Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
The Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth celebrated the Army’s 246th Birthday with an award ceremony and cake-cutting June 11 in Grant Auditorium.
“The United States Army can trace its roots back to 1775 when the Congress of the United States established the first Continental Army. The Army was created because there was a dire need for professionally trained soldiers to combat the British Empire and protect our newfound freedom,” said 1st Sgt. Chad Hickey, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 40th Military Police Battalion (Detention), who served as the ceremony narrator. “People are the Army’s top priority, and the 246th birthday theme is honoring the courage of the American soldier.”
Lt. Gen. Theodore Martin, CAC and Fort Leavenworth commanding general, gave further details on the Army’s founding during his remarks.
“The Second Continental Congress decided on the 14th of June that they needed to send 10 companies of expert riflemen and march them as fast as they could to Boston. Those 10 companies had one captain, three lieutenants, four sergeants, four corporals, 68 riflemen, and a bugler or drummer,” Martin said. “It wasn’t until the 15th of June that General (George) Washington was appointed a general, so I want to make the point that before we had generals in our Army, we had sergeants.
“Sergeants were the backbone of the Army. It was the sergeants that held everything together,” he said. “They helped train the lieutenants, they helped the captains command the companies and they moved out. Now, here we are today, 246 years later, the most awesome team on the planet.”
During the ceremony, Martin administered the oath of enlistment to six Fort Leavenworth soldiers — Staff Sgt. Shawn Gill, HHC, 40th MP Battalion; Spc. David Barajas, HHC, U.S. Disciplinary Barracks; Sgt. Tytiana Richardson, 526th MP Company, 40th MP Battalion; Sgt. Takierra Sanders, HHC, USDB; Spc. Sebrina Shelton, Mission Command Training Program; and Spc. Lillian Peetz, 500th MP Detachment, Special Troops Battalion.
“For those of you who have been around for a while, you know there is probably three things that an officer gets to do in their career that strike home to the heart of being important, and one is to reenlist a soldier,” Martin said. “I really salute you for continuing to serve your country.”
Gill has been serving in the military for 18 years, with more than four years in the Army Reserve and more than 13 years on active duty.
“I like serving in the military, serving the Army and serving the people of the United States,” Gill said. “It’s just been a great opportunity to do things and see different places of the world.
“I’ve learned to be fluid with change (and) want to be the best I can be,” he said.
Barajas has been serving nearly three years on active duty.
“I love what I do. I love how the military operates. It has given me a lot of helpful tools in life,” Barajas said. “It’s taught me how to be disciplined and how to be a great leader overall.
“I hope to (one day) be a great (noncommissioned officer), keep helping the Army and keep being, like the three-star general said, the backbone of the military,” he said. “I hope to serve my whole 20 years and just be a great leader for the Army.”
Following the re-enlistment, Sgt. Andrew Hamer, 500th MP Detachment, STB, and Pfc. Jason Geise, 165th MP Company, 705th MP Battalion (Detention), were recognized as the CAC and Fort Leavenworth NCO and Soldier of the Year, respectively, following their completion of the Best Warrior Competition April 26-30 at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. Martin presented them both with the Army Commendation Medal.
During the competition, Hamer and Geise had to complete multiple tasks including the new Army Combat Fitness Test, a 12-mile ruck march, day, and night land navigations and more.
“The most challenging part for me personally was the 12-mile ruck march, especially considering it was right after (completing) a day and night land (navigation) where you’re already trekking through the woods most of the time,” Hamer said. “(The entire competition) was an experience. It was definitely difficult, but at the end of it, you definitely felt relief and exhilaration.”
Geise said it was hard to pinpoint a single event as the most difficult.
“It was a culmination of it all,” he said.
Hamer and Geise will represent CAC and Fort Leavenworth in the Training and Doctrine Command Best Warrior Competition in July at Fort Leonard Wood.
Six Department of the Army civilians were also recognized for their years of service during the ceremony. Awardees included Jeff Bevington, Sexual Harassment/ Assault Response and Prevention Academy; James Schultz, CAC-Training; Dr. Louis DiMarco, Army University; Dr. Thomas Ward, Army University; Charles Barker, CAC-T; and Barry Buchanan, CAC-T.
“This is a total of 245 years of service to the country,” Martin said. “We know we couldn’t do (what we do) without the Department of Army civilians. They’re the glue that kind of holds together this Army in uniform that’s continually turning and moving.”
The ceremony ended with a ceremonial cake-cutting using a replica of a dragoon saber. Martin, who represented the oldest soldier on post, Pfc. Alejandra Lopez Santiago, Munson Army Health Center, who represented the youngest soldier on post, were joined by CAC and Fort Leavenworth Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen Helton in cutting the cake.