By Sgt. Joshua LaidackerMay 14, 2014
GLENNVILLE, Ga. - Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, along with members of the 3rd ID Band represented the division at the 38th Annual Glennville Sweet Onion Festival in Glennville, May 10.
"We are thrilled to be able to support you in such a wonderful, family friendly and downright fun event," said Col. Thomas Gukeisen, commander of the 4th IBCT, in his address at the opening ceremony.
The city of Glennville is the largest residential community of Tattnall County, the county which produces more Vidalia sweet onions than any other county, according to glennvillesweetonion.com, and is one of 3rd ID's partner communities.
"Your support has been and remains critical to the resiliency of our soldiers and their families," Gukeisen said. "I'm grateful for the kindness and gratitude you show our soldiers and their families each and every day."
During the parade, Maj. Jayson Morgan, the operations officer for 1-76th FA, led the formation of "Dog Face" soldiers as they made their way down the street to numerous positive reactions, from salutes to applause and even an impromptu high five from one bold child.
"We are proud to call Glennville one of our partner communities," said Gukeisen at the ceremony.
Most soldiers in the formation know Glennville as a patriotic community outside of Fort Stewart, but for Sgt. James Washington, a cannon crew member with 1-76th FA, this is home.
"I just can't wait to get to Grandma's pie," said Washington.
Did someone say pie?
"I grew up watching these parades as a kid," said Washington. "As a kid, I would go chase down candy, but now, being in it means a lot to me."
Washington went on to explain he felt honored to be able to represent the Army in his hometown and be a good example to the future generations of Glennville, like the children chasing candy exactly the same way he had years before.
"I never thought I would have been in this position," said Washington with pride.
But what about the pie?
"Ain't no pie better than Grandma's," said Washington. "The reason why I'm looking forward to Grandma's pie is it's like a treat."
Washington said, as a kid, he was a little bit of a trouble maker, but his grandmother stuck by him.
"So every time I did something good, regardless of whether it was big or small, I always got rewarded with a piece of sweet potato pie," said Washington.
Washington smiled, adding his grandmother said she was proud of him for participating in the event.
Glennville has hosted the festival celebrating Georgia's state vegetable since 1977, and historically has drawn more than 6,000 people each year to the State Farmers' Market in Glennville.
The festival, which the Marne Division has supported each of the past five years, includes a sweet onion run, a parade, and a turtle race. The celebration held true to its hometown roots with folk art, a petting zoo, locally made wares and lots of fried Vidalia sweet onion rings.