Grafenwoehr celebrates Army's 237th
June 14, 2012
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Ten minutes before the doors opened, lines 30 deep had already formed outside the U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr Dining Facility for the Army's 237th birthday celebration on June 14.
The event, where visitors lunched on an array of shellfish, along with steak, ribs and greens, featured a cake-cutting ceremony presided over by USAG Grafenwoehr Commander Col. James E. Saenz and USAG Grafenwoehr Command Sgt. Maj. William Berrios.
The leadership accompanied the oldest Soldier in the community, Chaplain (Maj.) Stan Copeland and the youngest, Pvt. Jonathan Rey, Comanche Troop, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, in wielding swords to make the initial slices in the cake, decorated as the current American flag on one half and the Continental flag on the other.
At 67 years old, this was Copeland's third time slicing the cake as Grafenwoehr's oldest active duty member. Copeland, who was drafted into the Army during the Vietnam War in 1969, has spent 25 intermittent years serving his country. He explained that a long tenure in the armed forces means enduring a lot of the negatives along with the positives.
"It's a left-handed honor," said Copeland about his opportunity to be part of the ceremony. "I'm a Vietnam graduate and a lot of the guys didn't make it."
Still, Copeland described himself as a proud member of a military family. His father was drafted in World War II, and three of his four children currently serve.
Recently turned 18-year-old Rey, currently the youngest Soldier on post, is a military naïf. With five months in the Army under his belt and less than a month in Germany, he was shocked to find himself in such a prominent position.
"I was sweating standing next to sergeant major and the colonel," said Rey. "I just get into the Army and I get introduced to them. I couldn't ask for anything more."