CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti - The Army's birthday came a little early this year for Soldiers serving with Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa.

In fact, the Soldiers assigned to the task force - U.S. Army Reserve civil affairs and U.S. Army National Guard infantrymen from Puerto Rico- took the first two weeks of June to celebrate the Army's birthday.

A movie night included screenings of "We Were Soldiers," the Mel Gibson movie about a U.S. Army cavalry unit fighting North Vietnamese in the Ia Drang Valley in 1965, plus an Army documentary on the Puerto Rico National Guard's 1st Battalion, 65th Infantry Regiment, known as the Borinqueneers, about the unit's combat actions during the Korean War.

On the morning of June 5, Soldiers strapped on running shoes for laps around the post.

"We sang cadence and woke up the camp with over 275 runners," said Command Sgt. Maj. Danny Page, 418th Civil Affairs Battalion command sergeant major.

Soldiers also staged volleyball and basketball tournaments during the week. On June 14, Soldiers will take part in another run - five kilometers around the camp.

In the camp's recreation center, Soldiers set up exhibits on Army history, weapons, ordinance disposal gear, photos and food.

The evening of June 5, they held a dinner and ceremony. More than 330 people attended. A talent show hosted by the U.S. Army followed, participants were from all branches of service.

"The celebration was very elegant, professional and gave pride to those on Camp Lemonnier who served in the Army. The ambiance and feeling in the room was amazing," said Spc. Tiffany Mellers.

When it came down to celebrating the event, they had plenty of help from the other military services based at Camp Lemonnier. Rear Adm. Brian L. Losey, CJTF-HOA commander and senior officers from foreign services, to include the Japanese contingent, also took part. U.S. Ambassador James Swan and Deputy Chief of Mission Eric Wong represented the U.S. Embassy staff.

"This Army Birthday was like no other that I've experienced. To sit in a room with Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, coalition and interagency partners to celebrate 235 years of Army truly shows why the Army is the 'Strength of our Nation'," said Maj. Timothy Brennan.

Soldiers celebrated the Army's proud tradition of protecting and preserving our freedom, said Brig. Gen. James Owens, a U.S. Army Reserve officer who serves as CJTF-HOA's deputy commander.

"It also gave Soldiers opportunities to build camaraderie with other armed forces and coalition partners," Owens said.

It was 235 years ago, June 14, that the U.S. Congress authorized a continental army to fight the British during the Revolutionary War.

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