WASHINGTON (Army News Service, April 26, 2010) -- Army Reserve Soldiers representing all 50 states and U.S. territories took the oath of re-enlistment Friday during the fifth annual National Capitol Re-enlistment Ceremony, in celebration of the Army ReserveAca,!a,,cs 102nd Anniversary.
Combat veterans, a Silver Star recipient and a Hurricane Katrina volunteer were among the 60 Soldiers who vowed to continue serving in the military during the ceremony on Capitol Hill.
Aca,!A"WhatAca,!a,,cs standing before you is a national treasure Aca,!A| It is our men and women in our Reserve component that serve this nation in uniform,Aca,!A? said Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, commanding general of the Army Reserve, who hosted the ceremony.
Stultz noted that most of the 207,749 Soldiers currently in the Army Reserve have either enlisted or re-enlisted since Sept. 11, 2001.
Aca,!A"They are willing to voluntarily raise their hand and say 'I want to serve my nation' Aca,!A| knowing that most likely they are going to be asked to leave their family, leave their job, leave their community, and to go and face danger, risk their lives, and maybe be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice Aca,!A| and yet they are willing to do that because of the love of their country,Aca,!A? Stultz said.
Also present was Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska, who said that without the Army Reserve, the country would not be able to achieve its objectives.
Aca,!A"From civilian works projects during the Great Depression, to Iraq and Afghanistan, to delivering relief in Haiti, you have been there,Aca,!A? said Begich. Aca,!A"For those of you taking the oath of re-enlistment today, we will continue to count on you Aca,!A| the significance of your decision speaks volume of your commitment, courage and dedication to service.Aca,!A?
Soldiers who were eligible for re-enlistment at the time of the ceremony were nominated by their career counselors to participate in the event. One Soldier re-enlisted via video teleconference from Germany, unable to make it back to the U.S. due to IcelandAca,!a,,cs volcanic ash delaying flights.
Sgt. Angela M. Martinez of Long Island, N.Y., who re-enlisted Friday, said she plans on staying in the Army for 20 years.
Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs a great opportunity, so IAca,!a,,cm very proud to be here and fortunate Aca,!A| very fortunate,Aca,!A? said Martinez.
Sgt. Kyle F. Turner, a Reserve drill sergeant and cannon crewmember form Fresno, Calif., also re-enlisted at the Capitol ceremony and is both a Purple Heart and Silver Star recipient.
For Turner, the ceremony and his service hit home in a personal way.
Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs like the welcome-home I didnAca,!a,,ct have when I got back from Iraq,Aca,!A? Turner said.
Holding back tears, Turner re-lived the 2003 events that led to his Silver Star award, a medal he said he wears in honor of his friends Aca,!"- especially Sgt. Atanasio Haro-Marin Jr., who died by TurnerAca,!a,,cs side. Aca,!A"I wear it in tribute and honor of them,Aca,!A? he said.
Aca,!A"I live with it every day of my life,Aca,!A? Turner said of his memories of that night. Aca,!A"Every day I wake up, and every day I fall asleep and I wonder if there was anything that I could have done differently to make sure more of my guys got back safe, or got back at all.Aca,!A?
In June 2003, Turner and his platoon were pulling guard in the outskirts of Balad, Iraq, when they were caught in enemy fire. Turner, then 19 years old and a private first class, was stuck with Haro in front of the firefight without much cover. Turner and Haro exchanged rounds with insurgents and provided a much-needed diversion for the unit. Turner made it out of the firefight with minimal shrapnel wounds, but Haro didnAca,!a,,ct make it out at all.
Pulling back his uniform to reveal a large Purple Heart tattoo on his forearm, Turner said, Aca,!A"I live with it in my heart and on my arm.Aca,!A?
Turner deployed to Iraq only two weeks after graduating his initial-entry training, and thatAca,!a,,cs why he wanted to become a drill sergeant, he said, to give new Soldiers the best training possible. Turner also said he loves the Army and plans on staying in as long as he has his familyAca,!a,,cs support.
The Army Reserve has played a role in every American military mission since its inception in 1908. Originally formed as the Medical Reserve Corps, Reserve strength grew to about 89,000 troops in 1914 to serve in support of World War I. However, it wasnAca,!a,,ct until the 1950s that the Army Reserve was given its current name and re-structured into what it looks like today: Soldiers serve one weekend per month, and a few weeks per year for annual training.