By Mr. Patrick Young (IMCOM)September 9, 2010
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Before an audience of 15,000 at a high school football game, 3rd Infantry Division Deputy Commanding General-Rear Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips and 3rd ID-Rear Command Sergeant Major Jeffrey Ashmen welcomed about 40 of the nation's sons and daughters into the Army in the traditional reading of the Oath of Enlistment during a pregame show, Sept 4.
For the encore, teamwork and touchdowns were tantamount in turning Kingsland, Ga., into a virtual national championship, as two nationally-ranked teams, the Georgia State Champion Camden County Wildcats and the Miami Central Rockets, battled.
The Jacksonville (Fla.) Recruiting Battalion and the 3rd ID worked together to make the event memorable for the spectators with static displays and the time-honored ceremony as a pre-game show.
"A ceremony like tonight takes place in a context of excellence," Brig. Gen. Phillips said. "Two great football teams coming together - wonderful fans supporting them, and in the middle of it all, we get to swear in about 40 young men and women into our Army during a time of war. It demonstrates tremendous support for our nation and for these young people who are carrying so much of the load in the free world."
Command Sergeant Major Ashmen, who grew up in a large city and similarly attended a large school in, ironically, Camden County, N.J., said he understood the appreciation of sporting events such as the Camden vs. Central Miami match.
Command Sergeant Major Ashmen said besides the competition, the game provided a wonderful opportunity to show the new recruits how much they are appreciated.
Jacksonville Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Daniel E. O'Grady said they appreciated the 3rd ID assistance and the support from Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield.
"One of the things we love to do is have synergy with the ROTC programs, Reserve units, and active component units in our area," Lt. Col. O'Grady said. "Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield has been huge supporters of our recruiting battalion. We have a company right there in Hinesville, Ga. We know if we need assistance, that the installation is there to support us."
Some of that support included 385th Military Police Battalion Soldiers - Staff Sergeant Christopher Evans, Spc. Thomas Hill, Spc. Ronald Taylor, Sgt. Preston Smith, Spc. Willie Barber, and Spc. Michael Howard - who set up two M-1117 Armored Supply Vehicles and equipment as displays to augment Jacksonville's Recruiting Battalion's information booths.
Lieutenant Colonel O'Grady said the young men and women who sign up are of the highest quality.
"We are enjoying great success right now, recruiting America's greatest sons and daughters to serve in our all-volunteer Army," Lt. Col. O'Grady said. "Our recruiters are dedicated and they recruit with integrity and they are out prospecting the best of the best. Right now, there is an average of about three-of-10 high school seniors who are qualified to serve in the military based on physical and moral requirements."
And as an added bonus, the new recruits were given front row seats for the night's game, which began with a coin-toss by Brig. Gen. Phillips.
Brigadier General Phillips used an official 3rd ID commander's coin, which he later presented to the head referee. Brigadier General Phillips said he presented it to him because the referee represents the adults who foster the feeling of teamwork, good sportsmanship, and competition.
The crowds did not have long to wait for that intense competition. It began with the kick-off, and turned into a clash of titans, jumping to 29-21 at the half.
One of the recruits, Lawrence Knight, who born in Florida but lives in Hinesville, said the game was intense.
"I didn't expect it to go back and forth so quickly," said Knight, who played football his freshman year of high school. He said he was excited about enlisting.
"I leave in January; I can't wait," he said, adding his job was going to be a tanker, attending Basic and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Knox, Ky.
Prince Young, another recruit who went to school in Cobb County, said he also looked forward to his Army Career.
"I thought joining the Army would be a great learning experience," Young said noting he really wanted to travel and see the world, hopefully starting with Hawaii, Puerto Rico or Brazil.
In the end, Camden County took down Miami Central, 45-42, with senior Matt Ehasz kicking a 19-yard field goal as the clock expired, giving the Wildcats the victory.