CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - The 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team Guard celebrated the National Guard's birthday Dec. 13 with a cake-cutting ceremony while deployed for Operation Spartan Shield in the Middle East.

Keeping with tradition, Col. Robert Bumgardner, commander of the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, North Carolina National Guard, was flanked by the youngest Soldier and most senior Soldier in the ranks. Joining him were Pfc. Charlie Christie, of the Ohio Army National Guard's 145th Armor Regiment, and Chaplain Maj. William Withers of the 236th Brigade Engineer Battalion, North Carolina Army National Guard.

"It feels amazing to be selected to be part of the ceremony," said Christie, who has been in the National Guard for just over a year and is on his first deployment.

After cutting the cake, Bumgardner paused to remind the attendees of the National Guard's legacy of service to the United States and thanked everyone for their service both at home and overseas.

"The 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team is humbled and honored to be part of an organization that has been around for 383 years," said Bumgardner. "We continue to answer that call and serve, just as our forefathers did."

The 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, nicknamed Old Hickory, is comprised of approximately 4,000 Soldiers from the North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia Guard, and attachments from the Washington Army National Guard. They are mobilized to support the 38th Infantry Division and Task Force Spartan in the Middle East for Operation Spartan Shield for approximately nine months.

"Whether helping our neighbors at home through storms or deterring adversaries who want to do harm, the National Guard is there," said Bumgardner. "We look forward to the next 383 years."

The National Guard performs dual roles for state and federal missions and is the oldest U.S. military organization in North America. The first unit of "Citizen-Soldiers" was organized in Massachusetts on Dec. 13, 1636.