Fort Hood-The 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command celebrated 53 years of service to the Army and the nation with a week-long celebration. The festivities kicked off with a cake cutting ceremony inside the 13th ESC Chapel. The commanding general of the ESC, Brig. Gen. Darren L. Werner, gave opening comments and spoke to Soldiers, community partners and members of the 13th COSCOM Association members who attended the event about the unit's history and the importance of ESC's birthday.

Werner, Command Sgt. Maj. Cheryl N.M. Greene, the 13th ESC command sergeant major, and the youngest Soldier in the organization, Pfc. Alexandria Marquez, a transportation management coordinator in the 49th Transportation Battalion, cut the birthday cake with a sabre signifying the start of birthday week.

"For 53 years we have served our Nation, the Army and III Corps with honor and distinction," Werner said. "For 53 years the nation has relied upon these colors to support entire theaters of operation, support peacekeeping mission around the world, and provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief both here at home and outside of the United States."

"Birthday Week allows us the opportunity to come together as active duty soldiers, veterans, community partners and families in fun and meaningful ways to help build a stronger association, share pride from our past accomplishments and build a path to a strong and successful future of the 13th ESC," said Jay Taggart, Fort Hood Good Neighbor.

On Tuesday, the festivities continued with a family fun run. Soldiers, Family members and community partners along with some pets, gathered together for a one-mile run starting at the 13th ESC headquarters, to III Corps Headquarters and back, as noncommissioned officers shouted cadence, keeping the formation in step. The event ended with Werner speaking to everyone who participated in the run about the history of the unit and the importance of birthday week.

The third day of birthday week was filled with sports competitions. Teams from Headquarters and Headquarter Company, 1st Medical Brigade, 49th Transportation Battalion and the 61st Quartermaster Battalion competed in football, basketball and weight lifting. At the end of the day a mass formation was held and Werner presented trophies to the winning teams.

The festivities continued the next day with the annual Brig. Gen. Terry Hildner Memorial Golf Tournament at Clear Creek golf course on Fort Hood. The event was sponsored by the 13th COSCOM Association and leadership from the 13th ESC along with community partners played in the tournament.

Hildner died in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2012, and is the second highest-ranking American to die in the Afghan war. Hildner was the commander of the 13th ESC from 2010 until his death.

After the golf tournament, the 13th COSCOM Association held its birthday dinner at the Wildflower County Club in Temple to continue strengthening the relationships between the active duty Soldiers, community partners and alumni members.

"The annual 13th COSCOM Association Birthday Dinner was really nice," Taggart said. "Brig. Gen. Werner spoke about past and current operations as well as future operations and challenges. We all left feeling proud of being part of such an outstanding organization, but we all agreed that our best years are ahead of us."

"This memorial does more than just remember our past. It guides our future," Werner said. "Every one of these names reminds us of the importance and earnestness of our mission and our responsibility. Because of their sacrifices we must continue to carry the legacy left behind by the fallen."

This year was especially significant because the family of Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Alton Raymond Kieschnick, who died in 1975 while returning from a training event to Fort Hood, was officially recognized as a Gold Star Family.

"Chaplain Alton Raymond Kieschnick died 47 years ago in service to our Nation and the soldiers of the 13th COSCOM," Werner said. "I cannot begin to comprehend the grief felt by the loss of Chaplain Kieschnick, or for any of our Gold Star Families, and I know that the pin presented today only serves as a small token for what your family sacrificed."

Werner and the 13th ESC Command Sgt. Maj. Cheryl N.M. Greene laid a wreath as a rededication to all fallen Soldiers.

"It's an awesome and overwhelming feeling to be recognized for my father and his service for this country," said Greg Kieschnick, Son of Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Kieschnick. "He always cared about people. He cared about the troops, always wanted to make sure that they were taken care of and that they knew God was with them."

"I believe this year's Birthday Week went especially well," Taggart said. "It takes a lot of coordination between the unit and the association to make each event successful and meaningful. I believe we accomplished that."

Another year has passed for the 13th ESC and while the Soldiers, family members and community partners look back on a rich historical past they continue to look forward to a future full of great accomplishments and the 13th ESC's 54th birthday.