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NEWS | June 12, 2023

Former top enlisted leader joins Reserve division in celebrating Army birthday

By Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris 99th Readiness Division

The U.S. Army Reserve’s 99th Readiness Division hosted an Army Ball June 8 at The Merion banquet hall here.

Nearly 300 guests from all branches of service came from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and the surrounding area to celebrate the U.S. Army’s 248th birthday.

“Tonight, we honor the nation’s oldest service, the United States Army,” said Maj. Gen. Rodney Faulk, 99th RD commanding general. “In 248 years, the Army has defended America from all manner of threats across the globe, in times of peace and in times of crisis and conflict.

“The Army is older than the nation it defends,” Faulk continued. “Since its inception, Americans from all walks of life have served in defense of the ideals embedded in our founding documents.”

The U.S. Army was officially established by the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1775 – more than a year before the Declaration of Independence was issued.

“Prior to 1917, our Army was a little less than 200,000 Soldiers; when we stood up and mobilized for World War One, we grew to four million,” explained retired Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston, who served as keynote speaker for the event. “After World War One, the Army immediately downsized to less than 200,000 again. During World War Two, we mobilized and grew to 8.2 million to serve in uniform.”

Over the past two-and-a-half centuries, the Army has played a vital role in the growth and development of the American Nation. This includes the Army Reserve and Army National Guard.

“When you look at the history of the 99th and their key role in the Battle of the Bulge, the 99th Division held he line,” Preston said. “This is a great piece of history that you can all be very proud of – what this division today represents, and the lineage and heritage it has going back to the Second World War.”

In addition to dinner and dancing, the ball featured a ceremonial Army birthday-cake cutting, as well as a remembrance of POW/MIA and fallen service members, and a toast to today’s Soldiers.

“The number-one priority right now for the Army is recruiting,” Preston said. “If you’re a young person coming up through school and your thinking about what it is that you want to do with the rest of your life, you see positive images of veterans out in the community serving each and every day.

“For all of our military services out there, we owe it to tell the veterans’ story, to get out there and talk about what our service members do every day,” Preston continued. “Every opportunity that you get, tell the Soldiers’ story.”

To learn more about the U.S. Army, visit www.army.mil.