By Pfc. Durwood Blackmon, 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs
TIKRIT, IRAQ – Lurking behind a formation of eager Soldiers, helicopters shadowed 177 members of Task Force Wings who took their oath of reenlistment at a ceremony held for them Monday, Sept. 11th at Contingency Operating Base Speicher.
Soldiers from Task Force Wings, which consists of the 25th Infantry Division Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Battalion, 82nd Attack Reconnaissance Battalion and 1st Squadron, 17th Calvary Regiment from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as well as Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 50th Infantry (Mechanized), Ridge Runners from West Virginia, were present.
As friends and honorary guests took their seats, the 25th Tropic Lighting Band played music and provided a warm welcome for all who attended.
Col. A.T. Ball Jr., Commander of the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, administered the oath of reenlistment and expressed his appreciation for those who took the oath on September 11th.
“Exactly 5 years ago today we endured the most horrific attack on our nation that anyone can imagine. All of you here today, along with your families back home, know the significant difference you have made in our world,” Ball continued. “These are the leaders of our Army for tomorrow, we should be encouraged by their commitment and sacrifice in the face of impended danger and uncertainty.”
Guest speakers at the event also commended the men and women who chose to continue serving their country during a time of conflict.
“When you do a reenlistment deployed in a combat zone, it really says something about the man or woman. When you do that reenlistment deployed in a combat zone, on September 11th that gets you in the heart. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. It’s an honor and privilege to serve with you,” said Brigadier General Frank Wiersinski, Assistant Division Support Commander, 25th Infantry Division.
During the ceremony, Soldiers in formation were asked to turn around and look at a United States flag.
The flag was suspended from a hydraulic mechanical arm to replicate how it was displayed after the Twin Tower attacks on September, 11th 2006.
“That’s exactly the way the flag looked five years ago when fireman hung it on a piece of scrap metal on what used to be the Twin Towers of New York City. I want you to remember that for the rest of your life. That’s not going to happen again in our country because of people like you,” said Wiersinski.
Although Soldiers have a deep-seated commitment to duty and service, every Soldier has his or her own personal reasons for choosing to stay in the Army.
“I reenlisted because I knew that this is something I wanted to do. My family has a big background in the military. So I figured why not me too,” said Specialist Sharron Hayes, Human Resource Specialist, 3rd Battalion, 25th Aviation Brigade.
For Soldiers who were in the Army during the September 11th attacks, the ceremony tugged at their heartstrings and made them very proud to answer the call to service.
“I was leaving Advanced Individual Training on September 11th and we all got locked down on the base. I was heart touched to serve my country. That was my prime motivation for reenlisting and I am proud,” said Specialist James Dawes, Crew Chief Specialist, Alpha Troop, 2nd Battalion, 6th Calvary Regiment, 25th ID.
Soldiers were also impressed with the planning and organization that went into the event.
“It was a really nice ceremony. It was very encouraging and motivating. They had Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters, the U.S. flag and music playing. It was very nice,” said Hayes.
On this historic day in America, the 177 reenlisting Soldiers at COB Spiecher raised their hands and took an oath to continue to serve their country.
“Those 177 Soldiers represent Americans from all walks of life. And that really reflects on our nation as a whole,” said Command Sergeant Major Roger Kingston, Headquarters, Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th ID.
“That wasn’t just 177 Soldiers out there today,” Kingston continued. “That was 177 Americans saying they believed in our country’s purist of democracy, and safety throughout the world. And especially back home, by being here and serving in the Global War on Terrorism.”
At the close of the event, proud Soldiers, friends and guests congregated to share some cake, handshakes and a few laughs.