Sustainers unite for inaugural ball at West Point

By Maj. Geraldo Peralta, U.S. Military AcademyFebruary 15, 2012

Sustainers gather at West Point
The Force Sustainment Association's inaugrual ball was celebrated at West Point Feb. 11. Brig. Gen. Gwen Bingham, the 51st Quartermaster General and U.S. Army Quartermaster School commandant at Fort Lee, Va., was guest speaker for the event held at t... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

WEST POINT, N.Y. (Feb. 15, 2012) -- The Force Sustainment Association's inaugural ball was celebrated at West Point Feb. 11, welcoming 101 newly branched Transportation, Quartermaster, Ordnance, Finance and Adjutant General cadets into the Force Sustainment community.

Brig. Gen. Gwen Bingham, the 51st Quartermaster General and U.S. Army Quartermaster School commandant at Fort Lee, Va., was guest speaker for the event, held inside the West Point Club's Grand Ballroom.

Bingham spoke of the Army profession and the importance of trust within it. She conveyed a sense of pride in being a force sustainer.

When referring to the Class of 2012's motto, Bingham told the cadets "Your class gets it; 'For More Than Ourselves.' That's what we are all about."

"We logisticians are experts in our business of war … force sustainers have been awarded 51 Medals of Honor," Bingham said. "What I love the most out of the now more than 30 years of my Army career is that we are a team of teams."

Bingham's invitation to be the guest speaker at the Force Sustainment Ball was no coincidence. It was at last year's Combined Arms Tailgate when Lt. Col. Michele Thompson-Shoats, Regimental Tactical Officer for 1st Regiment and Senior Quartermaster Advisor at West Point, witnessed firsthand the quartermaster general's passion for sustainment when she interacted with cadets.

Thompson-Shoats recognized a need for such type of events to foster camaraderie and esprit de corps within the Force Sustainment branches, a population that is vastly outnumbered by the Combat Arms branches within West Point. Approximately 10 percent of the Class of 2012 entered into one of the Force Sustainment branches.

Thompson-Shoats' initiative resulted in the creation of the U.S. Military Academy Force Sustainment Association. This organization provides a forum for the exchange of information on sustainment topics and functions, as well as, the promotion of camaraderie and sense of community for staff, faculty and cadets alike. The Force Sustainment Association is presided by Col. Donna Brazil.

The following awards were presented during the ceremony:

• Horatio Gates Bronze Medal: Sgt. 1st Class Michael Burich;

• Order of Samuel Sharpe: Sgt. 1st Class Edmund Saldarini, James McTamaney, Charles Herd, Kenneth Kerst and Maj. Justin Miller;

• Honorable Order of Saint Martin: Jose Aviles, Kevin J. Bernard, Sgt. 1st Class Daniel R. Boudreau, Capt. Amaka A. Auer, Capt. Kelly L. Thompson, Maj. Thaddeus L. Burnett and Maj. Denis J. Fajardo;

• Honorable Order of Saint Christopher: Maj. Jana Fajardo;

• Keeper of the Flame: Maj. Catherine Miller and Mary Lou Saldarini.

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