Family was a word used often by past and present troopers to describe the feeling of being a part of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment.
“This is my home,” said retired Col. Richard Quinn, who spent 10 years in the regiment and followed it to Central Texas upon retirement.
“I thought I’d come help out,” Quinn said. He spent 10 years with the “Brave Rifles,” first at Fort Lewis, Wash., then Fort Bliss in El Paso. When the regiment made its most recent move from Fort Carson, Colo., to Fort Hood, he and his wife moved to Belton.
“The regiment is a very large family,” he said. “I still have people come up to me on the street and say they served with me 40 years ago.”
As part of the Brave Rifles’ birthday week, past and present members of the regiment came together for sports, celebration and to remember the fallen.
“It re-enforces that once you become a member of the regiment, you’re a permanent member of something unique from other organizations,” said Col. John B. Richardson IV, regimental commander.
While this year is the 167th birthday of the unit, it’s also the 10th anniversary of its first of four deployments to Iraq in April 2003. A reunion was held Friday night at the Shilo Inn for those veterans — some of whom are still with the regiment.
Retired Col. David Teeples, was the commander of the regiment during the deployment and is the current honorary commander. During that time downrange, he said the regiment was given a challenging mission in one of the largest areas of Iraq.
“Whenever you have a tough mission people grow closer to one another. They share the hardships and the successes,” he said. “We lost 49 soldiers while we were there.”
A ceremony was held Saturday to honor those troopers. In attendance for all the weekend’s events was Melissa Givens, widow of the first Brave Rifles trooper killed in Iraq, Pfc. Jesse Givens, 34. He’d joined up right after Sept. 11, 2001, and Givens said the other soldiers used to joke about his age and call him “pops” or “grandpa.”
“When Jesse died, they were so good to me and they made me feel like I wasn’t all alone,” she said of why she continues to stay in touch with the regiment and traveled from Colorado Springs, Colo., for the reunion.
“The most important thing is that people remember,” Givens said. “What I have to do for him is to make sure he’s remembered.”
Teeples, who spoke at the memorial service at the regiment’s monument to the fallen at Fort Hood, said the stories from the regiment’s first Iraq deployment show the power of this close-knit unit.
“The 3rd Cavalry Regiment has always been and is now a unique organization known throughout the Army for accomplishing every mission and we proved that in (Operation Iraqi Freedom I),” he said.
He traveled from Tampa, Fla., to participate in the festivities because of his love for the unit, but also to stand alongside his daughter, Capt. Amy Teeples, who currently serves as the regiment’s trial counsel.
“When I requested Fort Hood, I’d hoped to make it to the regiment,” Amy Teeples said. She’s spent her entire life hearing about the Brave Rifles from her father, and already had a love for it.
“The day I found out, it was incredible, because he mailed me one of his old patches and I wore it my first day,” she said. “It’s my dream job.”
Over the past couple of years, the unit has undergone some changes, dropping “armored” from its name and transitioning from a heavy brigade to a Stryker organization. Richardson said many of the old veterans were concerned it might lose its strong cavalry spirit in transition. Bringing together the past and present troopers shows them they are still one big Brave Rifles family.
Quinn agreed that it doesn’t matter the weapons systems or mounts of the troopers, it’s the cavalry spirit.
“The cavalry is not a branch of service, it’s a way of life,” he said.