News: ‘Lucky 38th’ back in the saddle at JBLM
Story by Sgt. Mark Miranda
YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, Wash. – Spc. Brandon Rhymer was getting frustrated. He was positioned as the number two man in the stack, a four-man squad conducting room-clearing procedures in a training structure commonly used for close-quarters tactical training. Moving through the entrance and into the first room, Rhymer wasn’t getting his movements right, or he needed to improve muzzle awareness; his third time through, he needed to be better about covering his corner.
Fortunately these first run-throughs were with blank-fire ammunition.
“No worries, Rhymer – we’ll keep at it, and you’ll get it,” encouraged the squad leader, Spc. Jonathan Salazar, an infantryman from San Antonio, Texas.
Rhymer was the odd-man in the squad, a radio operator-maintainer from Pensacola, Fla., running with more experienced infantrymen of C Company, 3rd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment.
“We’re long range surveillance. The kind of unit we’re going to be, the kinds of situations we might encounter on deployment – we’re pulling in soldiers like Spc. Rhymer from the base radio station for training. They’re coming here and may be seeing this drill for their first time,” said Salazar.
Soldiers of 3-38th CAV, began arriving in August and the unit officially activated Oct. 16. The squadron combines airborne infantry, cavalry, intelligence, fires and support capabilities in a single unit.
The company’s senior non-commissioned officer, 1st Sgt. Justin Spicher, a native of Brighton, Colo., was on the adjacent range overseeing platoon support-by-fire training.
“We’re fitting a month’s worth of training in two-and-a-half weeks. One of the best things my soldiers get from coming out here is realizing they’re one step better than they were before. We’re out here to build confidence. With this kind of training, it’s a chance for us to work out the kinks; work through our [standard operating procedures],” Spicher said.
Being the newest unit on Joint Base Lewis McChord, the 3-38th CAV has a few hurdles to overcome.
“Ninety percent of my company is new, and came in at the same time I was losing just as many of my senior NCOs, and I’m working in two new platoon leaders,” Spicher said.
“The biggest challenge we’re facing is receiving equipment and people. It’s a delicate balancing act, synchronizing multiple efforts,” said Lt. Col. Mark Aitken, squadron commander.
“Just to come out to train at Yakima, we had to borrow tents and radios. Another challenge is that once you get people in, you have to take the time to take care of them – make sure they’re settled in and their families are situated before pulling them out to the range for a few weeks,” Aitken said.
Currently at about 70 percent strength, Aitken said that junior enlisted soldiers came in before leadership was in place.
“We’ve got privates and specialists doing the work of senior leaders, and getting the job done. Our soldiers are rather mature as a result, and I’m proud of what they’ve accomplished in such a short time,” said Aitken.
When 3-38 CAV activated, it officially became the reconnaissance and surveillance squadron for the 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade.
On Oct. 25, 1943, the 3rd Reconnaissance Squadron of the 1st Cavalry Division was redesignated as the 38th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron at Camp Maxey, Texas.
During World War II the city of Tinchebray had been an objective of V Corps, so its capture by the Squadron earned praise from its group commander. The exceptionally good fortune with moving so fast on reconnaissance gave rise to a reputation that would always mark the squadron efforts.... that of sure good luck. More and more, the Squadron was going to be called "The Lucky 38th".
With a history that includes participation in the invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge, the nickname stuck and the tradition continues to this day.