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Thailand’s Military Elite Celebrate Proud Legacy at the 114th Anniversary of the First Army Area

Imagine a grand assembly of Thailand’s most distinguished military leaders, gathering under the auspices of history and tradition. Picture the venerable Privy councillor General Prayut Chan-o-cha at the helm, a figure who crafted a new chapter in Thailand’s political saga with the 2014 coup. There he stood, commanding the spotlight with the practiced poise of a former army chief, participating in a ceremonious tribute to the First Army Area’s impressive legacy.

As the day unfolded, the air was heavy with the weight of history and the anticipation of commemoration. January 13 marks not just any anniversary—this year, it honored the 114th year since the inception of a pivotal combat unit in the proud lineage of the Royal Thai Army. Going back to 1910, King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) set the cornerstone for what would become a cornerstone of Thailand’s defence, and it has stood unwaveringly ever since, comprising a regiment headquarters and three formidable combat divisions.

With the reins of leadership firmly in the grasp of its 57th Chief, the charismatic Lt-General Chitsanupong Rodsiri, the First Army has seen many commanders, and several graced the day with their esteemed presence. Giants of history such as generals Dapong Rattanasuwan, Anupong Paochinda, and Kukiat Srinaka, to name a few, were among the roster of military legends who returned to honor their shared roots—attesting to the strength and camaraderie forged within this venerated institution.

As the First Army Area’s banner danced in the breeze, the pageantry was further adorned by the arrival of notable figures spanning the spectrum of Thailand’s defense and civil sectors. With the Army Commander-in-Chief General Kosin Hinthao leading the charge, representatives from different facets of Thai society gathered, united under one roof in a harmonious blend of militaristic ceremony and civic pride.

General Prayut, synonymous with leadership at the country’s helm until earlier this year, offered a solemn salute to the legacy of King Rama VI. With meditative reverence, he presided over a spiritual service, an ode to the past and a benediction for the future. His contribution to the day was capped off with the timeless tradition of a group photograph, a mosaic of military pedigree with General Prayut centrally placed, binding the past command with the current vanguard.

While the ex-Prime Minister chose silence over speeches when confronted by the eager press, his enigmatic smile spoke volumes as he departed in the grandeur of his limousine—a silent testament to the unspoken narratives woven into the day’s events.

Going back to his own chapter as a pivotal player in Thailand’s military narrative, Prayut held the post of commander of the First Army Area in a time of tumult—his tenure sandwiched between the coups of 2006 and 2014, both of which dramatically reshaped the nation’s political landscape. As the architect of the latter, his legacy is inherently intertwined with that of the unit he once commanded.

Nestled on the historic Ratchadamnoen Nok Road and a stone’s throw from the Government House, the garrison stands as more than a military outpost; it’s a testament to the enduring spirit of Bangkok and the 25 provinces in the Central region under its protective wing. This oasis of tradition amidst the buzz of the capital serves as a constant reminder of the resilience and enduring spirit of Thailand’s guardians.

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