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Deployed Servicemembers Re-enlist on Veterans Day

American Forces Press Service

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq, Nov. 12, 2008 – Nearly 300 servicemembers stationed across Iraq gathered at Holt Stadium here yesterday to re-enlist in what officials said is the largest mass re-enlistment in the base's history.

After helicopter and convoy movements and rehearsals, 274 servicemembers swore oaths to defend their country - again.

"We gather today to remind ourselves that our mission as fighting men and women must continue," Army Brig. Gen. Michael Lally, commander of 3rd Sustainment Command and the host for the event, said. "To continue, we must have those that are willing, able and are inspired to raise their hands again and again to be counted with those that came before them."

To the re-enlisting servicemembers, the significance of holding the ceremony on Veterans Day was important.

"Every Veterans Day has been big for us in uniform," said Army Sgt. Juan Rojas, a cook with the 297th ITC and a Miami native. "It gives me great pleasure to be here and be part of history."

Army Col. Kevin O'Connell, commander of 1st Sustainment Brigade, said soldiers stay in the Army for the same reasons they join: training, education, adventure, money. But the most important reason they stay in the military is service to their nation, he added.

"They're patriotic," O'Connell said. "They want to serve in an all-volunteer Army … to give back to a great nation what it's given to them."

While she was not planning to make the Army her career, said Army Sgt.

Latasha Myers, a mechanic with the 503rd Maintenance Company, her experiences and the people she works with inspired her to re-enlist.

"I love what I do," she said. "I love fighting for my country."

O'Connell said friends and families should be proud of what their sons and daughters did this day.

"They re-enlisted on a big day, while they're in combat. They continue to serve when their nation needs them -- when we're in conflict," he said. "They're our future."

Lally said the re-enlisting servicemembers are common men and women who always have done, and will continue to do, uncommon things.

"The stories of those in front of you are still being written," he said. "Today another chapter has begun. Wherever they go, whatever they do, each story will be different. Each will contain trials and deployments, and tales from lands yet to be seen. However, the common theme in each will be their selfless service and their universal commitment."

(From a Multinational Corps Iraq news release.)

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Multinational Corps Iraq

Click photo for screen-resolution imageSoldiers and members of a joint color guard render honors before a Veterans Day re-enlistment ceremony for 274 servicemembers on Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Nov. 11, 2008. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Kiyoshi Freeman  
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