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Running with the entire division

Courier staffer in 3rd ID morale builder

POSTED: October 5, 2009 12:25 p.m.
Photo by Lauren Hunsberger/

With the sun flaring on the horizon, members of the 3rd Infantry Division run Friday morning.

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Sometimes a little perspective is necessary in life.
Early Friday morning, this concept became very clear to me as I stood in formation with the entire 3rd Infantry Division of Fort Stewart, watching the sun rise.
I’d been granted permission to participate in the division-wide motivational run, and as I looked around I
realized this group of about 20,000 brave soldiers will not stand together again for nearly two years.
Being surrounded by the seemingly endless sea of bodies clad in Army-issued physical training uniforms, I began to understand the magnitude of the 3rd ID’s  upcoming deployment. I stood in awe of the group’s power, strength and size.
I ran beside the soldiers, listening to them sing songs and motivate each other. Thousands of footsteps thundered through the streets of Fort Stewart as the division completed the 3.7-mile course. Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo led the way.
I have no military background, so I’d never been in the presence of so many soldiers at once. But even with my limited experience, it was easy to see the camaraderie the troops share with each other and with their commanding officers.
Cucolo, who later that afternoon participated in a color casing ceremony and boarded a flight to Iraq, spoke openly to his troops. They will all follow him overseas in the coming weeks and months.
“I know that when you are in your brigades and your combat teams, you are going 110 miles per hour. And I also know that you’re either getting ready to deploy, you’re deploying or you’re on somebody’s list to deploy, and you need to know that this is the last time this decade that this formation can take place. The last time this decade that these colors can gather. The last time this decade that this division could go on a run,” the general said.
He continued, “I just wanted to remind you once more, standing on a field all together, to see for yourselves that you are part of something larger than that platoon, that company, battery, or troop, that battalion, that squadron — something larger than that brigade or that brigade combat team. You are part of the 3rd Infantry Division.”
Although I couldn’t look into the eyes of every soldier on the field, I saw no tears on the faces of those around me. Instead, I saw fists clenched tightly around the hips of those about to go to war.
Many soldiers still have a few months before they head to Iraq, but are psyching themselves up mentally and physically. For those troops, the 3.7-mile run helped prepare them for their trip to the National Training Center in California.
Col. Roger Cloutier, who commands the 1st Brigade, saw the division run as a last energetic burst of training before going to NTC. He said seeing the whole division together is a great morale booster.
“Even for us guys who have been around the Army for over 20 years, when you see the entire division come together, you go, ‘Holy smokes!’ A division is a huge organization, and it makes us feel proud,” Cloutier said.
On a platform high above the soldiers’ heads, a photographer snapped a picture of the whole division. It will hang in the headquarters building with the other division pictures — reminders of the thousands of soldiers who, in the words of Gen. Cucolo, have “raised a little hell in  the streets of Fort Stewart.”
Now that is strength in numbers.
Stay safe, 3rd ID soldiers, and thank you for all you do.
 

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