• October 24, 2014

World War II veteran offers wisdom to his former unit

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

Retired Lt. Col. Alfred Shehab, 94, placed the 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment’s five campaign streamers on the squadron flag, formally acknowledging the unit’s pending 2014 deployment to Kosovo with its higher headquarters, the 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, during a streamer ceremony Thursday morning at West Fort Hood.

“(The streamers) serve as important reminders of the men who fought and families who sacrificed,” said Lt. Col. John P. Cogbill, the squadron commander. “They aren’t merely strips of fabric, but vivid memories of close combat ... (memories) of blood, sweat, joy and tears.”

Shehab, a World War II veteran, served in the unit as one of its original members.

During 1944 and 1945, he personally led patrols against German lines across Europe, eventually retiring in 1963 after 21 years of service.

Following the streamer ceremony, unit leadership demonstrated their modernized equipment for Shehab,

“Things have changed. War isn’t fair anymore,” Shehab said with a laugh as he admired the vehicles with digital technology.

Visiting the unit was a symbolic trip for Shehab.

“It brings back memories of people and places. I was always very proud of our squadron. To see it again alive, it’s hard to explain the feeling,” Shehab said, as he pointed out the faces he recognized in black and white photos lining the headquarters’ walls.

“I loved the Army I was in ... it represented tradition and history. But its main function is to defend the United States,” he said.

Shehab detailed his travels across Europe into Magdeburg, Leipzig and then-Czechoslovakia.

“When we left, the Czechs begged us to stay,” he said. The unit retreated and the area was later taken by the Bolsheviks, he lamented.

Today, Shehab remains a dedicated, passionate veteran, serving in The Military Order of the World Wars, which advocates for patriotic educational program for youth.

Shehab stressed the importance of reciting the pledge and prayer in schools, as well as the obligations of citizenship that are far too often ignored today, he said.

“The U.S. is a superpower ... we have obligations,” he said, insisting that cuts the military are never the answer to budgetary issues.

As far as advice for young soldiers, Shehab was straightforward. “Understand why you’re in the Army. It’s simple — defense of the U.S. And if you go into combat, pray a lot.”

Following the early morning ceremony, Cogbill dedicated the squadron conference room to Shehab, unveiling a portrait of the soldier.

“He is a living example of what it means to be a cavalry man,” Cogbill said.

Immediately after the unveiling, Shehab took to the floor to lead a professional development class for unit leadership.

“Some of us never left the Army. I never left the Army,” he said with a smile, staring across the room at the soldiers before him, waiting to learn from his experience.

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