Rock Island Arsenal hosts Armed Forces Day Celebration

By Donald WrennMay 22, 2024

A four-day celebration in honor of Armed Forces Day wrapped up Sunday on Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois. Approximately 5,000 visitors attended festivities over the weekend period.

“We are honored to welcome the community during Armed Forces Day weekend as we honor all those that choose to serve in our Armed Forces,” said Col. Daniel Mitchell, Commander of U.S. Army Garrison Rock Island Arsenal at the opening ceremonies on Friday evening. The carnival and a concert were on tap for those in attendance that evening.

Start of the 5/10k Run the Rock
1 / 8 Show Caption + Hide Caption – About 300 runners participated in the annual 5 and 10k Run the Rock races. The race wound through Rock Island Arsenal offering a serene run through the historic installation and a portion of the run along the Mississippi river. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Photo by Donald Wrenn) VIEW ORIGINAL
America's Kids Race
2 / 8 Show Caption + Hide Caption – America’s Kids Races were held in 100 meters, 1/2 mile, 1 mile and 2 mile distances. A 100 meter mascot race was also held with representation from area businesses and schools. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Donald Wrenn) VIEW ORIGINAL
Carnival Ride
3 / 8 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Carnival activities were one of the central activities for the Armed Forces Day Celebration on Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois from May 16-19. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Donald Wrenn) VIEW ORIGINAL
Wrestling Action
4 / 8 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Col. Daniel Mitchell got involved during a match of the Honor Among Wrestling show on Saturday as he smashed a trash can over the head of Lion of Greece. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Corrina Baltos) VIEW ORIGINAL
Kids playing at Splash Park
5 / 8 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Splash Park was activated just in time for the celebration for Armed Forces Day on Rock Island Arsenal. It gave the kids an easy way to cool off during warm temperatures during the event. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Donald Wrenn) VIEW ORIGINAL
Food vendor
6 / 8 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Vendors and food trucks were available for attendees during the main event on Saturday as Rock Island Arsenal hosted an open house in celebration of Armed Forces Day. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Donald Wrenn) VIEW ORIGINAL
5k Run the Rock winner
7 / 8 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Maj. Gen. David Wilson and Command Sgt. Maj. Jorge Escobedo present a piece of the Rock to Run the Rock 5k first place men finisher Conner Horn. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Donald Wrenn) VIEW ORIGINAL
8 / 8 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A fireworks show closed out the activities Saturday during the Armed Forces Celebration on Rock Island Arsenal. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Corrina Baltos) VIEW ORIGINAL

Nearly 400 people turned out for the annual “Run the Rock” events that included America’s Kids races of 100 meters, 1/2-mile, 1 mile and 2-mile events and a 100-meter mascot race from area businesses and schools. The main events for the Saturday morning runs included competitive 5 and 10k races.

The kids races started just outside of Memorial Park and ran out towards the Moline gate and back while the 5 and 10k races wound across the Arsenal during the warm morning.

“The pride in having the community come on and see the Arsenal, they get to see what Rock Island Arsenal contributes to our nation as a part of the Arsenal of Defense,” said Maj. Gen. David Wilson, Commanding General of Army Sustainment Command and Senior Commander for Rock Island Arsenal, at the event. He welcomed the race competitors by telling everyone that the Rock is their installation and a part of their Army. He officially started the adult races after short remarks.

The first three 5k Men finishers were Conner Horn, from Independence, Iowa, with a time of 18:54, followed by Ken Mandakunis and Cylar Smith, both from Rock Island, Illinois.

First through third place Women in the 5k were Allison Kopp, from Osco, Illinois, with a time of 22:38, followed by Lyllian Jorgenson of Moline, Illinois and Jocelyn Kempen of Bettendorf, Iowa.

In the 10k race the top Men finishers were Alex Kelling of Davenport, Iowa with a time a 39:46, followed by Joe Franco-Gomez from East Moline and Jim Deblaey from Moline.

And the Women 10k top finishers were Amy Kintner of Bettendorf with a time of 42:21, followed by Linda Sawvell of Bettendorf and Mary Trejo from Rock Island.

Trophies consisting of a “Piece of the Rock” were presented to the top finishers of each race and for each age category in the two races. The pieces were limestone chunks of rock representing the materiel used in the construction of the buildings on Rock Island Arsenal.

The celebration continued through the day Saturday with the carnival, concerts from local bands, vendors, food trucks and a wrestling show. One intriguing match during Saturday’s wrestling show saw Mitchell get involved by putting wrestler Lion of Greece in his place by smashing a trash can over his head. Saturday’s festivities were closed out with a fireworks display.

The weekend closed out Sunday with the carnival and another show from Honor Among Wrestling.

Race participants can find photos from volunteer photographer Larry Engstrom at