By Spc. Joseph Vine
United States Forces-Iraq public affairs
CAMP VICTORY, Iraq - Fifty-nine soldiers stood at attention in the rotunda of Al Faw Palace on Oct. 5, raised their right hands and once again swore to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
Lt. Gen. Robert Cone, United States Forces-Iraq deputy commanding general for operations, administered the oath of enlistment to the soldiers who decided to continue serving their nation.
"We have been at war for nine years and in two separate conflicts," Cone said. "The difference between now and past conflicts is that these two wars are fought by an all-volunteer force.
"Because of the devotion to duty and unparalleled professionalism of the soldiers standing before us today, we are achieving success in Iraq that no one thought possible," Cone said. "I am honored to stand before you ... and thank you for your courage, commitment and unwavering sense of duty."
Each soldier in the ceremony had his own motivation for re-enlisting.
For Sgt. 1st Class Jedidiah Wells, who has been in the Army for 10 years and serves as a career counselor with the 40th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, re-enlisting sets an example of long-term commitment for junior soldiers.
"I think this is a great opportunity," said Spc. Derek Keith, a chaplain's assistant with III Corps.
"Not many people get to re-enlist in a palace in Iraq, especially during a mass re-enlistment."
Spc. Maurice Walter, a signal technician with 1st Armored Division, saw it as a way to accomplish two goals at once.
"It gives me a chance to finish school while I'm serving my country," he said.
After reciting the last line of the oath of enlistment, the soldiers made a right face and filed onto the stage to receive their certificate, a deputy commanding general's coin and congratulatory handshakes from Cone and his senior enlisted adviser, Command Sgt. Maj. Arthur L. Coleman, Jr.