Veteran thanks Soldiers with Spartan Spectacular
January 29, 2010
A "Spartan Spectacular" welcome home party was held for 3rd Brigade Combat Team on Jan. 21 at the Commons as a chance to give newly redeployed Soldiers time to unwind and spend time with their friends and Families.
The party was funded by Alfred Weissman, a World War II veteran. Weissman, who became intrigued with 3rd BCT during their actions during their recent deployment to Afghanistan, decided to fund a large welcome home party for Soldiers and their Family Members as a way to relax and celebrate their return.
"In October, I was going through the New York Times and came upon an interview with Col. David Haight," Weissman said. "I told myself that if I was still in the service, I would want to serve under this man. I was aware of their hard work, knew they were coming back and wanted to give them the respect they deserve."
Not only did Weissman want to ensure Soldiers knew they were appreciated, he also wanted to ensure they had a chance to have fun after their stressful deployment.
"Being home is a huge transition, and it's a little overwhelming," said Sgt. Ryan Gifford, a forward observer with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 71st Calvary Regiment. "But taking it one day at a time and having a chance like this to just relax helps a lot."
The entire Commons facility was rented, and each room had a different atmosphere. One portion of the building was a karaoke club, while standup comedians entertained guests in the ballroom. After the comedians, the ballroom was transformed into a dance club.
Throughout the party, Spartans and Family Members ranging from the youngest of children to WWII veterans could be seen laughing, eating and dancing.
"The music was great, the food was great, and it's awesome to be able to hang out with my fellow Spartans," Gifford said.
Col. David Haight, 3rd BCT commander, took the time to thank Weissman for his extreme generosity to Spartan Soldiers. Weissman was welcomed to the stage with thunderous applause and given a print depicting Spartan Soldiers in Afghanistan, a hurricane candle holder etched with the Spartan logo and a 3rd BCT Spartan challenge coin as a symbol of gratitude.
Even as Soldiers were thanking Weissman for his kindness, he began to thank them for the time they spent in Afghanistan.
"I pray every day for you guys," Weissman said. "My applause to you and my thanks to you."
Although the deployment has been hard for Spartans, with the help of their Families, friends and generous sponsors like Weissman, Soldiers will soon be back into the swing of their normal lives.