By Spc. Monica K. Smith, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, Public AffairsMarch 5, 2009
Hunter Army Airfield, GA -- A military appreciation luncheon took place Feb. 27, at the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort and Spa. The luncheon, which recognized all branches of service, was organized by the Savannah Chamber of Commerce and included sponsors from various Savannah businesses.
"First of all I want to tell you \'thank you for your support,'" said Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo, commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division and the luncheon's keynote speaker. "This is the best part of the United States in which to serve, there is no question, and that is because of you all."
During his speech, Cucolo brought five noncommissioned officers, one from each of the branches of service, to stand on stage with him explaining to the audience why Georgia is important to Servicemembers.
"Standing up here ladies and gentlemen are folks from Tennessee, California, Mississippi, Maryland, Georgia, from all over your United States, and they travel all over the world but they're from your United States, and home is where the armed forces sends you and Georgia is our home," said Cucolo. "And you need to know that when these gentlemen deploy when they go wheels up and head out to sea, when they go away, the last place the last bit of America they see is Georgia. The last place they dine is in your restaurants, the last place they shop is in your shops, the last place they get that hug and get that kiss is somewhere here in coastal Georgia. That one last piece of America they see are the tinkling lights of the coastline of Georgia."
Dr. Bill Cathcart, chairman of the Savannah Area Military Affairs Council said he hopes the luncheon means a great deal to the Servicemembers.
"It really is an honor to be brought forward by your service branch and be considered the Airmen, Coast Guardsmen, Soldier, Seamen of the year," said Cathcart. That is a big deal and we're just so proud to be a part of that and to be able to host this kind of gathering that every year does spotlight top NCOs.
One of the honored NCO representatives was Army Sgt. James Truitt, member of Company B, 603rd Aviation Support Battalion and 3rd ID Soldier of the Year.
"I've learned so much," said Truitt. "I've become an NCO in this division. It's an honor to serve period, whether you're a Soldier or an NCO."
Truitt was recognized at the luncheon as the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce Army Soldier of the Year.
"For the city of Savanna Chamber of Commerce to invite us up here and honor us is really special to me," said Truitt. "This was a really great day. I've never done anything like this before in my life. I appreciate Savannah. I appreciate the Chamber of Commerce. I appreciate the 3rd Infantry Division. Thank you to Command Sgt. Maj. (Jesse) L. Andrews, and Maj. Gen. Cucolo for giving me the invite. I wouldn't trade it for the world."