CAMP HENRY, DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA - Service members, Department of the Army Civilians, Korean Civil Service workers, and family members participated in an African-American/Black History Month Observance, hosted by the 498th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, U.S. Army Materiel Support Command-Korea, 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, at the Camp Carroll, Waegwan, Community Activities Center, February 13.
The venue was completely packed as many attendees had to remain standing through the duration of the event because of the overwhelming attendance. The event began with a presentation by Soldiers with various units within MSC-K. Each Soldier participant played a role of an African-American Soldier who wore an Army uniform from the past, going back to the colonial era, or 1700s.
"Throughout the pantheon of American history, African-Americans have made significant contributions to our nation and society," said Lt. Col. Rizaldo Salvador, Commander of the 498th CSSB. "We now reflect on our history. We follow the footsteps of those who came before us; those African-Americans who have proudly served in a time of war such as the Buffalo Soldiers, the Tuskegee Airmen, the Golden Thirteen, and the historical figures which were presented to us today."
"Sol let us reflect, observe and celebrate; let's continue to celebrate the 2018 National African-American History Month Observance," said Salvador before concluding his remarks and introducing the guest speaker for the event.
"Adding to the footprints of success, from humble beginnings, he has served our nation for over three decades of active military service, it is my honor to introduce today's guest speaker, Brig. Gen. Michel M. Russell Sr.," said Salvador.
"I had a speech prepared for this event but, when I arrived today, I was asked to please share my personal experience or personal Army story," said Brig. Gen. Michel M. Russell Sr., Commanding general for the 19th ESC and Senior Responsible Officer for Area IV.
Russell went on to share his personal experience, experience that goes back for over 30 years of active military service. He talked about the hardships of having been an enlisted Soldier and why he decided to go to college and eventually becoming an Army officer.
"My wife will tell you, there were times that I felt that I had nothing more to give and I felt that the Army wasn't for me," said Russell. "You know what my wife, Sieglinde Gruber-Russell, told me about giving up? She said, 'Michael, you know that you don't know how to be a civilian, the Army is what you know, now quit your complaining and get on with it.'"
Upon hearing such intimate and quite frank details of a conversation between a husband and wife, those in attendance cheered and laughed in acceptance as they could identify with such a conversation. All those who have experienced life with a military service member can and do identify with conversations of these type.
Before concluding his remarks, Russell emphasized to the Soldiers in attendance, the importance of taking care of each other and for those in leadership roles to make sure that they take care of their Soldiers.
F"I think that this event was amazing," said Sgt. Britney McKenzie, a Water Treatment Specialist assigned to the 498th CSSB and originally from Harlem, New York. "It's very important to show homage to all those who came before us. It is equally important to highlight African-American females who have also served in the military."
"It is very important to showcase these accomplishments because they serve as motivation to all the junior Soldiers, as it shows them that anything is possible," said McKenzie.
"African-American have contributed to the military a great deal," said Staff Sgt. Andre Hobson, a platoon sergeant with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 498th CSSB, and a native of Richmond Virginia. "African-American men and women served in many wars like Vietnam, and despite not having had the same rights and privileges as their counterparts because of their ethnicity, and having faced discrimination, they served honorably and contributed to the success of the mission."
As this year's, Area IV Korea, African-American History Month Observance ceremony came to a close, service members with the 498th CSSB took part in the cake cutting, which served as the finale to the event.