FORT HOOD — Approximately 200 family members, along with troopers past and present, came together from all over the United States in celebration of the legacy, lineage and heritage of the 1st Cavalry Division during Cav Week Open House at Fort Hood on Thursday.
“Any connection that we can make to the alumni of the 1st Cavalry Division is hugely important for our soldiers to understand the lineage and for the veterans to see what our Army looks like today,” said Command Sergeant Major James Light, the top enlisted soldier for the division’s 1st Armored Combat Brigade.
Kicking off the event was the 1st Cavalry Division Horse Detachment demonstration and tour of the stables where attendees learned about the kind of work it takes to keep their team ready for their countless cavalry charges around the world.
Attendees also had opportunities to try their hands at simulators for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, M1A1 Abrams battle tank, Blackhawk helicopter and Apache helicopter. Attendees also had up-close looks at a variety of manned and unmanned vehicle displays, weapons and a tour of the 1st Cavalry Division Museum.
Spc. Paul Walker from 7-17th Air Cavalry Brigade, assisted guests with understanding the Shadow 200 unmanned aerial vehicle.
“I’m meeting a lot of cool people with different backgrounds — mostly Vietnam vets,” said Walker. “Some of their stories were sad stories but some of them were telling us how we are doing a lot more for a bunch of different people. And it means a lot. Coming from them, who have done a lot more than I will probably ever do, it means a lot.”
One such Vietnam veteran that came to visit was Purple Heart recipient J.R. Beard from Liberty, North Carolina.
Beard came to Fort Hood for the first time with the hopes to learn more about how the cavalry has evolved over the years. But Beard also got the opportunity to reconnect with four of his old battle buddies from his time with Echo Company, 1-7th Cavalry Regiment. The group forged a unique bond after the loss of over 50 percent of their reconnaissance company outside of Long Binh in Vietnam. And while Beard carries the pain of his unit’s loss with him every day, he forges on. Focusing his life not on the tragedy but rather the lives of those that are still with him. Which is why the 1st Cavalry Division and the soldiers in it hold such an esteemed place in his heart, he said.
“It’s a band of people that have served together, bled together, that lived together — it’s a very strong brotherhood,“ said Beard.