Global command celebrates Army birthday around the world
June 17, 2011
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. - This year, the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command became the first in the Army's 236-year history to celebrate the Army's birthday across eight time zones simultaneously with personnel participating with members from Redstone Arsenal via video teleconference in U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands; Fort Greely, Alaska; Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Arlington, Va.
Soldiers, civilians, retirees and family members of USASMDC/ARSTRAT also celebrated Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce's Armed Forces Week June 13-18. This year's Armed Forces Week theme was "United in Strength."
On Monday, Col. Daniel J. Shanahan, USASMDC/ARSTRAT chief of staff, represented the command at an Armed Forces Week proclamation and covenant signing ceremony at the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce's auditorium.
"It is a great opportunity to sign the covenant," Shanahan said. "There are a lot of things we do for our community and they give it back to us 10 times. It is really phenomenal to be here and help represent the USASMDC/ARSTRAT team."
During Monday's events, command members attended a concert by the Army Materiel Command Band at Big Spring Park in Huntsville. Leaders from the command joined Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and participated in a reception before the concert where they served Soldiers a Southern-style barbecue meal.
"I think the best part about the Army is spending time with great warriors like the ones here in Huntsville," said Sgt. Maj. John Mattie, USASMDC/ARSTRAT G-3 office. "It was an honor to be able to serve them as they serve our country."
During Tuesday's activities, USASMDC/ARSTRAT came together to officially celebrate the Army's 236th birthday.
One of the birthday surprises was the presentation of a USASMDC/ARSTRAT flag, which spent 163 days in space. The flag, which flew more than 65 million miles aboard the International Space Station, was presented to the command by Army Astronaut Col. T.J. Creamer, USASMDC/ARSTRAT, NASA Detachment.
"We only get to take up a very limited amount of items that we can fly for people or organizations, and I thought it was important enough, for me personally, that I take up a tribute to USASMDC/ARSTRAT because they have sponsored me for about 16 years and I wanted to show my appreciation in some unique manner," Creamer said. "I thought a unique way would be to fly with the colors of the command whose motto is 'Defending the High Ground' and it doesn’t get much higher than space. I thought it was fitting and a poetic way to honor and support our Soldiers and civilians who work daily to defend the highest of the high ground."
Also on Tuesday, Lt. Gen. Richard P. Formica, USASMDC/ARSTRAT commanding general, participated in the Athens State University Flag Day ceremony in Athens. He spoke about the importance of America’s national colors and what it represents to freedom-loving people across the globe.
"The histories of our Army and our national flag are intertwined," Formica said. "Both symbolize the very best things about our country and the people who have fought for democracy from the earliest days of our nation's history.
"Our Soldiers cherish our flag and the values it represents," he continued. "So, today as you gather to celebrate Flag Day, we also celebrate the 236th birthday of your United States Army. On June 14, 1775, colonial Soldiers banded together to fight for independence and a democratic way of life. Two hundred and thirty six years later, U.S. Army Soldiers and civilians are still volunteering to do heavy lifting for our nation. Many have paid the ultimate price for our freedom."
To put the icing on the proverbial Army Birthday Cake, members of Team Redstone were treated to the Army Soldier Show conducted at the Concert Hall in Huntsville's Von Braun Center Tuesday evening.
On Wednesday morning, USASMDC/ARSTRAT leaders attended the Army Materiel Command touchdown ceremony, which officially welcomed AMC to the installation, opening the doors of its newly built headquarters building on Redstone Arsenal.
The AMC event was followed by an Armed Forces Salute Reception and Army Birthday Celebration in the North Hall of the Von Braun Center. The reception featured the AMC Band, and comments from Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, AMC commanding general.
A $60,000 check was presented to Bentley by the sponsors of the reception to supplement the Alabama Relief Fund after violent storms netted extensive damage in April.
On Thursday, Army Community Services hosted a Military Spouse Appreciation Day open house. This year's event included a special tribute to military spouses.
"I think it is important to recognize military spouses because they do so much and they sacrifice so much," said Diane Formica, wife of the USASMDC/ARSTRAT commanding general. "Especially now with the wars going on and the Soldiers constantly coming and going, I think it is very important to recognize those Families and let them know how important they are. And ACS ties it all together because they offer education and resources for Families so these spouses can survive and be self-sufficient while their Soldiers are away."
Friday morning, Soldiers, along with civilian employees, who work throughout the command participated in a unit run and walk. Before the participants got underway, a command leader talked about esprit de corps and the importance of serving the country.
"Soldiers and civilians of SMDC/ARSTRAT at sites around the globe, we gather today as one unified command at many locations with the common purpose of celebrating Armed Forces Week, and the proud history of the United States Army on its 236th birthday," said Col. Timothy R. Coffin, USASMDC/ARSTRAT deputy commander for operations, Colorado Springs, Colo. "We run together today from the sands of Kwajalein Atoll, to the mountain plains of Alaska. From Japan, Korea, Germany, the United States and foreign shores between to show our unity of spirit.
"Remember that every day we show devotion to duty and to the nation in a single cause " defense of freedom," he added. "The Army is proud of you, the nation is proud of you and I am proud of you. Thank you for your service."
On Saturday morning, employees in Huntsville will participate in and support a Survivor Outreach Services field day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Redstone Arsenal Army Community Services. The event is designed to provide an opportunity for survivors of fallen warriors as well as command Soldiers, civilians and family members to meet and greet with other survivors.
"Saturday we are having our second annual meet and greet for survivors in Alabama," said Emily McFall, Redstone Arsenal Survivor Outreach Services coordinator. "It is a good time for survivors to meet with other survivors and share stories of their loved ones. As a survivor myself, it is good to have a connection with other people who understand what you are talking about and want to share.
"We are looking forward to seeing those who are coming and we are looking forward to helping those who may need it," she added.
Adding to what McFall said, Diane Formica talked about the SOS program and how it is assisting the family members of fallen Soldiers during difficult times.
"The Survivor Outreach Program here is phenomenal," Formica said. "They are doing a great job here continuously reaching out and putting their arms around those Families who have lost a Soldier and I think it is important that they keep reaching out."
Armed Forces Week's activities will conclude Saturday evening with the Association of the U.S. Army Huntsville Stars Military Appreciation Night baseball game beginning at 6:43 p.m. at Joe Davis Stadium. The baseball game will feature Wounded Warriors participating in pre-game activities and a fireworks display is scheduled after the game.