. Kelley. The next day the regiment resumed the attack, with 1st Battalion being checked while moving towards Molleville Farm. The battalion was unable to cross a clearing and made two further attempts, which were also repulsed with heavy losses. On 15 October the 3rd Battalion attacked again, advancing in the lead of the regiment. By 1600 they reached the southern edge of the Bois de la Grande Montagne after taking Molleville Farm. The 2nd Battalion reinforced the 3rd there, and established a line near the Étraye–Consenvoye road. 1st Battalion attacked in the lead on 16 October, and along with the 115th's 2nd Battalion had formed a line from the reverse slope of Hill 370 to the road junction area near Molleville Farm in the Bois de la Grande Montagne by 1630. The division had reached its objectives and formed defensive positions along the line. From 8 to 22 October, the regiment suffered casualties of 838 wounded, 44 died of wounds, and 152 killed.
On 23 October, the 2nd Battalion attacked towards Hill 361 with the 115th's 1st Battalion and the 113th's 1st Battalion. The battalion advanced in the center after an artillery barrage and stopped at 1430 after reaching Hill 361. The 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 116th then moved into the line. On the night of 28 to 29 October, the regiment was relieved by the 79th Infantry Division's 316th Infantry Regiment. From 23 October, the regiment had suffered casualties of 161 wounded, 15 died of wounds, and 46 killed. Total casualties of the regiment in the offensive were thus 1,005 wounded, 59 died of wounds, and 198 killed. During the offensive, the regiment captured 2,000 German prisoners, 250 machine guns, and 29 high-caliber guns. The regiment moved with the division to Vavincourt. The war ended on 11 November, and the regiment and the division moved to the 11th (Bourbonne-les-Bains) Training Area. For the next several months the regiment conducted training. Kelley was relieved after being gassed on 4 December and replaced by Colonel George W. Ball. The regiment was reviewed as part of a ceremony where American personnel were decorated by Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), on 4 April 1919 at Chaumont. On 11 April the regiment moved with the division to the Ballon area of the Le Mans American Embarkation Center. Ten days later, it was transferred to Saint-Nazaire. On 10 May, the regiment embarked for the United States on the USS Matsonia. After returning to Newport News on 21 May, the regiment was demobilized on 30 May 1919 at Camp Lee.
On 12 October 1921, former units of the regiment located in western Virginia became the 2nd Infantry in the Virginia National Guard. The regiment was redesignated on 9 March 1922 as the 116th Infantry and assigned to the 29th Division (later redesignated as the 29th Infantry Division). Its headquarters was federally recognized 3 April 1922 at Staunton. Between November 1930 and January 1931, the regiment restored order during a strike of mill workers in Danville. The location of Headquarters was changed on 26 June 1933 to Lynchburg. On 3 February 1941, the regiment was called into federal service. The regiment and the 29th Division were moved to Fort Meade after being called into federal service. At this time the regiment absorbed many draftees from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Tennessee, among other states. The regiment conducted training for the next months.
The United States entered World War II after the Attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. On 14 March 1942, at the regiment's farewell dinner, actress Madeleine Carroll was made ceremonial "daughter of the regiment". The regiment trained at Fort A.P. Hill from April to 6 July, when they began exercises in the Carolinas. On 17 August, the regiment was sent to Camp Blanding in Florida in preparation for deployment. In September the regiment moved by train to Camp Kilmer, the holding point for American troops being moved to Europe. After arriving on 18 September, the regiment embarked for the United Kingdom aboard the Queen Mary on 26 September, arriving on 5 October. In the United Kingdom, the 116th was based at Tidworth in the southeast, where it continued training. On 11 October, Lieutenant Colonel Morris T. Warner took command of the regiment. On 16 March 1943, Colonel Charles D.W. Canham became the regimental commander.
