Under thick clouds and a light rain, 1,000 soldiers gathered with U.S. Army commanding general Maj. Gen. Michael Shields to celebrate the 239th birthday of the U.S. Army.

The soldiers, including three with military working dogs, formed in front of the headquarters building on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson early Thursday morning. After a brief presentation, Maj. Gen. Shields led the group on a four-mile run.

Following the run, and a brief speech by the commanding general, Maj. Gen. Shields, Command Sgt. Maj. Terry Gardner, U.S. Army Alaska soldier of the year Pfc. Bryant Sheehy, and NCO of the year Staff Sgt. Adam White used swords to cut a 40-pound cake, celebrating the 239th birthday of the U.S. Army.