FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- After a one-year hiatus, Fort Rucker’s Freedom Fest returned to the post’s festival fields July 1 with music, food, an estimated crowd of around 7,000, a rain delay and one of the area’s largest fireworks shows.
Despite the weather delay, it was awesome to see people back for Freedom Fest, according to Maj. Gen. David J. Francis, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, who thanked the crowd for weathering the hour-plus rain delay early on and sticking with the proceedings.
“I just wanted to say thank you,” he told the crowd. “If you think about where we were just a year ago, how phenomenal is it that we get to come out and do this tonight? Team, the weather has parted, the jumpers are inbound – have a great night Fort Rucker!”
Three members of the Black Daggers, the official U.S. Army Special Operations Command Parachute Demonstration Team, then jumped out of a UH-60 Black Hawk and parachuted into Freedom Fest, with the last member carrying the American flag.
Although the weather did shorten the performances of the assembled entertainers, the tunes were eventually provided by Darryl Worley, the Maneuver Center of Excellence Band and Brown Goose, while vendors provided the food, and the Fort Rucker and surrounding communities provided the crowd as thousands gathered to celebrate the nation’s independence at the event.
Fort Rucker’s garrison commander, Col. Robert J. Holcombe, said he was thrilled to see Soldiers, family members, post employees and members of the surrounding communities back at the festival fields celebrating the nation’s independence together.
“We are so happy to be back here for Freedom Fest – a little rain is not going to stop us,” he said. “The community came out, and I’m really happy to see the turnout that we have. The fact that they came out despite the rain just shows the strength of the relationship between Fort Rucker and the surrounding communities.
“There’s nothing better to start off a command with than a big event,” Holcombe, who assumed command of the garrison June 17, said. “It’s a big party and everyone is so happy – it’s been a great experience.”
The commander also thanked the hundreds of Fort Rucker employees who made Freedom Fest happen for their hard work.
“I can’t say enough for their efforts and all of the planning that went into this – I am so grateful for the work that they have done,” he said. “Honestly, it’s their dedication to our Soldiers and families that really make all of this happen. They did a fantastic job.”