USAG Ansbach, 12th CAB join forces for Run for the Fallen, Army birthday
June 20, 2013
ANSBACH, Germany (June 20, 2013) -- Members of U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach gathered June 13 to celebrate the Army's 238th birthday with several events throughout the day at Katterbach Kaserne.
Although June 14 is the Army's official birthday, leaders chose the day prior to allow Soldiers to enjoy Friday as a training holiday.
In conjunction with Army birthday activities, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade Soldiers paid tribute to their fallen comrades in a more solemn event that morning: a five-kilometer run in honor of Soldiers of the Franconia Military Community who have given their lives during combat or combat-related incidents since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Col. Kelly J. Lawler, USAG Ansbach commander, spoke before the run.
"I think it's fitting that on the day the Army celebrates almost 240 years of service and sacrifice, that we take some time this morning to focus on the sacrifices we have made, especially the ultimate sacrifice that countless Soldiers have made since the Army's inception," Lawler told the hundreds-strong crowd of Soldiers gathered at the starting line.
"It is not only a sacrifice Soldiers have made, but it's a risk you all take as part of your profession," Lawler said. "It's the reality families face when their loved ones go to war. I doubt I could find one of you who hasn't been touched in some way by a fellow Soldier who has given their last full measure of devotion."
Lawler continued by assuring Soldiers that, regardless of their military occupational specialty or branch, they are "part of a larger mission of defending freedom and guaranteeing peace. You face the challenges you do for a greater purpose on behalf of the people of America -- a country that the Army predates. Now if that's not an honor, I don't know what is."
Just a few hours after the 5K, which ended with snacks and beverages provided by USAG Ansbach Morale, Welfare and Recreation, Soldiers gathered across from Katterbach's dining facility for the cake-cutting ceremony that included leaders from USAG Ansbach and 12th CAB, as well as the U.S. Army Europe command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. David S. Davenport Sr.
Both Davenport and Lawler spoke during the ceremony. Lawler started by thanking distinct members of the Army team in equal measure.
"The long tradition of service and sacrifice of our Soldiers is matched only by our civilians and families," Lawler said. "I could not be prouder to serve with you all today. As our nation faces fiscal uncertainty, difficult times and tough decisions, I look out into the ranks and there you stand -- Soldiers, civilians and families -- unwavering, ready and resilient, in defense of our nation's flag and all that it stands for: equality, opportunity and freedom.
"I want to personally thank our families for remaining a source of strength and resilience, our civilians for their steadfast dedication to the mission, and our Soldiers and veterans for their determination to defend our nation in a time of persistent conflict," Lawler added.
Lawler and Davenport both spoke amid the steady hum of helicopters from nearby Katterbach Airfield, courtesy of the 12th CAB.
"Thanks for inviting me down here, and what a great sound behind us!" Davenport said. "Those are Soldiers training and preparing for the next fight.
"Today we celebrate a heritage of well-trained, disciplined and resilient Soldiers, crafted from the citizens of the greatest country in the world. These Soldiers -- you Soldiers -- serve selflessly, believing that our constitution and the freedoms it guarantees are worth their very many sacrifices."
Davenport recalled the early history of the U.S. Army and cited the hardships Soldiers endured at Valley Forge in Pennsylvania during the Revolutionary War to illustrate Soldiers' resilience, selfless service and resolve.
"Beginning in December, freezing temperatures, limited supplies and disease resulted in nearly one-third of the Soldiers being declared unfit for duty," Davenport said. "Their sacrifices were so great that it led the author Thomas Paine to remark, 'These are the times that try men's souls.' The suffering was as great as any time in these Soldiers' lives, but they held on through it all."
He continued chronologically through the Army's history, following the deeds of the Soldiers who pushed through trenches and barbed wire, stormed beaches and braved hedgerows, cut through jungles and endured the desert heat.
Since 9/11, Davenport continued, the Army's all-volunteer force has "pushed back the enemy farther and farther, from the caves of Afghanistan to the rooftops of Iraq. Soldiers have repeatedly shown unwavering commitment to the profession of arms."
Davenport addressed the Soldiers in attendance who recently returned from Afghanistan, and their families: "The sacrifices you and your families have made in service to the Army directly showed the strength of our force."
The ceremony ended with the traditional cake-cutting -- led by Davenport -- after which all attendees were invited into the nearby dining facility for lunch. To learn more about the history of the Army, visit www.army.mil/birthday/238.