By C. Todd Lopez
PHILADELPHIA (June 15, 2016) -- In the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry armory here, June 13, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey told Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets that the Army was turning 241 years old. He then asked them if they knew what was special this year about the JROTC program they are involved in.
Nobody raised a hand, but Dailey gave away the answer anyway: the JROTC program -- and the ROTC program of which it is a part -- are both a century old this year. The sergeant major told the more than 100 cadets, mostly students from the Philadelphia Military Academy, that he was proud of them. He was glad they had chosen to improve themselves -- to make themselves better citizens -- by being part of the JROTC program.
"We know when you become a member of JROTC, you are a better part of your society," he said. "You have a higher rate of graduating high school and being a better productive citizen within your community. You are doing your part. You don't have to serve [in the Army] to contribute to this great nation, but you do have to be a good citizen. I just want to tell you, thank you for what you are doing today. You are doing the right thing."
Dailey reminded those cadets that during the Army's 241st birthday, Soldiers all around the world are protecting the nation and its interests.
"All around the globe, we have just under one million serving in the U.S. Army in the National Guard, Army Reserve and active-duty Army," he said. "There are 187,000 of those Soldiers deployed around the world defending your rights, your liberty and your freedoms. They do that with honor and distinction every day."
A JROTC cadet major, in his junior year at the Philadelphia Military Academy, said he was impressed with the visit by both Dailey and the Army's undersecretary -- both of whom are from Pennsylvania.
"It was great they taught us a little bit of history about the Army, given that the Army's birthday is tomorrow," he said. "I enjoyed the overall presentation, and I think it's nice they are from the community and they came back to celebrate with us."
He plans to do ROTC in college and then seek out a commission in the Army, he said, and hopes to pursue electrical engineering in college.
A JROTC cadet sergeant first class said she doesn't plan on going into the Army after high school. Instead, she said, she hopes to pursue a career with the FBI. But she said she's surprised at what JROTC has done for her -- being a program that her mother suggested for her.
"My mom made me go to JROTC because she thought it would help me out for my future," she said. "I actually thought it was going to turn out to be worse. But I like it."
PT FOR LIBERTY
"I'm looking forward to sharing some blood, sweat and tears with you today," Dailey said early in the morning, June 14.
In downtown Philadelphia at Independence National Historic Park, the same green space that holds the Liberty Bell, and which is across the street from Independence Hall, the SMA and the undersecretary held a PT session with more than 80 Soldiers -- many of whom were recruiters from Pennsylvania, or in the Pennsylvania National Guard.
Sgt. Steven S. Hass, with Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Battalion, was impressed with both the visitors and the workout location.
"It's awesome, and there's nothing more American than this to me, doing PT in a place with so much history, where the Army started," he said.
Haas is from the Philadelphia area, joined the Army in 2009, and has been on one tour in Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. Joel D. Kramer, with the Pennsylvania Recruiting and Retention Battalion, serves out of the recruiting and retention headquarters at Fort Indiantown Gap -- about two hours from Philadelphia.
"I was asked just this last Wednesday if I wanted to come down and do PT with the SMA," he said. "Later I found out where we were doing PT, and the fact we're doing it here in front of Independence Hall -- it's unbelievable to me."
Sgt. 1st Class Matthew E. Parsons is a recruiter in Philadelphia and had met the SMA the day before at an Army birthday event at the Delaware Valley Veterans' Home in northern Philadelphia.
The PT was "a little tiring," he said, but the SMA's "a great guy. It's a great SMA we have here ... and I'm glad to do PT with him."
Dailey said holding a PT session in such a public place, on the Army's birthday, was done on purpose, as a way to "demonstrate to our community, to the American people, that as Soldiers, we're out here, day and night, but not just here: around the world, guarding them while they are asleep, to maintain the peace, prosperity, freedom and equality we have in America. We don't do anything in the Army without doing PT first -- every single day. It's a Soldier's responsibility to stay physically fit and mentally tough."
After doing PT near the Liberty Bell, the SMA and the undersecretary didn't stop with the physical activity. Along with Chef Robert Irvine and Fox 29 reporter Jennaphr Frederick, they headed a block east to the Fox News 29 building, rode an elevator to the top, and then rappelled down the side, with help from a handful of rappelling experts from the "Pathfinders" of F Company, 5th Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).
Capt. Dan Marshall, who serves as commander of the company, said they started preparations for the exercise early on to make sure nobody would get hurt.
"We came out here early to look at the site, to make sure the anchor points were safe -- safety was the biggest concern," Marshall said. "We came out here last week to look at the building, and came out here yesterday afternoon and set everything up and did a load test. Then today we got here about 6:30 and did a few rehearsals, and went down a few times."
While there was a fire truck and ambulance from Philadelphia down below, Marshall said he had great faith in his team of NCOs to make sure nothing went wrong.
"Sgt. 1st Class William McBride, my noncommissioned officer in charge, and the other NCOs here, are extremely good at what they do," Marshall said. "They are subject-matter experts, so I had no concerns whatsoever."
Mostly, Marshall was impressed with where he was, and whom he was sending down the side of a building on a rope.
"I think it's great, it's a historical city -- we're in Philadelphia on the Army's 241st birthday," Marshall said. "And them coming out and interacting with Soldiers ... I think it's great they get out here to do that, and it's an honor to get out here and be part of it."
Sgt. 1st Class Robert R. Landry was one of the NCOs that made up the team of "Pathfinders" that set up for the SMA and undersecretary to rappel. He went to air assault school in 2006 and has been rappelling for the last 10 years, he said.
He had some advice for those rappelling who might not be as experienced as he is: "Don't let go of the rope," he said. "Just focus on making sure your feet stay in front of you, and ensuring you keep the rope between your fingers."
The Army was created 241 years ago, on June 14, 1775, in the building now called Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
On June 14, 2016, a parade of Soldiers in both modern-day and colonial uniforms, as well as civilians in period costume, and about 70 "future Soldiers" marched through Independence Mall, into Independence National Historic Park, and stopped in front of Independence Hall for a short event commemorating Philadelphia's role in the creation of the United States, Flag Day and the Army's 241st birthday.
As part of the event, commemorating the creation of the Army, the Army also used the occasion to create about 70 new Soldiers.
Brig. Gen. Charles R. Hamilton, commander of Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, headquartered in Philadelphia, administered the oath of enlistment to recruits, furthering their transition from civilian to Soldier.
Devon Gallo, of Haverford, was one of those future Soldiers.
"I thought it was a great opportunity," Gallo said of joining the Army. He'll be third-generation Army; both his father and grandfather were in the Army. He's signed up as a human resources specialist.
Sean Small, also from Haverford, said "I've always wanted to join. My family has a military history, and I'm trying to keep that up," he said. He'll be an 11X infantryman in the Army.
Their future Soldier leader, or recruiter, Staff Sgt. Samuel D Gaudy, works out of the Philadelphia recruiting station, and said both Small and Gallo will ship to basic training in just a few months.
Earlier in the day, Gaudy said, he participated in the PT session with the SMA and undersecretary. "I've never met the SMA before," he said.
While some of those who participated had said the workout was tough on them, Gaudy thought otherwise. "It was easy," he said. "Some people work out harder than others."