By Jim DresbachJune 17, 2013
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. (June 17, 2013) -- The cake, candles and song would have to wait: the Army had a birthday run to complete.
Despite June 14's "Reveille"-time showers, more than 2,000 Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region and Military District of Washington soldiers and civilians fell into formation near Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall's Summerall Field for the Headquarters Department of the Army annual Birthday Run.
Instead of early morning sprints through the halls of the Pentagon, Crystal City offices or District of Columbia area Army installations, soldiers marched and trotted the Fort Myer streets and kept step in reverent silence through a portion of Arlington National Cemetery. More than 20 elements and The 3rd U.S. Army Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) companies accelerated past JBM-HH landmarks including the officers club, Whipple Field and The Old Post Chapel before entering ANC via the chapel gate.
"Team, when we run through Arlington, let's remember those who we have lost and have gone before us," said Sgt. Maj. Of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, who co-led soldiers on the 3.1-mile run.
Chandler's running partner, Lt. Gen. William Troy, director of the Army Staff, celebrated his final birthday run before retirement. He told the Pentagram the run was personally sentimental yet still mission-driven.
"It was raining when it started; that's nothing new for us. We have to be able to do our missions under any conditions. That's the nature of combat," Troy said. "There's a lot of special sentiment. From a personal standpoint, I reflect on the years that I've had the privilege of serving and being a part of this great institution. It really makes me think that the Army started way before we got to it, and we have a responsibility to maintain the standards and the traditions and the service to our country that the Army has been known for throughout its history. This (run) is a good way to kind of reinforce that."
Following the 43-minute run, all units were back in the Summerall Field parking lot by 7:42 a.m. Troy followed by verbally saluting today's soldiers, The Old Guard and those who made the ultimate sacrifice who wore the Army uniform.
"It is a good time to reflect about the United States Army," the general commented. "This Army didn't start with us. It started 238 years ago, and it has never failed our country. And it never will. If anybody wants to know why, I want you to do an about face and look at The Old Guard. They are terrific soldiers and defend our country so well.
Those assembled followed Troy's order and gave The Old Guard companies a minute-long ovation filled with clapping and a chorus of multiple "hooahs."
The general then reminded soldiers about the legacy and tradition they represent.
"The next time you look at that Army flag, I want you to think about the 187 campaign streamers on that (flag)," Troy said. "Each campaign streamer represents the blood and the sacrifice of soldiers of the past, so that we could have a nation that lives in peace, security and freedom."