Veteran New York National Guard Soldier from Rensselaer, and new Soldier from Schuylerville join to mark Army Birthday at NY National Guard headquarters
June 14 ceremony marks 244th year of the United States Army
Latham, NY (06/14/2019) — A young New York Army National Guard Soldier from Schuylerville, and a veteran noncommissioned officer from Rensselaer joined Major General Ray Shields, the Adjutant General of New York, in marking the Army's 244th Birthday at the New York National Guard headquarters in Latham, N.Y. on Friday, June 14.
Private 1st Class Amanda Coleman, age 19, a member of the 206th Military Police Company from Schuylerville, N.Y. and Sgt. 1st Class Frank DeThomasis, age 59, a Rensselaer resident assigned to the Joint Force Headquarters helped Shields cut the Army Birthday Cake during a short ceremony.
The date marks the day in 1775 on which the Continental Congress took charge of colonial troops besieging the British Army in Boston and created an American Army.
Traditionally, the youngest Soldier present joins the oldest Soldier present in cutting the Army Birthday cake. The young Soldier symbolizes the future of the Army while the old Soldier symbolizes the Army's history and past.
The New York Army National Guard is one of three components of the Army alongside the Active Army and the Army Reserve.
In his remarks, Shields thanked both DeThomasis and Coleman for their service and presented them with coins in appreciation.
DeThomasis enlisted in the New York Army National Guard in November 1980. A co-worker of his was in the Army National Guard and convinced him to enlist.
"He managed to talk my ear off to the point where I finally said, 'Okay… I'll sign up,'" DeThomasis recalled.
He spent the majority of his time in the Army National Guard serving in tank units, DeThomasis said, first in the 1st Battalion, 210th Armor and then in the 1st Battalion, 101st Cavalry.
"I loved every minute of it," he said. "During that time I was also offered several different positions which would eventually lead to promotions, but I refused them, perhaps a bit foolishly, because I really enjoyed what I was doing."
"Fulfillment meant more to me than the rank," he said.
The highlight of his Army career was when he deployed to Iraq in 2004-2005 as a platoon sergeant in Delta Company, 101st Cavalry which deployed to Baghdad with the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry, DeThomasis said.
DeThomasis also served as acting First Sergeant for a company in Task Force Wingfoot in New York City in the days following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.
The New York National Guard built a long-term security force around the 1st Battalion, 101st Cavalry for three months of duty during the recovery process.
He was proud to be asked to represent the Army's history in the birthday ceremony, DeThomasis said.
"I guess it came full circle, the old guy brings in the new kid," he said." I'm very happy to do it and it's very appropriate in my case."
His advice for Coleman and other young Soldiers is to do the best job you can and enjoy your job.
"Chasing stripes and rockers are important, as long as you can do it with some intestinal fortitude and passion," DeThomasis said.
Coleman, a college student at Adirondack Community College in Queensbury, N.Y., joined the New York Army National Guard in 2018.
She joined the Army because her brother joined and she had always looked up to her brother. She decided to become a Military Police Soldier because she had once wanted to be a New York State Trooper, Coleman said.
"It made sense to correlate the two," she said.
Her most memorable Army experience has been the people she's met in the 206th Military Police Company, Coleman said.
"They've taught me a lot so far," Coleman said. "I just want to learn and every day we grow at drill."