During the World War II, the 116th took part in the Invasion of Normandy, by spearheading the assault on Omaha Beach, for the rest of the 29th Infantry Division. The regiment suffered 341 casualties, including soldiers from A Company, Bedford, Virginia, a community which proportionally had the highest D-Day losses in America. The National D-Day Memorial was located in Bedford to honor their loss. During a move from Les Moulins, the 2nd Battalion broke loose from the beach and fought their way to a farmhouse to become the first command post in France. On 8 June, during the attack of Company K, 3rd Battalion, on Grandcamp, Technical Sergeant Frank Peregory killed numerous German soldiers and forced others to surrender. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
The 116th and the rest of the division advanced on St. Lo. Despite heavy casualties and stiff resistance in the Bocage, the 116th reached St. Lo. After fierce and bloody house to house fighting, what was left of the French town was finally captured from German defenders on 18 July.
The regiment then took part in the capture of Brest, and by September had moved east to attack positions on the Siegfried Line. The 29th Infantry Division was the first unit to reach the Roer River, where it remained until February 23. The entire division crossed the Roer to support assaults on the Ruhr Pocket. By 19 April the 116th reached the Elbe River, and just a few days later made contact with the Soviet forces moving in from the East.
On 6 January 1946, the regiment inactivated at Camp Kilmer.
The regiment was reorganized and federally recognized on 24 March 1948 at Staunton. It became a parent regiment of the Combat Arms Regimental System on 1 June 1959. It included the 1st and 2nd Battle Groups, part of the 29th Division. On 22 March 1963, the battle groups were converted into battalions. On 1 February 1968, a third battalion was added and the regiment became part of the 28th Infantry Division. On 1 April 1975, the regiment's battalions became part of the 116th Infantry Brigade.
In 1997, the 3rd Battalion's Company C deployed to Bosnia, mostly guarding the Sava River Bridge. This was the first time since the Vietnam War that a National Guard infantry company had been deployed to a combat zone. The company suffered no losses and had no incidents before returning home in May 1998.
On 1 November 2002, the 2nd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment was mobilized for deployment to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to take part in Operation Enduring Freedom. This marked the first mobilization of a battalion of the 29th Infantry Division since World War II. The unit provided security of the base and Camp Delta, the detainee operations camp. The deployment ended in October 2003.
On 1 March 2004, the 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment was mobilized for deployment to Afghanistan to take part in Operation Enduring Freedom. Members of the battalion reported to armories around Virginia and began arriving at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan on 15 July 2004. They were quickly engaged in operations. The battalion conducted combat operations in Ghazni and SECFOR operations at Bagram Airfield. Numerous slice elements were placed under the operational control of the battalion. The newly formed task force assumed the name of the beaches the regiment stormed more than 60 years prior – Normandy. During the deployment two 116th Infantry soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb, the first Virginia National Guard soldiers to die in combat since World War II. The battalion returned to the United States in July 2005.
The 2nd Battalion of the regiment was disbanded during the 2006 reorganization of the Virginia National Guard.
On 3 February 2007, the 3rd Battalion was alerted for deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In late June the battalion entered active duty as Task Force Normandy. After four months of training at Camp Shelby, the battalion deployed to Iraq and Kuwait in September. A Company provided convoy escort in the area of Fallujah and Ramadi, part of Multinational Division West. B Company provided convoy escort west of the Euphrates and near the Syrian border, also part of Multinational Division West. C Company provided convoy escort around Mosul and Kirkuk in Multinational Division North. Ten soldiers were wounded in the deployment, nine of whom were from C Company. In Kuwait, Headquarters Company and D Company became part of Security Force. D Company guarded Ash Shuaybah and Headquarters Company provided command and control for D Company and the Area Reaction Force for southern Kuwait. The battalion returned to the United States in April 2008.
From March to August 2010, the regiment's 1st Battalion deployed to Iraq. The battalion operated out of Contingency Operating Base Adder in southern Iraq, conducting convoy escort missions with the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Louisiana Army National Guard. The battalion received a Meritorious Unit Commendation for its actions.
Company D of the 3rd Battalion and Company C of the 1st Battalion deployed to Iraq with Task Force 183 in August 2011, after being called into Federal service on 1 June. Operating out of Contingency Operating Base Adder, Company C conducted 56 convoy escort missions and earned 12 Bronze Star Medals. Company D conducted security and force protection missions. In December, the two companies returned to Camp Atterbury and transitioned back to the National Guard.
