KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, celebrated the 235th anniversary of America’s independence by administering the oath of enlistment to 235 service members during an Independence Day celebration held July 4 at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
Maj. Gen. James L. Terry, commander of Regional Command-South and the 10th Mountain Division, hosted the Fourth of July celebration, and started the ceremony off by thanking the service members for their commitment to the military as well as the sacrifices made by their loved ones in support of their service.
He then offered a special thanks to Petraeus for his leadership and sacrifice throughout his many years of service before introducing the man who’s long-time service in the Army will soon end, as he moves on to become the Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
Prior to offering the oath of enlistment, Petraeus gave a short speech to also thank the service members for their service as well as speaking about the military’s history of re-enlisting, especially during times of war and its importance in today’s military.
“Here 235 of you stand ready to re-enlist for another tour of service, or to reaffirm your recent re-enlistment by reciting the oath of enlistment, knowing full well your commitment will likely entail another long separation from loved ones and more tough battles with the enemy,” said Petraeus. “I can not say how impressive your actions are.”
Petraeus added that there was nowhere he would rather celebrate Independence Day than in Afghanistan with soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.
He also noted that he spent eight of the last 11 Independence Days deployed with service members.
Sgt. Robert Conklin, an ammunition specialist with the 592nd Ordnance Company, deployed out of Billings, Mont., and one of the service members who took the oath of enlistment, said when he heard about Petraeus coming to conduct a re-enlistment ceremony at KAF, he jumped at the opportunity.
“I think it is a really cool thing that Gen. Petraeus came out here to visit Kandahar,” said Conklin. “The fact that he is willing do to one last hurrah with a bunch of re-enlistees is a really cool thing.”
The ceremony was offered to service members re-enlisting and to those desiring to affirm their commitment from a previous re-enlistment during their current deployment in Afghanistan.
The ceremony ended with a cake cutting ceremony, in which the youngest and oldest service members to take the oath of enlistment were called up on stage to cut the cake with Petraeus and the other distinguished guests.