By Justin CreechJune 21, 2012
FORT BELVOIR, Va. (June 14) -- Fort Belvoir celebrated the Army's 237th birthday, the 235th anniversary of the American Flag and recognized its centennial, June 14 in front of the garrison headquarters building.
The ceremony also included the end of an era for engineers on Fort Belvoir with the casing of E Company, 169 Engineer Battalion's guidon as the final engineer company moves to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
Stephen Brooks, Deputy to the Installation Commander, read a message from the Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. Raymond Odierno, which was followed by comments from the Garrison Commander, Col. John J. Strycula and keynote speaker, Lt. Gen. Patrick J. O'Reilly, Missile Defense Agency director.
"There is no doubt America would not be the powerful beacon of democracy it is today without the exceptional men and woman who have served in our Army," said Strycula.
Strycula added the birth of the Army is the very birth of freedom for our great nation and even though the American Flag is two years younger than the Army, it is no less cherished by those who have worn, and currently wear, the flag on their uniforms.
"Those of us who have lived and served on foreign soil can testify to the warm feeling of pride that rushes in at the sight of the stars and stripes flying outside a U.S. Embassy, military post, or American business," said Strycula. "For a brief moment when your eyes spot the familiar pattern of red, white and blue you suddenly feel at home."
He also shared the post takes its name from the French word "Belvoir" which means "beautiful to see." The name was coined by Col. William Fairfax in the 1730s when he named his plantation Belvoir manor.
O'Reilly said it was an honor to be a part of the one-hundredth anniversary of Fort Belvoir since it has been a critical center of engineering and technical support for our nation for over a century. He stated that the Belvoir Research, Development and Engineering Center was founded in 1870 to test Army equipment, and it became home to the Engineer Board. By 1919, Belvoir was the official home of the Corps of Engineers.
"The Engineers trained and educated at Fort Belvoir laid much of the foundation of our nation's infrastructure," O'Reilly said. "To include the building of coastal fortifications and the mapping of much of the Western United States."
Capt. Matthew Miller, E Co., 169th Eng. Bn., commander said he was honored to be a part of the ceremony.
"It's historic in that 'Echo' Company is the last engineer training company to leave Belvoir and return to Fort Leonard Wood," said Miller.
A timeline of four centuries of Army uniforms was presented by Gus Person, Fort Belvoir Historian and the First Virginia regiment.
Uniforms from the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War II, Vietnam and Operation Enduring Freedom, as well as uniforms currently being worn by the GO8 Battalion at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency were displayed.
"Displaying the history of the Army uniform is an important part of our mission," said Kon Gojnycz of the 1st Virginia Regiment. "It brings our history to life."
A formation of two UH-60 Black Hawk and two LUH-72 Lakota helicopters provided by the 12th Aviation Battalion, excited the crowd.
After the formal ceremony, the crowd made its way to the front steps where it participated in the annual "Go Army! Beat Navy!" spirit video-taping which will be sent to West Point Military Academy. The ceremonial cake cutting was performed by Strycula, O'Reilly, and Pfcs Heath Noble and Dennis Bozarth, both of e Co. 169th Eng. Bn. Hotdogs, chips and soda were provided by the Directorate of Families, Morale, Welfare and Recreation to eat after the cake cutting.