Soldiers in 3rd Brigade Combat Team are reaching out to local communities, getting involved in their traditions and celebrations, and helping the people in many different ways.
It is all a part of the brigade’s “Piece of the Rock” program. Every unit in the brigade is assigned a surrounding town, and Soldiers work to help the community and get involved.
“Establishing rapport with our local community is akin to our mission in Afghanistan,” said Lt. Col. Kenneth Mintz, commander of 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment. “The Army is a very close-knit culture, and it's vital to our mission to get out of our comfort zone and understand how other people see the world and solve problems, (and) how to interact professionally and socially with people (who) aren't in the Army.”
Soldiers in 1-32 Infantry got involved with the Sackets Harbor community as well as Canadian residents by participating in the Can-Am Parade on July 17. The annual Can-Am Festival has been celebrated since 1977.
“It is important for the Soldiers to feel a part of the community here and establish relationships with the people whom they are sworn to protect,” Mintz said. “The Piece of the Rock program is a great opportunity for us, and we are really looking forward to establishing our partnership with Sackets Harbor.”
Col. Patrick Frank, 3rd BCT commander, and his wife, Jennifer, showed their support for Ogdensburg’s 50th Anniversary International Seaway Festival on Saturday.
“(We want) to support all the (local) festivals throughout the year,” Frank said. “This is the 50th anniversary of the Seaway Festival; it’s a big deal.”
The Ogdensburg International Seaway Festival is considered by the community to be the biggest "family reunion" in St. Lawrence County.
They cheered on local high school bands and homemade floats, as well as the 10th Mountain Division Band, in the parade.
“I’m proud the division is actually involved,” said Frank of the 10th Mountain Division Band’s involvement in the parade. “It’s important for us to allow (the community) to see the division.”
All of the involvement in the local communities, however, is not just to build good community relations. It is a chance for Soldiers to get to know their neighbors and have some fun.
“It also allows local people to get to know the Soldiers and their Families, and hopefully establish life-long friendships,” Mintz said.