ARLINGTON, Va. - Conversational buzz filled the atrium of the Army National Guard Readiness Center Oct. 25, as those assigned to the readiness center anticipated the arrival of special guests.
Soldiers from the Army National Guard embraced the opportunity to foster international camaraderie by honoring the service of about 57 wounded warriors and their support teams from the United Kingdom and Denmark.
After a poignant reception by the welcoming line, U.S. Soldiers took the opportunity to meet and exchange stories with their British and Danish comrades.
"The welcome has been phenomenal," said British Army Cpl. Jay Watt, with the British Army's 4th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment. "I was overwhelmed by the warm welcome. I've never seen that before."
British Army Staff Sgt. Laura Atkinson, of the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, echoed that sentiment.
"It's been overwhelming and quite humbling," she said. "We don't get this sort of support over in the U.K., not only from the public but from other corps and services."
The event was a way to say thank you.
"I'm excited for you to be here," said Army Lt. Gen. William E. Ingram, Jr., the director of the Army National Guard, in his opening remarks.
"Hosting this group today provides an opportunity to thank you for your service and the sacrifices that you've made to the cause of freedom around the world."
And that sacrifice was shown both on and off the battlefield, Ingram said.
"You've shown valor on the battlefield but just as importantly, each of you has shown incredible courage and determination throughout the course of your rehabilitation."
Throughout the day, guests received background on the National Guard's history followed by sessions broken out by specialty that allowed for an exchange in cultural ideas that cultivated on-going relationships.
"We recognize that we are partners and that we need each other," said Command Sgt. Maj. Brunk Conley, the sergeant major of the Army Guard. "If we maintain our relationships, the next time we call on each other and need each other's help, we'll be there standing side-by-side, ready to do whatever the mission calls for."
Guests ended the visit with sharing an "All American" barbeque themed lunch with NGB leadership.
For these wounded warriors and their support teams, the reception at the readiness center marked the first stop of a week-long trip which included participating in the 38th Marine Corps Marathon, a tour of Arlington National Cemetery, a trip to Capitol Hill and the Pentagon.
"I'm looking forward to all of these," Watt said.