Many children might say the only thing matching the excitement of a birthday celebration is the chance to kick off the party earlier than scheduled.
For soldiers from the U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern, including the 21st Theater Support Command, the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, and others, an early celebration began with a three-mile run held at Rhine Ordnance Barracks, June 8.
The event, officially known as the "Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers Army Birthday Run," attracted more than 600 participants.
While the traditional birthday of the U.S. Army is recognized on June 14, logistics and other planning circumstances resulted in celebrating the Army’s 237th birthday a week early.
As far as Tom Dennis was concerned, the most important thing was to simply get together to celebrate the U.S. Army, regardless of the day.
"It’s a great way to start a Friday," Dennis said, a civilian serving as the chief of sports and fitness for USAG Kaiserslautern, which assisted with organizing the event.
Runners hit the course moving out in formation with their units, leading to a column of sweating, motivated and singing soldiers that stretched far into the distance.
The BOSS program, instrumental in organizing and staffing the run, also provided support along the course, which included numerous water points for refreshments.
Spc. Cynetta Moore, who serves as the USAG-Kaiserslautern BOSS president in addition to her daily military duties, said staging the event was by no means a last minute affair.
"We’ve been planning for the run since March," Moore said, noting that synchronizing the operations of police escort, medical support and transportation necessary to bring everyone together was a team effort.
But most of all, the event was successful in helping to bring soldiers and civilians together for exercise, fun and a way to honor the Army.
Spc. Codney Olson, an early warning systems operator with Alpha Battery, 5-7 Air Defense Artillery, agreed.
"It was a great chance to go out for a run and get motivated, especially with a lot of the other soldiers we don’t normally see," Olson said, who along with his unit helps provide air defense capabilities in Europe for the United States, Germany and their allies.
The only thing missing from this birthday celebration may have been the cake, yet none of the participants were complaining.
An opportunity for soldiers and civilians to gather with hundreds of others committed to the U.S. Army left some good feelings that are likely to prove a far sweeter treat to those who were involved.
"This is the greatest Army in the world," Dennis said.
(Editor’s note: This story is based on an article by Staff Sgt. John Zumer.)