By Patty Montagno
A large crowd gathered at the amphitheater at Sachse City Hall May 17 to celebrate Armed Forces Day. The program was arranged by members of the Community Emergency Response Team. The event featured a presentation by Mayor Mike Felix and introductions of several local veterans.
CERT Lead Coordinator Jeri McGrath welcomed the group saying that many Americans celebrate Armed Forces Day annually.
“It is a day to pay tribute to men and women who serve the United States armed forces,” she said. “ Armed Forces Day is also part of Armed Forces Week, which began on the second Saturday of May.”
McGrath said the event is to honor Americans in uniform who served their country in times of war and peace.
“Those wonderful people we honored served in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard,” she said. “We wanted everyone to know that we support these wonderful people who are serving or have served.”
Mayor Mike Felix gave a short presentation and read a proclamation in support of the event.
“We not only support these wonderful men and women who have served; but their families as well,” he said. “The families of those brave individuals have helped us have all the freedoms that we have today. I salute all of you and God Bless.”
All current and retired military personnel attending were asked to stand and be recognized.
The next introduction Sachse resident and US Army retired Lt. General Charles B. Eichelberger and his wife Jackie.
Eichelberger was the highest-ranking officer at the event. They received a standing ovation.
“Retired General Eichelberger was born in Georgia in l934,” she said. “He was promoted to Lt. General in 1989.”
Highlights of his distinguished career include assignments to the 317th US Army Security Agency (USASA) Battalion; Viet Nam duty as the S-2/S-3 in the 3rd Radio Research Unit; Operations Officer for combat operations in the Dominican Republic; Intelligence Analyst with the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, US Army Europe and Chief, Intelligence Support Indication Center, US Forces Korea and Eighth US Army.
He directed the planning for Intelligence operations and support of allied forces during the First Gulf War that successfully liberated Kuwait from Saddam Hussein’s forces in 1991.
Lt. General Charles Eichelberger served on the Army staff until his retirement after 36 years of service.
During his service he received numerous awards and commendations.
During the announcement segment of the program, McGrath said a new CERT program will be offered June 20 and 27. She explained that part of the mission of the program is to educate the public on emergency preparedness.
“If something major happens in a community there are just not enough public safety responders to deal with everything immediately,” she said. “So many lives can be saved by people taking a few simple precautionary steps.”
“One of the new classes will inform everyone on how to prepare for the first 72 hours after a disaster strikes.
“That is usually when first responders may not be able to help victims,” she said. “That’s why it’s called a 72 Hour Preparedness class.”
McGrath explained that the team is a group of people who receive special training to enhance their ability to recognize, respond to and recover from emergency and disaster situations. Teams are trained to take care of themselves and others before, during, and after an emergency. As an organized team, individuals can provide vital services while waiting for emergency responders.
“The city encourages all citizens to take preparedness seriously in order to minimize loss of life and property in a disaster,” she said. “Sachse is actively recruiting residents to be trained in the CERT.”
Among the more likely emergencies in Sachse are fires and weather-related situations such as tornadoes and flash flooding. Members also assist with crowd and traffic control during community events such as the July fireworks show and the Christmas parade.
“I want to personally thank everyone for attending this event,” she said. “This day has been in the works for some time. Thank you all for making it successful.”