Copperas Cove Mayor Frank Seffrood, Harker Heights Mayor Rob Robinson, retired generals and honored guests joined Maj. Gen. John Uberti, deputy commander for III Corps and Fort Hood, and Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick Akuna in celebrating the 241st birthday of the U.S. Army on Tuesday at III Corps headquarters.
The ceremony began with a quick history of the Army from the time 10 rifle companies were authorized by the Second Continental Congress in 1775 through the trials and tribulations faced by soldiers through the centuries to give the nation the highly-trained soldiers of today. Uberti and Akuna then ceremoniously presented the 189 Army Campaign streamers earned for combat since the Revolutionary War, placing each set of streamers on the Army Flag to honor the service and sacrifice of men and women since the nation’s founding.
“I want to take a few moments to talk about why we pause to celebrate this event as soldiers, no matter where we are,” Uberti said, “and what those streamers really symbolize for America’s Army and, more importantly, for our nation and the people we serve. Two hundred and 41 birthdays — the sheer number itself is difficult to wrap our heads around. We’re a relatively young country compared to others around the world, but that number reminds us that the U.S. Army has been there since the very beginning.”
Uberti spoke about the courage it took for the Founding Fathers and those first militia men who would form the basis of the Army to stand up against the mightiest army in the world at the time.
“When the time came to launch the revolution that led to our independence, the American soldier led it — much as the American soldier does today,” he said. “It is a way of life we as Americans have enjoyed in the 241 years since Thomas Jefferson and the Founding Fathers penned their signatures on our Declaration of Independence, were made possible in large part thanks the contributions and sacrifices of the American soldier.”
The major general said that today’s soldiers still lead the way, not only in war but in compassion.
“We also have a proud history of giving back and assisting those in need,” Uberti said. “Many in uniform today have participated in those humanitarian missions, whether in places like Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, West Africa or other nations across the globe who have asked for America’s help, our Army has always been there.”
The ceremony honoring the Army’s birthday was in no way adequate enough to account for the sacrifices made by soldiers over nearly a quarter millennium, he added.
“Our work is never done. Even as we enjoy the fellowship, we need to remember the thousands of men and women who are currently deployed around the world away from their families,” Uberti said. “We can not forget the importance and significance of our mission and the sacrifices our soldiers and their families make as the sentinels of freedom.”
After the general spoke, he and Akuna brought out the oldest and youngest soldiers present to help cut the cake. The oldest soldier on Fort Hood was Chaplain Col. Zan Sellers, 11th Signal Brigade, at age 61. The youngest soldier was 17-year-old Pvt. James McClain of Glenwood, Calif., with 1st Squadron, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. McClain has been in the Army for six months.
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