By Joel Hall
The deafening sound of howitzer fire and enthusiastic "hooahs" filled the air at Fort McPherson on Friday morning as hundreds of soldiers and their families celebrated the centennial anniversary of the Army Reserve.
While the concept of reservists has existed since the French and Indian War, the Army Reserve was created on April 23, 1908, to provide the Army with a cadre of medical officers.
In 1916, Congress passed the National Defense Act, which created the Officer's Reserve Corps, the Enlisted Reserve Corps, and the Officer's Training Corps -- units of "citizen soldiers" ready to deploy at a moment's notice.
Army Reserve soldiers were used heavily in World War I and World War II, and have been called upon in the majority of the nation's modern conflicts. More than 84,000 Army Reserve Soldiers, from 647 units, helped liberate Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm, and nearly 25,000 reservists are serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and 18 other countries.
Using period-accurate uniforms, reservists created a living timeline of "warrior citizens" through the 20th and 21st century. During a special portion of the anniversary celebration, the U.S. Army Reserve Command's oldest-living reservist -- Col. Bill Scarborough (Ret.) -- and the youngest -- Staff Sgt. Brianne Krenicky -- helped Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz cut a ceremonial cake using an Army saber.
Stultz, a three-star general and commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve Command, addressed an audience of reservists, who have the challenge of balancing civilian and Army life.
"The Army Reserve was started 100 years ago because the nation realized that they needed civilians with specialized skills to serve their country in uniform," said Stultz. "The nation cannot defend its liberty and freedoms without the Army Reserve."
Gen. Charles Campbell, commander of U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort McPherson, said rather than choosing to "indulge" in the privileges of a free society, Army reservists choose "to do the difficult and dangerous work" required to secure the nation's liberties.
"They have chosen to pursue careers in both the civilian sector and the Army," said Campbell. "It puts a particular burden on the individual who makes that decision as well as the families." He said that distinguishes the Army Reserve from other branches of the military.
Maj. Hillary Luton, public affairs officer with the U. S. Army Reserve Command, said reservists work in the civilian sector, all the while realizing they may be called into active duty. "Having to be pulled from their communities can be very difficult, but it is something that our soldiers are willing to do," said Luton. "Army Reserve soldiers are part of the community."