By W. Wayne MarlowMay 16, 2019
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Quad Cities area civic, business, and government leaders were given a closer look at First Army and its mission during a community leaders luncheon here on May 15.
First Army Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Thomas James Jr., welcomed the approximately 50 attendees during his opening remarks in the Pershing Conference Room of First Army headquarters.
After expressing his concern for springtime flooding effect's on the region, James outlined First Army's role.
"Our focus is enabling the generation of total force readiness. Our headquarters is here on Rock Island, but we're spread everywhere," he said. "I wanted to bring you in and give you an idea of what we do. We have a couple of objectives here today. One is to get to know First Army and one is to understand our current mission."
Besides an overview from James, the attendees also received a First Army history lesson from Kevin Braafladt, deputy historian at Army Sustainment Command.
Meanwhile, Command Sgt. Maj. Todd Sims, First Army's senior enlisted Soldier, addressed the importance of a strong bond between the unit and the community. "I'm looking forward to building relationships on both sides of the river," he said. "My wife and I are really enjoying the Quad Cities and everyone I've ran into here has been very polite and welcoming. If you ever need anything from me, please reach out."
While Sims is relatively new to the area, First Army Chief of Staff, Col. Shawn Klawunder has been here for years and he talked about how he considers it home. "I've been in the Army a long time now and move a lot of times, and the Quad Cities is my favorite place to be," he said. "The community has wrapped its arms around my family. I can't go out to eat with this uniform on because I wouldn't be able to pay for my meal."
Brig. Gen. Troy Galloway, First Amy deputy commanding general for operations, added, "I look forward to working with all the community partners in the room. I've got a background in city management, economic development, and city planning, so I look forward to getting out into your communities and participating where we can."
The admiration is returned, noted David Tallman of Shive Hattery, a Quad Cities architecture and engineering firm.
"We understand the importance of the Arsenal and having First Army here. It helps the region by providing jobs and the Quad Cities has pride in what's being done here," he said. "I love hearing the stories of people who come here for the first time without even knowing where the Quad Cities is and they fall in love with it, and I think that says a lot about the people here that embrace what is done on the Arsenal and what the island is about."
"It means a lot to the community to have First Army here, with the employment and the economic impact," added Rock Island, Ill., Mayor Mike Thoms. "And it matters to be able to support the people who support the whole nation and maintain our freedom."