By SGT. THOMAS DUVAL
3-1 Public Affairs Office
Artillerymen from the 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division stepped from behind their earth-rattling howitzers for an opportunity to give back to the city of Brandenburg, Ky.
Hauling a stack of handmade cards and candy, a team of five Soldiers gathered with the unit’s Family readiness group at the Brandenburg Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to spend Valentine’s Day with the residents of the assisted living center Feb 14.
“On Valentine’s Day, we thought it would be a good opportunity for us to come down and remind them that there are still people out there who care for them?” said Sgt. Mark Deleon, an artilleryman assigned to Bravo Battery, 1st Bn., 6th FA Regt.
“It’s a way for us to give back to a community that gives so much to our Soldiers in their time of need,” said Rebecca McNeilly, wife of the battalion commander Lt. Col. Henry McNeilly.
For Soldiers like Deleon, who have fought on the frontlines of today’s Army, the visit took on a more meaningful purpose when the team realized some of the residents were veterans themselves.
“I feel like it’s an obligation to come out to pay respect to other vets and to remind them that we have not forgotten their sacrifices,” Deleon said with excitement.
“It’s remarkable to
meet other veterans who came before me and
served during the bombing on Pearl Harbor,” Deleon said. “I can only see things about it on TV or read about it… to meet someone who was actually there is an awesome opportunity.”
The veterans who were among those residents included former Marine Pvt. Sam Franklin, who served during World War II, former Cpl. Howard Priest, a Korean war veteran and former Pvt. Ronald Jones.
“It’s nice to have a group of Soldiers here and to get the opportunity to talk to them,” said an energetic Priest as he reached
across his wheel chair to shake the hand of Spc. Darcy Hubbard, a motor transport officer.
Although this was the first visit to the assisted living home for the Fort Knox based Soldiers, it won’t be the last.
According to McNeilly, the unit plans to continue its support for the city of Brandenburg with future outreach programs similar to this one.
Other battalions throughout the brigade are following in their footsteps and are currently working on a program formally called the Adopt-a-Fort Knox Platoon Program.
This program allows members of the local communities to adopt a specific platoon during a unit’s deployment in an effort to provide the Soldiers with a better quality of life while they’re defending the nation’s freedom in various overseas territories.
Their support partnered with the generosity of the Duke Soldiers ensures a strong and lasting relationship between Fort Knox and the surrounding communities for years to come.