GATESVILLE — Mobilizing Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers enjoyed a day of respite from training at North Fort Hood, experiencing Texas heritage Sunday afternoon from the Gatesville community.

Gatesville held a “Salute to Warrior Citizens” event for more than 1,000 mobilizing soldiers.

“It is an honor to serve those who are serving us,” said Diana Fincher lead coordinator for the event.

This is the city’s way of “saying ‘thank you’ for the sacrifice of the citizen soldier,” said Maj. Anthony Kazor of Bellevue, Neb., executive officer for 2nd Battalion, 393rd Infantry Regiment, 120th Infantry Brigade, Division West.

Kazor was the Army representative helping organize the event.

“It was particularly exciting to see the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry Regiment marching up in formation,” Fincher said, after the soldiers arrived.

The “Salute to Warrior Citizens” opened with the Texas Heritage Riders presenting the U.S. flag on horseback while the national anthem played.

Then North Foot Hood became a bustling site of wrangling, archery, horseback riding and country music.

Soldiers moved to each station hosted by Gatesville residents. Stations included horseback riding, live goat roping, face painting, simulated bull roping, recurve archery, visiting with Texas Rangers, animal demonstrations and much more. The sheepdog herding demonstration was a favorite with the soldiers.

The Longhorn cattle were a hit too with the soldiers and the dozens of children at the event. The activities showcased the “Heart of Texas” to the soldiers before they deploy to various locations around the world.

“It was an honor for us to express our appreciation for their sacrifice,” Fincher said.

To top off the festivities, hamburgers and hot dogs were served while country musicians Cliff Jansky and Jack Murphy performed.

The 120th Infantry Brigade has developed a strong, lasting partnership with Gatesville. Those who attended the “Salute to Warrior Citizens” were very grateful to the Gatesville citizens.

“This is a such a small thing we could do for them, their sacrifice fighting for our freedom,” said Carla Manning of Gatesville, and a Fort Hood Good Neighbor.

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