Starting Monday, Aberdeen Proving Ground will continue a long-standing American tradition this year with an Armed Forces Week celebration (May 14-19) and a concentrated Armed Forces Day celebration this Wednesday, May 16.
This year's celebration will also herald the return of a popular past event, a Live Fire Demonstration on Saturday, May 19, for which tickets are no longer available, according to post officials.
This year's Armed Forces Week theme, "Heroes on the Home Front," was chosen as a way to recognize local military and civilian personnel as heroes.
The celebration begins with a golf tournament Monday and veterans luncheon Tuesday, then highlights the diverse missions performed at Aberdeen Proving Ground with the Armed Forces Day Open House on Wednesday, May 16, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., on the grounds of the APG Museum.
The opening ceremony at 10 a.m. will feature performances by the Chapel Hill Elementary School choir, and the Southampton Middle School band.
Raymund "Dimo" Dimatulac, plans and operations specialist for Garrison APG, said the event is "a fun day to celebrate with our armed services."
"This is our opportunity to honor our service members, their families and our retirees," he said. "Our leadership asked us to show the entire community the work that goes on at APG every day. APG is a vital link to the success of our nation's military."
He added that a total of 36 displays are slated for the event, from more than two dozen installation organizations, according to event organizers. Also planned are demonstrations from the National Guard's Freestate ChalleNGe cadets, Chemical Response Team, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, personnel, and canine units from the Directorate of Emergency Services.
Featured throughout the day will be music by "The Volunteers," theU.S. Army's premier touring show band, and "Leftstronger," a Baltimore-area band. Food will be available for purchase, and activities for children include a live wildlife exhibit, a Kiddie Corner, McGruff the Crime Fighting Dog, D.A.R.E. activities and fire-fighting displays.
The Armed Forces Day events are open to the public. Visitors without a government ID must use the Maryland Boulevard (Route 715) gate off Route 40 to enter the installation. Visitors age 16 and older must have a photo ID and drivers must present a valid driver's license and vehicle registration at the Visitor's Center.
Parking will be available in the vicinity of the APG Museum along Aberdeen Boulevard, between Maryland Boulevard and Rodman Road. See the shuttle schedule available for employees who would like to attend. For more information about the day's activities, call 410-278-4500.
The focus on healthy living will be reflected Wednesday, as theU.S. ArmyTest and Evaluation Command, the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, and the Community Health Promotion Council host National Employee Health and Fitness Day, which includes a 5K Walk/Run at Fanshaw Field at 8:30 a.m., a Bike Rally behind Bldg. 2202 at 8:30 a.m., and Fitness Classes in Building 320.
An Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program demonstration will be held in Bldg. 3300, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Body Fat Analysis tests will be performed from noon-1 p.m. in Bldg. 3300. For more information about National Employee Health and Fitness Day, call 410-417-2312.
Live Fire Demonstration returns
Ending the week's activities will be the live fire demonstration, hosted by ATEC's Aberdeen Test Center on Saturday, May 19.
The free tickets made available to the public on May 2 were distributed in less than an hour, said Michael Lupacchino, director of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
"The line started to form at noon," he said. "When the doors opened at about 1 p.m., there were over 125 people in line."
Lupacchino said 1,500 tickets were available, which were given to more than 300 people.
"Each person was able to get up to 5 tickets, but some took only two or three," he said.
Those who did not receive tickets were put on a waiting list, which was filled by the end of the day. Lupacchino said organizers will determine whether additional tickets will become available for those on the waiting list. Tickets are required to attend the event due to space and safety requirements.
The day's activities will take place at the main front firing range. Gates open at 1 p.m. for equipment and vehicle displays.
A Parade of Vehicles begins at 2:45 p.m., which includes a demonstration of how helicopters are used to put out range fires. The Live Fire Demonstration begins at 3:15 p.m.
Hearing protection will be provided. Children under the age of 4 years are not permitted to attend because of safety concerns. Closed toed shoes are required, no outside seating is allowed and all bags are subject to search.
