Fort Rucker honors military Families at Chili Cook-off
Second Lt. Jeremy Martini, D Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment, and his wife, Aryka, enjoy a cup of chili together during the 21st annual Chili 5k and Cook-off at the Fort Rucker Festival Fields Nov. 3.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (November 8, 2012) -- Soldiers, Families and civilians flooded the Festival Fields Nov. 3 for the 21st annual Chili 5k and Cook-off where military Families were also honored for their sacrifices.

The Salute to Military Families was a kickoff event for Month of the Military Family, and children who submitted artwork and essays were recognized, as well as the winners of Families nominated for the "Families of Excellence Award," according to Tom Jenkins, information and referral program manager for Army Community Service.

"This event is important because of the military Families and the sacrifices they make," said Jenkins. "In most places, it's a very high operation tempo. They have to sacrifice a lot with deployments and things, so it's good that we recognize them. [It's about] just taking the time to recognize the Families as a group [because] that's the backbone of the Soldier."

Maj. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, was on hand during the event to award the winners of the art and essay contest, as well as congratulate the winning Families.

"This year's Army theme is 'Army Families: strong, caring and resilient.' After 11-plus years of war, Army Families are all of that," said Mangum. "Soldiers shoulder a big load, but our Families, they don't get paid for what they do. They're just as committed and sacrifice just as much."

The contestants of the "My Military Family, My Fort Rucker" art contest were recognized during the ceremony and included: Daniel Hayes, Ashley Kosterman, Samuel Nutter, Josephine Sorquist, AJ Harris, Bailey Hill, Samantha Slate, Gabriella Emery, Hadessah Rackley, Abigail Emery, Anderson Nutter, Amelia Nutter and Deane Nutter.

Benjamin Allen and Erica Harris, contestants of the "My Journey as a Military Child" essay contest, were also recognized, as well as the winners of the "Families of Excellence" award: Reed, Amy, Jaxon and Reese of the Christofferson Family; and Travis, Susan and Jimmy of the Boyles Family.

The art and essay contestants received a USAACE certificate of appreciation signed by Mangum, a thermal lunch bag and coupons for Army and Air Force Exchange Services, and Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation services and facilities, according to Jenkins.

The "Families of Excellence" award recipients also received a USAACE certificate of appreciation signed by Mangum, as well as a gift card from the Fort Rucker Commissary, movie passes from AAFES and a seven-day stay in Orlando.

"The strength of our Army is our Soldiers and the strength of our Soldiers is our Families, and that is absolutely true," said Mangum. "To all of our Soldiers, to all of our Families, to all of our neighbors in the surrounding Wiregrass community -- thanks for what you do every day. This is a great place to live, a great place to work and a great place for the Soldier."

After the salute, Families and civilians were invited to enjoy the festivities provided by the cook-off where people enjoyed tasting chili from different businesses, military units and organizations.

"I think this event is absolutely amazing," said Joseph Martin, civilian. "I came out with my friends just to get some chili and I didn't realize they were going to have all of this stuff out here."

The event also had bounce houses for children to play in, an obstacle course, a game center and a variety of vendors.

"It's just great that there are things like this on Fort Rucker for people to be able to come out and enjoy," said Martin. "It definitely gave me something nice to do with my friends on a Saturday morning."

Although there were many activities to participate in during the event, Jennifer Walters, civilian attendee, said her favorite part was the chili.

"The chili, of course, is the best part of the chili cook-off. What else could it be?" she said. "Even though it's a little hot today and most of the chili has been adding to the heat, that's just the best part of it -- getting to come out here with my Family and enjoy some good food.

Page last updated Thu November 8th, 2012 at 11:50