Staff Sgt. Todd Pouliot
Photo by Sgt. Andrew McNeil
The 3rd Infantry Division's command team, Maj. General Tony Aguto, commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Coffey, senior enlisted leader, render salutes during a unique Memorial Day ceremony May 15 at Fort Stewart. The Memorial Day ceremony was conducted to broadcast virtually in response to distancing constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
3rd ID to broadcast virtual Memorial Day Observance
Traditionally, 3rd Infantry Division Soldiers support numerous Memorial Day observances throughout Coastal Georgia. Due to the current risk of COVID-19, events have been canceled or modified. For this reason, 3ID has decided to conduct a virtual Memorial Day observance which will air on the division’s Facebook page, as well as the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Facebook page, at 10 a.m. Monday.
“Maj. Gen. (Tony) Aguto, since we were not able to support community Memorial Day observances, wanted to acknowledge them and provide a virtual event,” said Dina McKain, Fort Stewart Public Affairs community relations specialist involved with planning the event.
Planning kicked off with working groups comprised of representatives from division staff, Garrison Public Affairs, Protocol, the 3rd ID Band and the color guard.
“Everyone was on board from the moment it was mentioned,” McKain said.
The setting of this year’s virtual Memorial Day observance is the Fort Stewart Warriors Walk, hallowed grounds lined with 469 white crape myrtle trees flanking the installation’s Cottrell Field. Each tree stands as a living memorial to a Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield-based Soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in Operations Enduring Freedom or Iraqi Freedom.
The virtual observance includes traditional Memorial Day features to include solemn speeches, 3rd ID Honor Guard, a 21-Gun Salute, music by the 3ID Band and the playing of “Taps.”
Overall production of the virtual event was led by Lt. Col. Patrick Husted, 3rd ID Public Affairs officer, Staff Sgt. Dean Gannon, 3rd ID Public Affairs, and their team of videographers who choreographed the recording from various angles, and edited the final product.
Spc. Arrianna Auvaa, a member of the 3rd ID Protocol section who serves as the “Voice of the Marne,” was one of several from her team that managed the logistics of making the virtual Memorial Day event possible.
“A lot of detailed planning, close attention to detail, and a lot of teamwork went into this,” Auvaa said.
Auvaa, a Protocol team member for nearly one year, said it was an honor for her to have been involved with this year’s unique Memorial Day event.
“Due to the current situation, going virtual is the best way to honor our fallen heroes,” Auvaa said. “We now live in a time in which we cannot physically be together, but it is important for us to remember that, through technology, we have ways to still come together and unite.”