The 3rd Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Kurt Kobernik, deployed to Camp As Sayliyah in Qatar as Task Force Normandy from September 2015 to July 2016. There, the battalion conducted security operations. In July 2016, they were replaced by the 1st Battalion of the regiment, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Samulski.
In August 2006, the 1st Battalion mobilized in support of KFOR as part of the 29th Infantry Division to provide stability operations in the Serbian province of Kosovo with NATO. The battalion trained at Camp Atterbury for two months, and then deployed to Kosovo on 6 December. They become known as Task Force Red Dragon for the duration of their deployment in Vitina municipality, which ended on 5 November 2007.
As of 2014, the following units of the regiment were active in the Virginia Army National Guard.1st Battalion, 116th Infantry (Lynchburg)
Company A, 1st Battalion (Bedford)
Company B, 1st Battalion (Lexington)
Company C, 1st Battalion (Christiansburg)
Company D, 1st Battalion (Pulaski)
3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry (Winchester)
Company A, 3rd Battalion (Charlottesville)
Company B, 3rd Battalion (Woodstock)
Company C, 3rd Battalion (Leesburg)
Company D, 3rd Battalion (Fredericksburg)
Approved on 31 March 1925, the Distinctive Unit Insignia is a Gold color metal and enamel device 1 3/16 inches (3.02 cm) in height overall consisting of a shield blazoned: Gules, a saltire Argent voided throughout per saltire Gray and Azure per cross counterchanged, in chief a fleur-de-lis Or. Attached below and to the sides of the shield a Gold bipartite scroll inscribed "EVER" to dexter and "FORWARD" to sinister in Black letters. The blue and gray on the insignia represents the mixed Confederate and Union lineage of the regiment and its artillery traditions. The fleur-de-lis symbolizes the regiment's service in France in World War I.
The coat of arms was approved on 19 April 1924. The blazon of the coat of arms includes a shield with Gules, a saltire Argent voided throughout per saltire Gray and Azure per cross counterchanged, in chief a fleur-de-lis Or. The fleur-de-lis symbolizes the regiment's service in France in World War I. The shield represents the mixed Confederate and Union lineage of the regiment and its artillery traditions. Its crest is that of the Virginia Army National Guard, including on a wreath of the colors Argent and Gules "Virtus, the genius of the Commonwealth, dressed as an Amazon, resting on a spear with one hand and holding a sword in the other, and treading on Tyranny, represented by a man prostrate, a crown falling from his head, a broken chain in his left hand and a scourge in his right" all Proper. It also includes the regimental motto of Ever Forward.
The regiment carries campaign participation credit for the following actions.
Guilford Court House
South Carolina 1781
North Carolina 1781
War of 1812Maryland 1814
Civil War (Confederate service)First Manassas
World War IMeuse-Argonne
World War IINormandy (with arrowhead)
Headquarters Company (Lynchburg Home Guard), 2d Battalion, additionally entitled to: Civil War (Confederate service)North Carolina 1863
North Carolina 1864
World War IChampagne-Marne
Company A (Monticello Guard, Charlottesville) and Support Company (Farmville Guard), 2d Battalion, each additionally entitled to: Civil War (Confederate service)North Carolina 1863
Companies A and B (Alexandria Light Infantry, Manassas), 3d Battalion, each additionally entitled to: Civil War (Confederate service)Tennessee 1863
The regiment was awarded the following decorations.Presidential Unit Citation (Army), Streamer embroidered NORMANDY
French Croix de Guerre with Palm, World War II, Streamer embroidered BEACHES OF NORMANDY
Headquarters Company (Roanoke) and Company A (Bedford), 1st Battalion, and Headquarters Company (Lynchburg Home Guard), 2d Battalion, each additionally entitled to:Presidential Unit Citation (Army), Streamer embroidered VIRE
French Croix de Guerre with Silver-Gilt Star, World War II, Streamer embroidered VIRE
Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army), Streamer embroidered AFGHANISTAN
The 1st Battalion's Headquarters Company, and Companies A, B, and C are additionally entitled to:Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army), Iraq War
The 3rd Battalion's Headquarters Company, and Companies A, B, C, and D are additionally entitled to:Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army), Iraq War