Balad honors Veterans
November 18, 2009
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - Throughout the United States' storied history, millions of citizens have risen to answer her call to duty in times of tranquility and turmoil, war and peace.
Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen gathered at the Morale, Welfare and Recreation east gym to honor Veterans, both past and present, in a Veteran's Day observance Nov. 11 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
The ceremony began with the presentation of the colors by the multi-service color guard team, followed by a rendition of the National Anthem by Staff Sgt. Anthony Sadler, an ammunition specialist with the 90th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).
"I love it," said Sadler, a White Lake, Mich., native, of the opportunity to be a part of the ceremony.
Unlike other ceremonies, the invocation and benediction were given by the chaplain assistants rather than the chaplains.
"My grandfather was in the Army, my uncle was in the Army, and my dad was in the Navy," said Master Sgt. Michael Bair, the noncommissioned officer in charge of chaplain assistants with 13th ESC and a Fredericksburg, Va., native, who gave the invocation. "So doing this was a way to pay tribute to them."
The benediction was given by Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Dale McGavran, chaplain superintendent with the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing.
"It's a privilege and an honor to do this," said McGavran, a Omaha, Neb., native.
The presentation also featured a rendition of "America the Beautiful," by Sgt. Denise Spencer and Spc. Jamal Wesley with the 159th Seaport Operations Company, 80th Ordnance Battalion, 90th Sust. Bde., 13th ESC.
"I was nervous at first, but it's a privilege to do this on Veteran's Day," said Spencer, an American Samoa native.
Two retired senior noncommissioned officers now working as contractors for the military here at JBB were invited to be the guest speakers.
Retired Sgt. Maj. Greg Miller, a field service engineer for Tapestry Solutions, remarked on the importance of celebrating Veteran's Day while deployed.
Retired Master Chief Petty Officer Learline Taylor, a security specialist with the 402nd Army Field Support Battalion, Army Materiel Command, spoke of her service and its everlasting effect on her.
Senior Master Sgt. Al Garver, the senior historian with the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing was the final guest speaker. Garver related the story of a World War II hero whose parents declined a personal invitation to the Whitehouse by then President Franklin D. Roosevelt, because they thought the trip would be frivolous. They wrote a letter to the president stating the money they would spend on the trip should be used to help fund the war effort instead.
Garver equated this to the Families of Soldiers today and the sacrifices they make.
The ceremony concluded with remarks from Brig. Gen. Paul L. Wentz, commanding general of the 13th ESC.
"This was a truly inspiring ceremony," said Wentz. "The color guard, the singers and the speakers did an outstanding job, as did the (service members) who put this event together. It's important to keep in mind the sacrifices of all those who came before us and thank them for their service."