CORONA—Chowing down on cheesecake in the middle of the day or tucking into an extra piece of chocolate cake is hardly the norm for 28-year old Staff Sgt. David Tovar.
This week, however, it’s been party time for troops like him as the Army celebrates its 237th birthday.
On June 14, 1775, a rag-tag army was formed to take on the British troops near Boston, Mass. George Washington was appointed the commander-in-chief the next day and formally took command at Boston on July 3, 1775, according to the Army’s official website.
Sgt. Tovar and some of his fellow soldiers from upstate Fort Drum have been spending the week in the city going out to hospitals, schools and meeting with community leaders to put a human face to the Army and rally support for troops deployed abroad.
On Wednesday, the staff sergeant and his buddies were treated to lunch—cheesecake and all, courtesy of their “other brothers in arms” — the FDNY.
Bonding over a simple home-cooked meal of pasta, bread and meat at Ladder 138 on 43rd Avenue in Queens, Jim Goelz, the captain of Engine 289, which shares the house, said it was their way of saying thanks to the soldiers. “…[the lunch] is just payback for their sacrifices, the great job they do everyday.”
On Friday, soldiers will remember those who died in the line of duty at a wreath-laying ceremony at the 9/11 memorial.
“We have a big connection with the FDNY,” said Army First Lt. Jefferey Rusk, who was part of the team meeting with the firefighters on Wednesday, adding that work done by the “brotherhood” in the aftermath of 9/11 had a lot to do with their own missions in Afghanistan.
While the soldiers were reluctant to talk about their experiences deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq, one thing was certain — they were happy to be home safe to enjoy life's smaller pleasures, like having your own bathroom.
“Just not having to look at someone next to me when I’m having a shower or not having to wait 'til someone is done brushing their teeth,” said Tovar.
“That is just great.”
For a full list of Army birthday celebrations, go here.