Fort Jackson's birthday a reason to celebrate
July 12, 2012
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- During the past few weeks, the Fort Jackson community has had a number of very good reasons to celebrate.
For starters, one of our Soldiers -- 1st Lt. William Edwards -- was nationally recognized as an exemplary Military Father.
In addition, one of our drill sergeants -- Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Heilman -- was named best in the Army.
We also celebrated the Army's 237th birthday with a world-class event; and, last but not least, we saluted our nation last week with a spectacular Fourth of July celebration.
This week we reflect on our own history as we celebrate Fort Jackson's 95th birthday. I invite everyone to help celebrate by joining the party 11:30 a.m. at the Solomon Center. The event will include a traditional cake cutting, activities for the entire family and music by the 204th Army Band (as our own 282nd Army Band is taking a well-deserved break).
Free cake and fun -- you won't want to miss it! Unfortunately, both Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Benson and I will be in Washington attending a conference with the Chief of Staff of the Army. Our Chief of Staff, Col. Ken Royalty and the Garrison Commander, Col. Michael Graese will represent.
Throughout the post's history, the Fort Jackson community has enjoyed many proud moments to include visits from U.S. presidents, distinguished dignitaries and well-known leaders.
Established as Camp Jackson in 1917, the installation had a mission at that time to prepare Soldiers for duty in World War I. The fort was named after Andrew Jackson, who, by most accounts, was born in South Carolina and, after an illustrious military career, became our nation's seventh president.
Within a short three months after work on the camp was started, hundreds of buildings were erected and what used to be a forest on the outskirts of Columbia was turned into a first-rate Army training center with a force of almost 10,000 troops.
The post's Soldiers have since embraced the training mission with pride and passion. More than 500,000 troops were trained here during World War II alone.
After that, the post continued to establish itself as the Army's premier training installation, where Soldiers become proficient at basic soldiering skills as well as specialized skills that are taught by our Advanced Individual Training units.
Today, we take pride in training 50 percent of all Soldiers who enter the Army and more than 60 percent of women who enlist. More than 36,000 Soldiers are here each year for Basic Combat Training alone.
Think about that for a minute.
The main mission we carry out here on a day-today basis has a profound impact on the careers and, more importantly, the lives of more than 36,000 people and their families each year. Not to mention the tremendous impact we have on the strength and readiness of our entire Army.
Truly, this is the place where victory starts. And that, in my opinion, is a great reason to celebrate.