By Maj. Michael Garcia
76th U.S. Army Reserve Operational Response Command
SALT LAKE CITY – The 76th Operational Response Command (ORC), Commander, Maj. Gen. Ricky L. Waddell, hosted a Utah Army Ball in celebration of the United States Army’s 241st birthday with nearly 300 people in attendance, Saturday, June 11, at the Living Planet Aquarium, Salt Lake City, Utah.
While Waddell spoke a little bit about the history of the United States Army, he asked the audience to stand up and grip hands around and between the tables. “Make sure that you connect to the Veterans’ table there in the back. And think just for a moment as we’re going to this cake- cutting ceremony about those Soldiers that went before us, and that are bound inextricably to us by our common oath,” said Waddell.
Traditionally, the Army’s birthday is observed with a cake-cutting ceremony by the oldest (Master Sgt. Steven Peters) and youngest (Pfc. Giovani Hernandez) Soldiers currently present tonight, and were assisted by Waddell and 76th ORC Command Sgt. Maj. Michael J. Robinson.
Waddell introduced the guest speaker, Army Reserve Ambassador, Richard L. Folkerson. Folkerson works closely promoting the Army and helping high school students see the value of the Army Reserve and building their education. He develops awareness and advocacy with community leaders and is vitally important bridges to communities across the nation.
“We want to recognize all the Veterans here tonight. But especially Army Veterans because it’s their birthday I think we should give them a round of applause,” said Folkerson.
He shared a story about his dad that whenever they attended an event and heard the Star-Spangled Banner, his father couldn’t resist and would be in tears for the love of his country. “I knew my father loved his country because he served his country. I honor each and every one of you tonight, I never served. I serve as an ambassador, and in some small way, I feel like I’m giving something back,” he said.
During the closing remarks, Waddell and Robinson presented a special thank you gift to those who have been exceptionally supportive in assisting with tonight’s event: Ashley Arnold, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #3586 for providing tonight’s Color Guard; Col (Ret) Penny Cook, The Association of the United States Army for donating tonight’s dessert and their invaluable support; Andrew Benson, Living Planet Aquarium; Dugway Proving Ground for hosting the community outreach reception and their continued support through the planning and execution; 23rd Army Band for providing music during the social hour and dinner; Mike Coyle for providing his valuable time and equipment for tonight’s dance entertainment; and The United Services Automobile Association (USAA) for their generous contribution to tonight’s event.
“Thank you for what you do, and serving this great country that we live in,” said Folkerson. He also thanked the family members of the Soldiers and veterans for all their sacrifices.
The 76th ORC is home to two Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) brigades (209th Regional Support Group and 415th Chemical Brigade), two augmentation units, 12 Army Reserve Elements, the Task Force 76 (C2CRE-A), 10 Regional Emergency Preparedness Liaison Office (EPLO) Teams, and 53 State EPLO Teams.
The units are disbursed throughout the 48 continental United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Its mission is to provide augmentation and operational capabilities as directed to Combatant, Unified, and Joint Commanders, and to DoD Agencies. On Order, Task Force 76 provides rapid continental United States (CONUS) response for CBRN incidents.
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