By Staff Sgt. Christopher McCulloughJune 13, 2015
HONOLULU - In observance of the Army's 240th birthday, U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) celebrated at its Army Birthday Commemoration Friday evening.
This year's theme was "240 Years of Selfless Service to the Nation."
Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, USARPAC commanding general, told the audience that while they were gathered to commemorate the Army's 240th birthday, they were also there to remember the Army's commitment to the Pacific region.
"In the Pacific, the Army traces its history back 117 years," Brooks said. "And in that time we have faced some complex challenges, indeed. We've been involved in 63 campaigns in the Pacific region since 1898, the most in any region outside the Americas."
He also noted that this year marked the 70th anniversary of the surrender of Japan, which put an end to World War II; the 65th anniversary of the Korean War; and the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.
"Throughout those campaigns, the great men and women of USARPAC have served with honor and courage to help enable all the nations in this region to build a better future," Brooks said.
"Although tonight we commemorate the Army as an institution, this is only possible because of the dedication, achievements, and sacrifice of our people here in USARPAC," Brooks said. "And it's not just our Soldiers and professional civilians; it is our families and communities that are the cornerstone of the Army's success in the Pacific."
The evening's festivities continued with the ceremonial toast and a word from Ed Kubo, a Hawaii state judge, who was on hand to receive the Mana O Ke Koa Award which honors individuals who have distinguished themselves by their steadfast support of Soldiers, their families and the Army community.
Kubo, whose father served in the Army, and fought in both Korea and Vietnam, addressed the crowd of over 800 attendees about the significance of the evening's event. He shared how honored he felt to have been able to give back to the Army over the last 14 years, and how his attempts at helping were his way of giving back to the Army, to its soldiers and their families.
"It is my way of saying thank you for taking care of me, my family and my father, and that is why I find this award ironic," Kubo said. "You saying thank you to me, when all I was doing was saying thank you back to you."
The traditional cake cutting followed dinner. Representing the past, present, and future successes of United States Army Pacific was: Brooks, the command's most senior commissioned officer; Command Sgt. Maj. Bryant Lambert, USARPAC's senior enlisted leader; the command's youngest Soldier, Pvt. Cody Simons of the 25th Infantry Division; and retired Brig. Gen. James Hastings, who represented the most senior Army Soldier.
Awards were then presented to the USARPAC Soldier and Noncommissioned officer of the Year after a weeklong Best Warrior Competition. Spc. Jonathan Renteria and Staff Sgt. Michael Hooks, both from 8th Theater Sustainment Command, will represent USARPAC at the Department of the Army level Best Warrior Competition in October.
The celebration, hosted in the Coral Ballroom of the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Honolulu, Hawaii, was open to Soldiers from across the Army - active duty, National Guard, Reserves and ROTC - as well as Department of the Army civilians, government contractors, family members, retirees, veterans and invited guests.
"This is what joins us from one generation to the next," Brooks said. "That's what we are celebrating tonight- our nation, our Army, our commitment to the Pacific."