June 15, 2009 - The Army Family at Carlisle Barracks celebrated the 234th Army Birthday June 15 with a joint gathering of Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, and civilian students of the Army War College distance education class.

"Two hundred and thirty four years ago our Army was founded to protect this nation," said Maj. Gen. Robert Williams, USAWC commandant. "Today our mission has not changed. Our Army has answered the call. We have always been there for our nation and we always will be."

The cake-cutting ceremony focused on the rich 234-year heritage of the Army with a salute to noncommissioned officers. Williams, Sgt. First Class Ronald Gordon, and Pvt. 2nd Class Alissa McBryde, Veterinary Command Food Inspector and youngest Soldier on post, took part in the ceremony.

"Our Army was created to protect our country and for 234 years we have been doing that and will continue to do so," said Sgt 1st Class Ronald Gordon, who participated in the ceremony representing the NCOs at Carlisle Barracks. "It's an honor to be a part of the Army."

Gordon is a 14-year Infantry Soldier who currently serves in the Operational Gaming Division in the Center for Strategic Leadership. Gordon has been deployed multiple times is support of operations in Iraq. At Carlisle, Gordon supports exercises such as the capstone academic exercise for USAWC students.

Other post NCOs also attended the ceremony to celebrate the heritage of the Army.

"I'm proud to wear the uniform," said Staff Sgt. Catherine Hutson, senior NCO with the Human Resource Directorate. "Every time I go off post in uniform people stop and thank me. That feels really good."

Distance education students take part in celebration

"I'm proud to be a part of the long and great tradition of the Army," said Lt. Col. William Brown. "We're charged with protecting our country and I can't think of a more noble cause." Brown is one of the 350 students who reported to Carlisle Barracks Monday for a resident phase of the Class of 2010 distance education program.

Distance education students have completed their coursework via the internet for the last year and the resident phase is mid-point through the two-year internet-based curriculum. Technology overcomes the geographical challenges of students spread around the world.

"Students have the opportunity to share how they have applied what they have learned in the five online courses they completed this past year," said Col. Sue Myers, first year studies director. "The program allows students to immediately apply what they are learning to their professions."

The resident phases allow students to participate in seminar group sessions, to attend lectures and work with classified material relevant to the course of instruction.

The students said they appreciate the opportunity to talk face-to-face after months of communicating and that their diverse backgrounds further enrich these discussions. Much like the resident course, students in this year's class come to Carlisle from assignments all over the world. They are finance officers, chaplains, aviators and engineers. They are State and Defense department civilians, and international fellows, and representatives from all the nation's military services.

"This time here allows us to put a face with the forum," said Matt Wanchick, student, during the opening session, just prior to the Army Birthday celebration.