By MAJ (MDDF) Stephen Rice
Maryland Defense Force Public Affairs
13 September 2016
The Baltimore City Convention Center was home to the National Guard Association of the United States’ (NGAUS) 138th General Conference and Exhibition from September 9 thru September 12, 2016. The goal of the NGAUS at its founding in 1878 and still today is to obtain better equipment and training for the National Guard. The NGAUS General Conference serves as the association’s annual business meeting with more than 2,000 Army and Air Guard officers from all 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia. At the conference the association set its legislative agenda and heard from America’s civilian and military leaders.
In support of the Maryland National Guard (MDNG) which played host to the NGAUS conference, the Maryland Defense Force (MDDF) Band, widely known as “Maryland’s Musical Ambassadors,” performed three concerts of patriotic music. On September 9, the MDDF Ceremonial Band performed at the Columbus Center in Baltimore for a reception, hosted by Maj. Gen. Linda Singh, the adjutant general of Maryland. On September 12, the MDDF Band performed two concerts. The first performance consisted of a Jazz Combo at Government House in Annapolis, Maryland which serves as the Maryland Governor’s residence. This luncheon reception for the spouses of the adjutants general in Maryland for the NGAUS conference was attended by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. The second performance consisted of a Woodwind Quintet at the Baltimore Convention Center that played for a VIP reception.
Also, during the NGAUS conference, the State of Maryland commemorated the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks with a ceremony on September 11, 2016 at Baltimore’s World Trade Center. This ceremony honored Maryland residents that perished during the 9/11 attacks and featured a speech by Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford. The MDDF Band performed during the solemn ceremony under the command of Lt. Col. (MDDF) Jari Villanueva.
Lt. Col. (MDDF) Villanueva stated, "It was an honor to support NGAUS and represent the MDDF through our music. Former adjutant general for Ohio and Chairwoman of NGAUS, retired Maj. Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst, commented favorably on the music from the band. She started her military career in the U.S. Army Band program as a clarinetist and was surprised and pleased to have a band from the state militia participate in the conference." The Maryland Defense Force Band is a ceremonial unit of the MDDF that provides musical support to the Maryland Military Department and provides ceremonial support to the State of Maryland.
In order to provide logistical support for the MDNG and the conference, the MDDF launched a ten volunteer task force under the leadership of 1st Lt. Christopher Girard. He commented, “Our responsibilities were wide ranging and included staffing the information booth, assisting with registration, transportation of materials and supporting the military police units.” He continued, “We also helped with event set-up and the escort of dignitaries.” “We were kept pretty busy and we’re happy to have played such an integral part in the conference’s success.”
The Maryland Defense Force (MDDF) is the State’s uniformed volunteer military unit providing professional and technical assistance to the Maryland Military Department. Established in 1917, the MDDF consists of nearly 250 personnel who perform legal, engineering, finance, medical, chaplain, field support and ceremonial services for the State of Maryland. For more information: www.mddf.maryland.gov.