CSM Burt is big hit at Norfolk
Command Sergeant Major James H. Burt, the highest ranking enlisted man in the 99th Regional Support Command, consisting of about 20,000 troops, was the featured speaker at Saturday night's banquet at the convention in Norfolk.
He made reference to himself as "a citizen soldier and an infantryman." Burt said, "I'm in awe of the service you men have made to our nation."
He said World War soldiers of the 99th "wrote a story against great odds."
CSM Burt added that "you know the history of the 99th past, I'd like to speak of the mission of the 99th future."
Of the 20,000 soldiers on duty in the 99th today, "7,000 of them are on active duty in the global war on terrorism.
"The 99th has more soldiers on active duty in this war than any other reserve unit," he told the attentive audience.
He told them, "It's a different kind of war than you fought.
"They are not officially combat troops," he said, "but they have put themselves in harm's way."
Reserve soldiers serve in fuel distribution, as military police, truck drivers, engineers building bridges, and in other areas providing support for front line soldiers and marines.
"Though they want to come home," he said of his troops in Iraq, "they will gladly stay until the job is finished."
Burt read a letter from a first sergeant, graphically portraying what it's like to serve in the Iraq war.
He also mentioned the bronze statue being proposed for the 99th headquarters in Pennsylvania. It is of a WWII GI, in combat. He said the statue will make young soldiers and the public aware "of your heritage, what you did at places like Elsenborn Ridge in the Battle of the Bulge, crossing the Rhine at Remagen, and in the Ruhr Pocket.."
His remarks were met with loud applause from the 99th veterans present for the occasion.