Mil­i­tary of­fi­cials cel­e­brate Army’s 244th birth­day

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - Staff re­port

LATHAM, N.Y. >> Of­fi­cials with the New York Na­tional Guard re­cently came to­gether to cel­e­brate the Army’s 244th birth­day.

A young New York Army Na­tional Guard sol­dier from Schuylervi­lle, and a vet­eran non-com­mis­sioned of­fi­cer from Rens­se­laer joined Ma­jor Gen­eral Ray Shields, the Ad­ju­tant Gen­eral of New York, in mark­ing the Army’s 244th birth­day at the New York Na­tional Guard head­quar­ters in Latham, on Fri­day, June 14.

Pri­vate 1st Class Amanda Cole­man, 19, a mem­ber of the 206th Mil­i­tary Po­lice Com­pany from Schuylervi­lle, and Sgt. 1st Class Frank DeThoma­sis, 59, a Rens­se­laer res­i­dent as­signed to the Joint Force Head­quar­ters helped Shields cut the Army birth­day cake dur­ing a short cer­e­mony last week.

The date marks the day in 1775 on which the Con­ti­nen­tal Congress took charge of colo­nial troops be­sieg­ing the Bri­tish Army in Bos­ton and cre­ated an Amer­i­can Army.

Tra­di­tion­ally, of­fi­cials noted how the youngest sol­dier present joins the old­est sol­dier present in cut­ting the Army birth­day cake. The young sol­dier sym­bol­izes the fu­ture of the Army while the old sol­dier sym­bol­izes the Army’s his­tory and past, ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease.

The New York Army Na­tional Guard is one of three com­po­nents of the Army along­side the Ac­tive Army and the Army Re­serve.

In his re­marks, Shields thanked both DeThoma­sis and Cole­man for their ser­vice and pre­sented them with coins in ap­pre­ci­a­tion.

DeThoma­sis en­listed in the New York Army Na­tional Guard in Novem­ber 1980. A co-worker of his was in the Army Na­tional Guard and con­vinced him to en­list.

“He man­aged to talk my ear off to the point where I fi­nally said, ‘Okay… I’ll sign up,’” DeThoma­sis re­called.

He spent the ma­jor­ity of his time in the Army Na­tional Guard serv­ing in tank units, DeThoma­sis said, first in the 1st Bat­tal­ion, 210th Ar­mor and then in the 1st Bat­tal­ion, 101st Cav­alry.

“I loved ev­ery minute of it,” he said. “Dur­ing that time I was also of­fered sev­eral dif­fer­ent po­si­tions which would even­tu­ally lead to pro­mo­tions, but I re­fused them, per­haps a bit fool­ishly, be­cause I re­ally en­joyed what I was do­ing.”

“Ful­fill­ment meant more to me than the rank,” he said.

The high­light of his Army ca­reer was when he de­ployed to Iraq in 20042005 as a pla­toon sergeant in Delta Com­pany, 101st Cav­alry, which de­ployed to Baghdad with the 1st Bat­tal­ion, 69th In­fantry, DeThoma­sis said.

DeThoma­sis also served as act­ing First Sergeant for a com­pany in Task Force Wing­foot in New York City in the days fol­low­ing the Sept. 11, 2001 at­tacks on the World Trade Cen­ter.

The New York Na­tional Guard built a long-term se­cu­rity force around the 1st Bat­tal­ion, 101st Cav­alry for three months of duty dur­ing the re­cov­ery process.

He was proud to be asked to rep­re­sent the Army’s his­tory in the birth­day cer­e­mony, DeThoma­sis said.

“I guess it came full cir­cle; the old guy brings in the new kid,” he said.”I’m very happy to do it, and it’s very ap­pro­pri­ate in my case.”

His ad­vice for Cole­man and other young sol­diers is to do the best job you can and en­joy your job.

“Chas­ing stripes and rock­ers are im­por­tant, as long as you can do it with some intestinal for­ti­tude and pas­sion,” DeThoma­sis said.

Cole­man, a col­lege stu­dent at Adiron­dack Com­mu­nity Col­lege in Queens­bury, N.Y., joined the New York Army Na­tional Guard in 2018.

She joined the Army be­cause her brother joined and she had al­ways looked up to her brother. She de­cided to be­come a Mil­i­tary Po­lice Sol­dier be­cause she had once wanted to be a New York State Trooper, Cole­man said.

“It made sense to cor­re­late the two,” she said.

Her most mem­o­rable Army ex­pe­ri­ence has been the peo­ple she’s met in the 206th Mil­i­tary Po­lice Com­pany, Cole­man said.

“They’ve taught me a lot so far,” Cole­man said. “I just want to learn and ev­ery day we grow at drill.”

U.S. Army Na­tional Guard Photo by Capt. Jean Marie Kratzer Ma­jor Gen­eral Ray Shields, the Ad­ju­tant Gen­eral of New York ( cen­ter) cuts the Army Birth­day cake with New York Army Na­tional Guard PFC Amanda Cole­man and Sgt. First Class Frank DeThoma­sis dur­ing an Army Birth­day cer­e­mony held at New York Na­tional Guard head­quar­ters in Latham, N.Y. on June 14, 2019. DeThoma­sis, the old­est sol­dier present at age 59,and Cole­man the youngest at age 19, joined Shields in cut­ting the Army birth­day cake. Shields is wear­ing the new Army Green uni­form due to be in­tro­duced start­ing in 2020.

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