Lions, Tigers and Bears, Oh My!, Welcome First Army
October 18, 2011
COAL VALLEY, Ill. -- Lions, tigers and bears, and the local Quad Cities community welcomed First Army Soldiers, Civilians and their Family members with a sun-splashed day of fun at the Niabi Zoo Oct 15.
The cooperative event, dubbed as a "First Army Welcome," was hosted at the Niabi Zoo by Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, Rock Island County Commission and the Rock Island Arsenal Chapter of Association of the United States Army (AUSA). The event was billed as a public welcome of First Army's Headquarters and Family members with a fun, family oriented function after completing its move to Rock Island Arsenal.
Several distinguished guests made remarks during the welcome. "As First Army is important to our nation, it is also important to the Rock Island Arsenal and the Quad Cities," said Rock Island County Board Chairman Jim Bohnsack. "We, the Quad Cities, want to welcome [First Army] and make them feel at home. It is an honor to have them here. Welcome First Army to your new home. It's our pleasure to host you today."
All Rock Island Arsenal employees and Family members were invited to the zoo with a complementary admission to enjoy one of the Quad Cities premier facilities. Guests enjoyed train rides around the zoo grounds, various animal exhibits as well as the zoo's newest addition -- a baby giraffe. A catered barbeque lunch was also provided by the combined hosts.
"The Rock Island Arsenal Chapter of the AUSA and our members recognize and appreciate the significance of First Army's role in providing readiness support to America's Reserve Components," said Kerry Skinner, Executive Vice President. "Our Nation's defense and our local communities depend upon relationships bridging all aspects of the Rock Island Arsenal. It is important to demonstrate how the people of America's Heartland care for Soldiers and their Families. It's how we all make Army Strong even stronger."
"Thanks to all of you for what you have done for us," said First Army Commander, Lt. Gen. Mick Bednarek. "In making us feel welcome, there has been such a warm outpouring of support across this incredible region. From all of us to all of you, thanks for what you have done for us to feel welcome in our new home. Our intent is to stay here for a long, long time."
Holly Bednarek, wife of the First Army commander, added that "you can have your big, huge Ft. Hood and you can have your big, huge Ft. Bragg and you can have your big, huge Ft. Lewis, because we have the best people supporting us in the entire country. It's about community support and taking care of our military families and I have never, ever experienced anything like this being a military spouse for thirty-three years. I am thrilled to be here."
First Army's mission is to mobilize, train, validate, deploy and demobilize Reserve Component units and Soldiers in support of contingency operations around the world. The Rock Island Arsenal Headquarters, comprised of more than 300 active duty, Army National Guard and Reserve Soldiers and Department of the Army Civilians and contractors, serves as the U.S. Army's Forces Command executive agent for providing training support.