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NEWS | June 20, 2024

Army Reserve leader celebrates Army’s 249th birthday in heart of Big Apple

By Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris 99th Readiness Division

The U.S. Army Reserve’s 99th Readiness Division teamed with the U.S. Army’s New York City Recruiting Battalion to celebrate the U.S. Army’s 249th birthday June 14 in Times Square.

Maj. Gen. Kris A. Belanger, 99th RD commanding general, served as officiant and guest speaker for the celebration event.

“Our birthday theme this year is ‘Honoring the Past, Defending the Future,’ and our focus is on how the Army has supported our nation for the past two-and-a-half centuries and will continue to do so in the years to come,” Belanger said.

Joining Belanger as guest speakers were James Hendon, commissioner of the New York City Department of Veterans’ Services, and Lt. Col. John “Rocky” Rhodes, commander of the NYC Recruiting Battalion.

“The Army makes a promise to the young people it recruits to serve our great nation – it promises to train them, inspire them, and teach them to be future leaders in the Army, the city, the state, and the nation,” Rhodes said. “We give our Soldiers a chance to do something meaningful, honorable, and selfless with their lives.”

The event was highlighted by Belanger administering the Oath of Enlistment to new Army recruits, and joining Ronald “Ron” Shindel, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for New York, in presenting a U.S. Army Minuteman scholarship to one future Army leader.

“The strength of our force is reflected in the quality and professionalism of the Army’s top priority - our people,” Belanger explained. “Every year, nearly 80,000 young Americans walk into a recruitment office and take their first steps toward serving our country. These patriotic volunteers are looking for a way to live up to their full potential.

“The Army has always challenged our Soldiers and civilians to be all they can be. There are more than two hundred jobs for Soldiers from which to choose,” Belanger continued. “If you want to find a purpose and pursue your passion, you can do that in the Army through a wide range of interest areas.”

The event also included a traditional cake-cutting and performances by the U.S. Army Old Fife and Drum Corps and West Point’s Benny Havens Band. Belanger was also interviewed on Good Morning America prior to the event’s kickoff.

“Our Army is the best-trained and most prepared in the world, standing ready to face any obstacle it may encounter, including natural disasters, public health emergencies and, of course, our nation’s adversaries,” Belanger said. “Today, we salute those men and women who have chosen to serve their nation.

“We have 1.1 million people serving in the Army today – in the active component, the Army Reserve, and the Army National Guard,” she added. “We are deployed in 140 different countries around the world. The Army's global reach and our ability to conduct operations anywhere in the world play a large part in our ability to defend America.”

To learn more about the U.S. Army Minuteman Scholarship, visit