I recall the day I enlisted in the U.S. Army, February 6, 1969. It was a sunshiny day in South Florida, like most are. I had my sister and her soon to be husband drop me off at the AFEES (Armed Forces Entrance and Examining Station) in Coral Gables, Florida. There we went through our final physical, processing all day long and late in the day, rode over to Miami International Airport to board a plane to fly us up to Columbia, South Caroline for Basic Training at Ft. Jackson.
Nothing special, no crowds either from anti-war people or supporters, just a business as usual day from most everybody, except that plane load of young men entering the Army.
Fast forward to April 30, 2011.
It was a pure pleasure to attend the first annual “Our Community Salutes” event held at the 40 et 8 Chateau on 78th Street in Vancouver, Washington. There, the community, dignitaries, family members and loved ones came to give recognition to a small but vital group of graduating high school seniors. Those enlisting in the U.S. Army.
25 High Schools from the Portland/Vancouver Metropolitan area and one home schooled had graduating seniors enlisting. That’s 55 young men and women from our area volunteering to enter the Armed Forces while we remain at war.
Not to leave out the other branches of the Military, but this first event was set up by the Lt. Col. Thomas Crowson Commander of the Portland Recruiting Battalion along with Command Sergeant Major Kenneth Crow. Plans are that the next event will give recognition to all of the other branches of the Military as well.
With the assistance and planning of Larry Smith, an Army veteran and Vancouver city councilor; and Dan Tarbell, a Navy veteran and member of the local veterans’ organization 40 et 8, the 40 et 8 Chateau was transformed into a Hall of Honor to give those teens who could attend the recognition they rightfully deserve.
Our Community Salutes Future Soldiers event April 30, 2011
After words by Larry Smith and Battle Ground Mayor Michael Ciraulo, the keynote address was given by Chief Warrant Officer 5 Anderson. A short address followed by Sgt. Agosto led into special recognition being given to several who also received a “Youth Certificate Award and a Military coin given by the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion Portland Commander Lt. Col. Thomas Crowson and Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Crow.”
After retiring of the colors, everyone met outside for an ice cream social, many of us older Vets kidding the young recruits with enjoy it now, you won’t have any for a while.
I spoke with a few, seeking out those who, like me, would be going into aviation to crew and repair Army Helicopters.
Yesterday, I met a fine group of American youth from all backgrounds. These are young people, who for whatever reason, have decided to walk the difficult and dangerous road to protect our nation and our freedoms.
They are joining a unique group, a group that has stood the test and kept our nation free since its inception.
They are today’s soldiers and tomorrows veterans.
They are the men and women of today’s United States Army.