WIESBADEN, Germany -- Cloudless, sun splashed skies and mild temperatures provided the perfect canvas, June 14, for the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden community to gather at the Wiesbaden Sports and Fitness Center to celebrate the creation and storied history of the United States Army.
This year’s birthday celebration – the Army’s 248th – was hosted by Clay Kaserne tenant unit equal opportunity representatives and included guest speaker U.S. Army Europe and Africa Deputy Commanding General for Mobilization and Reserves Brig. Gen. Jed Schaertl.
Long considered to be one of the most trusted institutions in the eyes of the American people, the Army’s legacy was forged in the annals of history based on its trust, professionalism and ethical conduct.
“The world’s premier landing fighting force, that prides itself on its service to nation, defense of our democratic values and commitment to our people,” said USAG Wiesbaden Commander Col. David Mayfield in his opening remarks.
A birthday party
In his speech, Schaertl encouraged the crowd to think of this day as a birthday party that brought the Army family of support organizations and tenant units together to celebrate the achievements of the Army over the course of the past year.
"[These support organizations] represent a portion of the bigger Army family and what our community provides to our Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians, family members, retirees and our local nationals – each one a part of our Army family, being all they can be,” said Schaertl.
Training and support to allies and partners who are responding to demands across the European theater has been important to the mission success of units across the Army footprint. Shared values, steadfast resolve and allied unity in response to situations ongoing to the east were a critical Army achievement over the last year, he added.
“All this was done while continuing to operate across this theater with the constant flow of mobilizations, exercises and operations,” said Schaertl.
He urged all in attendance to celebrate all the Army’s achievements here in Europe and worldwide, during this birthday party.
Every June 14, America salutes the U.S. Army as our nation’s first establishment, which is older than the nation it defends. The Army has, for 248 years, influenced America’s founding and its history while defending her constitution and her democratic way of life.
Celebrating the Army, means remembering the men and women who volunteered to stand a wall in defense of liberty near and far, or by providing humanitarian assistance or disaster relief to those at home or abroad.
“For more than two hundred years, the Army [Soldier] has been at the forefront of fighting and winning our nation’s wars,” said Mayfield.
The Army story can’t be told without acknowledging and honoring its Soldiers, recognizing those who have raised their right hand to answer the call to serve something greater than themselves as part of today’s all-volunteer force.
Defending freedom, past, present and future
The Army has been changing the world since its inception. That change was never more evident than during America’s participation during the wars of the early and middle part of 20th century.
America leapt onto the world stage with its role in WWI and, following the armistice, with the creation of the League of Nations – the first global organization founded to maintain worldwide peace.
However, it was the breaching of the Europe’s Atlantic wall on D-Day, spearheaded by the U.S. Army, which gave birth to multi-national operations and forged partnerships, which still continue to this day.
As seen during World War II, no nation can conduct combat operations alone. The Army – with its subordinate components, and coalition of partners – remains engaged, postured and ready to respond to threats as they arise.
The transatlantic partnerships between the U.S. Army and its European allies endure and is more relevant than ever in today’s complex global environment.
As America moves beyond the Army birthday and Juneteenth (June 19) celebrations towards Independence Day, an important milestone will be reached on July 1. A milestone few will know, or pay heed to, but which represents an integral moment in the future of our fighting force.
This year, our armed forces will observe and commemorate the 50th anniversary since the creation of the all-volunteer service which signified the official end to a draft military. The Army of tomorrow is being shaped, guided and lead by today’s volunteer Soldiers.
“In the eyes of the American people, the Army remains a bedrock of our nation – our most cherished asset,” added Mayfield before introducing the guest speaker.
Day of fun and activities
Those in attendance at this year’s USAG Wiesbaden Army birthday celebration were able to enjoy hotdogs and drinks provided by the United Services Organization, a bounce house for kids, a USAG Wiesbaden Military Police working dog demonstration and participate in a team-oriented Army Combat Fitness Test relay race hosted by the 66th Military Intelligence Brigade.
As part of the Army’s 248th birthday celebration, the guest speaker and the youngest Soldier in attendance together cut a birthday cake as part of Army tradition. Brig. Gen. Schaertl was joined on stage for the cake cutting by Pvt. Estefany Cura from the 529th Military Police Company and Mr. Eugene Newbold from Army Community Service who, grasping the traditional cake cutting utensil – a saber - sliced into the ceremonial birthday cake.
Organizations providing support included: the USO, Association of the United States Army, Wiesbaden Sexual Harassment and Prevention, Wiesbaden Armed Forces Network, Better Opportunity for Single Soldiers, Army Community Services, Army and Air Force Exchange Service, Defense Commissary Activity, Sergeant Morales Club, Medical Command, American Red Cross and USAG Wiesbaden Directorate of Emergency Services.