Brig. Gen. Patrick R. Michaelis, Fort Jackson commanding general, fist bumps and high-fives runners and walkers as they complete the Army Birthday 5K Run/Walk held at Fort Jackson’s Twin Lakes Recreational Area June 11, 2022. More than 150 Soldiers, civilians, retirees and their Family members helped celebrate 247 years of Army heritage and history. (Photo Credit: Alexandra Shea)

‘247 years young,’ Happy Birthday Army

By Alexandra Shea, Fort Jackson Public Affairs

Fort Jackson celebrated the Army’s 247th birthday with a 5K fun run and walk June 11 at the Twin Lakes Recreational area. More than 150 came out to celebrate the milestone.

“You guys ready for a little run?’ shouted Brig. Gen. Patrick R. Michaelis, Fort Jackson’s commanding general. “247 years ago, our Army was created. As a result of that the Declaration of Independence, Battle of Yorktown where we defeated the British, and the creation of our Constitution that we all swear allegiance to … that’s 247 years of history that we (will) honor today with this small run.”

With a countdown from three, an air horn blast signaled to the runners and walkers of all ages to make their way down Semmes Road. Cones and men holding slow and stop signs directed the group as they made their way towards the golf course and turn around point. Even family pets joined their humans for the celebration.

As the group made their way back to the lakes, they were greeted with an inflatable arch where Cindi Keene, the event coordinator, and a group of volunteers from the Victory Chapter of the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club and the Fort Jackson Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers collected the record numbers from the bottom each participant’s bibs.

Pfc. Peyton Enders, a human resources specialist assigned to the 369th Adjutant General Battalion, was the first to return.

“I love running. I ran my first 5K when I was 5-years old,” Enders said. “What better way to spend a weekend then with other people dedicated to the Army.”

Enders is a Minnesota National Guard Soldier currently attending Advanced Individual Training while on summer break from his studies at Concordia University where he is majoring in criminal justice. Enders is also a decathlon athlete for his university.

“I’m proud to be a Soldier,” Enders said. “I’ll never forget being here and running with everybody and these Soldiers for the Army’s birthday.”

Fellow unit members along with their leadership also attended the run with Enders. The group ran in their Army logo physical training uniforms and carried their company guidon to show their pride.

As participants returned from their run or walk, each was offered cooling towels, cold sports drinks and reusable water bottles.

Many stayed after completing the run or walk to socialize with each other, for Maritza McAulay and Mirna Wanja it was an opportunity to talk about the upcoming Army Birthday Ball held later that evening.

The pair are military spouses, neighbors and close friends.

“It was a great event to do as a community,” McAulay said. “It was warm and not gonna lie, humid. But it’s the Army’s birthday so we are here to support.”

“We also have the ball later tonight, Wanja said. “We get to go from sweats to ball gowns and enjoy our cheesecake. We earned it.”

After posing for photo, finalizing ball plans and socializing, the participants went about their day as Keene and her teams of volunteers packed away the inflatable arch, cones and goodie tables and tent.

“Thank you all for coming out,” Keene said. “We are 247 years young today and I greatly appreciate you coming out.”