Redstone Arsenal Soldiers - and all they represent -- will once again be the centerpiece for the Armed Forces Celebration Week, June 14-19, hosted by the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce Armed Forces Celebration Week Committee.

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Red, white and blue are the colors of the week as the local community reaches out to Redstone Arsenal and the armed services to extend its appreciation and gratitude.
The community's annual recognition of Armed Forces Celebration Week begins today, June 14 - which is also the 235th birthday of the Army and the 233rd birthday of the U.S. flag - and will continue through June 19. It will be a week of ceremony and celebration that offers something for the entire community under the theme "United in Strength."
"This is a jam-packed weeklong event," said retired Col. Clif Broderick, co-chair of the Armed Forces Celebration Week Committee. "For many communities, an armed forces celebration is a weekend of events. But here we jam pack a whole week with different events and different venues that offer our celebration a whole different look."
The Armed Forces Celebration Week Committee of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce is chaired by retired Brig. Gen. Larry Capps and involves many different organizations both on Redstone Arsenal and in the community, including the City of Huntsville, City of Madison, Madison County Commission and the Redstone-Huntsville Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army.
"This is a complete team effort made up of civilian community leaders who are on this committee and work very hard to make all this happen," Broderick said. "Without the Chamber of Commerce, the Association of the U.S. Army and the community as a whole this wouldn't happen."
This year's celebration will be the last for Maj. Gen. Jim Myles in uniform. The Aviation and Missile Command and Redstone Arsenal commander will retire this fall.
"I want to make this the best armed forces celebration. Team Redstone will do its part to help the community celebrate Armed Forces Week," Myles said, pointing out that many Arsenal organizations provide hardware and Soldiers for the week's events.
"This has always been a special celebration for Team Redstone because this community really understands about the sacrifices Soldiers and their families make. But this year is extra special because it is my last time to wear the uniform and the last year that we will have so many Soldiers here from the Ordnance Munitions and Electronics Maintenance School (which is moving to Fort Lee, Va., during the next year). This is the community's last opportunity to thank Soldiers who are actually trained at Redstone Arsenal. This week means a lot to me as a Soldier and as a leader of Soldiers."
Armed Forces Celebration Week is symbolic of the local community's support of the Soldier and Redstone Arsenal, support that is felt all year long.
"Team Redstone is blessed to have such caring and patriotic Americans who love their military," Garrison commander Col. Bob Pastorelli said. "When a community hosts activities such as Armed Forces Celebration Week, it truly shows their support and honor for those people that serve our nation."
For Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, an Armed Forces Week Celebration is a "must do" in a city and region where the Army has a major community, economic and cultural influence, and where other military branches also have a major impact.
"Armed Forces Celebration Week is such a special event for our community. The Huntsville area is one that is appreciative of our military each and every day," Battle said. "There are never enough chances to tell the men and women who serve our country 'thank you.' But Armed Forces Week is a unique chance for us to show that appreciation ...
"Huntsville and our entire community's successes should serve as a daily reminder about what an important role the U.S. armed forces have played in our history. Our citizens have a strong background with the armed forces and this week really helps us to recognize and honor that connection. The City of Huntsville and our entire region have been proud to share in our own Redstone Arsenal's successes. But this event is bigger than one base, and it's a great chance for us to honor the men and women who serve regardless of their branch, location or hometown."
Although the Armed Forces Celebration does revolve around the Soldier, it is also a chance for the entire community to celebrate and recognize its own sense of patriotism.
"This celebration allows all of us to show our patriotism," Myles said. "And that's very important in a community where a lot of the residents have a link to the military."
It's that unity between the armed forces and the community that makes the celebration's theme - United in Strength - so significant, Broderick said.
"We believe this theme signifies exactly what the City of Huntsville and the entire Tennessee Valley does for Soldiers and all military members, and their families. This community - and other communities throughout the country - support the armed forces and that's what makes us all united in strength," he said.
Although the weeklong celebration doesn't begin until June 14, the Association of the U.S. Army will celebrate the Army's 235th birthday and the U.S. flag's 233rd birthday tonight at its annual Army birthday celebration at the Officers and Civilians Club.
Armed Forces Celebration Week officially begins on Monday with three major events - the Proclamation Signing at 8:30 a.m. in Bob Jones Auditorium, the NCO/Soldier of the Year Awards Luncheon at the Officers and Civilians Club beginning at 11 a.m. and the Concert in the Park at Joe Davis Stadium beginning at 6:30 p.m. The event will include numerous military displays, performances by the Huntsville Concert Band and the 520th Air Force Band of Warner-Robins Air Force Base, Ga., and fireworks.
For many Soldiers, including Myles and Pastorelli, the Concert in the Park is one of the best events of the week. It's also one of Battle's favorite events.
"There are a lot of special events during Armed Forces Week, and we're always thrilled to participate in all of them, but I've got to say that my personal favorite is the concert at Joe Davis Stadium," he said.
Battle will head a community effort to provide barbecue to the nearly 1,000 Soldiers from Redstone Arsenal who will be in attendance at the concert.
"This is really going to end up being a team effort," he said. "Beverly Lowe, who works with the city and does a lot of the coordination for Armed Forces Week, is helping us with some sponsorships. We've pulled in a lot of the professional local cookers who compete in our Whistle Stop Festival every year to help, too.
"Mike Gillespie, chairman of the County Commission, has agreed to help fund this effort. Vendors have agreed to donate and sell us meat, slaw and desserts at their cost. Veteran groups are providing a lot of volunteer labor and seven teams have volunteered to help cook the barbecue. It really is a group effort that reflects the willingness of our community to 'give back.'"
On Tuesday and Wednesday, three Soldier Shows at the Von Braun Center's Concert Hall will entertain both military and community audiences. The shows are at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, and 3 and 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Free tickets are available at Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation, and through the Chamber of Commerce.
Also, on Wednesday, the Armed Forces Celebration Week Luncheon will be held at the Von Braun Center's North Hall beginning at 11:30 a.m. The speaker at this year's event is Lt. Gen. William Phillips, principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, and director of Acquisition Career Management. Tickets to this event can be purchased from the Chamber of Commerce by e-mailing tleopold@hsv.chamber.org.
On Thursday, Army Community Service will celebrate 45 years of serving the Soldier and their families at an open house beginning at 11 a.m. ACS is in building 3338 on Redeye Road.
Three sporting events will wrap up the week - the Huntsville Stars baseball game at 5 p.m. at Joe Davis Stadium on Thursday for Soldiers and attendees of the Test Week Conference; the AUSA Golf Tournament at the Links at Redstone on Friday; and the AUSA Viper Military Appreciation Night at the Von Braun Center Arena at 7 p.m. Saturday. To register for the golf tournament, e-mail mkelley@knology.net.
In addition, the following local attractions will offer discounts to the military and their families during Armed Forces Celebration Week - U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville Botanical Garden, Burritt on the Mountain, Earlyworks Museum, Huntsville Museum of Art, Sci-Quest and Veterans Memorial Museum.
"What makes this so neat is that it's an entire week put on by the community," Myles said. "It's not a night. It's not two days. It's a full week that gives everyone an opportunity to celebrate and thank Soldiers. I don't know of any other community that plans, organizes and executes an event like this for their military."
For Myles, the week will be a chance to get to know even better the community where he and his wife plan to live after his retirement. Both Myles and Pastorelli are looking forward to attending the week's events and being a part of the community celebration.
"I really enjoy meeting the great Americans who support our military," Pastorelli said.

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