The U.S. Army turned 237 years old Thursday. To celebrate, Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield conducted a military-style birthday party on Cottrell Field with narration of its history provided by Maj. Gen. Robert “Abe” Abram, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division and Stewart-Hunter, and with soldiers dressed in period uniforms.
With 50 state flags lining the field centered on a renovated pavilion and statue of the 3rd ID mascot, Rocky, visitors gathered in the stadium after first checking out entries on display for a birthday cake competition.
After an invocation and the national anthem by the division band, the bass voice of 2nd Lt. Matthew Dewaegeneer, “the voice of the Marne,” bellowed across the field as he read a summary of the Army’s history, focusing on the battle streamers on the Army flag.
A soldier stepped forward bearing the Army flag, tilting it as Abrams and 3rd ID Command Sgt. Maj. Edd Watson stepped forward.
Deweageneer listed the war and campaign battle streamers, which were brought forward by an unidentified soldier and then re-attached to the flag pole.
The streamers began with the American Revolution and continued through to the current global war on terrorism.
“We were the original American insurgents,” Abrams began said. “The Continental Congress voted on June 14, 1775, to establish a unified command of state militias from the 13 colonies — the Continental Army. Our Army began with just 10 authorized companies … That Army then helped to forge our nation.”
Leaping forward 237 years and passed multiple wars and campaigns, the U.S. Army is the nation’s decisive force, he said, explaining that other forces have specific, sometimes short-term missions.
“But when the president wants decisive action, he calls the nation’s decisive force — the Army,” Abrams said. “The U.S. Army’s mere presence commands respect around the world with over 180,000 troops deployed or stationed around the globe, including 1,908 3rd ID soldiers who are currently deployed.”
Following his remarks, Abrams and Watson, were joined by the 3rd ID’s youngest and oldest soldiers, Pvt. John Gilbert, 18, and CWO 5 Ray Noble, 58, cut the winning cake, which was baked and submitted by the Legion Dining Facility for the Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion.
Following the cake cutting, everyone selected one of six birthday cakes and waited in line for a slice. After grabbing a slice of red velvet cake, Noble, the division’s senior soldier, talked about his career, which began in 1973.
“I always tell people the Army is my calling,” he said, noting that he’ll soon deploy for a fifth and final time. “I’m living out a dream. I still do everything the Army would expect of me as a soldier, scored 290 on my last PT test. The Army challenges me, and I challenge myself.”
When he returns from his upcoming deployment, the Savannah native said he plans to retire and settle in Hinesville where he hopes to serve his community.