News: Battle of Ia Drang, Garryowen veteran speaks at seminar
Story by Sgt. John Couffer
FORT HOOD, Texas – In the words of Sir Winston Churchill, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
In an effort to draw from experience, noncommissioned officers and officers of 1st Squadron, 7th “Garryowen” Cavalry Regiment, 1st “Ironhorse” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, seized the opportunity to listen to one Vietnam veteran’s take on small leadership in combat at Howze Theater here Sept. 6.
Col. (ret.) Ramon Nadal, a Williamsburg, Va., native and former commander of Garryowen’s, then Company A, during the Battle of Ia Drang in Vietnam, Nov. 14 to 18, 1965, gave a seminar on Small Unit Leadership in Combat here Sept. 6.
Wayne, N.J., native, Maj. Matthew Cuviello, the executive officer for Garryowen, met Nadal at the 47th reunion of the Battle of Ia Drang in Branson, Mo., in May of this year, when Nadal said he would like to talk to 1st Cavalry Soldiers about leadership.
“When you get an opportunity to host a legend in the squadron, you jump on that opportunity,” Cuviello said.
Having Soldiers listen to not only a veteran, but a former company commander whose decisions played a pivotal role in saving lives during the Battle of Ia Drang, is invaluable, Cuviello said.
Even though the fight was different than Iraq and Afghanistan, Cuviello said parallels can be drawn and lessons learned from Nadal’s experiences in the Battle of Ia Drang.
“It helps you develop as an officer or an NCO, as a junior leader, to get that experience … and actually translate that to your training and down to your soldiers,” Cuviello said.
With only five months on the job and no combat experience, 2nd Lt. Eric Hurley, a scout platoon leader and Omaha, Neb., native, assigned to 4th Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, said his company commander encouraged him to attend the event.
Hurley wanted to know what he was doing right and understand things to improve on to gain the trust of his soldiers.
“(The seminar) covered perfectly how to gain trust with your soldiers and how to gain the leadership structure you need to build with your soldiers to be an effective leader,” Hurley said. “I’ve learned from a guy (who has) done it. I haven’t just learned from a guy who studied it at a school. I haven’t just learned it from a guy who read a book. I learned from a guy who was there, who did it, and successfully did it.”
Hurley said what he learned will help him develop as a leader and better understand the importance of being able to complete those very tasks he expects his Soldiers to perform.
“It’s a perfect example of what I want to be and how I should be in order to successfully lead my troops,” said Hurley.
It has been 42 years since Nadal’s last visit to Fort Hood. He is now the program director of the Wounded Warrior Mentors at Fort Eustis, Va. Nadal said it is always good to talk to 1st Cavalry Soldiers.
“I love it,” Nadal said. “I feel a great deal of bond with these Soldiers.”
Nadal may be from a different era, but he looks at today’s Soldiers as carrying the torch for the future.
“I hope as a result, this will cause (leaders) to think about their function and their responsibility as a leader particularly if they have to take troops into combat,” Nadal said.