The week-long festivities called Victory Week began in the pre-dawn hours June 2 as the post geared up for a run. The installation would celebrate its 101st birthday later that day at Hilton Field with fireworks, music, food, games and a birthday cake. Different events would take place each day culminating in the Army Ball June 9.

Trainees, civilians, retirees and Soldiers crowded the field to listen to the celebration's headliners -- country singers Rodney Atkins and Sarah Evans -- and to honor Fort Jackson's "101 years
of knocking it out of the park" for the nation.

"All of us are blessed to be part of this great mission," said Maj. Gen. Pete Johnson, Fort Jackson's commander just before a group of trainees from each Basic Combat Training battalion helped him slice the birthday cake.

For Gary Taylor, special events coordinator with Fort Jackson's Directorate of Family, Morale Welfare and Recreation, putting on the celebration was an excellent way to help trainees.

It is "the best feeling in the world to bring these Soldiers in and entertain them," he said.

The trainees were enthusiastic about being at the concert and out of barracks. Some danced with the music, while others reveled in the relaxed atmosphere before hitting The Forge the next
morning.

"They are all just looking forward to getting out of the barracks and having a good time," Taylor said.

For Pvts. Justin Adkins, and Caleb Transue of Echo Company, 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, dancing to the music was a natural way to blow off steam before heading to the penultimate event before graduation.

"We are having a great time," Transue said after square dancing briefly with Adkins. "We are going to The Forge tomorrow."

Pvt. Darrin Doyle with Alpha Company, 3-34, said the "amazing" concert was a way to "get away from the drill sergeants a little bit and get to listen to some good music."

Soldiers weren't the only ones having fun at the celebration; Family members and patrons from across the Midlands joined together for a good time too.

For Melissa Wyatt, a big Sarah Evans fan, the celebration made her "feel happy" to be able to listen to Evans live.

Tammy Cova-Gonzalez came a long way to see the concert. Cova-Gonzalez traveled from New Jersey to Fort Jackson to visit her brother serving here.

"I'm having a great time," she said. "It was an added bonus to meet my brother and listen to a concert."

The celebration ended with a fireworks demonstration that lasted longer than most. A glitch caused the grand finale to fire off minutes after patrons began filing out to their cars.