CHARLESTON, W.Va. Members of the West Virginia National Guard will celebrate the 149th birthday of the U.S. Army across the state on Friday, June 14.

Public Information Officer Bo Wriston said the day will start with a U.S. Army tradition at the Capitol Complex in Charleston. Units that are unable to celebrate in Charleston will also hold their ruck runs Friday as a show of support and celebration across the state.

“We’ve got a ruck march for our folks down in the Charleston area,” Wriston said. “We have other units across the state participating, but our ruck march will be held on the Capitol Grounds.”

This ruck run will be a celebration, but in the ranks of units, the exercise tests physical ability, fitness, combat readiness, and mental stability. In order to earn the Expert Infantryman Badge, soldiers must complete a 12-mile ruck run with at least 35 pounds within three hours.

“Ruck marches are famous in the military,” Wriston said. “Typically, folks strap about 35 pounds on their backs and go for a nice afternoon or early morning hike as part of our fitness regimen.”

At 1 p.m., a ceremony will be held on the south steps of the Capitol, featuring comments from the Special Assistant to the Adjutant General, West Virginia Joint Force Headquarters, Brig. Gen. Michaelle Munger. In addition to her comments, Munger will also welcome a group of new recruits to the service and another group of current soldiers who are making the decision to re-enlist.

“It’s open to the public, and that will involve some comments from BG Michaelle Munger, and we’ll be doing an enlistment and a re-enlistment ceremony.”

The Friday festivities end after a 2 p.m. cake-cutting ceremony at the West Virginia Culture Center on the Capitol Grounds.

The ceremony this year is a dress rehearsal for the 250th birthday of the United States Army. That event will be the final rehearsal for the celebration in 2026 that will mark the 250th birthday of the United States of America.

“Next year will be the 250th; the United States Army was officially born in 1775,” Wriston said. “So, next year we’ll be doing the 250th birthday for the nation.”

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