Warriors in transition mark start of 2012 Olympics with torch run
Spc. Jon Williams,
Warrior Transition Battalion:
The Fort Bliss Directorate of Morale, Welfare and Recreation, in conjunction with the command team of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, hosted an Olympic torch run July 27 for the Warrior Transition Battalion to signify the start of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
The aim for the event was to bring support to Team USA at the London Olympics by recreating the commemorative Olympic torch run. The choice for the starting point at the “Bulldog” Brigade was to have torch bearers traverse Fort Bliss from the 3rd BCT footprint at East Fort Bliss to Freedom Crossing at West Fort Bliss. The traditional lighting of the main Olympic torch was symbolized by the lighting of the Freedom Crossing fireplace at the entertainment square.
“It was a really great pairing with the WTB,” said Lora Diem, with MWR who served as the event organizer. “They all had smiles, and it was a great inspiration.”
Maj. James Dahl, the brigade’s assistant operations officer, helped MWR coordinate the efforts, designating 3rd BCT Soldiers to support the WTB Soldiers as they began the torch run.
“I felt it was important to support the WTB and our wounded warriors at the WTB,” Dahl said.
Staff Sgt. Grant McGill, who was assigned to the WTB’s B Company in May, came to the battalion from the 200th Engineering Multi-Row Bridge Company. McGill sustained injuries during his deployment to Afghanistan. He said he enjoyed the walk, even though he has certain limitations due to those injuries.
“I liked the fact we recognized our people in London at the Olympics,” said McGill. “It was an honor to participate.”
Sgt. Eric Long, of the WTB’s A Company, arrived at the battalion in April. Long sustained injuries from an improvised explosive device during his deployment with 3rd BCT. He and his wife Amanda said they thought the idea of celebrating the Olympics by carrying the torch was a good one.
Amanda said “it was pretty awesome” doing the run with her husband. She added that onlookers seemed unsure as to what the whole event was about, so it was nice to share that they were celebrating the Olympic torch run on the day the Olympics began.
Long, along with his wife, carried the torch across the finish line where he lit the Freedom Crossing fireplace, marking the start of the 2012 Olympic Games.
Lt. Col. Long Pham, WTB commander, thanked the 3rd BCT command team and Fort Bliss MWR for sponsoring the torch run for the WTB Soldiers.
“The mission of the WTB is to ensure our wounded Soldiers heal and return to their units or transition as productive citizens in our society,” said Pham. “This event was imperative for our Soldiers and helps them feel that they are part of Team Bliss.”
For the 27 Soldiers who participated in the run, they represented the 375 Soldiers now assigned to the WTB.
“I am proud of each and every member of my battalion involved in this torch run,” said Pham. “Special kudos go to Sergeant First Class Bryan Smith for coordinating and making it happen for our wounded warriors.”
Pham contributed to the run by carrying the torch from the intersection of Bayonet Avenue and Torch Street to the third leg of the relay at the base of the Loop 375 overpass on Torch, and helped with the completion of the relay by accompanying Long across the finish line alongside Command Sgt. Maj. Marlo Cross.
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