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NEWS | Dec. 13, 2022

U.S. Army Reserve Puerto Rico Centenary Ball

By Spc. Eric Javier II Amaro-Millan 1st Mission Support Command

The 1st Mission Support Command, U.S. Army Reserve in Puerto Rico held a Centenary Ball, Dec 10, at el Conquistador Resort in Fajardo.

Maj. Angel Morales, assistant human resources officer of the 1st MSC, was the officer in charge of organizing the Centenary Ball and explained its motive behind arranging it.

“It is to recognize the sacrifice of the Puerto Rican soldiers and those that have been members of the localized U.S. Army Reserve in the Caribbean,” said Maj. Morales. “We are celebrating what we accomplished in our military lineage with the retired and present soldiers that have collaborated with us, as well as with family members and civilians that helped create the body of the U.S. Army Reserve of Puerto Rico.”

Col. Carlos M. Caceres, 1st MSC commanding officer, accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Sonia Caceres, was the host for this event.

The members of the head table were Command Sergeant Major Michael P. Meunier II, command sergeant major for the 1st MSC, and Chief Warrant Officer 5 Andrew L. Smith, command chief warrant officer for 1st MSC. Accompanying him was his wife, Mrs. Lynn Smith.

Other distinguished guests included the Honorable Luz Acre, former senator for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; Maj. Gen. Robert Harter, commanding general, 81st Readiness Division; Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Jurasek, former commanding general of the 1st MSC; Maj. Gen. Dustin A. Shultz, director of strategic operations, Headquarters Department of the Army; Maj. Gen. Kodjo Knox-Limbacker, adjutant general of the Virgin Island National Guard; Retired Brig. Gen. Fernando Fernandez, former commanding general of 1st MSC and U.S. Army Reserve Ambassador for Puerto Rico; and Retired Command Sergeant Major Harry Munoz, former command sergeant major of 1st MSC.

Maj. Kathryne Iacuzzi, transportation officer of the 1st MSC and mistress of ceremony for this year’s ball, went in-depth about the history of the military ball.

“The military ball is an age-old tradition in the Armed Forces,” said Maj. Iacuzzi. “It provides an occasion for noncommissioned officers, cadets, officers, civilians, and their guests to join together in an atmosphere of camaraderie, good fellowship, fun, and social rapport.”

Throughout the ceremony, Maj. Iaccuzi had the attendees rise, gave a toast, and explained the history of a small table called the military caste, which symbolizes Army members missing and unable to celebrate the ceremony with us.

Afterward, not before giving a toast to the fallen comrades, Noemi Figueroa Soulet, producer/director of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) documentary film, “The Borinqueneers”, stepped up to the stage and expressed how honored she was to be with the guests celebrating such an anniversary.

As the keynote speaker for the ball, she considered the U.S. Army Reserve’s service record as one piece of the puzzle that constitutes an honored tradition of military service in Puerto Rico; and presented what the tradition has formed for the Puerto Rican military legacy.

She addressed how Puerto Ricans were strong warriors long before the United States gained independence. They fended off France, Denmark, Holland, and England, which attempted, and failed, to colonize Puerto Rico.

Although the Dutch burnt San Juan in 1625, they never conquered the island. In May 1899, Congress approved the creation of the Porto Rico Battalion, composed of four companies. Each company had 100 volunteers responsible for the defense of the island.

Figueroa Soulet also spoke about how soldiers from the Army have been serving in Puerto Rico since 1922; however, it was officially designated and reported directly to the Commanding General of the Antilles Command during World War II.

“Since 1922, thousands of Army Reserve soldiers have been mobilized and deployed in response to overseas contingency operations and served in different conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, amongst others,” stated Figueroa Soulet.

The Army Reserve has, and continues to this day, to assist municipalities deep within the heartland during Puerto Rico’s time of need.

Upon the conclusion of Figueroa Soulet’s highlight of the men and women that have served and continue to serve Puerto Rico, Col. Caceres walked up to present a token of appreciation and received applause from the ball guests and members of the head table.

Maj. Iacuzzi concluded the ceremony by telling the guests that the 1st MSC would continue to uphold the traditions, operations, and training throughout the years.

“There has never been a task not met nor too difficult to achieve,” said Maj. Iacuzzi. “We are the Garita Warriors, Always First!”