FORT DRUM, N.Y. (June 16, 2022) -- 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers participating in community events and projects in the tri-county area are about as common these days as seeing them carry heavy rucksacks on a road march.
During a village council meeting June 15, Lowville Mayor Joseph Beagle recognized the Soldiers of 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, for their continued support and contributions over the years.
He presented Lt. Col. Ryan Hanrahan, battalion commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Gary Williams, battalion senior enlisted adviser, with the key to the village.
“Your strength and perseverance only solidifies your bond with our village,” Beagle read in the proclamation. “And what your unit has done continues to exemplify your commitment not just to the military but to the community in which you serve.”
Recently, Soldiers hung banners along a street near Lowville Academy and Central School to honor graduates who died overseas while serving in the armed forces. The battalion also was credited with supporting the annual Cream Cheese Festival, volunteering at the Lowville Food Pantry, helping to restore burial sites of veterans throughout Lewis County, and assisting with a restoration project on the 102-year-old American Legion building and museum.
“My battalion has been working with Lowville in a great partnership, and we’ve really been volunteering a lot lately to help beautify the village of Lowville,” Hanrahan said. “It really means a lot to us receiving the key to this village.”
Hanrahan said that he sees this partnership only growing stronger in the future.
“We’ve developed a good bedrock and I think we’ll continue communicating with each other and helping out whenever we can,” he said. “As members of the military, we move around often and so we think it’s really great to build a friendship with the local community and provide support as much as we can.”
Beagle said the battalion has created a bond between Fort Drum and Lowville that is deeply felt within the community.
What the battalion is doing in Lowville is part of a larger, division-wide effort to build rapport and have a positive presence in the communities around Fort Drum. Lt. Col. Kevin Smith, 10th Mountain Division (LI) G9, manages Operation Mountain Reach and provides oversight to the service projects and activities.
“Operation Mountain Reach is the division’s community engagement program that connects all of our units with community partners throughout the North Country,” he said. “Our Soldiers are truly invested in these communities. They're visiting schools to talk with students about diversity and inclusion, they’re at Thompson Park removing debris from the trails with the mayor, and interacting with families at different civic events.”
Smith said that Soldiers contribute their time and effort not for recognition or reward, but because it has become the way of life in the 10th Mountain Division.
“As Maj. Gen. (Milford) Beagle, our commanding general, would say, this is not something they have to do but this is something they get to do,” Smith said. “Because giving back to the community is the right thing to do, and our Soldiers know that from experience.”