Guard Soldiers Host British, Danish Wounded Warriors
By Army Staff Sgt. Michelle Gonzalez
National Guard Bureau
ARLINGTON, Va., Oct. 28, 2013 Conversational buzz filled the atrium of the Army National Guard Readiness Center here Oct. 25 as those assigned to the readiness center anticipated the arrival of special guests.
Command Sgt. Maj. Brunk W. Conley, the command sergeant major of the Army National Guard, shares stories with British soldiers during a wounded warrior event at the Army National Guard Readiness Center in Arlington, Va., Oct. 25, 2013. The visit was the first stop in a week-long visit for British and Danish wounded warriors. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Michelle Gonzalez
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Army National Guard soldiers embraced the opportunity to foster international camaraderie by honoring the service of some 57 wounded warriors and their support teams from the United Kingdom and Denmark.
After a poignant reception by the welcoming line, the U.S. soldiers took the opportunity to meet and exchange stories with their British and Danish comrades.
“The welcome has been phenomenal,” said British Cpl. Jay Watt, with the British army’s 4th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment.
“I was overwhelmed by the warm welcome,” Watt said. “I’ve never seen that before.”
Staff Sgt. Laura Atkinson of the British army’s Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, echoed that sentiment.
“It’s been overwhelming and quite humbling,” she said. “We don’t get this sort of support over in the U.K., not only from the public but from other corps and services.”
The event was a way to say thank you.
“I’m excited for you to be here,” Army Lt. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr., the director of the Army National Guard, said in his opening remarks. “Hosting this group today provides an opportunity to thank you for your service and the sacrifices that you’ve made to the cause of freedom around the world.”
And that sacrifice was shown both on and off the battlefield, Ingram said.
“You’ve shown valor on the battlefield,” he said, “but just as importantly, each of you has shown incredible courage and determination throughout the course of your rehabilitation.”
Throughout the day, guests received background briefings on the National Guard’s history, followed by sessions broken out by specialty that allowed for an exchange in cultural ideas that cultivated ongoing relationships.
“We recognize that we are partners and that we need each other,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Brunk W. Conley, command sergeant major of the Army National Guard. “If we maintain our relationships, the next time we call on each other and need each other’s help, we’ll be there standing side by side, ready to do whatever the mission calls for.”
Guests ended the visit with sharing a barbeque-themed lunch with National Guard Bureau leaders.
For these wounded warriors and their support teams, the reception at the readiness center marked the first stop of a week-long trip that includes participating in yesterday’s 38th Marine Corps Marathon, a tour of Arlington National Cemetery, a trip to Capitol Hill and a visit to the Pentagon.
“I’m looking forward to all of these,” Watt said.