SMDC celebrates Army's 237th Birthday
June 13, 2012
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- During Armed Forces Celebration Week, members of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command celebrated the Army's 237th birthday with a global party.
On June 12, members of the USASMDC/ARSTRART family were united via video teleconference from around the globe to celebrate the Army's birthday and witness the cutting of the Army birthday cake. Soldiers, civilians, contractors and family members were present from Arlington and Fort Eustis, Va.; Omaha, Neb.; Fort Leavenworth, Kan.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Fort Greely, Alaska; and the U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands.
"We are about two days too early," said Lt. Gen. Richard P. Formica, SMDC commanding general. "On Thursday, our nation will celebrate our Army's 237th birthday. We celebrate here in the command with the many sites across our command. From here in Huntsville to Colorado Springs to Fort Greely to the Kwajalein Atoll to Washington, D.C., to Fort Eustis to Fort Leavenworth and Omaha. We are, in fact, uniquely organized and geographically well-positioned to perform our core tasks from across the globe. And we remain focused on providing capabilities and services to the Warfighter.
"We come together to celebrate our Army's birthday," he continued. "We trace our Army's roots to the Continental Army. Since then, it has been a team of Soldiers, civilians and contractors through the years who have formed our great Army, which has been the strength of our nation since its very birth.
"It is good for us to remember that there are Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and civilians who are serving around the world and in harm's way," Formica added. "Over 870 of those are from SMDC/ARSTRAT, who are providing space and missile defense capabilities to our Warfighters around the world. I would ask you to remember those in particular who are serving in harm's way, those who have been wounded and are recovering from those wounds and those who gave their lives, and in all cases, the families at home."
At the beginning of the ceremony, Clara Moore Pride, a member of SMDC G-8, sang the National Anthem and Staff Sgt. Richard Murphy, 49th Missile Defense Battalion, 100th Missile Defense Brigade (Ground-Based Midcourse Defense) in Fort Greely, Alaska, led the command in the Pledge of Allegiance. An invocation was given by 49th Missile Defense Battalion Chaplain (Maj.) Vince Cepeda.
The command welcomed several special guests to the ceremony. Eight combat veterans from the Floyd E. "Tut" Fann Veterans Home in Huntsville were present. They were Soldiers William Martin, who served in World War II and Korea, and George Dickerson, Kelvey Helton and Meryl Seals, who all served in the Korean War. Alongside their Army brothers, were seamen Willis Branton and Fred Moffitt, who served in World War II, and Roy Owens who served in Korea, and Marine Virgil Mitchell who served in World War II and Korea.
"Today has been fun," said Helton, who served with the 2nd Infantry Division in the Korean War. "To be with today's Soldiers and the guys I served with in Korea is great. The ceremony was wonderful and, Oh Boy, the cake was good.
"I am glad to be here and to celebrate this day with SMDC," he added.
After the command's guests were introduced, birthday messages from Army leaders and a short film entitled "Symbol of Strength" were shown. Then Spc. Jonathan Marshall, 53rd Signal Battalion, 1st Space Brigade, in Colorado Springs led Soldiers across the command in reciting the Soldiers Creed.
"Today is a great day," said Sgt. Nelson Villanueva, SMDC Headquarters and Headquarters Company. "It is a pleasure and an honor to serve and be a part of everything. The Army is a great tradition to be a part of, and the future is only going to be bigger and better. I look forward to seeing the next generation and where they lead us."
During the event, the command chose to recognize the role civilian employees play in the Army's success. Phil Patterson, SMDC Future Warfare Center, and Ed Kiker, SMDC Technical Center, led the civilian workforce in the Civilian Creed.
To make the day even more special, members of the civilian workforce command-wide were presented with the new SMDC civilian lapel pins. The new civilian lapel pins are a replica of the USASMDC/ARSTRAT shoulder sleeve insignia, which identifies the organization. Command leaders encouraged civilians across the command to wear their insignia pins as often as possible.
"Today was great, I had a great time," said Norven Goddard, Future Warfare Center. "It is great to be associated with so many great people. After 40 years, this is my first time cutting the Army birthday cake. It was an honor.
"One of the highlights today is receiving the lapel pin," he added. "It is great way to show other people what we are about and talk about our capabilities. I am just glad to be a part of it all."
In the Army tradition, the oldest and the youngest Soldier in the command were called up to cut the Army birthday cake. Joining the commanding general and SMDC Command Sgt. Major Larry S. Turner were Seals, a Korean War veteran, Goddard, a department of the Army civilian, and Villanueva, the youngest Soldier currently assigned to SMDC in Huntsville.
After the cake cutting, members of the SMDC family joined together to sing the Army Song and celebrate in the rich heritage they all share.
"Today was just wonderful," said John B. Rogers, civilian aide to the secretary of the Army. "It was an outstanding ceremony. To have an opportunity to celebrate the Army's 237th birthday here at SMDC was a true delight.
"This has to rank near the top," Rogers added. "Lt. Gen. Formica always does a fantastic job. The events here at SMDC are always intimate and it has a very personal touch and that is what makes it so special.