To attend the Live Fire Demonstration, enter APG through the Maryland Boulevard (Route 715) gate off Route 40 to enter the installation. Visitors age 16 and older must have a photo ID and drivers must present a valid driver's license and vehicle registration. Tickets to the demonstration must be presented at the gate.
Follow the signs to parking between Firehouse and Colleran Roads near Bldg. 305. Parking also is available on Longs Corner Road in the vicinity of Bldg. 310, and Johnson Street between buildings 320 and 321. VIP and handicap parking is available on Colleran Road.
Military Appreciation Luncheon
The Harford County Chamber of Commerce's Military Appreciation Week Luncheon will be held on Thursday, May 17 at 11:30 a.m. at the Richlin Ballroom in Edgewood, where APG's Soldier of the Year, Non-Commissioned Officer of the year and Family of the Year will be recognized.
Tickets for the luncheon have been sold out, but those wanting to attend can have their names put on a waiting list. For more information about the luncheon, call 410-838-2020.
Honorees this year are NCO of the Year Sgt. Olayiwola Kugblenu, a radiology technician at KirkU.S. ArmyHealth Clinic and Soldier of the Year Spc. Matthew J. Gansel, a medical laboratory specialist with KUSAHC.
The Calhoun Family has been recognized as this year's Family of the Year. Master Sgt. Joseph Calhoun of ATEC, and his wife Darlene, daughter Kaseolra, and son Keyon will be honored.
Guest speaker will be Maj. Gen. Robert S. Ferrell, installation commander and commander,U.S. ArmyCommunications-Electronics Command.
Other events planned
The Armed Forces Day Golf Tournament at Ruggles Golf Course on May 14 starts with a continental breakfast at 7:30 a.m., and a 9 a.m. shotgun start. Call the golf course at 410-278-4794 to see if slots are still available.
Also on this year's agenda is a Veterans Luncheon at Top of the Bay on May 15 at 11:30 a.m. Sponsors include TASC, Inc., Freedom Federal Credit Union and the Association of the United States Army. Guest speaker this year will be Wood Parker, a 20-year Navy veteran and a current member of the TASC Board of Advisors. Call 410-278-3000 for tickets, which are available for $18.
The morning of May 19, brings a 10K Run at 8 a.m. and a 2-Mile Fun Run at 8:30 a.m., each starting at the APG Athletic Center. To register, call 410-278-7933.
For more information about Armed Forces Day, call the APG Public Affairs Office at 410-278-1151 or 410-278-1147 or visit our website at http://www.apg.army.mil.
Proud tradition at APG
May 20, 1950, marked the nation's first combined Armed Forces Day celebration, unifying the Army, Navy and Air Force Days under the Department of Defense, to increase public understanding of the military. It was a day for the military to show "state-of-the-art" equipment to the civilian population, and to honor and acknowledge the people of the Armed Forces.
According to a 1952 New York Times article, the first Armed Forces Day was celebrated by parades, open houses, receptions, and air shows, as Americans across the nation joined together to honor the Armed Forces.
At APG, Armed Forces Week was celebrated in much the same way, drawing more than 30,000 people each year with open houses, tours, exhibits, parachute jumps, and flyovers as well as the community's favorite display, a live fire demonstration. That changed in 1991 when APG ended its live fire demonstration. APG's Armed Forces Day celebration continued to boom without it, adding other spectacular events.
John Yaquiant, former APG chief of media relations, remembers the old days as "very exciting."
"I enjoyed watching the looks on the faces of the children during the main front activities," said Yaquiant, who recalled that many members of the public had never been exposed to the sights, sounds and smells of tanks, artillery and small arms in action.
APG continued to host smaller events each year, continuing the tradition of the Military Appreciation Week luncheon sponsored by the Harford County Chamber of Commerce. In 2002, the celebration was moved off-post as APG and the City of Aberdeen joined forces to sponsor Armed Forces Day as a team with a parade, fireworks, concerts and activities at Ripken Stadium.
In 2008, Armed Forces Day returned to APG with and a day of fun and learning on the museum grounds.
That tradition at the museum will continue this year on Wednesday, May 16, with most events open to the public.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun