By Ed Brock
There was a certain nostalgia to the “Gillem Gallop” this year.
As the runners in the 5K run sprinted through the run in honor of the 64th birthday of Army Garrison Fort Gillem in Forest Park on Friday, the specter of the fort's likely end did not overshadow the celebration. But the fact that the Base Realignment and Closure list is set to become law this week was on the mind of Bob Dalton who once again won the race in 17 minutes and 16 seconds.
“I was thinking that at the starting line, this could be one of the last ones,” said Dalton, a civilian employee with the U.S. 3rd Army at Gillem's parent facility Fort McPherson in Atlanta.
Both forts are on the list that was released on May 13, scheduled for closure, along with the Naval Air Station-Atlanta in Marietta and the Naval Supply Corps School in Athens.
The forts stayed on the list after the review by the BRAC Commission and President Bush passed the list on to Congress. A last minute effort in the House of Representatives failed to stop the approval of the list, and the last stop is the Senate where no vote is required for the bill to become law.
“All indication we have is that the Senate isn't going to do anything and it will become law by operational law,” said Fred Bryant, deputy director of the Georgia Military Affairs Council.
Even then, though, it will still take years before the forts actually close and the military will continue to have an enclave on the Fort Gillem site for the 81st Regional Readiness Command and the Army's Criminal Investigation Divisions Forensics Laboratory.
Retired Army Col. Howard Butler, deputy garrison commander for the forts, said the impending finality of the BRAC list was not affecting Friday's birthday party.
“As long as we're here we're going to have viable programs,” Butler said.
As for other winners in the Gillem Gallop, Dalton was the overall male winner while Lt. Col. Sue Bozgoz with 1st Army took overall for women.
Gustavis Dampier won the 19 and under division. Sgt. Charles Maturana with 3rd Army and Christiansen Keith were the male winners in the 20-29 category while Taress Pinkins and Michelle Jefferson were the female winners.
In the 30-39 category Sgt. Darrell Cloud with 1st Army and Capt. Isaac Lin with 3rd Army won the men's division and Sgt. Maj. Tammy Bender with Army Forces Command and Bertha Thompson won the women's division.
Wesley Whitaker and Bruce Jenkins were the male winners for the 40-49 division and Maj. Jackie Jennings with U.S. Army Reserve Command and Maj. Michaela Phillips with 3rd Army were the female winners.
Sgt. Major Morris Jones with 1st Army and David Laranger won the men's 50-59 division, Michie Pitts and Lt. Col. Jane Reed with Forces Command were the female winners. In 60 and over Bill Pitts and Byron Brown were the winners.
The team winners, in order, were 1st Army, 3rd Army, Forscom, USARC, 3rd Medical Command, 3rd Military Police Group and Forscom G3. The Garvin Family was the winning family team.