GATESVILLE, Texas -- The Gatesville Chamber of Commerce held its sixth annual Military Appreciation Fish Fry Feb. 27, for Soldiers, veterans and their Families from neighboring Fort Hood.

"We invite Soldiers and their Families from III Corps and Fort Hood, 1st Cavalry Division and First Army Division West, which is our partnership unit," said Carla Manning, Gatesville's military affairs representative.

Though the fish fry is a jovial occasion, it was first held in response to the November 2009 shooting on Fort Hood.

The shooting galvanized Gatesville residents who in turn gave aid to Soldiers and Families of Fort Hood in several ways, including a gathering which evolved into the Military Appreciation Fish Fry held each year since then.

"This is the first Soldier appreciation that I've had the opportunity to be a part of," said 1st Sgt. Howard Scott IV, the Division West Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment first sergeant. "This is outstanding how the community of Gatesville supports the military Families."

The evening's event began with a social hour of Families, residents and servicemembers mingling together. Boy Scout Troop 272 presented the national colors, and retired Army chaplain Rev. Buddy Wheat gave the invocation.

Maj. Gen. Warren E. Phipps Jr., Division West's commanding general, addressed the crowd with gratitude on behalf of Fort Hood and the division.

"To the city of Gatesville, the chamber of commerce, the Coryell County commissioners … thank you so much," said Phipps. "Your continued support means so much more than I can articulate with a few short words."

The Gatesville Volunteer Fire Department prepared the fish, hushpuppies and sides enjoyed by close to 400 attendees.

Thanking Gatesville for its diligence and unwavering service to Fort Hood and its Families, Phipps said, "I've been in the Army a long time and I have never seen a community support and reach out as much as Gatesville."