Veterans Day Weekend
by Chris Golden, Second Cavalry Association
On 8-11 November, the 2d Cavalry Association held its bi-annual reunion at the Sheraton Premiere Hotel in Vienna, VA.
This meeting marked the 108th anniversary of the Association and celebrated the 2d Cavalry’s long and illustrious heritage of service to the United States of America. Founded in 1899, the 2d Cavalry Association is the first and oldest veteran’s organization established around a particular unit; the 2d U.S. Cavalry.
The 2d U.S. Cavalry was first designated the 2d Dragoons in 1836, and in 1861 was redesignated the 2d U.S. Cavalry.
After serving with distinction in the Seminole and Mexican Wars, the unit participated in almost every major battle of the Civil War.
They policed the Western Frontier and went to Cuba with Teddy Roosevelt as the only U.S. horse Cavalry in that war. Next came Puerto Rico and the Philippines.
In WWI they fought on horseback with General “Black Jack” Pershing, the only U.S. horse Cavalry in that war also. In WWII they led Patton’s charge across Europe from France to the Bulge and deep into Czechoslovakia, rescuing the famous white Lipizzans.
Following that war they stood watch on the “Iron Curtain” for nearly 50 years.
In the recent desert wars they fought in both Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, with deployments to Bosnia and Haiti in between.
Today, designated the 2d Stryker Cavalry Regiment, their home base is Vilseck, Germany. Known as the “Dragoons”, the Regiment is at this moment in the midst of a 15 month combat tour with the mission of stabilizing the streets of Baghdad.
The association’s members came from across the nation and around the world to see old friends and make new ones.
Their military experience spanned nearly 70 years, many conflicts and service on several continents. The assembled company consisted of retired and active duty U.S. Army soldiers of all ranks, nationalities and religions. Nevertheless, all shared a common bond. They had written a page or a chapter in the storied history of the 2d U.S. Cavalry; the oldest continuously serving mounted Regiment in the United States Army.
Festivities opened on Thursday evening with a cocktail reception hosted by the Officers of 2d Cavalry Association. Among the dignitaries attending the evenings festivities was the serving Commander of TRADOC, Gen. Scott Wallace, a former Commander of the Regiment’s 3rd Squadron.
The Association was honored by the attendance of nine veterans of WWII. These men crossed the English Channel at Normandy and subsequently led Patton’s charge across Europe. Now in their 80’s, these quiet heroes represented the nation’s “Greatest Generation”.
On day two the group toured Arlington National Cemetery where these WWII veterans commemorated the lives and contributions of all their lost brothers in arms by placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Following the ceremony the group proceeded to lunch and a relaxing if somewhat cold and damp visit to Mt. Vernon, George Washington’s home.
The ReUnion banquet was held on Friday evening and saw an overflowing crowd. The featured speaker via electronic communication from Baghdad was the 74th Regimental Commander, Col. John RisCassi.
Col. RisCassi was ably assisted by the 74th Command Sergeant Major of the Regiment Victor Martinez.
Also featured at the meetings was the gathering of eight former Regimental Commanders, thus making this the largest gathering of “Colonels of the Regiment” in history.
Among the former commanders was LTG Douglas Lute and BG Terry Wolff, both currently serving as advisors to the President for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
The Reunions final event was perhaps its most interesting. On Saturday the veterans traveled to the Virginia Museum of Military Vehicles in Nokesville, VA. The museum features a collection of operational military vehicles and weapons that span the history of modern armored combat.
The museum prepared a custom exhibit featuring vehicles that related directly to the 2d Cavalry combat experience from WWII to the present day. In addition, A & H Company, 2d Cavalry (Civil War reenactors) presented a living history display of the life of the 2d Cavalry trooper during the Civil War. This distinguished group of reenactors, led by their Commander, Charlie Doutt, also demonstrated an astoundingly accurate and entertaining display of horse mounted cavalry drill, maneuver and tactics from that period.
As the attendees prepared to depart for their homes it was announced that the Association would make the trip to Vilseck in November of 2008 to greet the 2d Stryker Cavalry Regiment when it returned from combat.
The attendees departed saying good-bye with the unit’s motto: “Toujours Pret” (Always Ready)