KEMPNER — More than 400 past and present troopers of the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment “Garryowen,” gathered Saturday night for a first-of-a-kind Past and Present Garryowen Reunion at the Kempner Veterans of Foreign Wars post.
The unit, which was established July 28, 1866, is part of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and is most well-known for its participation in the Battle of Little Big Horn under the command of Lt. Col. George A. Custer and for its victory against a vastly superior force during the Vietnam War at the IA Drang Valley under the command of Lt. Col. Hal Moore — a victory later portrayed in the Mel Gibson movie “We Were Soldiers.”
The unit’s history, stretching from the troopers’ bravery during the Indian Wars through countless victories in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Operation Desert Storm and into actions in Iraq during the War on Terror, prompted current and former members of the unit to bring everyone together to help foster the deep pride shared by the unit’s alumni in the newest generation of “Garryowen” troopers.
“I love this. I think this is great,” said Sgt. Janna M. Trevino, a combat medic with the squadron’s Headquarters and Headquarters Troop. “It’s inspiring. A lot of us are new to a (cavalry) unit and have no idea how the cavalry is run. To see all of these veterans and see everyone get together is great — it makes us want to stay motivated and positive while we do our work.”
Trevino, who sang the national anthem at the start of the ceremonies, said watching the interaction between young soldiers and the alumni troopers who served as far back as the Korean War was amazing.
“This is a very fast-paced unit. ... The camaraderie is different. This is the type of stuff we need,” she said, adding that she would love to do something similar and more often in order to help foster a sense of pride for the unit within the newest troops who had never served with “Garryowen” before.
“The new privates who have just gotten here have got to experience this,” Trevino said. “Being able to see people who have so much experience in the military. ... This is just so great.”
Lt. Gen. Paul Funk, III Corps and Fort Hood commander and a former “Garryowen” commander, even sent a video to the troopers from the Middle East, where he currently command Operation Inherent Resolve — the international coalition to defeat the Islamic State.
“I am even more proud I can hold my head high and say that I am a Garryowen trooper, just like you,” Funk said in the video. “All Garryowen troopers have one thing in common — tenacity, the single most important trait of a trooper. That fixed resolve not to quit when things get tough.”
Retired Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, a former command sergeant major for the squadron and the 14th sergeant major of the Army, also offered some words of encouragement for all the troopers at the event, both past and present.
“My time in 1/7 Cav for me was the most pivotal and most memorable part of my military career,” he said. “A lot of people ask me, ‘do you miss the Army?’ Hell no, I do not. What I do miss is you. It’s that blood we shared over in Iraq and unfortunately the lives we lost and those who suffer from the visible wounds of war and those who suffer from invisible wounds.
“I just want to tell each and every one of you, thank you for helping to shape my life and for teaching me one of the most important things — that honor is the most important value,” Chandler added. “It’s what makes Garryowen, the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, the pride of not only the 1st Cavalry Division, but as far as I’m concerned, the rest of the United States Army.”
Plans have already begun for the 2019 reunion, which will occur once the unit returns from an upcoming deployment to Europe with the 1st Brigade.