To the Editor:

At 50 years of age, I had the honor of running in and finishing my first marathon Sunday. My wife and I are both Army retirees. I started the run with two other Army veterans.

Throughout the course of the run, I saw Family Readiness Groups and Marines in uniform manning water points. Near the end of the course, I saw JROTC students passing out water to the runners. The one thing that was conspicuously absent from the inaugural Army Marathon was the Army.

It was disheartening to learn that Fort Hood published guidance that there were to be no groups of uniformed soldiers at the event. There was to be no unit colors or unit guide-ons at the event.

In my opinion, the leadership at Fort Hood severely missed the mark on this decision.

Though I am not given the security briefings that the Fort Hood leadership receives, to me the lack of an Army presence at this event was obvious and was not the image that Fort Hood should project.

The presence of unit formations, soldiers in uniform, unit colors and guide-ons project the boldness and courage of this great institution, the U.S. Army. These events promote pride, Esprit de Corps, and camaraderie.

Soldiers do not cower down when directed to go out on combat missions in Iraq or Afghanistan, so I see no reason why we should do so at home. Hopefully we will do better next year.

Herbert Gately

Harker Heights

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