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Heeding MLK's Advice: Soldiers, Civilians Reflect On Why They Serve
by U.S. Army David Vergun
January 27, 2017

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Soldiers and Army civilians get busy in their daily routines, oftentimes forgetting what it felt like when they took their oaths of office, said Maj. Gen. Bruce T. Crawford

It's good to reflect on "why you raised your right hand and what drove you to continue to serve," said Crawford, commander, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, or CECOM.

Crawford and Maj. Gen. Leslie C. Smith, deputy inspector-general of the Army, spoke at a "Why We Serve" ceremonial swearing-in ceremony of Soldiers, Army civilians and men in the delayed-entry program, or DEP, from the Army, Navy and Marine Corps.

January 11, 2017 - Maj. Gen. Bruce T. Crawford, commander, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, performs a ceremonial swearing in of delayed-entry program, or DEP enlistees at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. (U.S. Army photo by David Vergun)
January 11, 2017 - Maj. Gen. Bruce T. Crawford, commander, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, performs a ceremonial swearing in of delayed-entry program, or DEP enlistees at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. (U.S. Army photo by David Vergun)

Although the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King did not serve in the military, Soldiers and citizens today can heed his admonishment to serve, said Crawford paraphrasing King: Everyone can become great because everyone can serve in some capacity. No college degree required; just a heart full of grace.

ARMY VALUES

Smith spoke about Army Values and America's respect for Soldiers and their high expectations for what they do as trusted professionals. He called on members of the audience to illustrate examples of attributes that make up the Army Profession: military expertise, trust, honorable service, esprit de corps and stewardship.

Smith encouraged the youth in the DEP to trust the Soldiers who are charged with their training and to give it their all. He also encouraged veterans in the audience to be the guiding light for today's youth, setting a good example and sharing their experiences and leadership. He spoke to Soldiers and Army civilians in the audience as well, urging them to look out for their battle buddies and ensure they are acting honorably at all times.

PROUD TO SERVE

CECOM's Command Sgt. Maj. Matthew D. McCoy said kids often get their perception of the Army from Hollywood war movies. He tells them that there are also a lot of jobs that require technical skills. He speaks of his own experiences working in cyber. "Kids get that. We've got a great relationship with the local community."

McCoy added: "Today's event was important as we recommit ourselves to the profession."

Bryce Blades, in the Army DEP, will go to basic combat training Jan. 31. He said he'll be working on Army networks. "I played a lot of computer games and used to mess around with my router and IPs and stuff like that," he said, explaining what led him in that direction. He said he's the first in his family to join the Army, so he's pretty excited about that.

Timothy Buhrman-Hall, also in the Army DEP, will go to basic training in July. He said he'll be going infantry because he loves physical activity. A lot of his friends joined the Marine Corps, but he said he feels like service in the Army is just as good, plus there are more benefits. Both young men are from the Aberdeen, Maryland area.

Michael Goldman said he's joining the Navy and will become a submariner. He goes to boot camp in June. His dad, David Goldman, currently a firefighter in Baltimore and also an Army veteran, said he's proud of his son's decision to serve in the Navy.

HONORING VETERANS

Crawford said veterans have set the high standards for Soldiers to follow today. "We should not take for granted the sacrifices they made for our nation," he said.

Milton Leigh, a World War II Army veteran in the audience, said he's proud of today's youth, who are called to serve. Leigh was in Gen. George S. Patton's army in the drive to Berlin.

January 11, 2017 - Maj. Gen. Leslie C. Smith, deputy inspector general of the Army (right) with World War II Army veteran Milton Leigh (left) and Vietnam veteran, retired Army Lt. Col. Monroe Manning (center). (U.S. Army photo by David Vergun)
January 11, 2017 - Maj. Gen. Leslie C. Smith, deputy inspector general of the Army (right) with World War II Army veteran Milton Leigh (left) and Vietnam veteran, retired Army Lt. Col. Monroe Manning (center). (U.S. Army photo by David Vergun)

His unit stopped just outside Berlin near the end of the war. Leigh said he met some Soviet soldiers who had taken Berlin. He recalls them as not being too friendly, despite the U.S. alliance with them at the time.

As a radio operator in a field artillery unit, Leigh said he was one of the first to know the war had ended May 8, 1945, since he had to radio the news since the power lines in the area were down.

Crawford also recognized Gold Star families in the audience who had lost loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice. "We need you more than you need us," he said. "You are our conscience and the reason why we persevere and overcome. We are truly honored to have you join us."

Why We Serve, then known as Operation Solemn Promise, began in 2011 when Crawford was director of C4/Cyber and chief information officer, U.S. European Command. Since then he has made it an annual event wherever he was assigned.

By U.S. Army David Vergun
Army News Service
Copyright 2017

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