Petraeus returns to Fort Campbell to celebrate 70th anniversary
August 23, 2012
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FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (Aug. 17, 2012) -- Although rain clouds loomed over the Division Parade Field Friday morning, the 101st Airborne Division closed the "Week of the Eagles 2012: A History of Valor" with the traditional pass and review.
About 15,000 Soldiers and other tenant units gathered on the Division Parade Field for the pass and review by Division and Fort Campbell Commander, Maj. Gen. James C. McConville.
"This Division Review is a fitting end to a fabulous Week of the Eagles," McConville said. "It's important that we conduct this ceremony today. It's important because of our upcoming deployments. It will be a long time before we have this many Soldiers, colors and guidons on the parade field before you."
Central Intelligence Agency Director David H. Petraeus returned to Fort Campbell to celebrate the Division's 70th anniversary.
"What a thrill it is to be back at this great post and among the magnificent troopers, past and present of the great 101st Airborne Division," said the retired four-star general who served as the 40th commander of the 101st and Fort Campbell.
In 2003, then-Maj. Gen. Petraeus led the 101st Airborne Division into Iraq during the first months of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He went on to lead Central Command and Multi-National Forces-Afghanistan before retiring from the U.S. Army in 2011. In September 2011, Petraeus became director of the CIA.
Petraeus lauded the 101st and its storied "Rendezvous with Destiny." He mentioned the 101st's storied history including Normandy on D-Day, Bastogne during World War II, the TET offensive in Vietnam, the invasions of Iraq and the ongoing pursuit of al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
"Indeed for 70 years, the Screaming Eagle patch has been a badge of honor worn by American Soldiers trained to respond quickly, skillfully and decisively in missions of the highest consequence," said Petraeus, who notably wore the patch on his uniform, even after leaving Fort Campbell.
"…the troopers of the great 101st have earned their place in the pantheon of those who have fought for America's freedoms, values and interests," he added.
This year's Week of the Eagles included several events, including the Toughest Air Assault Soldier Competition, 10k Fun Run Race, combatives and a memorial ceremony for the fallen.
The 2nd Brigade Combat Team brought home the Commander's Cup after winning most of the WoE competitions. Strike representatives received their trophy on the parade field.
"An amazing feat in its own right, but even more so considering much of the brigade's senior leadership is deployed to Afghanistan," McConville said, noting that 101st Sustainment Brigade's Lifeliners are also deployed to Afghanistan.
"Our 3rd Brigade 'Rakkasans' and our 101 CAB 'Destiny' begin their sixth deployment over the next couple of weeks," he added.
Both Petraeus and McConville noted the sacrifices made by Gold Star Families (those who have lost Soldiers in combat) and wounded warriors.
"The hard, but necessary consequence of this Division -- being among the first called into action when our nation must respond rapidly to challenges overseas," Petraeus said. "Your citizens owe each of you the utmost respect and deepest gratitude and we salute you -- all of you -- for your great service and sacrifice over the past decade."
Each speaker thanked the past veterans in the audience for paving the way for today's Army.
"You have left us a history of valor, a proud legacy that we strive to live up to every day," McConville said. "You have made the 101st Airborne Division the most famous air assault division in the world. Thank you for what you have done."
Among the veterans in attendance was Leonard Kaminski, of Utah, who served with the 2nd Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, in Vietnam.
"It's like coming home again, almost," he said, about being at Fort Campbell.
Kaminski and a group of his former brothers in arms were among dozens of veterans who marched ahead of the active duty Soldiers during the review.
"It's an honor to lead the Division," he said. "I hope all these guys and girls out here will remember so they'll come back."
Ivan Worrell, a retired major from Sweetwater, Tenn., celebrated the Division's 70th anniversary with his fellow veterans who served in the 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, in Vietnam.
A former 101st public information officer, Worrell said the 101st surpasses other Army divisions.
"Being a Screaming Eagle is something that a lot of people don't have the privilege of doing," he said. "It's the best unit in the Army. There's no better organization than the 101st."