By Sgt. 1st Class James DownenMay 27, 2014
LIELVARDE AIR BASE, Latvia (May 27, 2014) -- When Secretary of the Army John McHugh challenged members of the Michigan National Guard May 20 to "ask me anything," during a luncheon and discussion here, it's unlikely he was prepared for what came next.
"Sir," asked Spc. Daniel Welburn, "would you consider re-enlisting me?"
"I'd be honored to," replied McHugh.
And with that, the Soldier's leadership sprang into action to complete the proper paperwork.
With the necessary paperwork complete, Welburn's platoon gathered in an airplane hangar next to the RQ-7 Shadow with U.S. flag displayed prominently in the background. The Secretary of the Army then asked Welburn to raise his right hand, "and repeat after me," and administered the oath of enlistment.
The re-enlistment ceremony was witnessed by Welburn's colleagues from Michigan Army National Guard Company B, Unmanned Aerial Surveillance platoon, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 37th Brigade Combat Team, as well as by paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, and members from the Latvian Armed Forces.
McHugh wasn't at the airbase for a re-enlistment, but instead to gauge the progress recently deployed U.S. Army units were making on their training mission with their Latvian military partners.
While here, he observed the launch and recovery of an RQ-7B aircraft in cooperation with officials of the Latvian-run airfield. The overall mission of the training was for the Shadow to identify opposing forces on the objective that would be seized by the 173rd Airborne Brigade based on the information provided by the Michigan unit.
McHugh listened to the platoon leadership as they recapped the capabilities of the RQ-7 Shadow Unmanned Aerial Surveillance aircraft, and on the launch of the RQ-7 into Latvian airspace five days earlier, the first known unmanned aerial vehicle to fly in Baltic airspace.
In addition to the Shadow training, McHugh also observed paratroopers from the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade based in Vicenza, Italy, perform an airborne training exercise that included landing and securing the airfield and seizing a nearby objective.
Elements of the Michigan National Guard and the 173rd Airborne Brigade are in the Baltic region participating in joint military exercises with the armed forces of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. These training exercises will enhance security cooperation between the United States and its allies in the region.
McHugh thanked the Soldiers for their role in furthering American foreign policy goals and participating in the NATO's efforts to preserve the national sovereignty of Poland and the Baltic nations. He also commented on the value of the State Partnership Program, and how it has created a lasting relationship between Latvia and Michigan.
"Today was a great day. I received two coins for excellence and felt that now was a good time to continue my service," Welburn said. "I asked Secretary McHugh during lunch if he would administer the oath of enlistment so I could re-enlist. He agreed, and I seized the moment to continue my Army career."
"My parents and family keep a close eye on my military career," he continued. "I'm the only one in my immediate family who is in the service and they are proud of me. They will be excited to hear the news from today. I'm looking forward to attending Warrior Leaders Course and Instructor-Operator School so I can teach new Soldiers all that I have learned as a mission payload specialist".