FORT STEWART, Ga. -- During his last official trip as Secretary of the Army, the Honorable Pete Geren stopped by to express his thanks to Soldiers and Army families here, Aug 3.

"Above all else, thank you. We have a tiny percent of America that is carrying the burden for 300 million Americans, and the 3rd Infantry Division has done more than its fair share," said Geren.

The Secretary focused on visiting Soldiers as well as some of the new facilities that earned Fort Stewart the 2009 Commander in Chief's Annual Award for Installation Excellence.

Upon arrival to Hunter Army Airfield, Geren met Soldiers of the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, followed by Soldiers of 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), as they conducted helicopter maintenance. The Soldiers spoke with the Secretary about their work and their preparations for upcoming deployments.

"By and large, our Army comes down to these individual Soldiers and their family members standing with them," said Geren. "They have done an extraordinary for job our country and continue to do so."

The Secretary then flew to Fort Stewart with Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division, where he received a tour of the Corkan Family Recreation Area. The teen recreation center, the newest improvement, was funded by Army Community of Excellence money and is a direct result of Fort Stewart's commitment to the Army Family Covenant.

The Army Family Covenant is a program to help fund quality of life improvements for Army families that was signed into effect last year by Secretary Geren, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George Casey, and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth Preston.

The Secretary's next stop was lunch with noncommissioned officers from 3rd ID at the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team dining facility, followed by a closed-door sensing session with Soldiers from the Warrior Transition Unit. Geren explained that he sought the Soldiers' views about the Warrior Transition Program and their insights into how to improve the program.

The Secretary then received a tour of Fort Stewart housing areas, both old and new.

The day's final activity was a Gold Medal of Remembrance Ceremony, held at Warriors Walk, to honor the families of Staff Sgt. Darris Dawson and Staff Sgt. Ronald Phillips. Both Soldiers lost their lives while serving with 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd ID, during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Secretary Geren gently placed gold medals around the necks of the children and shared a few thoughts with each one.

Prior to his departure, Geren reflected about his time as Secretary of the Army and the experience of working with Soldiers.

"It has been the privilege of a lifetime to work for these Soldiers and their families," said Geren. "They are extraordinary people, extraordinary men and women, who have answered the nation's call in this time of war. That sets those young men and women apart from most Americans. I am going to miss them."

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