A Soldier recites the Soldiers Creed during the Recruiting Mission Success Ceremony at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., Oct. 4.
Army Celebrates Recruiting Success
By Elizabeth M. Lorge
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 5, 2007 - Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard A. Cody swore in six new recruits and re-enlisted six soldiers in a ceremony yesterday celebrating the service's success in recruiting and retention for fiscal 2007.
Although the numbers won't be available for another week, the Army met all Active, National Guard and Reserve recruiting goals, according to Army officials. The ceremony also kicked off the 2008 recruiting campaign. On the steps of the Jefferson Memorial, Secretary of the Army Pete Geren reminded the audience that the American soldier is responsible for every freedom Thomas Jefferson outlined in the Declaration of Independence.
"Were it not for the American soldier, the Declaration of Independence likely would have been exhibit one in Thomas Jefferson's trial for treason in a British courtroom," he said. "Were it not for the American soldier, George Washington would likely be remembered as the most famous traitor to Mother England, and were it not for the indomitable American soldier, we would remember Abraham Lincoln as a failed president who lost the Union. All of you today join or rejoin generations of men and women who have answered when our nation called."
Building the right force is crucial for success. Cody said only 35 percent of males between 18 and 34 meet the Army's minimum mental, physical and moral qualifications.
He praised soldiers' selflessness and said he believes this is the best the Army has ever been and that history will call this America's "Strongest Generation."
"To re-enlist at a time of war is a powerful commitment," Cody said. "It says a great deal about these noncommissioned officers and our Army. Soldiers don't re-enlist in an Army at war for incentives or college benefits. They do it because they believe in the mission, because they trust in themselves, their units and their leaders. They do it because they don't want to leave their buddies and because they believe in you -- the future soldiers.
"You new recruits raised your right hand today and said, 'America, in your time of need, send me. I will defend you,'" he said. "That takes personal courage and a sense of duty that we should all respect and take pride in."
Many might ask why anyone would volunteer knowing they will probably deploy to a war zone, but to new recruit Logan Bilyeu, the answer is simple.
"To the soldiers I say, I think we all know," Bilyeu told the crowd. "Look at the soldiers next to you. To everybody else, I say, it's not about the people or a certain person, it's about the flag. We all have to fight for our rights and what we believe. We have a lot of liberties that not a lot of people enjoy, and I joined to earn those rights and to follow the footsteps of my father, my grandfather and my great-grandfather."
"It's what I do. Civilians have their jobs; this is my job," said Staff Sgt. Christopher A. Brown of the 3rd U.S. Infantry, known as the "Old Guard." He deployed during the initial phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and had some advice for the new recruits: "Believe in your team and the person standing next to you. Trust your NCOs, because your NCOs will not lead you wrong. Fight for what you believe is right. Make it what you want it to be. Take advantage of all the education. Use that and prepare yourself for when you do decide to get out."
Staff Sgt. Ken Kercado and Army-wife Yanitza Lopez-Guerrero also are prepared to deploy, but said they re-enlisted and enlisted today because of the way the Army has cared for their families.
Daniel Otugare is from Nigeria and joins a group of 15,000 immigrants in the Army. "I was so excited because I like the Army, and I'm proud to serve a country like this. I see the equality," he said with a smile.
(Elizabeth M. Lorge works for Army News Service.)