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Battle of Ia Drang, Garryowen veteran speaks at seminar

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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 4:30 am

In an effort to draw from experience, noncommissioned officers and officers of 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, seized the opportunity to listen to one Vietnam veteran’s take on small leadership in combat Sept. 6 at Howze Theater.

Retired Col. Ramon Nadal, former company commander with the “Garryowen” Squadron, during the Battle of Ia Drang in Vietnam, Nov. 14-18, 1965, gave a seminar on Small Unit Leadership in Combat.

Maj. Matthew Cuviello, executive officer for Garryowen, met Nadal at the 47th reunion of the Battle of Ia Drang in Branson, Mo., in May, when Nadal said he would like to talk to division soldiers about leadership.

“When you get an opportunity to host a legend in the squadron, you jump on that opportunity,” Cuviello said.

Having soldiers listen to a former company commander whose decisions played a pivotal role in saving lives during battle is invaluable, Cuviello said.

Even though the fight was different than Iraq and Afghanistan, Cuviello said parallels can be drawn and lessons learned from Nadal’s experiences.

“It helps you develop as an officer or an NCO, as a junior leader, to get that experience ... and actually translate that to your training and down to your soldiers,” Cuviello said.

With only five months on the job and no combat experience, 2nd Lt. Eric Hurley, a scout platoon leader with 4th Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, said his company commander encouraged him to attend the event.

Hurley wanted to know what he was doing right and understand things to improve on to gain the trust of his soldiers.

“(The seminar) covered perfectly how to gain trust with your soldiers and how to gain the leadership structure you need to build with your soldiers to be an effective leader,” Hurley said. “It’s a perfect example of what I want to be and how I should be in order to successfully lead my troops.”

It has been 42 years since Nadal’s last visit to Fort Hood. He is now the program director of the Wounded Warrior Mentors at Fort Eustis, Va. Nadal said it is always good to talk to First Team soldiers.

“I love it,” Nadal said. “I feel a great deal of bond with these soldiers.”

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