In their Father’s footsteps
La Glieze, Belgium – Wolf pack Troopers follow the trail marched by the 82nd Airborne. (U.S. Army photos) (click photos to enlarge)

2d Stryker Cavalry Regiment
Public Affairs Office
Vilseck, Germany

La Gleize, Belgium – Freezing temperatures, heavy snowfall, and bitter cold winds mixed with thin soled boots and enemy fire can lead to many interesting stories. In conditions much like these, minus the enemy fire, 3rd Squadron 2d Stryker Cavalry Regiment Soldiers traveled to Belgium to participate in the 82nd Airborne All American Historical Society’s March in the Footsteps of the 82nd Airborne Division. The 23-kilometer-long march took place on Saturday, February 20, 2010 beginning in La Gleize, Belgium and followed a course through the villages of Brume, Rahier, Cheneux, La Vaux Renard, and ended back in La Gleize.

The march was dedicated to the troopers of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment who were a part of the famous 82nd Airborne Division during World War II. On December 16th, 1944 the German Army launched a surprise offensive to the Ardennes Forest that caught the Allies completely off guard. The 82nd moved into action on December 17th in response to the enemy ambush and stopped the German units from breaching northern American lines. On December 20th, the 82nd attacked in the Vielsalm-St. Vith region and the 504th PIR took Monceau. This fierce attack forced the German units back across the Ambleve River the next day.

Veterans and their families, United States Army Soldiers, and even some Belgian Soldiers made their way through the course sharing story after story about life in the military. Sgt. 1st Class Richard Griffith of 3rd Squadron 2SCR was there with his son Christian, to carry the Squadron colors and pay tribute to fallen Soldiers who came before him.

“It’s important to keep the memory of the past alive through reenactments,” he said. “Reflecting on the battles and the bloodshed can help us relate to what we are going through now and what we are trying to accomplish.”

Griffith also said that this was an especially important event for him and his son to share.

“My son is 17 years old and in Junior Reserve Officer Training. It was such a great feeling to have him beside me through the whole march carrying the Squadron colors.”

Pfc. John Finlay Johnson, whose grandfather happens to be a WWII veteran, is a self-proclaimed WWII buff who was more than happy to participate in the day’s events.

“It was a very enlightening experience to be out there with the men who fought for our country so many years ago,” Johnson said. “Marching through the country side was so peaceful and then you would look over and see a foxhole and you know that a serious battle was fought right where you were standing.”

At each resting point the war veterans would stop and talk with the Soldiers. Johnson recalled a story from one former Pfc. who pointed out a nearby ditch and explained how he laid there and “played dead” for a while as his position was being strafed with enemy machine gun fire.

At the end of the march everyone gathered to share anecdotes, food, and little pieces of wisdom. The 3rd Squadron Wolfpack finished the 6-hour hike out front, but ask anyone and it wasn’t about finishing first. The journey was in honor of those Soldiers who came before us and who fought for their lives, their families, their God, and our freedom.

Johnson felt a strong connection to the site and, if given the chance, would gladly march the route over and over.

“I would definitely do it all over again. I recommend this experience to any and everyone who would like to pay tribute to the Soldiers who fought before us. Many of them gave their lives for our freedom, honoring them in this special way is the least we can do.”

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