Chicago Auto Show
Sgt. 1st Class John Adams, a "Real Hero" from America’s Army game, signs autographs and gives away his action figure in the Army display at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show Feb. 22. Adams received the Bronze Star with Valor Device for actions in Operation Iraqi Freedom II.

CHICAGO (Army News Service, Feb. 25, 2009) -- The Chicago Recruiting Battalion took advantage of the largest auto show in the nation by hosting their annual Army Strong! Zone during the 10-day Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place Convention Center Feb. 13-22.

The Recruiting Battalion's display, filled with combat vehicles, flight simulators, helicopters, and chin-up bars attracted tens of thousands of people.

As visitors made their way past Hyundai's and Hummer's, Saab's and Subaru's, the Army Strong! Zone, covered in camouflage and the signature yellow and black Army Strong! logo caught their attention. Visitors lined up to climb the two-story rock wall, test their flying skills in an Apache flight simulator, compete in physical training exercises led by the Mobile Drill Exhibiter Team, and create a custom-made dog tag.

"[The Army zone] provided something fascinating and fun for the kids, and brought a smile to everyone's face," said Sgt. 1st Class Phillips of the Chicago Recruiting Battalion.

Throughout the show, the Chicago Recruiting Battalion hosted senior military officials, Army athletes, Army musicians, America's Army "Real Heroes" and Chicago media personalities. According to Lt. Col. Ed Box, commander, Chicago Recruiting Battalion, participation in such a large event increases Army awareness and creates a positive image of the Army and its Soldiers.

Sgt. 1st Class Jamie Buckley, U.S. Army Recruiting Command Entertainment Team, sang the National Anthem for the Opening Ceremony Feb. 13.

Buckley also gave multiple performances throughout the weekend in the Army display area and greeted thousands of visitors as they shuffled in and out.

Maj. Gen. Thomas Bostick, commanding general, U.S. Army Recruiting Command, conversed with future Soldiers and local centers of influence and conducted media interviews during his attendance at the auto show. He spoke about the importance of maintaining an interactive relationship between America and the Army, and congratulated the future Soldiers on their commitment to patriotism.

Two Olympic gold medalists from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, Spc. Vincent Hancock and Sgt. Walter Glenn Eller III, signed autographs for hundreds of visitors Feb. 21 and 22. Just a few feet away, a "Real Hero" from America's Army game, Sgt. 1st Class John Adams, gave away signed copies of his action figure for eager children.

The event also hosted Army Ambassador and Chicago TV personality, Merri Dee, who spoke to local high school students, future Soldiers and signed autographs Feb. 16.

Dee discussed the satisfying and honorable work of a Soldier and spread awareness about the more than 150 jobs available in the Army.

"[The Chicago Auto Show] is a chance to show people the Army offers a great opportunity to have a good, secure job", said Sgt. Will Mora, Chicago Recruiting Battalion.

The Chicago Recruiting Battalion's correlating advertising theme "Now Hiring, Ages 17-41" adorned the halls of the McCormick Place for the duration of the 10-day event and helped generate over 15,000 leads and 130 on-site appointments.

In addition, visitors to the Army display could see and learn about Future Combat Systems' Class IV Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, which was on exhibit in the Army Strong! Zone. A looping video distributed information to those passing by and familiarized the general public with the future of the Army's combat vehicles.

Whether visitors stopped by to climb the rock wall, take a ride in the Apache simulator, get an autograph from an Army Marksmen Olympic gold medalist or talk with a recruiter about joining the Army, the Army Strong! Zone provided something for the 1.5 million visitors at the 2009 Chicago Auto Show.

(Courtney Wittmann serves with the Army's Office of the Chief of Public Affairs - Midwest.)

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16