Written by Mattie Cook and Sade’ Wilson
FORT KNOX, Ky. – Cadets took a break from Cadet Summer Training (CST) to celebrate the U.S. Army’s 241st birthday with the Fort Knox community at Godman Army Airfield June 18.
The 241st Army Birthday Bash was hosted by the Fort Knox MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation). Musical guests Thompson Square, Cassadee Pope, The Marshall Tucker Band and Natalie Stovall performed during the celebration.
Artist and performer Cassadee Pope dedicated a heartfelt performance of her new song “Kisses at Airports” to thank troops and their families for their sacrifices.
“You never let anything stand in your way of standing in front of our people and our country, and it’s such an honor to be here thanking you,” Pope said.
Cadets danced, sang and cheered for the artists as they performed. Staff Sgt. Dannial McNeely, observer trainer mentor (OTM) with Third Regiment, Cadet Leaders Course, Alpha Company, third platoon from Fort Carson, Colorado, said the Army birthday bash was an opportunity for Cadets to have down time.
“It’s important to include the Cadets in the Army’s birthday celebration because it boosts morale and shows the Cadets that the Army isn’t just all training; they really take care of their soldiers and families. Cadets should be able to experience all aspects of Army life, including family and soldier morale,” McNeely said.
Cdt. Michael Barnes, a rising sophomore at Duke University majoring in computer science, said he enjoyed being able to celebrate with his battle buddies.
“We joined the greatest team in the world, and to be able to celebrate it with the people that you’ve been bleeding and sweating with, getting yelled at by drill sergeants with… it’s a great feeling,” he said.
The Army Birthday Bash provides an opportunity for the community to celebrate and honor men and women of the U.S. Army and its rich 241 year-long history. It also provides time for some to reflect on their personal experience, as artist and performer Natalie Stovall did.
“My father is a retired Army colonel, so I grew up around the Army. To be here and be playing for the Army’s birthday – it’s such an honor and a blessing to be spending time with these men and women, so we feel really amazing being here,” Stovall said.
Live music, food and drink, fellowship with friends and relaxation were present for those in attendance, but no birthday party would be complete without cake.
Commanding General of Fort Knox Maj. Gen. Hughes was joined in the ceremonial cutting of the Army birthday cake by the youngest Cadet at CST, Jayda Manning, 17, the youngest soldier stationed at Fort Knox, Pvt. Stephanie Carpintero, 18, and singer Cassadee Pope. Manning is a sociology major at South Carolina State University. Carpintero is in the 15th Company of the 19th Engineer Battalion.
Cadet Manning gave her thoughts on cutting the cake. “It was exciting. I was really nervous, but it was an honor to be up there. It was a special moment,” Manning said.
“It was a great experience cutting the cake. I was not expecting this at all,” Carpintero added.