BAGHDAD (June 7, 2010) - With temperatures soaring over a hundred degrees, Soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division's Combat Aviation Brigade took a break June 6 from their daily duties at Camp Taji, Iraq, to celebrate the division's birthday and the 66th anniversary of D-Day.

The Soldiers took part in a 5-kilometer foot race and a volleyball tournament. Also in celebration, the brigade re-enlisted 111 Soldiers on Taji Army Airfield. The Soldiers raised their right hands to take the oath of re-enlistment while standing around a several hundred square-foot painting of the 1st Inf. Div.'s insignia - a Big Red One.

"Good vibes, great energy," said Command Sgt. Maj. Jim Thomson, the CAB's senior noncommissioned officer. "About 400 Soldiers turned out this morning to run in the spirit of the 1st Infantry Division, to show their support for those who paved the way for us."

The 1st Infantry Division was activated on June 8, 1917, and has played a key-role in each of the nation's major conflicts since then. During the World War II D-Day invasion on the beaches of Normandy in 1944, Big Red One Soldiers landed on Utah beach, one of the more famous fronts of the assault.

Today, Thomson said, the good vibes and great energy are also evident in the mass re-enlistment ceremony. The brigade, which recently arrived in Iraq, has already met its annual retention quota.

"The fact that so many participated in the run and in the volleyball tournament, and in the an indication that morale in the brigade is high," said Thomson.
In the middle of the day's celebrations, however, the celebrating CAB Soldiers were reminded of their mission when the explosion of a nearby improvised explosive device echoed across Taji.

"In everything we did today we took a moment to remember the division's history - and sure enough, we're still in a dangerous place," said Thomson, speaking about the explosion. "Iraq has come a long way and it's entering a new phase of the operation, but it was a reminder that there are still dangers out here. And we're still warriors."

(Spc. Roland Hale serves with the Public Affairs Section of the CAB, 1st Inf. Div., USF-I)

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