PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. (July 6, 2021) – Members of the 229th Military Intelligence Battalion brought out their grills, disc golf equipment and more for a Cadre Appreciation Day here July 1 that included family members.
“I just want to look you in the eye and thank you for all the work that you’ve done over the past year,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Upperman, commander of the 229th MI Bn., as he opened the event. “This has been a very trying year for everybody.”
The occasion drew about 100 Soldiers, spouses and children and was the first of its kind for cadre members since the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, said Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Reynolds, a drill sergeant and event organizer.
“This is just a way to recalibrate and let everybody come together and realize at some point, even as a cadre member, you have to take care of yourself,” Reynolds said. “You have to think about your own state of mind to get yourself recovered, and then go back to the battle, go back to the fight.”
A 20-foot-long table filled with food kept attendees from going hungry, and a sound system with speakers for music gave the event a relaxed atmosphere. The event included a hail and farewell, and when that wasn’t going on, people mostly sat at the nearly 40 tables and talked.
For Command Sgt. Maj. Lourdes Barragan, command sergeant major, 229th MI Bn., that was all part of the plan.
“This is just our opportunity to say thank you to you and kind of let your hair down a little bit and just meet each other and mingle with everybody,” Barragan told the crowd. She also encouraged everyone to meet new people.
“If you haven’t met the folks here, I challenge you to meet at least three people that you don’t know,” Barragan said. “Or if you just don’t recognize them outside of uniform, say, ‘Hey, this is me. Who are you? Nice to meet you.’”
The event took place the day before a four-day holiday weekend in honor of the Fourth of July, and Chaplain (Capt.) Jordan Dersch of the 229th MI Bn. spoke about the holiday’s significance.
“It’s just a great privilege and opportunity that we have to live in a land where we can pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness every single day,” Dersch said. “We’re able to be here and not only to be an American, but to defend something that’s very good.”
Those who attended said they enjoyed the event.
Staff Sgt. Ivah Henry, a drill sergeant who has been with the battalion for nearly a year, said she liked the fact that organizers barbecued for everyone.
Members of the cadre work hard, and it was good to get a break from the office, Henry said.
Meanwhile, Sgt. 1st Class Solomon Chan, a platoon sergeant who has been with the battalion for six years, called the event “fantastic” and said events like this one help build resiliency within the battalion.
“It’s a great opportunity to get together and share some fellowship, share some good food and good fun and get to know each other,” Chan said.
Reynolds said the battalion’s Cadre Appreciation Day isn’t an annual event, but he would like to see it become one.
Cadre members give “almost all of themselves, all of the time,” and they need time to slow down and recover, Reynolds said.
“We’re Soldiers, but we’re also humans, so you do need time to recover,” Reynolds said. “You need time to take care of yourself in order to take care of your Soldiers.”