Thoughts while working out in the gym
Maj. Gen. Dana J. H. Pittard,
1st AD and Fort Bliss Commanding General:
Today, we celebrate the Army’s 237th birthday. BG Mark Stammer, JTF-North Commander, will speak at today’s Army Birthday/Flag Day ceremony at 10 a.m. at the 1st Armored Division Parade Field on East Fort Bliss. I wish I could be there to celebrate with you; but, I am currently at Fort Hood for the III Corps Warfighter Exercise.
Thank you to our Soldiers, Family members, and Civilians for helping to make our Army the best on earth. We appreciate our greater El Paso community for all of the support throughout the years – the U.S. Army has been at Fort Bliss since 1848, and we are now home to nearly 30,000 Soldiers. This birthday commemorates America’s Army – Soldiers, families and civilians – who are achieving a level of excellence that is truly Army Strong!
As I mentioned earlier, I am on TDY with a large portion of the 1AD Division staff participating in III Corps’ Warfighter Exercise at Fort Hood. The exercise began on June 4 and ends on June 22. The Warfighter is a computer-based training exercise designed to simulate realistic wartime scenarios that Coalition Forces could possibly experience in the future. The 1st Armored Division Soldiers are role-playing a Combined Joint Task Force, providing “Higher Command” oversight to the III Corps Headquarters staff. It has given our 1AD staff an amazing opportunity to train for future contingency operations. Fort Hood is a nice place; but, I miss our unique 24-hour fitness center on Fort Bliss!
402nd Field Artillery Brigade
This week, I want to highlight The 402d Field Artillery Brigade (Division West, First Army). The 402d FA BDE is a multi-component brigade, commanded by COL Kirk H. Nilsson and CSM Derwin W. Blackmon. It is one of two First Army brigades on Fort Bliss (the other brigade is 5th AR BDE). On August, 15, 2010, the Brigade headquarters moved from Travis Air Force Base, California to Fort Bliss. The brigade consists of a Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, and five battalions, two of which are Active Component (3/410th EN BN, 2/362nd FA BN) and three Reserve Component (2/356rd LSBn, 3/363rd CSSB, 3/356 LSBn), geographically disbursed in California, Colorado, and Texas. The Brigade is composed of Active Component, Active Guard-Reserve, Active Guard-National Guard, mobilized USAR Reservists, and USAR Reservist Soldiers.
The 402d FA Brigade advises, assists, and trains Reserve Component (RC), National Guard, and Active Duty units during pre-mobilization periods at the largest power projection installation in the nation. The brigade also prepares thousands of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsman to become prepared for worldwide deployment. As many of you know, Fort Bliss has recently become our nation’s largest mobilization and de-mobilization center. We are very proud of the 402d FA BDE – keep it up!
Respect and Dignity
Treating others with Respect and Dignity is a way of life at Fort Bliss! All of our Soldiers, Family Members, Civilians, and Contractors should make a commitment to adopt this way of life. Always remember the Golden Rule in everything you do – treat others as you would want to be treated. Being nice to people goes hand in hand with respect and dignity.
Don’t be afraid to break the ice and get to know your fellow Soldiers, co-workers, and community members better. Take the time to say “good morning” to a stranger or strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know. Being from El Paso, I actually don’t know how to walk by someone without saying, “Hi.” When you speak to a stranger, you may make someone’s day, and you may also learn something new in the process. It would be great for Fort Bliss to become the Army’s friendliest post. Challenge yourselves to make a difference!
Patriot Riders Support
Fort Bliss appreciates the dedication and support from the Patriot Guard Riders and Rolling Thunder motorcycle clubs which supported SSG Roberto Loeza’s return home. The riders were there for the ramp ceremony, the viewing at the funeral home, and SSG Loeza’s burial. I got a lump in my throat as I watched the volunteer Patriot Riders (most of whom are veterans) stand guard outside of SSG Loeza’s funeral home on a hot 90+ degree day. We cannot express how much we appreciate these patriotic bikers and their commitment to making sure all of our fallen warriors and their families are protected at this most sacred and somber time. Thank you Patriot Riders!
Gold Star Garden
As you travel throughout our country, you will find beautiful monuments and memorials dedicated to keeping the memories and legacies of our nation’s heroes alive. I was honored to be invited to speak at the dedication for the Gold Star Healing and Peace Garden in York, Pa., last weekend. The Gold Star Garden is a living memorial, made up of flowers in colors symbolizing the core values of those who serve our country. The founder and driving force behind the garden is Mrs. Cher Kondor, Gold Star mother of SPC Martin Kondor. Martin Kondor died in Iraq on April 29, 2004, while serving on my personal security detail. I will always remember April 29th. I will also always remember the incredible experience – to be at the garden dedication.
If you are ever in the York, Pa., area please take some time to visit the Gold Star Healing and Peace Garden.
Leaders – Take Care of your Soldiers!
Leaders, in keeping with our intrusive, yet caring, leadership style here in 1AD and Fort Bliss, we need to make sure that no Soldier clears this post for a PCS or ETS move without an award unless the commander signs a memo that specifically justifies why the Soldier does not deserve an award. Leaders will not be allowed to clear our post unless they have a signed NCOER or OER. Take care of our Soldiers!
King of the Rock
King of the Rock returns to Fort Bliss! The 64-man one-on-one street ball basketball tournament will be held this Saturday, June 16 at 7 p.m. on the outdoor basketball courts at Stout Fitness Center on West Fort Bliss. This year’s champion will receive a $1000 prize, a $125 Nike gift card, and will go straight to Alcatraz in San Francisco (all expenses paid by Red Bull) to compete in the final 64-man tournament. The grand prize there is $20,000! Let’s have full participation in this event!
After the King of the Rock tournament, join the after-party and enjoy a live hip-hop concert near the courts.
Well, back to the gym, it is always tough getting acquainted with unfamiliar gyms on the road. Fort Hood has a lot of good fitness centers; but, there is no place like home. I am trying to get ready for the Fort Bliss 10-mile “Run in the Heat” in August.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads at Team Bliss. Enjoy your special day!
Be combat ready, be fit, be resilient, and be Iron Strong!
Iron Soldiers – A Bias for Action!
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