Killeen and Fort Hood will play host this weekend to the 27th reunion of the VII Corps Desert Storm Veterans Association, an annual reunion normally held in Washington, D.C.
The corps, which provided the main armor units during the first Gulf War, was inactivated in Germany in 1992, said current association president Mark Rado. The fall of the Soviet Union and end of the Cold War precluded the need for two corps-level units in Europe to deter communist aggression from the former USSR.
“(The association) was formed in 1995 by a nucleus of officers and (noncommissioned officers), including Gen. Fred Franks, who served in the corps during Desert Storm/Desert Shield,” Rado said. “It was for the purpose of maintaining the history and lineage of the corps and to honor the 111 U.S. and British soldiers serving under VII Corps who gave their lives during Desert Storm.”
Franks, who commanded the corps during Desert Storm and later retired as a four-star general in charge of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, will be in attendance for the reunion.
About 140 other veterans and their families are expected to attend.
In 1996, the association established a scholarship program for family members of former VII Corps soldiers and has since awarded nearly $425,000 in scholarships, he said. The reunion provides the opportunity to award the latest scholarships, many of which are now going to the grandchildren of corps alumni.
Some of the highlights of the reunion will include a visit to Fort Hood on Saturday to plant a tree near the 1st Cavalry Division memorial in honor of the 111 soldiers lost in Desert Storm, followed by an opportunity to see the latest version of equipment used by the soldiers during the first Gulf War. After lunch, attendees will then hold a memorial ceremony listing the names of all 111 soldiers killed, featuring guest speaker retired Lt. Gen. Paul “Butch” Funk Sr.
On Saturday evening, current III Corps and Fort Hood deputy commander Maj. Gen. John C. Thomson III will be the guest speaker during the reunion’s annual dinner. Scholarship winners will be announced at that time.
For more information on the association and how to become a member, visit desertstormvets.org.