By YVONNE JOHNSON, APG NewsNovember 24, 2009
The U.S Army Ordnance Mechanical Maintenance School hosted a mass re-enlistment ceremony as 24 Soldiers raised their hands and extended their military careers at the Aberdeen Area Recreation Center Nov. 10.
The Soldiers hailed from the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 61st Ordnance Brigade and the 16th and 143rd Ordnance battalions.
The Brigade Commander Col. Dan J. Reilly, and Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Tolbert traveled from Virginia for the ceremony. While APG is their primary duty location, the leaders are splitting time between Aberdeen Proving Ground and Fort Lee, Va., the new home of the U.S. Army Ordnance Center and Schools.
With the re-enlistees gathered on the ballroom stage, Reilly told the audience of Soldiers and Family members that every one of them was "special."
"The nation has been at war for eight years and these are its heroes," Reilly said, adding that nearly all the reenlistees have served in the combat zone. "We're proud of them because they know what they are facing. They are truly treasures."
"It's all about teamwork," Tolbert added.
"These Soldiers have decided to remain members of this team," he said. "Today is a testimony of the good things this brigade has to offer."
He thanked the ceremony organizers who included Master Sgt. Rosalyn Grayson, brigade retention noncommissioned officer; Master Sgt. Gail Brennan, equal opportunity advisor; and retired Command Sgt. Maj. Wilfredo Cruz, Army Community Service volunteer coordinator, who provided an information table and numerous giveaways for the Soldiers and their Family members.
The re-enlistees formed two ranks onstage as Reilly faced them from the floor and administered the Oath of Re-enlistment.
After the oath, Family members in attendance were escorted on stage to receive brigade certificates of appreciation for supporting their Soldiers.
Reilly said that holiday block leave for OMMS Soldiers will take place as normal only this year from two fronts - APG and Fort Lee.
"This will probably be the last mass re-enlistment at APG but not the last [holiday block leave]," Reilly said, noting that the 143rd Ordnance Battalion is slated to remain at APG until sometime in 2011.
He added thanks to the APG Garrison for its support of OMMS Soldiers.
Grayson said that the retention mission is more than re-enlistment.
"We don't just reenlist Soldiers, we advise them on their careers," she said. "We're here to assist no matter what path the Soldier chooses."
She thanked all who supported the event, including the 61st Ordnance Brigade Family Readiness Group and brigade and battalion retention NCOs, and said the event was unique for more reasons than just the large number of re-enlistees. Ninety-five percent of the Soldiers re-enlisted indefinitely - meaning this will be their final re-enlistment - and of the 24, only one received a re-enlistment bonus, she said.
"That means they did it for love of country, for job security and for their Families," Grayson said. "This command takes that kind of commitment very seriously and we wanted to arrange something different and unique for the Soldiers and their Families to show our appreciation for their service."
Soldiers and spouses agreed that re-enlisting was their best option.
Staff Sgt. Bryan Ferguson, an instructor with HHC 143rd, took the oath of re-enlistment as his dual military spouse Staff Sgt. Janice Ferguson looked on.
"We didn't really talk about it," Janice said when asked if re-enlisting was a joint decision.
With three children and 10 years in the military, Bryan, who served in Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division, said he opted to re-enlist indefinitely.
"There's nothing else out there for me," he said. "It didn't take a lot of thought."
With nine years in the Army, Sgt. 1st Class Chandrapaul Lallbachan, HHC 61st, said re-enlisting was a "no brainer."
"I knew what I wanted and with help from Master Sergeant Grayson, I re-enlisted for six years," Lallbachan said. He was accompanied by his wife Samtri and daughter Sarah Rose.
"He told me he was planning to re-enlist so I asked if he had any doubts," Samtri said, adding that she was "happy and sad" about the event.
"Well, he's already deployed three times," she said. "You just don't know what the future might bring."
The brass quintet of the U.S. Army Materiel Command Band provided music for the ceremony.
Re-enlistees received gym bags filled with Army notebooks, flashlights, pens and other accessories. Spouses received complimentary Afghans and children were given Frisbees.
The OMMS reenlistees included:
HHC 61st Ordnance Brigade
Sgt. 1st Class Frederic Banks
Sgt. 1st Class Chandrapaul Lallbachan
Staff Sgt. Noah May
Sgt. Aaron Griesinger
Sgt. Herber Romero
Spc. Jessie Hahn
Spc. Robbie Medina
16th Ordnance Battalion
Staff Sgt. Alberto Blanco
Staff Sgt. James Brown
Staff Sgt. Adrian Graham
Staff Sgt. Phillip Pena
Sgt. Lloyd Childress
Sgt. Philip Millard
143rd Ordnance Battalion
Sgt. 1st Class Gary Stone
Staff Sgt. Corey Smith
Staff Sgt. Dewayne Davis
Staff Sgt. Bryan Ferguson
Staff Sgt. Carlos Guardado
Staff Sgt. Joseph Kittok
Staff Sgt. Ryan Rivers
Sgt. Burnis Johnson
Sgt. George Thompson
Sgt. Jeffrey Hughes
Pvt. Derrell Simmons