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10th Mountain Division, community highlighted on Armed Forces Day

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WATERTOWN — As the community marked the 65th anniversary of Armed Forces Day, Fort Drum’s rear commander emphasized the strong relationship between the post and the community.

“There’s no better friend to the 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum than our north country neighbors,” Brig. Gen. Michael L. Howard said. The holiday included a luncheon Wednesday at the Hilton Garden Inn, which drew hundreds of local business leaders and post advocates.

Armed Forces Day honors members of all military branches. First celebrated in 1949, it replaced separate days for the individual services. Gen. Howard emphasized it was also a day to honor military veterans and their service.

Of all his posts in nearly 30-years, Gen. Howard said, each relationship was unique. That type of support is critical here where about two-thirds of soldiers live off post, send their children to community schools and receive civilian hospital care. “We depend on each other like no other place I’ve been,” Gen. Howard said.

He relayed a status update on the 10th Mountain Division’s deployed soldiers from division commander Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, of the division’s Afghanistan headquarters. The Afghans’ recent presidential elections were secured by national forces with little to no American support.

“Our lack of support that day was not because we don’t care about them,” Gen. Howard said. “It’s because they don’t need us.”

Despite the looming deadline for the end of American operations in Afghanistan at year’s end, the rear commander noted there were still thousands of Americans in harm’s way. At division headquarters with the 10th Sustainment Brigade and 3rd Brigade Combat Team, about 3,500 local soldiers are serving in-country.

Gen. Howard noted the division’s losses this month: Pfc. Christian J. Chandler, Sgt. Shawn M. Farrell II and Spc. Kerry M.G. Danyluk.

A parade to mark the Armed Forces Day holiday will take place in the city starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, running from Watertown High School to Clinton Street.

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