A force that fights together is honored together

By Christine MitchellJune 18, 2024

Armed Forces Celebration Luncheon 2024
LTG Christopher Mohan, with U. S. Army Materiel Command, and Sameer Singhai, with Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce, at the Armed Forces Celebration Luncheon in the VBC Saturn Ballroom on June 11, 2024 in Huntsville, Ala. (Eric Schultz / The Redstone Rocket) (Photo Credit: Christine Mitchell) VIEW ORIGINAL

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Nearly everyone in the room stood up. The cue? A call for those who have served, are actively serving, or have supported the Armed Forces, to please stand.

Almost 700 active and retired military personnel, elected officials, and representatives from government and private industry attended the annual Armed Forces Celebration Luncheon, June 11, hosted by the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce at the Von Braun Center. It’s a capstone event as part of a week’s worth of activities celebrating the nation’s military and the local community’s connection to the Department of Defense through Redstone Arsenal.

Lt. Gen. Chris Mohan, Army Materiel Command’s deputy commanding general and acting commander as well as Redstone’s senior commander, was the luncheon’s keynote speaker and proclaimed that as an Army general, he’d be wearing his “joint hat” for the day, as he praised the Joint Force consisting of America’s Coast Guard, Navy, Space Force, Marine Corps, Air Force and Army.

“We fight together, we should be honored together,” Mohan said as he told the origin story of the first Armed Forces Day in 1949, which is recognized in May.

He described times before World War II, which “changed everything.” Noting back then, the United States had a Department of War, a Department of the Navy, and there was not a Pentagon. It was after the war when the Air Force and Joint Chiefs were established, and President Harry Truman led the effort to replace separate days honoring the services with a single day for Americans to honor all service members at once.

Today, nearly 2.2 million Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Guardians and Coast Guardsmen are standing watch and conducting operations every day, keeping America safe. And as Mohan pointed out – they do it voluntarily.

“Volunteering to serve requires a level of commitment rarely seen in other professions,” Mohan said. “I’ve seen that level of commitment on display throughout my career, both in and out of combat. I’ve seen Soldiers reenlist in the combat zone, and I’ve seen others, once back home, reenlist knowing that they would eventually go right back to combat. That’s commitment, that’s courage.”

Mohan also directly addressed a challenge affecting all the services: recruiting.

“Young men and women across our country are simply not joining in the numbers they used to,” he said.

However, as a state, Alabama is showing up. Mohan reported that enlistments are the highest they’ve been in five years with more than 1,300 future Soldiers joining the force in the past year. He also praised a special guest in the audience, Army Col. Sed Rankin, 2nd Recruiting Brigade commander, for his enlistment efforts in the state and across the southeastern region of the country.

Mohan also brought the reality of the military into the room by highlighting current missions by all six branches of the military across the globe in support of the United States. For example, Mohan discussed the Navy’s guided missile destroyer, the USS Carney, having just returned from a seven-month deployment where sailors shot down missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles while defending freedom of navigation in the Red Sea.

“That’s the power of joint warfighting,” Mohan said. “When I look at young men and women in our military today, I’m reminded that we still have heroes. They’re out there, right now, defending our nation.”

“This We’ll Defend” has been the Army’s motto since the Revolutionary War, Mohan reminded the audience, ahead of listing some current, humbling deployment stats:

  • There are currently 71,000 American Soldiers serving in the Indo-Pacific theater, facing the growing challenge from China.
  • Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, 43,000 American Soldiers have served in Europe deterring further aggression on the continent.

The motto reinforces a clear purpose for the Army – to defend our nation. But still wearing his “joint hat,” Mohan concluded his remarks by listing all the Armed Forces mottos:

This We’ll Defend

Not Self, But Country

Aim High…Fly-Fight-Win

Semper Paratus – Always Ready

Semper Fi – Always Faithful

Semper Supra – Always Above

“We remember the legacy of these six institutions and what they have meant over the life of our country,” Mohan said. “It’s a legacy built on values, commitment, and courage.”