News: GarryOwen commemorates Battle of Ia Drang Valley
Story by Sgt. John Couffer
FORT HOOD, Texas – Soldiers of the 1st Squadron “GarryOwen,” 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, commemorated the 47th anniversary of the Vietnam War, Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, here, Nov. 16.
Teams comprised of soldiers and officers of GarryOwen conducted a 7.1 mile ruck-run to commemorate the Battle of Ia Drang Valley. Veterans who served, fought and sacrificed throughout the history of the squadron also participated.
“We are doing this today to honor [veterans] and their service to their country and what they did, and to pay tribute to the shining part of our history,” said Command Sgt. Maj. William Burford, the senior enlisted member of GarryOwen.
Burford stated that events like these not only commemorate the past but also stress teamwork to achieve success.
“As they’re coming in, they’re coming in as a team. [The] kids are giving it everything they’ve got. A lot of what we do is skill, but there’s a great deal of what we do that’s hard,” Burford said. “It’s staying together, pressing yourself that extra mile, the camaraderie, the high-fives, that’s what it’s all about.”
Jim Thorpe, Pa. native, Spc. Richard Balliet, a cavalry scout assigned to Troop B of GarryOwen and member of Team 10, the winning team of the competition also known as “GarryOwen Games 2,” said that participating and finishing as a team was the way it should be done.
“To come out and be able to perform not just as a team, but in pretty much everything that we do across the board here in 1-7, it means everything. It’s the way it’s supposed to be,” Balliet said.
Balliet also said his team operated and performed well together and because of that, Team 10 came in first.
“I believe we performed absolutely outstanding. Great leadership from Staff Sgt. Pratt, 1st Lt. Melendez and 2nd Lt. Joyce kept everybody moving. The timing was perfect between running and walking, they kept an eye on everybody, made sure everybody stayed together. It was really an outstanding team effort,” Balliet said.
Rockport N.Y. native, Capt. Michael Kaness, an operations officer assigned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Troop of GarryOwen said that this event was comprised of many teams, but only one can win.
Kaness said that about 22 teams were registered and competed today. He added that Team 10 was the first to complete the event in about one hour and 26 minutes, well below the recommended team finishing time.
Kaness said the event was not only a way of commemorating the 47th anniversary of the Battle of Ia Drang Valley, but also to provide an opportunity and understanding of GarryOwen’s past.
Kaness said this particular event was a way for GarryOwen soldiers to understand where they come from and where they’re going.
He also stated that this event provides an opportunity to look at the great accomplishments of GarryOwen and that he hasn’t been in a unit quite like this which has such an extensive history.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for these guys to fully understand the magnitude of the organization that they’re currently with. I’ve never been in a unit that has such esprit-de-corps and camaraderie like this,” Kaness concluded.