In celebration of the U.S. Army’s 232nd birthday, the Combined Arms Support Command and the Quartermaster Center and School hosted an outdoor ceremony at the 1st Logistics Command War Memorial June 14.
Ret. Brig. Gen. John W. Mountcastle, a former military history instructor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, chief of military history and commander of the Army’s Center of Military History in Washington, D.C., was the guest speaker. Mountcastle spoke on the theme of this year’s celebration: “Call to Duty, Boots on the Ground, Army Strong.”
“Soldiers doing the heavy lifting for our nation around the world continue to answer this ‘Call to Duty’ during one of the most dangerous periods in our nation’s history,” said Mountcastle. “Soldiers putting their ‘Boots on the Ground’ is the strength of our nation and the ultimate instrument of our national resolve. ‘Army Strong’ is more than the strength of an individual Soldier – it is the teamwork of a well-trained organization. It is the underlying moral fiber, the deep-seated emotions and total determination that every Soldier carries with them.”
Chief Warrant 5 James Wiggins, 60, had the honor of participating in the Army cake-cutting ceremony as the longest-serving Soldier currently on Fort Lee. Wiggins was stationed at Fort Lee for advanced individual training in January 1966 as a fabric repair specialist. He returned to the installation in January 2007 in his current position at CASCOM. Due to retire in 2009, Wiggins said he’s pleased to be able to retire from the same post where he started his Army career.
“It’s amazing to end where you started, and in the same month. You wonder if that’s how fate works sometimes,” said Wiggins.
Conversely, Pvt. Kori Dinkins has only four months’ time in service, as she currently attends the water purification specialist course. At age 17, Dinkins is one of the youngest Soldiers on the installation and was asked to participate with Wiggins in the cake-cutting ceremony. Dinkins, from New Orleans, was slightly withdrawn and reverent among the post’s senior leaders and respected guests, but said she was honored to be asked to participate in the event. She said she joined the Army to better herself and her family.
“I’m a little nervous,” she said. “But I’m honored to be here.”
Wiggins spoke with the young private during rehearsals, and is proud that so many like Dinkins are answering the call to duty.
I look at young Soldiers today, and I envision myself back when I was that young and I ask myself, ‘Did I appear to older Soldiers back then the way young Soldiers appear to us today?’” I have grandchildren older than that young Soldier here today, and it’s amazing to me. This is a time that really means something, to volunteer to be ‘Army Strong,’ because it asks so much of our Soldiers.”
Brig. Gen. Mark A. Bellini, QMC&S commanding general, reflected on the importance of this day in American history.
“It’s fitting that we heard from the former chief of military history here at historic Fort Lee,” said Bellini. “This very ground that we’re standing on was fought over during the American Revolution and once again during the American Civil War. We are surrounded by history and you can’t step out of history in this area, and we are blessed by that. All across the country today and on military installations around the world, Army flags are proudly on display for everyone to see. I’m glad everyone came today to see not only our flag but our Soldiers who are the strength of our Army, they’re ‘Army Strong.’”
Bellini also noted that the Army flag was designed at the Heraldry Branch at the Office of the Quartermaster General and the first one produced can be found at the U.S. Army Quartermaster Museum.
“Today we remember, honor and celebrate not only the past but the present as well. We pray for the safety and success of our deployed men and women,” said Bellini.