A steady downpour did not delay Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno’s Monday visits to Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield.
The stops marked the first time Odierno has visited the Dog Face soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division at their home base since being sworn in Sept. 7, 2011, as the 38th chief of staff of the Army.
Odierno met with senior leaders and spoke to family members about Shaping the Army of 2020, the Army’s initiative focused on transitioning the force from its current wartime focus to staffing, training and equipping the force of the future. The highlight of the coastal stopover came when Odierno re-enlisted 30 Marne soldiers in the presence of family members and their brothers and sisters in arms.
“It’s great to be down here at Fort Stewart,” Odierno said. “I’ve had the opportunity throughout the years to serve side-by-side and shoulder-to-shoulder with many soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division. I’m proud to say I’ve had the opportunity to do that.
“The best part of my job is when I get to do things like this: I get to re-enlist young men and women who are choosing to stay in the Army,” he continued. “The other important part for us as an Army is, we just don’t make leaders; we have to grow leaders. As we have a mixture of first-termers, mid-termers and careerists who are re-enlisting today, you are helping us to develop that expertise.”
Spc. Erick Machain, a motor transport operator with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, re-enlisted at the ceremony beside his wife and young son.
The Mexico City native said he chose to serve three more years to further his career and college education, as well as to continue to support his family. He said it was an honor to be a part of the ceremony.
“It’s very exciting,” Machain said. “It’s not every day you get to be re-enlisted by a general, let alone the chief of staff.”
Another re-enlistee, Sgt. Candice N. Jones, a human resources specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, said in addition to supporting her six children, she had many reasons for deciding to stay in the Army.
“I enjoy what I do,” the Albany native said. “I love traveling. I love seeing the world. I love taking care of soldiers, and I love taking care of the country.
“It makes me feel great to be a part of … such a great organization that [plays a role] in the country’s well-being,” Jones continued.
After the re-enlistment, Odierno spoke to each family individually and presented the reenlistees with coins.