News: CG honors Purple Heart veterans, talks Army South mission, CSA guidance
Story by Lt. Col. Antwan Williams
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas – Honoring recipients of the Purple Heart and discussing the history of the award and his command’s mission, Army South’s commanding general spoke at the annual founders day dinner for the Alamo chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Feb. 17 at the Fort Sam Houston Golf Club.
The Alamo chapter is part of a nation-wide non-profit organization that supports veterans. The chapter, one of the oldest in the nation, boasts a membership of more than 700 in the San Antonio area.
Maj. Gen. Simeon G. Trombitas, Army South’s commanding general, spoke to an audience of more than 200 who were gathered at the Fort Sam Houston Golf Club to celebrate the founder of the Purple Heart and his birthday, President George Washington.
President Washington established the Purple Heart award, originally known as the Badge of Military Merit, in 1782 during the Revolutionary War. Since then the award has evolved through various changes in regulations, policies and style. However, more than 1.9 million service members have been awarded the Purple Heart.
“General Washington wanted an award that would honor and recognize military merit and bravery of soldiers, specifically enlisted men, in combat,” said Trombitas. “For our military the Purple Heart signifies that a grateful nation recognizes the great sacrifices of those wounded in combat.”
Today, the Purple Heart is awarded when a member of the armed forces of the United States is wounded by an instrument of war at the hands of the enemy. It may also be awarded posthumously to the next of kin in the name of those who died of wounds received in action.
“All of our veterans should be proud of what they’ve accomplished,” said Trombitas.
Trombitas estimated that more than 1.2 million Purple Hearts were awarded in World War II and Korea and 200,000 during the Vietnam War.
“Today, our nation, rightfully so, recognizes these great Vietnam veteran patriots for their tremendous sacrifice and courage,” said Trombitas.
Trombitas stated that 45,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have earned Purple Hearts and that today’s generation of service members displays the same loyalty and courage of troops in previous conflicts.
“Many of the men and women [in today’s Army], have served not one, or two or three tours of duty, but have five, six or more tours in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Trombitas. “Many of these same young people signed up after 9/11, knowing that they will, more than likely, be sent into harm’s way.”
Trombitas closed by outlining the Army’s future strategic guidance which was published in January on behalf of the new Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA), Gen. Raymond T. Odierno. The CSA’s guidance or “Marching Orders” is called “America’s Force of Decisive Action.”
The CSA’s vision is guided by three principles and interconnected roles: prevent conflict; shape the environment; and decisively win our nation’s wars.
According to the CSA’s “Marching Orders,” the Army prevents conflicts by maintaining credibility based on capacity, readiness and modernization. It averts miscalculations by potential adversaries. The Army shapes the environment by sustaining strong relationships with other Armies, building their capacity, and facilitating strategic access. If prevention fails, the Army rapidly applies its combined arms capabilities to dominate the environment and win decisively.
“My command, Army South, supports this current strategy,” said Trombitas. “Army South is strongly engaged and we have forces working with our partner nation armies in countries such as Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic.”
Army South’s exercises and operations with partner nations in the command’s area of responsibility of Central and South America and the Caribbean are already following the CSA’s principles.
“We are prepared to rapidly dominate any operational environment and we are able to conduct a full range of missions to include: deterring and defeating transnational crime and terrorism; rapidly providing humanitarian assistance, as we did in Haiti two years ago; engaging with our allies, building partner nation capacity to counter the flow of drugs into our nation; facilitating strategic access to other armies; and supporting civil authorities at home and broad,” said Trombitas.
Trombitas used the analogy of the CSA’s prevent, shape and win principles to recognize the Alamo chapter’s service to veterans and the San Antonio community.
“You work with and prevent veterans, wounded warriors and their families from falling through the cracks, you shape the environment through your charitable actions and education initiatives with wounded warriors and your organization is decisively winning by helping veterans and their families every day,” said Trombitas.
In demonstrating this commitment to service, the Alamo chapter, as an example of Trombitas’ analogy, recognized six San Antonio police officers who were injured in the line of duty by presenting them with certificates of appreciation.