Fort Lee turns 100
By LYNDON GERMAN
Jul 20, 2017, 10:49
Black Daggers, the official U.S. Army Special Operations Command Parachute Demonstration Team helps commence the celebration as they fly through the air.
The crowd at Williams Stadium at Fort Lee was loud like the battle cry when going off to fight for the country, this time the battle cry was in celebration, yet still competition as the two sides of the 100-yard field roared during company roll calls as Fort Lee soldiers commemorated the 100-year anniversary of the installation.
Fort Lee soldiers, families and civilian employees began supporting the U.S. army efforts at Camp Lee on June 10, 1917 during the beginning of World War I when 32 military camps were established across the country in a widespread operational effort. What was then known as Camp Lee, established itself to train the 80th division Blue Ridge Army division.
Camp Lee served more than 60,000 volunteers, and over time the military post grew in size and mission, as Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee Commander Maj. Gen. Paul Hurley pointed out during his remarks at the centennial celebration.
“Over the past several decades, Fort Lee has grown in size and mission,” Hurley said. “And without question, today Fort Lee is recognized as the Army’s center of gravity for sustainment.”
As the onset of World War II occurred, Camp Lee was reestablished by 1940 and home to the quartermaster training center and education center. More than 25,000 graduates emerged from the program and in April 1950 military leadership granted Fort Lee permanence.
Today, Fort Lee is the Army’s Home of Sustainment and Supports the training, education and development of adaptive army professionals in fields such as transportation, petroleum, mortuary affairs, supply, culinary arts and equipment repair and maintenance. Major organizations on the installation include the Defense Commissary Agency, Defense Contract Management Agency, Combined Arms Support Command, the Army Logistics University, JUS Army Ordinance School, U.S. Army Quartermaster School and U.S. Army Transportation School. Fort Lee supports nearly, 86,000 soldiers retirees, veterans, family members and civilian employees and boasts an economic impact of about $2.4 billion per year.
July 9 was the kickoff of centennial events as more than 100 soldiers ran a 99-mile run in the surrounding cities and counties. Those jurisdictions include Hopewell, Prince George, Colonial Heights and Petersburg. On July 10, the last leg of the 100-mile run culminated as those soldiers arrived at Fort Lee’s Williams Stadium.
Military members participated in numerous activities including sports competitions, a documentary film presentation of the history of Fort Lee, a time capsule ceremony and other exciting activities. For instance, the Black Daggers, the official U.S. Army Special Operations Command Parachute Demonstration Team, flew to commence the celebration. Later the United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps provided a demonstration of their own shedding light on how colonial drum corps operated during the Revolutionary War.
Hurley said the seven heartwarming letters penned by Gold Star mothers, parents and wives from the local area were “the most meaningful contributions” to the time capsule.
“These letters guarantee the memories of their fallen heroes will survive into the next century,” noted Hurley.
The many events were meaning for to the installation trainees, as well.
For soldiers like Spec. Imann Fletcher, being a part of the event is refreshing from the routine training operations. Fletcher has been on Fort Lee grounds and in the army for only five months. Being part the centennial celebration at Fort Lee is an exciting moment for Fletcher as his company cheers him on from the stands and his commanding officer jokingly reminds him not to curse during his media interview.
“It’s an honor to be here at Fort Lee,” Fletcher said. “It’s just really exciting to be here.” He was especially looking forward to watching the basketball competition.
Private Bright Abuyu has been training for a similar length of time. Abuyu stated that being a part of the events Monday left him feeling “overwhelmed.”
“We’re all excited,” he commented. “To be here today is a special feeling.”
Garrison Commander Col. Adam Butler shared how he felt the event really cements the commitment the surrounding area has poured into the installation.
“We wouldn’t necessarily be here without the community,” Butler stated thanking Fort Lee’s neighbors for continually supporting the installation. “The community has always supported us.”
Butler went on to say that recent events set into motion numerous activities where soldiers can take pride in their service and their education. Fort Lee’s 100 birthday was a day the armed service volunteers could look back on and say “I was a part of history,” as the excitement grew in eruptions of cheers, thunderous calls of company cadence, as a warrior spirit filled the fields at Fort Lee in the battle of 100 years of sustainment, pride and commitment.