HOUSTON -- Soldiers re-enlistments happen in the Army every day, but some lucky III Corps Soldiers had the re-enlistment opportunity of a lifetime. On July 5, 100 Soldiers marched onto the field at Minute Maid Park and conducted their re-enlistment before a crowd of 41,000 spectators who were in attendance to watch the Astros take on the Chicago White Sox.
"There is nothing that I can say or will say in the next few minutes that will resonate the significance of this event," said Brig. Gen. Darren Werner, commanding general of the 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, as he addressed the crowd in attendance. "When a Soldier re-enlists it means the Soldier has volunteered to continue serving and is committed to something that is greater than themselves, the defense of our great nation."
Werner then administered the Oath of Enlistment to the Soldiers on the field as the crowd cheered.
"I don't think the civilian population truly understands what it is we do on a full scale in the military and what it takes to continue to serve, whether it be for six years or 20.-," said Sgt. Maj. Rex Fortner, 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command career counselor. "So this is our way to show them how we continue to serve in the military and what we do as career counselors."
The city of Houston is a community partner of the 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, and the event was part the Astros Military Appreciation Night at the ballpark put on by the Houston Astros and Whataburger, a fast-food chain.
"Honoring our active-duty military and veterans is a central tenet of the Astros Foundation and we look forward to supporting that effort in new and exciting ways throughout the year," said Twila Carter, executive director of the Astros Foundation.
After the oath, the crowd stood as the 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command Color Guard marched on to the field behind home plate. A four-Soldier quartet from the 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command sang the National Anthem.
"I've been in the Army for 11 years and have re-enlisted three times," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Suarez, healthcare sergeant in the 1st Medical Brigade. "This is the first time in a baseball stadium and I'm pretty excited about it and I know all of these Soldiers are too."
Suarez was one of several Fort Hood Soldiers who was in Houston last summer conducting humanitarian relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey devastated the city.
"This is very special to be doing this here in Houston," Suarez said. "10 months ago we were down here helping the city out during a time of crisis and it feels like this is the city's way of saying thanks."
Once the ceremony was complete, the Soldiers marched off the field and joined their family members in the crowd to watch the game.
"We don't re-enlist Soldiers, we re-enlist Families. Without the support of the Family the mission simply would not get accomplished," Werner said. "I couldn't be more proud of these Soldiers and their families for their commitment and dedication to our country."
"This is our way to show that a re-enlistment ceremony doesn't have to be the Soldier, officer and the career counselor in a private office," Fortner said. "Re-enlisting can be special and that we can make it special for the Soldier, their Families and a community like Houston."
"This is something I'm always going to remember," Suarez said.