Big Apple; Big Army; Big Plans
June 21, 2012
NEW YORK CITY (14 June, 2012) -- Potentially millions of people around the world watched U.S. Army Soldiers celebrate the 237th Army birthday in New York City at numerous events in the Big Apple.
The Cake Boss and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno teamed up and provided a memorable cake-cutting event in Times Square as future Soldiers joined the Army; The U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own," the U.S. Army Drill Team, the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps and members of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) helped New Yorkers celebrate on the Bryant Park Lawn in Manhattan and then moved back to Times Square later in the day, continuing to supply music and entertainment to the public for free.
It was a party! But like all great parties, somebody had to do a lot of planning to ensure all the moving pieces of these events were in place when and where they were needed.
"We were given a pretty daunting task to design several major events in New York City to celebrate the Army's Birthday this year," said Steve Herring, U.S. Army Military District of Washington plans and readiness supervisor. "Our mission was to tell the American people about their Army."
MDW logistical planner, Andy Titsworth, learned early in the process that almost every event within New York City requires some type of permit; from sound permits to parking.
Herring said Titsworth worked closely with New York officials months in advance; securing some of the nation's most iconic locations for MDW performances such as Times Square and Bryant Park in Manhattan to beneath the steady eyes of Lady Liberty in Liberty State Park.
According to Herring, Titsworth also arranged details ranging from water and food support for the performers to even arranging with Marriot NYC to provide an inside location for the Soldiers to get in out of the sun in-between shows.
More than 200 Soldiers and civilians deployed to New York City for three days to perform and conduct public outreach in support of the Big Apple Army Birthday celebration. Lodging and feeding them while on a budget in one of America's most expensive cities was difficult to say the least.
The job of coordinating all of the elements into a united effort fell to MDW exercise planner Maj. Matt Sucec.
"The key to an operation of this magnitude is to reach out to our inter-agency partners; all the other service components and to build relationships with the Mayor's office and their staff," said Sucec. "We already have such a flexible staff here at MDW because of the work we do with all of our inter-agency partners in the National Capital Region, but working the New York birthday events certainly provided the staff with additional professional development. We have the 2013 presidential inaugural looming around the corner, so the staff was able to hone its skills in preparation for that upcoming project."
One of the five installations under the umbrella of MDW is Fort Hamilton, New York. The staff at the garrison played a significant role in teaching MDW staffers the ways of New York City and provided critical regional contacts.
The New York National Guard opened the 69th Regiment Armory to lodge MDW Soldiers and the National Parks Service opened Liberty Island early so the Soldiers could perform. Within just three months, the MDW team incorporated iconic New York City with special Army units like The United States Army Band and the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps. Focusing on Time Square, planners were able leverage a diverse audience within easy reach of the world's largest available media concentration outside of DC.
"We picked Time Square to cut the Army's birthday cake, using the iconic statue of Father Duffy, a World War I Army hero and a member of the legendary Fighting 69th Regiment," said Herring. "Times Square is only three blocks from Bryant Park which is this large green space in the heart of Manhattan and is easily accessible to thousands of New Yorkers, so that was a natural venue for us to use for our Soldiers to perform."
According to Maj. Craig Butera, operations officer for the Old Guard, the Soldiers performances at the various events provided the American people an appreciation for the values that define our Soldiers' level of commitment. "We were all honored to have had the opportunity to participate in these events celebrating the contributions of Soldiers and their Families throughout our 237 years of service to the nation," said Butera."
The best planned event can run without a hitch, but if no one sees it, in the public's mind, it didn't happen!
"The Soldiers of the Old Guard and the Army Band always perform at such a high level of professionalism, that it is just an honor to help them tell our Army's story," said Adrienne Combs, MDW public affairs deputy director. "Not only did thousands of people get a chance to see our Soldiers perform in New York City; millions of viewers across the nation saw them on shows like Geraldo at Large and The View. Booking them into those types of venues really helped the Army's message get out to a much larger audience and we are very grateful for those organizations allowing us to participate in their programming."
"The celebration in New York City closed out with a wreath laying at the 9-11 memorial," said Herring. "We thought it was fitting to honor the memory of the 9-11 victims and to acknowledge that the Army is as relevant today, as it was 237 years ago."