FORT KNOX, Ky. – The halftime celebration belonged to the 1st Theater Sustainment Command at the University of Louisville game Saturday night at Cardinal Stadium in Louisville as they beat James Madison 34 to 10.
Maj. Gen. Michel M. Russell Sr., commanding general, 1st TSC, conducted a mass reenlistment ceremony for Soldiers assigned to the 1st TSC, V Corps, First Army Division East, and U.S. Army Dental Health Activity from Fort Knox, November 5.
Soldiers formed up in the end zone to participate in the ceremony which was displayed on the jumbo screens in the stadium for all to see. After the reenlistment ceremony, Russell thanked the Soldiers for their continued service, and the crowd cheered. The commanding general then talked with Soldiers off the field as sports fans applauded when they walked by the group.
“It was a very exciting experience,” Spc. Courtney Miller, supply clerk, 1st TSC, said. “I reenlisted for three more years for duty station of choice, and I chose Joint Base Lewis-McCord, Washington,” she said.
It was the Cardinals Salute to Service game where they honored veterans, Active Duty and National Guard military personnel with special ticket offers and exclusive recognitions throughout the day. The printed tickets emphasized 1st TSC’s role with a line reading “military enlistment ceremony.”
Highlights included a flyover by the 123rd Airlift Wing of the Kentucky Air National Guard; recognition of local veterans and their families; presentation of the Cardinals Chair of Honor for those who are Prisoners of War or Missing in Action – symbolizing a place in the stadium awaiting their return; Airmen were promoted; members of the Reserve Officers Training Corps did push-ups on the field; the Kentucky Army and Air National Guard were honored for their support during the flooding in eastern Kentucky; and the mass reenlistment in the end zone during halftime.
The Cardinal community showed support for their local heroes throughout the game with handshakes, thank-you’s, and other signs of appreciation.
“Everywhere I walked in the stadium someone thanked me for my service or wanted to give me a high-five,” Sgt. 1st Class Ryan Fredrick said. This was common for everyone in a military uniform Saturday night.
Fredrick is the career counselor with 1st TSC whose idea it was to conduct the mass reenlistment at a Cardinals game. “I told Staff Sgt. Valdez about the idea, and he ran with it as a great opportunity for us to engage with the community,” he said.
Staff Sgt. Joseph Valdez, career counselor, 1st TSC, led planning for the mass reenlistment and was thrilled that he received so much support. “We started planning this months ago and some Soldiers waited to be reenlisted at the game by Maj. Gen. Russell,” he said.
The Soldiers who reenlisted at the Cardinals game took advantage of current available incentives. “Some of the Soldiers who reenlisted took the opportunity to select their duty station of choice,” he said.
Valdez expressed the importance of holding these types of events between the military and their surrounding communities.
“We wanted to show the public what we are doing. We wanted people to celebrate continued service. Most importantly, we wanted Soldiers to have fun,” he said. “Soldiers are our number one priority. So, if we can help them have fun and keep them in the service then we all win.”
He wasn’t sure about how the crowd would react to the ceremony during halftime and was glad that they cheered for the reenlisting Soldiers.
Career counselor Fredrick commended the UofL for organizing the best military appreciation event that he has seen during 16 years of service. “They really did a fantastic job.
“It shows that people do care and respect what we do, and that it’s not thankless,” he said.
He expressed the impact that the event had on the Soldiers in attendance, “This event was good for morale, uplifting, and motivational for the Soldiers.
“Our everyday life is with people in the same uniform, so we don’t go around saying, ‘thank you for your service,’ so it was nice to hear,” Valdez added.
“To see so many people show gratitude for the things that we all do every day was great, and that made and impact on us all.”