Reserve Soldiers Prepare to March as One
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md., -- The 6-foot-2-inch Army Reserve Soldier appeared even taller as he rigidly stood to have his height carefully measured as dozens of Soldiers waited in line behind him.
The Soldiers representing 10 Army Reserve major commands were at the 200th Military Police Command headquarters Nov. 3-4 as part of a unique selection process for the Presidential Inaugural Parade for the United States Army Reserve Command scheduled for January in Washington D.C.
As Sgt. Mark Horn, who is assigned to the 818th Maintenance Company, 377th Theater Sustainment Command, stepped out from under the small white, metal bar marking his height, he said he remembers standing in the cold to watch the parade four years ago.
The 377th TSC, which is the Army Reserve's largest command, has more than 36,000 Soldiers across 34 states and four countries.
This year, Horn, a Washington, D.C. native, said his dream to march in the parade will be reality. He said when the call came in for volunteers, it was a no brainer.
"We must support our commander in chief, regardless of political party affiliation. This is the highest honor for any service member and a part of American history," he said.
With Horn, Spc. David Shobe, from Indianapolis, Ind., moved through the various in-processing stations to ensure the Army Reserve is well represented when they step onto Pennsylvania Avenue for the historic parade.
"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to be there for our President and commander of all American forces, and (it's) an opportunity to support our nation," said Shobe.
As a half dozen forms were filled out and height and weight was carefully recorded by Master Sgt. Robert Wood, 200th MPCOM operations sergeant, Reserve Soldiers from the 1015th Quartermaster Company, 377th TSC, discussed why it was important for them to take time away from their families and friends to be here.
Pfc. Kasmere Thomas said only five Soldiers of a formation with more than 200 were chosen to represent citizen warriors within her company.
"It was not only an honor but a great opportunity and learning experience for any young Soldier," she said.
Sitting near Thomas was Spc. Darrius Redd who said he agreed with Thomas and added, "When we're NCOs one day, we can share our experience of Inauguration Day."
Spc. Matthew Volpe, 312th Psychological Operations Company, out of Upper Marlboro, Md., said, "It's a great opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself, my unit and our command."
The 312th POC is assigned to the Army Reserve's United States Army Civil and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne) out of Fort Bragg, N.C. with more than 12,000 Soldiers across 39 states and Puerto Rico.
Next in the long line to have their Army Service Uniform inspected was Spc. Michael Bullis, who also volunteered for the high-profile mission. Bullis said his parents are extremely proud that he is participating in the parade.
"This is the first presidential election where I can vote," he said. "So I thought it was a great opportunity to do both."
As uniforms were inspected under the watchful eye of several senior NCOs, the long day continued with more briefings, preparation and going outside to get back to the basics of drill and ceremony.
With a mass formation filled with enlisted and officers, the Reserve professionals set aside rank to ensure the ranks and columns were near perfection. Young specialists stepped up and marched small platoon-sized formations around the large parking lot before coming together into one formation.
1st Lt. Mary O'Neill Charles, who lives in nearby Chester, Md., stood shoulder-to-shoulder with two sergeants as marching orders were given.
"We live in the greatest country on Earth," she said. "We have freedoms others dream about. We have the right to vote and the inauguration represents one of our greatest rights, the right to elect our own leaders."
Charles is assigned to the 3rd Medical Command (Deployment Support) or "Desert Medics" which is headquartered in Atlanta, Ga. and has more than 8,200 Soldiers in 22 states and one territory.
As the daylight came to an end, the temperatures outside dropped, but inside the heat was on and final inspections continued.
Watching from a distance, Maj. Gen. Sanford Holman, commanding general of the 200th MPCOM, said he is proud of all Army Reserve Soldiers and the sacrifices families make across the entire Army Reserve.
"Today is the first step we make toward marching in the historic event, and I know our Soldiers will not only represent the Army Reserve to the highest standard but all servicemembers -- past, present and future."
Holman said his staff took on the challenge of bringing Soldiers from 10 different commands to the 200th MPCOM headquarters, ensuring all Soldiers were a match for the mission and everyone knew the importance of the Inaugural Parade for the American people.
"We are a nation that prides itself on peaceful transfer of power," he said. "This is a unique opportunity not only as a citizen Soldier but as an American."
He said Reserve Soldiers come from all walks of life. From police officers and doctors, to teachers and postal workers, Holman is excited to see the melting pot of Army Reserve command standing in the formation.
"Today and during the inauguration parade we will march as Soldiers, but more importantly stand proud as Americans to support the President and command in chief," he said.