Marne Soldiers take to streets for division run
April 13, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga. - In the early morning hours of April 13, thousands of Dog Face Soldiers gathered on Fort Stewart for the esprit de corps event known as the division run.
Under clear skies, every unit within the Marne Division stood motivated and ready to beat feet around the installation.
"I couldn't be prouder looking out at this formation," said Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, 3rd ID commanding general.
The purpose of the run, said the general, was to "raise Cain on the roads of Fort Stewart."
This was the division's first run since October 2009. Multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan repeatedly sent Dog Face Soldiers into harm's way.
"For the last 10 years, this division has carried the fight to the enemies of the United States," said Maj. Gen. Cucolo, "and have been doing so in a magnificent manner."
Major General Cucolo said the Soldiers had a right to be proud of who they are and what they do. "What you do matters," he said.
"I know you are so proud to be members of your squads, your detachments, your platoons," he said. "I know you are so proud to be members of your companies, your batteries and your troops. But every now and then, we have to pull each other together to remind ourselves, and remind each other, that we are a part of something larger."
"So today," said Maj. Gen. Cucolo, "let's run the roads of Fort Stewart as one large unit and let Coastal Georgia know who we are."
The formation of Soldiers, representing Fort Stewart, Hunter Army Airfield and Kelly Hill at Fort Benning, wrapped its way around Fort Stewart's main roads along the 3.7-mile route.
Busloads of Soldiers from the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team traveled across Georgia - from Fort Benning to Fort Stewart - to participate in the run.
Their trek began when they boarded the busses around midnight.
"I was actually able to sleep (on the bus). It helped me prepare for the day," said Pvt. James Whitlock, Company B, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3HBCT.
Running with the division gave Pvt. Whitlock a greater perspective of what it means to be a Dog Face Soldier.
"It helped me view a bigger picture of it all, being a part of 3rd ID," he said. "I got at least a hint of how many people are in the 3rd ID. It's amazing."
For Spc. Ashley Nicole Green, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3HBCT, the run spearheaded her first trip to Fort Stewart.
"It was a lot of fun," she said. "Everyone was highly motivated. It was a great day for a run."
With 3HBCT located at Fort Benning, it seems easy to feel detached from the rest of the division.
"It's very isolated," said Spc. Green. "It was nice to see everyone come out (for the run)."
Not all of the participants wore a uniform.
Arthur Duffie, a DOL employee on Fort Stewart, looked forward to the run. Having worked for DOL the past five years, Duffie is no stranger to the 3rd ID. He also served from 1996-2000 as a Dog Face Soldier.
The retired sergeant first class still runs with the division every year.
"It's a good thing because I'm getting older," said Duffie. "I get to interact with the younger Soldiers."
Major General Cucolo considered it a "distinct honor" to have served the past 33 months as 3rd ID commander.
He spent his nearly 32-year career serving in troop units - "twice as a general in a division," he said. "I know this is probably my last run in a unit."
It's been nearly two years since the 3rd ID held such a massive event like the division run, but it gave the commanding general an opportunity to run with his division - as a unit - one last time.
"For a brief moment in time," he said, "we were all back together."
Major General Cucolo will relinquish command of the 3rd ID to Brig. Gen. Robert B. Abrams in a ceremony Friday. Command Sergeant Major Jeffrey Ashmen will transfer his senior division NCO responsibilities to Command Sergeant Major Edd Watson in that same ceremony.