FORT HOOD, Texas -- The Army Reserve's 106th birthday rolled into Division West's 25th Street Chapel here April 23, highlighting the component's "Citizen Soldier" contributions to the nation.

"This is the second time Division West has hosted the Army Reserve birthday and this is an initiative that's really starting to gain traction across the Army Reserve," said Brig. Gen. Gracus K. Dunn, Division West's deputy commander for support, speaking about the Reserve, which was created in 1908.

Division West's eight brigades also held Army Reserve 106th birthday celebrations at Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort McCoy, Wis., Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., and at 28 Reserve battalions across the western United States.

"As we celebrate this 106th birthday, I want you to reflect upon your leadership, your work relationships, and what you do -- not only for this Army -- but for this great nation," Dunn said. "It's a tough business. We're here because it's a labor of love, it's a brotherhood, we love the challenge, and we just love the opportunity to do what's right for our country."

Guest speaker Army Reserve Ambassador Dr. Henry J. Ostermann, from Spring, Texas, who serves as the eyes and the ears for the chief of the Army reserve, said, "As a community-based force, the Army Reserve maintains a strong connection to America's industrial base and its people.

"Many of them are employed by local businesses and live in the communities they serve," he continued. "It is their professional competence, moral character, and resolute commitment that truly defines them as professionals and guarantees our sacred trust with the American people."

Dunn highlighted and bestowed praise to Sgt. 1st Class Jason Manella, a Civil Affairs Specialist from Fremont, Calif., currently serving in B Company, 445th Civil Affairs Battalion, Mountain View, Calif., who -- after 10 years in the Army -- was selected as the Army's Noncommissioned Officer of the Year for 2013.

"For the first time, the Army's NCO of the Year is an Army Reserve Soldier," Dunn said. "That's pretty astounding. But, it lets you know, that as a citizen who raised his right hand and volunteered to become a service member of the Reserve Component, this accomplishment speaks volumes of where the Army Reserve and the Army Guard has come today."

While also serving in a dual assignment as commanding general of the 85th Support Command based in Arlington Heights, Ill., Dunn told about the start of Division West's part of Army Reserve history.

"First Army was led by Lt. Gen. John J. 'Blackjack' Pershing, then followed during World War II by Gen. Omar Bradley, so we have a legacy -- a strong legacy," he said.

"Today is a special day for the Army," Dunn continued. "When we think about the three components that make up the United States Army between the active, the National Guard, and Army Reserve, we're talking about close to 1 million Soldiers in uniform. It is about 205,000 Army Reserve Soldiers who have the trust of the American people."

Dunn also said that for more than a century, the American people have looked to the Reserve to fill the gap by ensuring the Army meets its mission.

"They have looked to us, not just to fight the wars, but to preserve the peace," he said. "I will guarantee you that it is a tough assignment. And I know it is tough to do this every day. It's even tougher when you have to do this, and do a civilian job, and bond with your family life, and also have peace of mind."

The division's youngest Soldier, 2nd Lt. Malcolm Clayton, of the 479th Field Artillery Brigade from Killeen, Texas, along with Sgt. 1st Class Jasbert Billie, from Albuquerque, N.M., and the oldest division member also from the 479th, joined Ostermann and Dunn in cutting the 106th Army Reserve birthday cake, while Staff Sgt. LaKendra Johnson, noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the DIVWEST Chapel from Longview, Texas, sang a powerful rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

First Army Division West is a multi-component training Division which mobilized 214 units and 15,503 Soldiers and demobilized 295 units and 19,349 Soldiers during 2013. These units ran the gamut from general officer headquarters to small detachments and included missions ranging from Sustainment, Aviation, Engineer, Military Police, Air Defense Artillery and Medical in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and other operations around the world.

Page last updated Wed April 30th, 2014 at 10:01