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White Sands celebrates Army’s 246th birthday



White Sands Missile Range took a break from its busy schedule of testing new capabilities and spearheading Army modernization efforts and threw a quick party.

The occasion: The Army’s 246th birthday on June 14.

The U.S. Army was created by act of the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775.

Starting with the Revolutionary War through the Civil War, World War I and World War II, Korea and Vietnam and on to the Global War on Terror, the U.S. Army has constantly answered the call with bravery, distinction and sacrifice.

White Sands Missile Range Garrison commander Col. Ryan Howell said the Army birthday ceremony was much more than just an excuse to have some cake, but was a way to remember the contributions of active-duty, reserve and National Guard troops, military retirees, veterans and civilian employees who support the Army.

“Our Amazing Army team” is what Howell called it.

White Sands Missile Range has been part of Army and U.S. history for more than three-quarters of a century, starting with the test of the world’s first atomic bomb at Trinity Site in 1945.

After 76 years and 42,000 rocket and missile tests, White Sands continues as the premier test range in America.

White Sands consists of 3,200 square miles – roughly the size of Rhode Island and Delaware -- and supports the Army, Navy and Air Force as well as commercial and international users while conducting more than 3,000 tests annually.

White Sands represents 17 percent of all U.S. Army land, and Fort Benning (Georgia), Fort Bragg (North Carolina), Fort Campbell (Kentucky), Fort Hood (Texas), Fort Irwin (California), Fort Knox (Kentucky), Fort Polk (Louisiana), Fort Sill (Oklahoma) and Fort Stewart (Georgia) could all fit within the boundaries of White Sands Missile Range.

White Sands has an estimated economic impact of $5.3 million a day or $1.9 billion annually on Las Cruces, Doña Ana County and the surrounding borderland region.

The sprawling Army post has 5,000 civilian employees, 350 service members from the Army, Air Force and Navy, 930 housing residents and 300 elementary and middle-school students.

During the ceremony, Yolanda Hingel, the director of Army Community Services at White Sands, sang the national anthem.