WAMEGO, Kan. - On Oct. 3, the Combat Aviation Brigade signed its second Army Community Covenant with Pottawatomie County in a formal ceremony headlined the final day of Wamego's OZtoberfest.

The Army Community Covenant signing between the CAB and Pottawatomie County was coupled with another ceremony honoring World War II and Korean War veterans.
Following a POW/MIA ceremony, the Fort Riley command group, CAB Soldiers, Pottawatomie County commissioners and veterans shared lunch.

This was the first covenant signing for Dean Fechter, a 91-year-old WWII veteran and former Army Air Corps B-24 flight engineer. He recalled his B-24's supply run days, flying over the Himalayas, and talked about his brother, Sgt. Harold Fechter, whose remains had only recently been recovered in 2005 on a mountain in Italy.

He called the covenant signing and the meal following the signing a "good deal."
Dean Fechter was one of many veterans present at the ceremony, and both Lt. Col. Erich Campbell, CAB Rear Detachment commander, and all of the CAB Soldiers present made an effort to honor each of them.

Campbell delivered each veteran a salute and a certificate recognizing their service, and the CAB Soldiers formed a line in which each Soldier saluted and shook hands with each war veteran.

"The beauty of the community covenant is that it connects the Soldiers to the communities they live in," said Col. Kevin Brown, Fort Riley Garrison Commander. "Given that two-thirds of our Soldiers live off post, it is important that we don't just live there, but that we are actually part of the community."

The last covenant signing with Pottawatomie County was at Fort Riley, as it did with every other covenant community. This year, however, covenant signings were moved into the communities to take place alongside other community events and ceremonies.

"We've brought our Soldiers and this event and this promise of community support, back into the communities where it belongs," Brown said.

Campbell said the relationship between Pottawatomie County and Fort Riley was already very strong and the covenant signing is merely a formality marking an already thriving relationship.
Campbell also likened the relationship to a marriage.

"They're involved in just about everything we do, and we're involved in just about everything they do, so it's just a great relationship we've developed already," he said.

Pat Weixelman, Pottawatomie County Commission chairman, described how Fort Riley and the CAB were involved in the recent Fourth of July celebration activities in Westmoreland and Onaga. He agreed the relationship had been mutually beneficial.

"It's good support for the county, but I think it gives the troops the ability to identify with the community as well," he said.

County commissioner and former county commission chairman Stan Hartwich said the covenant itself has contributed to the formation of a regional planning organization from which other regions and communities have begun to pattern themselves.

"It is important for us to partner with the community to create a better way of life for everybody," said Command Sgt. Maj. Ian Mann, garrison command sergeant major.

The Pottawatomie County Army Community Covenant signing is one of several covenant signings that will take within the Central Flint Hills Region through October. In February 2011, the covenants will be taken to the capitol in Topeka and signed in an event in February by state officials.

Page last updated Fri October 8th, 2010 at 16:48