• 'Safety Panda' leads the way at the start of the U.S. Army Reserve 104th Birthday Run at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, April 23, 2012. Thousands of runners took off at dawn for a five-kilometer run around the desert post.

    panda

    'Safety Panda' leads the way at the start of the U.S. Army Reserve 104th Birthday Run at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, April 23, 2012. Thousands of runners took off at dawn for a five-kilometer run around the desert post.

  • Staff Sgt. Giovanni Albach, of the 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, tears up the road during the U.S. Army Reserve 104th Birthday Run at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, April 23, 2012. Thousands of runners took off at dawn for a five-kilometer run around the desert post.

    Albach

    Staff Sgt. Giovanni Albach, of the 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, tears up the road during the U.S. Army Reserve 104th Birthday Run at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, April 23, 2012. Thousands of runners took off at dawn for a five-kilometer run around...

  • Capt. Jon Swearingen, a staff judge advocate with the 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, pushes towards the finish line during the U.S. Army Reserve 104th Birthday Run at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, April 23, 2012.

    Swearingen

    Capt. Jon Swearingen, a staff judge advocate with the 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, pushes towards the finish line during the U.S. Army Reserve 104th Birthday Run at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, April 23, 2012.

  • Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines take part in the U.S. Army Reserve 104th Birthday Run at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, April 23, 2012. Thousands of runners took off at dawn for a five-kilometer run around the desert post.

    runners

    Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines take part in the U.S. Army Reserve 104th Birthday Run at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, April 23, 2012. Thousands of runners took off at dawn for a five-kilometer run around the desert post.

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait -- "On your mark…get set…GO!"

The starter's yell echoed over the heads of thousands of service members here at 6:00 a.m. April 23 as they pushed off, shoulder-to-shoulder, across the starting line on a five-kilometer fun run.

The sun, still low on the horizon, had already pushed the temperature to almost 75 degrees.

Nice way to celebrate a birthday -- especially when the subject is 104 years old.

April 23 marked the 104th anniversary of the U.S. Army Reserve, formed in 1908 after the War Department saw the need to have a pool of medical officers available to the Army in the event of a large-scale conflict. The Army Reserve has been a key force-multiplier to the nation's defense, from its first activation for duty on the U.S.-Mexico border in 1916.

Renamed the Organized Reserve in 1920, it supervised the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps, and went on to provide distinguished service in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, NATO missions in Bosnia and Kosovo, and the Global War on Terrorism.

Some of the soldiers taking part in Monday's run, Reserve members themselves, were impressed with the turnout.

"I thought it was great," said Maj. Harry Matsumoto, of Kenmore, Wash., secretary of the general staff for the 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, a Reserve unit based in Marysville, Wash.

"I loved seeing the large amount of people," Matsumoto said. "It's indicative of the dedication of the Army Reserve, and it was really great to see."

The 364th ESC, formed less than three years ago, was mobilized last summer. By September 2011, the unit was in Kuwait, charged with overseeing the responsible drawdown of forces from Iraq, a mission that finished two weeks ahead of schedule.

The 364th ESC, known as Task Force Rainier due to its Pacific Northwest heritage, now controls logistics operations throughout Kuwait.

"I was quite happy about the crowd for today's run," said Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Jennings, of Las Vegas, the 364th's command sergeant major. "There were a lot of people; it was a good thing."

More than 204,000 Army Reserve soldiers have been called to active duty since Sept. 11, 2001, and have deployed around the world in support of operations.

Page last updated Wed April 25th, 2012 at 13:43