Soldiers celebrate Fourth of July at Kandahar Airfield
By Staff Sgt. Jes L. Smith, 16th Mobile Public Affairs DetachmentJuly 4, 2011
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, July 5, 2011 -- Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, helped U.S. servicemembers celebrate the 235th anniversary of America’s independence by administering the oath of enlistment to 235 servicemembers during an Independence Day celebration held July 4, 2011, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
Maj. Gen. James L. Terry, commander of Regional Command-South and the 10th Mountain Division, hosted the Fourth of July celebration, and started the ceremony off by thanking the servicemembers for their commitment to the military as well as the sacrifices made by their loved ones in support of their service.
He then offered a special thanks to Petraeus for his leadership and sacrifice throughout his many years of service before introducing the man who’s long-time service in the Army will soon end, as he moves on to become the Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
Prior to offering the oath of enlistment, Petraeus gave a short speech to also thank the servicemembers for their service as well as speaking about the military’s history of re-enlisting, especially during times of war and its importance in today’s military.
“Here 235 of you stand ready to re-enlist for another tour of service, or to reaffirm your recent re-enlistment by reciting the oath of enlistment, knowing full well your commitment will likely entail another long separation from loved ones and more tough battles with the enemy,” said Petraeus. “I cannot say how impressive your actions are.”
Petraeus added that there was nowhere he would rather celebrate Independence Day than in Afghanistan with Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines.
Sgt. Robert Conklin, an ammunition specialist with the 592nd Ordnance Company and one of the servicemembers who took the oath of enlistment, said when he heard about Petraeus coming to conduct a re-enlistment ceremony at KAF, he jumped at the opportunity.
“I think it is a really cool thing that General Petraeus came out here to visit Kandahar,” said Conklin. “The fact that he is willing do to one last hurrah with a bunch of re-enlistees is a really cool thing.”
The ceremony was offered to servicemembers re-enlisting and to those desiring to affirm their commitment from a previous re-enlistment during their current deployment in Afghanistan.
The ceremony ended with a cake-cutting ceremony, in which the youngest and oldest servicemembers to take the oath of enlistment were called up on stage to cut the cake with Petraeus and the other distinguished guests.