HONOLULU - Several hundred Soldiers, civilians and family members gathered at historic Palm Circle, Fort Shafter for a 1.5-mile family fun run, June 8.
The run marked the beginning of a weeklong celebration of events that takes on the namesake, Pacific Theater Army Week. PTAW commemorates the U.S. Army's 240th birthday.
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Samuel Ngaropo, a U.S. Army Pacific operations officer, fired the group up as he led them in calisthenics before taking on the hills of Fort Shafter. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, USARPAC commanding general, said that the hills were symbolic to the perseverance and endurance of the Soldiers who paved the way for today and tomorrow's Soldiers.
"We're living an experience today that connects the past to the presence and into their future," said Brooks. "Our past begins right here on this field - right here on Palm Circle, right here on Fort Shafter. Everything around you is a reflection of our past and has come a long way. Our presence is embodied as we run past our barracks areas, as we run past our work areas and commands, we're remembering that we have a duty to perform right now for our family and our future."
The USARPAC ohana ran alongside one another increasing esprit de corps and strengthening the relationship between the community, USARPAC and the U.S. Army established 117 years ago. Brooks was moved by all of those who came to support the run. He appreciated large number of youth who gave up an early morning to run with family.
"I appreciate each and every last one of you here, but I'm truly motivated by the youth that are here," said Brooks. "Those who stand before you are a part of the next generation. We're glad that you're out here with your Soldiers, mothers or fathers, continuing traditions and standing proud, here, like Soldiers did years ago."
While the units ran down the streets of Fort Shafter, they called cadence, family members, civilians and Soldiers cheered and encouraged one another all throughout the run. Most importantly, the USARPAC community came together and bonded in a way that showed what Army life is supposed to be like.
"Being a part of a run like this makes me feel like I'm a part of a family, it makes me feel good," said Kristian Aledo, future supply specialist waiting to attend basic. "I was nervous at first, this is kind of intimidating because everyone is already in the Army. But in the end, I feel really good about doing this. I'm here with my new family; celebrating the Army's birthday. Events like this help me understand I'm making sacrifices for something more than myself."
While the run was just one and a half miles, it presented an opportunity for Soldiers to reflect on those who have made sacrifices and family members who support us.
We're going to run past some family housing areas and that's to remind us that we're deeply connected to somebody," said Brooks. "There's someone who said, 'I will let you join the United States Army.' There's someone who said, 'I will let you continue to serve in the United States Army, I will stay with you as you do it.' These are our families. As you run past our family housing areas, I want you to think about those families that make such a difference. We're living an experience today that connects the past to the presence and into their future."