Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of catching up with some of my old battle buddies from the unit I retired from, 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment “Garryowen,” and to meet new ones during the first Past and Present Garryowen Reunion.
It was a very unique Army experience for me, because it was something I hadn’t experienced since my days in the Marine Corps. (Yes, I started off in the Corps. Yes, I still say “Oorah.” And yes, blue crayons really DO taste the best.)
The camaraderie in the Marine Corps always stretched beyond generations, with a World War II Marine claiming even the newest privates fresh out of boot camp as a brother or sister and all Marines in between as family. It’s understandable, as the Corps is small compared to the Army, but I had originally expected a similar camaraderie when I moved over to the dark side and became a storm trooper-I-mean-soldier.
The Army doesn’t share the same sense of Esprit de Corps because of its size. While many individual units will hold reunions, they are usually for specific periods of service such as Vietnam or Desert Storm.
Until Saturday, I had not heard of a past and present reunion.
Thanks to the hard work of several Garryowen 6 Ancients and Garryowen 9 Ancients (former unit commanders and command sergeants major) and active-duty troops, the reunion brought together more than 400 troopers ranging from a soldier who fought at the Pusan Perimeter in the Korean War in 1950 to the most junior privates who have yet to buy a Stetson or earn their spurs.
The pride in a unit that has a rich history stretching back to 1866 was evident in all the alumni in attendance, and seeing that sense of pride begin to spark within the young troopers I met was truly fulfilling. The success of bringing all Garryowen troopers together was so great, next year’s reunion is already in the works as the after action reports are written and studied. My battle buddies unable to attend are already planning to make sure they can be here next year, because it was just that much fun and they hated missing out.
The camaraderie between all present was something I had not seen in years, making me even more happy I had been sent to retire with such a great unit. Even my wife, who often laments the lack of Marine Corps swag at the post exchange, had such a wonderful time that she’s looking forward to next year as well.
Maybe seeing the success of this, other units will think to do the same. I guarantee it will be worth it.
Garryowen, Seventh First!
David A. Bryant is an Army retiree and a military journalist for the Killeen Daily Herald. You can reach him at email@example.com or 254-501-7554.