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    Reuniting Vietnam vets with 1st Cavalry Division battalion

    Reuniting Vietnam vets with 1st Cavalry Division battalion

    Photo By Sgt. Matthew Thompson | Vietnam veteran Sgt. Russell "Shorty" McKinney, who served during Operation Fishhook,...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Matthew Thompson 

    7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    FORT HOOD, Texas - It’s 1969 and a helicopter hovers miles to the west of Cambodia. The “old man” of the platoon, 25-year-old 2nd Lt. Howard Bond, steps off. More helicopters follow and the Troopers of B Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment jump out ready to push east.

    Months later, a young man is wounded in a foxhole, his battle buddy had no clue whether he lived or died. Thirty-five years went by and the young men got older, had families, worked civilian jobs, and retired.

    For John Schmidt, it didn’t end there.

    “I retired with 100 percent disability in 2003,” Schmidt said. “Over the years, I put my name down on the (1st Cavalry Division) guest list several times and would go back and check.”

    Luck however, wasn’t on Schmidt’s side. For several years, there was nothing. No responses.

    “Back in 2006, I got two emails one from Donny Hill and one from “Shorty” Schmidt said.

    After a lot of emails back and forth, trying to remember each other one took a leap that the others hadn’t.

    “One of us finally got the nerve to call the other guy which was a big step,” Schmidt said. “We started talking on the phone and brainstorming trying to remember who we were with.”

    Nicknames and early departures from the war made it difficult to track down folks.

    “You knew them like your brother, but you didn’t have addresses,” Schmidt said. “I was medevaced and didn’t have anything when I left.”

    Once Schmidt, Donny Hill, and Russell “Shorty” McKinney developed a plan to make contact, the small group of friends grew to a small group of 20 to 25 fellow veterans.

    Now the group of Vietnam veterans from Bravo Company sits at about 400 people and meets throughout the year at various locations throughout the states.

    At Fort Hood, Capt. Jon Cochran, company commander of B Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, greeted the veterans and provided them with a tour of the unit’s current aircraft.

    “This is the second year we’ve done this for this group of veterans,” Cochran said. “We love to host them and we love to take care of them.”

    Cochran and his unit, along with supporting units from the installation showed the veterans around the airfield, fired weapons at the Engagement Skills Trainer, rode in a convoy simulator at the Warrior Skills Training Facility, and ate lunch together.

    “I’m impressed beyond all belief by the quality and intelligence of all of the young guys here,” Schmidt said. “These guys are super soldiers.”

    Bravo Company’s history spans the history of our nation, and for the Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, they were able to witness it firsthand.

    “For the veterans it gives them a chance to rekindle their bonds and it helps with their own recovery,” Cochran said during a formal dining out ceremony. “For our new soldiers it gives them a link to their past. It shows they have something to be proud of.”



    Date Taken: 04.24.2015
    Date Posted: 05.01.2015 10:26
    Story ID: 161924
    Location: FORT HOOD, TEXAS, US

    Web Views: 1,497
    Downloads: 1