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NEWS | July 11, 2024

AR-MEDCOM DCG Collard leads affirmation of enlistment ceremony at Arena Football game

By Sgt. 1st Class Neil W. McCabe Army Reserve Medical Command

The Army Reserve Medical Command’s deputy commanding general administered the Affirmation of Enlistment Oath to six Army Reserve Soldiers during halftime at the July 5 Arena Football League playoff game between the Orlando Predators and the Nashville Kats at the team’s Military Appreciation Night.

"It's an exciting night for the Army Reserve and certainly a privilege to be here with the Orlando Predators as they take on the Nashville Kats," said Brig. Gen. Thad J. Collard also serves as the assistant surgeon general for the mobilization, readiness, and reserve affairs of the Office of the Army Surgeon General.

The general said he was grateful to the Predators and their fans for their support.

"It is an honor for them to recognize these Soldiers in this way and that I can take part in this ceremony," he said.

The six Soldiers joining Collard at the 5-yard line were: Sgt. Reno Glasgow, 689th Engineering Company; Staff Sgt. Michael Snell, 689th Engineering Company; Staff Sgt. Samuel Hodgson, 2nd Battalion, 485th Regiment; Staff Sgt. Oswaldo Cortes, 2nd Battalion, 485th Regiment; Staff Sgt. Dakota Chambers, 946th Training Company and Staff Sgt. Jennifer Miller, U.S. Central Command.

Chambers said he joined the Army in May 2014 to broaden his life and pay for his education.

The full-time Army Guard Reserve Soldier staff sergeant said he was happy to affirm his enlistment with Collard.

The motor transport operator, or 88 Mike, said he appreciated Collard speaking with him before the ceremony about his Army experiences.

“It was my first time meeting a general and talking with him,” he said. “
He’s a very down-to-earth, cool guy. We talked about where he was from and his job as well,” he said.

The Orlando native said he was also glad he could have his family watch from the stands. “I reenlisted to support my family and to finish out my career," he said.

Snell, a platoon sergeant at the 689th, said he joined the Army in 2007.

"I joined it because I was looking for a better opportunity in life and to have someone look up to me, just like I looked up to others," he said. "I also wanted to give out great leadership, and that's what I'm doing now and as long as I can."

The combat engineer, or 12 Bravo, said he has reenlisted thrice. "Having a general officer here for this ceremony shows how much the Army Reserve really cares about us and for us staying in."

Shawn Knapp, the Predators' general manager, said he, Predators owner John Cheney and the fans were excited to host the Military Appreciation Night.

“The fans love it. The fans are going nuts. It’s just super positive vibes—and they love it,” he said.

“You know what? We can’t thank the military enough,” Knapp said.

"The Soldiers coming out was very special for us, and we could not think of a better way to celebrate our last home game than with them," he said.

Joining the general and the Soldiers on the field were the color guard provided by the American Pride Squadron, a Sea Cadets unit based here.

Sea Cadet Seaman Apprentice Michael Harris said he was thrilled to meet and engage with the general. "It was a little nerve-wracking, but he seems like a really good guy. It is very humbling, and I feel honored to partake in this."

Master Sgt. Nicholas Spence, the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of operations, 5th Battalion, Army Reserve Careers Group, based here, said Collard is a great supporter of the Army Reserve retention mission.

“He’s awesome,” Spence said. “We’ve had numerous schedule changes, and he still stayed committed to the Soldiers and this event—we can’t be appreciative enough at 5th Battalion—and being a part of our team.”

The master sergeant said he is also grateful for the partnership between the Army Reserve and the Predators staff and players.

“They’ve been phenomenal,” he said. “I’ve worked with Mr. Knapp the whole time. He’s very good with information—accommodating us—the Soldiers and their guests received All-Access passes here—they get escorted around, brought on the field—just welcome from the minute we got here.”

Spence said the Army Reserve is a great career, and the Affirmation of Enlistment ceremony is a way to show the public and other Soldiers how rewarding it is to serve as Citizen Soldiers.

Army Reserve Soldiers should take advantage of their career counselors as they continue to answer their call to serve.

“There’s different benefits to being in the Army, different reasons why Soldiers continue to serve,” he said. “When Soldiers walk into a retention office, and sit with a career counselor, and they go through their options, they learn about all the options available to them.”

In addition to administering the Affirmation of Enlistment Oath, the Predators invited Collard to perform the pre-game coin toss.

The general said he had done it before and developed a technique.

"I think the key is to throw it straight, flip it up, and make sure the home team wins," he said.

In fact, the Predators called "heads" and won the coin toss, but that victory was fleeting for the home team as they fell to the Kats, 62-32.