Regiment honors Soldiers for defending nation
October 22, 2009
- Welcome Home Warrior Citizen
To honor the sacrifices made this year in support of overseas operations, the Soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 345th Infantry Regiment honored members who have mobilized throughout the year in a "Welcome Home Warrior Citizen" ceremony Oct. 18 at Fort Gillem in the Army Reserve Center.
The ceremony was authorized by former president George W. Bush and the U.S. Congress to provide an enduring memento to Army Reserve Soldiers and their Families and to convey the nation's gratitude for their selfless service and sacrifice.
Through this program, Army Reserve Soldiers are presented with an encased American flag, a specially designed Army Reserve commemorative coin, a lapel pin set for the Soldier and their spouse, and a "Welcome Home Warrior Citizen" flag.
"These Soldiers are professionals and have done their jobs well. None have spent much time at home due to the job we are tasked to do," said Lt. Col. Alan Clark, commander, 3-345th. "It is a small token of appreciation for a huge commitment."
That commitment included Soldiers who deployed overseas and those who deployed throughout the U.S. to train other Soldiers preparing to deploy, Clark said.
Training missions included five major mobilizations preparing units for deployments to Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. Major units trained included the Indiana National Guard's 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the Pennsylvania National Guard's 56th IBCT, the California National Guard's 40th IBCT, the Oregon National Guard's 41st IBCT, the Tennessee National Guard's 278th Armored Calvary Unit, and the Florida Army Reserve's 143rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).
"That's just the big missions. There have been many others I did not mention," Clark said.
No matter the size or scope of the mission, Clark said the Soldiers' "service has impacted many, both in combat operations overseas, and also in training thousands of fellow Soldiers to be prepared for an uncertain environment."
Often times, the training, which included running ranges, training drivers, medical training and other combat aspects, was the last stop for deploying Soldiers, Clark said.
Maj. Donna Lang, 3-345th medical team officer in charge, was one of the 40 Soldiers honored at the ceremony. During this year, she was mobilized to Fort Stewart, where she helped certify more than 2,500 Soldiers in combat lifesaver training skills and more than 4,600 Soldiers on Army Warrior Task 23 (first aid).
"It means a lot. Before when Soldiers came home they weren't recognized. This shows that times have changed," she said of the honor.
Sharing the honor was her husband, Jerome, and daughters, Nyla, 1, and Danielle, 21.
"I'm just glad mom's home to watch Nyla grow up," Danielle said.
Maintaining the happiness of Family members like Danielle is important because the Family is the rock that stabilizes the Soldier when deployed or mobilized, said Col. George Geczy, III, deputy chief of staff of operations, First Army.
"You make these (Soldiers) legs not wobbly," said Geczy, who served as guest speaker.
Strength in a Soldier's body is important because in this time of war, the Army is facing an enemy who is after America's will to fight, Geczy said.
"What we haven't given them is a military with a broken will. They thought we were pretty susceptible, but here we are eight years into war, and recruitment numbers are up," he said. "All (recruiting) missions were exceeded."
Some of those new recruits may end up being trained by members of the 3-345th. Geczy said he doesn't expect things to slow down in the changing environment overseas.
"If we think we worked hard on the surge in Iraq, get ready for Afghanistan," he said.
No matter what happens, the Soldiers of the 3-345th will continue to fulfill the missions placed in front of them, Clark said.
As with before, the success will once again be a combination of the Soldiers and their Families.
"We couldn't have done it without the Families," Clark said of the unit's missions. "I personally want to say thank you to the Families and loved ones."
Such thanks meant a lot to Otis Wright, whose wife, Staff Sgt. Lenore Wright, human resource sergeant, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3-345th, mobilized to Fort Stewart, to help the 41st and 56th IBCTs prepare for their missions. He said that such thanks are necessary and important because of all the support Families give to Soldiers.
"I think it is absolutely powerful," Geczy said. "This is a terrific symbol."
Clark agreed that it was vital to recognize Families.
"It's a great program," he said. "It's a small token of appreciation for their commitment."