On Tuesday, November 3, the Chamber kicked off CAM with an inspiring event honoring the service of our military chaplains. Service members from all branches of service, veterans, community and business leaders joined the event which began with a moment of silence to reflect on the lives affected by the pandemic, on the health and recovery of our community members, and a moving invocation by Chaplain (Col) Rick Montoya, Joint Base Senior Chaplain.
Following the opening prayer, guests heard remarks from Active-Duty Chaplains: Air Force Chaplain Capt. Ovidiu Pacurar (502d ABW – JBSA Lackland), Army Chaplain LTC Valeria Van Dress (Army Medical Center of Excellence Command Chaplain), and Navy Chaplain Lt Jerry Roberts (Navy Medicine Training Support Center Chaplain). Each chaplain provided a personal account on why they serve, how their paths have led them to supporting our military service men, women, families and communities, and the ways in which their faith helps them in their chosen profession as military chaplains.
The highlight of the event was provided by keynote speaker, Major General Daniel R. Walrath, Commanding General, United States Army South. MG Walrath was commissioned an Infantry Lieutenant from the United States Military Academy at West Point in May of 1988. He served in many leadership positions in units such as the 82d Airborne Division, the 101st Airborne Division, the 75th Ranger Regiment and 1st Armored Division. He participated in multiple deployments and operations to include Operation JUST CAUSE and Operation DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM, as well as Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM. On a deployment to Afghanistan in 2012, MG Walrath was serving as commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division “Strike” Brigade when he was injured during a suicide bomber attack on his unit. His fellow soldiers were able to get him to safety and continued to accomplish the mission during his recovery. During the Prayer Event, MG Walrath shared his story of selfless service, of how chaplains assisted him in his recovery along the way – in both professional and personal ways, through long time trusted friendships and in endearing and uplifting ways. The support of his family and his fellow warriors in the military community was augmented by the faithful and dedicated service of military chaplains from a variety of backgrounds and denominations.
Following Keynote Remarks, the event closed with a Benediction provided by Army North Command Chaplain, Chaplain (COL) Stan Whitten, who was an integral part of supporting this important event. For a recording of the CAM Prayer Event to Honor Military Chaplains, click here.
The following Thursday, the Chamber hosted the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (SNCO) Virtual Trivia Night, which included fun trivia for a dose of healthy competition among the attendees as well as remarks by Army North’s Senior Non-Commissioned Officer, Command Sergeant Major Phil Barretto and Naval Medical Forces Support Command’s Command Master Chief Richard “Rick” Putnam. Brannon Knox, Branch Manager at Veterans United Home Loans of San Antonio and 2020 Senior Enlisted Advisory Committee (SEAC) Chair for the Chamber, also encouraged all of the Senior NCO’s and recognized the invaluable work that these Service men and women provide to our military missions, supporting their Command Teams, and uplifting the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines in our community. CSM Barretto thanked the community and military supporters who attended and recognized that Military City USA is a great place to live and work as a military service member. He also relayed his thanks to the community for creating Celebrate America’s Military (CAM) as a way to honor the service of our nation’s military. CMCDM Putnam was grateful to participate and said that CAM represents an “endearing appreciation for the military here” in San Antonio. To hear the remarks from our SNCO event, click here.
To round out the Chamber hosted events for Celebrate America’s Military, we were honored to host the Spirit of America event which featured inspirational remarks from United States Army Retired, Major General Patrick Henry Brady, Vietnam Veteran and Medal of Honor recipient. Even through the challenge of the recent pandemic, the need to recognize the service and sacrifice of our nation’s military remains important. This event was aimed at continuing the tradition of showing appreciation for our military of all ages, ranks and branches that make up San Antonio’s Military Family. After a moment of silence and messages from our sponsors, Steve Cochran, the Chamber’s Military Affairs Council Chair and USAA Assistant Vice President for Military Affinity Development & Operations, provided the introduction to our keynote speaker. General Brady’s remarks were inspirational and moving. He recognized the service of three veterans who he considers true heroes, as well as sharing his insight into who the Spirit of America is – the veterans and military Service members who serve our nation selflessly and who are deserving of heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for their many sacrifices. If you missed the event, click here for the recording.
The Chamber continues to be grateful for the opportunity to Celebrate our Military neighbors through the support of our many sponsors, including our title sponsors Silver Eagle Beverages, USAA, and Walmart. Through events such as these, we are able to show tangible support for our military men and women as well as provide an opportunity for our military to thank the organizations and community members who support them in return. For details on other events being held in Military City USA to honor our Military, visit www.celebrateamericasmilitary.com. We look forward to 2021, where we will aim to see all of our military members, veterans, civilians, families and community supporters in person to enjoy the 51st year of CAM festivities!