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Story by: Eric Durr - N.Y. National Guard Public Affairs Office
Dated: Fri, May 25, 2007
FORT DRUM, N.Y.--Gov. Eliot Spitzer, the commander in chief of New York’s military forces, made his first trip to Fort Drum, N.Y., May 25.
Major General Joseph Taluto, the Adjutant General, accompanied the governor during his visit with military family members, local civilian leaders, and Major General Mike Oates, the commander of Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division. Lt. Gov. David Paterson also accompanied the governor.
The Fort Drum visit provided him with a chance to learn more about the military post, which injects about $1.2 billion into the economy each year, and the Soldiers that live and work there, the governor said. The visit, on the eve of Memorial Day weekend, was also a chance to express support for Soldiers and their families, and recognize the sacrifices they make, the governor said.
“We respect every soldier for the risks that he or she shoulders every day when they go into combat,” Spitzer said. Memorial Day is a time to honor the sacrifices that Soldiers make on a regular basis, the governor said.
During his visit with Oates, Spitzer was briefed on the search for members of the 10th Mountain Division’s 2nd Brigade who are missing in Iraq. Spec. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, and Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, were taken prisoner by insurgents during a May 12 ambush. The body of Pfc. Joseph Anzack., 20, was identified the day of the governor’s visit.
“We just wait with baited breathe as do family members, and all members of the armed forces, and we pray for those Soldiers and hope there is an affirmative result,” said Spitzer.
Spitzer visited the post’s Rapid Deployment Facility through which more than 2,700 New York National Guard Soldiers and airman have passed during deployments. He also got a chance to view new construction underway to house the additional troops the Army is stationing at Fort Drum.
The New York Army National Guard recently completed a $7.4 million Readiness Center at Fort Drum to house the 102nd Maintenance Co. and elements of the 42nd Infantry Division headquarters. Work will soon begin on a 149,800 square foot addition to the New York National Guard’s Maneuver Area Training Equipment. That new construction is estimated to cost $12.6 million
Fort Drum is the main training area for New York Army National Guard Soldiers and for National Guard Soldiers throughout the northeast. Since 9/11 the post has also served as a key mobilization and training site for deploying National Guard and Reserve Soldiers.
Spitzer, Paterson, Taluto and Oates met with members of the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization. The group of Fort Drum area community leader was formed in 1990 to promote cooperation between the military and the civilian communities and advocate for Fort Drum.
The governor and lieutenant governor also met with military families.
He was struck by how much the military families reported enjoying the North Country and the region’s quality of life, Spitzer said. He was also impressed by their dedication to the Army, and how many of them had reenlisted despite repeated deployments.
“That is a sign of patriotism and service and honor to this nation, so we are proud of them and what they do,” the governor said.