cucolo at rotary
Soldier of the month returns
After putting the soldier of the month program on hold for awhile due to heavy deployment levels, Rotary officials will once again hold ceremonies to recognize one outstanding service member each month. Sgt. Pedro Ortiz, who was honored during Tuesday’s rotary meeting that featured Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, was the first to be thrust into the newly revived spotlight.
Ortiz was recognized for finishing in the top 10 percent of his class at the Warriors’ Leader’s Course and for receiving the Commandant’s List Award. He also was commended for earning an excellent physical fitness test score.
For several years, Rotary members honored one soldier a week during the club’s lunch meetings for his or her efforts and accomplishments. The recent influx of returning soldiers has made the ceremonies possible once more; however, the ceremonies will occur once a month instead of once a week.
According to the general, crews will begin clearing land on Fort Stewart within two weeks to make room for new fifth brigade facilities that will be constructed, such as additional housing, headquarters and operation centers, among other structures.
Cucolo, who said he understands how easy it is to adopt a “we’ll believe it when we see it,” attitude, emphasized the imminence of the impending growth boom.
“That brigade that doesn’t even exist yet is already scheduled for deployment,” he said.
In terms of construction, Cucolo said Fort Stewart is the No. 2 Army post, following Fort Bliss. An estimated $1.3 billion will be spent on Fort Stewart projects by 2013.
The general expounded upon his theory of relationship fatigue.
“I know how it is, ‘OK, here’s another new commanding general,’ and you get to know him for about a year and then he’s deployed for a year and then he’s gone. And you have been on that cycle for seven years now.
“Please accept an incredible commitment from myself and Sgt. Maj. Andrews and our spouses. We are temporary employees here. What’s important is what endures. The division and the community endure here.”
Indicating a slide that read “This is not your father’s 3rd ID,” Cucolo said, “This is not even your older brother’s 3rd ID.” He said it was a division transformed by Skip Sharp. Sharp, now a four-star general in command of U.S. and UN forces in Korea, was a major general commanding the 3rd ID from December 1999-November 2001.
The transformed Army, Cucolo explained, means, “The division doesn’t deploy any more. Parts of the division will deploy.” With an Army centered on brigade combat teams, the BCTs can deploy separately, he said. Each has its own artillery, intelligence, support and other assets that make it independent.
With the Fourth Brigade Combat Team’s early return beginning next month, Cucolo said, “Everyone will be home January through June.”