Fort Bliss Monitor, 11 December 2008
3-43 Soldiers honored at Mentor Breakfast
Stephen Baack, Monitor Staff
Soldiers of 3rd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, received awards during the eighth annual Mentor Breakfast at the Education Service Center Region 19 Saturday for their work in mentoring members of the Victory Warriors After-School Academy.
Headed by the Rev. Carolyne Redic, the Victory Warriors started in 1993 as an organization for children from the Northeast to participate in after-school activities. Currently, the Victory Warriors host children ages 6 to 17 who come from 11 schools across El Paso.
The Victory Warriors organization is designed to empower children and their families in “the realization of their full potential through educational, nutritional and fine arts opportunities,” according to their mission statement.
More than 50 Soldiers from 3rd Bn., 43rd ADA, mentor the children, though only about 20 were able to show at the breakfast due to ongoing training or other commitments, said Spc. Jack Gray, the taskings noncommissioned officer in charge and coordinator for the battalion’s mentorship activities.
The battalion took over for 3rd Bn., 2nd ADA Regt., about four months ago when that unit left for Korea.
“It’s great,” said Gray of the opportunity. “Our Soldiers give a lot to this – a lot of their personal time invested into this. We have some kids sitting with police officers and they got mad because they didn’t get to sit with their Soldiers.”
Gray, who accepted the Mentor of the Year and Community Service awards on behalf of 3-43, said he arranges transportation and handles contributions for the mentors’ activities with the children.
So far, he said, a group of Soldiers escorted members of the Victory Warriors on a field trip to the mall, which was sponsored by the United Way and J.C. Penny Co. Inc. Mentors from 3-43 also participated in a Reading Under the Stars with the help of University of Texas at El Paso.
Also at the event was Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Rodgers, the post command sergeant major, who was a guest of honor. Redic, who was in tears, thanked him for his support, background work, facilitation of transportation and his coaching over the years by giving him the Honoree of the Year award.
“Through the years I’ve been so amazed by their consistency,” Rodgers said during this speech. “You have definitely changed my life. … I really appreciate everything you’ve done, and I will always be a member of the Victory Warriors.
Also attending the breakfast were the El Paso High School Orchestra, the Cub Scouts Pack 279 Honor Guard, the El Paso Junior Symphony, the Nolan Richardson Middle School Choir and El Paso Community College President Dr. Richard Rhodes, who served as the keynote speaker. The Victory Warriors joined students from Newman Elementary for one of the last performances at the breakfast, called, “An American Tribute.”