By Esther GarciaJune 19, 2009
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- In recognition of 2009 as the Year of the Noncommissioned Officer, the Fort Sam Houston NCO community led the Army's 234th Birthday ceremony at the Fort Sam Houston post flagpole June 12 as "Old Glory" waved from above in honor of its 232nd anniversary.
The ceremony began with musical prelude by the U.S. Army Medical Command Band led by Sgt. Maj. Marcella Larson and the invocation by Sgt. 1st Class Irether Gaines, the NCO officer-in-charge for the Installation Chaplain.
Escorted by members of Alamo Area Council Troop 445, NCOs representing Army North, Army South, Brooke Army Medical Center, 32nd Medical Brigade, 56th Signal Detachment and the 512th Engineer Detachment presented the 178 Army campaign streamers to the Army Flag. As each streamer was attached to the flag by U.S. Army Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Pedro Class, 232nd Medical Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Antonio Abin recited an element from the NCO Creed, followed with a rifle volley by the Honor Guard Platoon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Garrison.
Host for the ceremony, Fort Sam Houston and Army Medical Department Center and School Command Sgt. Maj. Howard Riles said, "Our Army was established on this day in 1775. And - remember this too - the Army Medical Department was created a month later in July 1775, treating and caring for Soldiers on the first battlefields.
Think about the significance for us here at the Home of Army Medicine - soon to be the home for Department of Defense enlisted medical training.
These two events occurred one year before the Declaration of Independence and birth of our Nation, and two years before the creation of our Nation's flag."
The Army was born on June 14, 1775, when the Continental Congress ordered six companies of expert rifleman be immediately raised in Pennsylvania, two in Maryland, and two in Virginia, and that each company consist of a captain, three lieutenants, four sergeants, four corporals, a drummer or trumpeter, and sixty-eight privates. That each company, as soon as completed, shall march and join the Army near Boston, to be there employed as light infantry under the command of the chief officer in that Army.
Riles touched on today's volunteer Army and how we are indebted to those first veterans and patriots of our American Revolution. "They too were a volunteer Army," said Riles. They set the standard. Their commitment and their sacrifices forged our Army values."
Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen Paskos, commandant, NCO Academy and keynote speaker, remembered the great men and women who lived and served here. Men such as Eisenhower and Pershing, and pointed out the monument mark, the site of the first military flight by a military aviator in a military aircraft.
"As we commemorate our history, in 2009 as the Year of the NCO, let us remember that it has been the commitment and dedication of the individual Soldier, and NCO leaders that has ultimately empowered and ensured the success of this organization over our Army's prestigious 234th year history.
Paskos said, "We also cannot forget the commitment of the Family members over the years who have made countless strides in the support of our force. It is they who willingly sacrifice their own individual freedoms and many times personal aspirations to enable their Soldier Family members to serve. With that said the Department of the Army has initiated a renewed commitment to them, the Army Family Covenant, a promise to support them (Families) as they too serve faithfully.
The bottom line is, we would not be able to dedicate ourselves to the demands of our mission in this high up-tempo without our Families' love and support.
Today's Soldiers and their Families serve as positive role models and community leaders - they are a daily example of 'commitment to serve,'" said Paskos.