General William Wallace, Commanding General of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command made a visit to the Army’s Times Square Recruiting Station in New York City, to present awards and meet local dignitaries.
One local celeb was former-NFL player and Harlem Hellfighter football coach Duke Ferguson. Ferguson, who orchestrated the return of high school football to Harlem several years ago met with Wallace and discussed both his program and the Army’s support to it.
Ferguson initially came to Harlem to make his fortune, however his goal quickly changed and he now focuses his energies to make a difference in the lives of Harlem’s youth.
His, creation, the Harlem Hellfighters, is a high school football team whose members are drawn from schools throughout Manhattan, but most of whose members live in Harlem.
For several years the Army’s New York City Recruiting Battalion has supported the program, largely because of some key similarities between the team and the Army. Both are value-based organizations, both also have high standards of performance for their respective mentors.
Ferguson’s efforts in Harlem have had a profound effect on the members of his team and the Army has been proud to be able to serve as their sponsor.
With the upcoming high school football season the New York City Recruiting Battalion seeks to broaden its support for this outstanding program and looks forward to again sponsoring the team’s post-season award for its most deserving player-the Sergeant Henry Lincoln Johnson Memorial Trophy. Named for a highly decorated non-commissioned officer of Harlem’s own famed 369th Infantry Regiment, the original Harlem Hellfighters, the trophy is a symbol of the Army’s commitment to the current incarnation of the proud Hellfighter tradition.
After meeting with Ferguson, Wilson then presented, Staff Sgt. Rubin Avila-Burns with an Army Achievement Medal for his work in the days following the March 6 bombing of the Time Square Recruiting Station.
Avila-Burns, the Assistant Station Commander at the Times Square Recruiting Station, was rewarded for his diligent work in restoring the station to operations in such a short period of time after the incident.
“I make no judgment on whether the bombing was an act of terrorism or something else,” said Wallace. “We are Soldiers and we live by the warrior ethos and Soldiers creed- ‘never quit, never leave a fallen comrade and never accept defeat’- I just have to take my hat off to you for never quitting, never accepting defeat and always putting the mission first. Thank you for getting this station back on line in such great order.”
While the Army Corps of Engineers made sure the recruiting station was structurally sound, Staff Sgt. Avila, along with Sgt. 1st Class James Latella, embodied the values of “duty” and “selfless-service” by conducting enlistment interviews, dealing with the media and continuing routine operations. As a result of the combined efforts of the Corps of Engineers and the US Army Recruiting Command the station was operational and officially re-opened at 5:06 pm on March 6, a little over 13 and half hours after the bombing took place.
The Times Square Recruiting Station is a city icon with the current structure being the second located within the square.
The Times Square Recruiting Station is open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.