Longest deployed Red Currahee receives induction as Distinguished Member of 506th
March 20, 2014
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - "It is always so humbling to celebrate the greatness of the Currahee Nation....we truly do walk among heroes," said Col. Val C. Keaveny Jr., commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). "Inducting true patriots as distinguished and honorary members of our regiment and reverently memorializing our fallen makes this day priceless."
Soldiers with the 4th Brigade Combat Team "Currahee", 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), hosted an induction ceremony, March 13, 2014, for Distinguished and Honorary members of the 506th Infantry Regiment, at the 4th BCT Headquarters on Fort Campbell.
During the ceremony 24 were inducted as Distinguished Members of the Regiment and six were recognized as Honorary Members of the Regiment.
"For the Distinguished Members of the Regiment, their service as a Currahee makes them a Distinguished American and Soldier, but it is their service above and beyond that makes them Distinguished Members of this great Regiment," explained Keaveny. "We honor them for their amazing feats of combat leadership and valor, and we honor their lifelong loyalty and selfless service."
Among the distinguished members stood Sgt. 1st Class Billy R. Weiland, an infantryman and recon platoon sergeant with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion "Red Currahee", 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th BCT, 101st Abn. Div., and native of Toledo, Oh.
Not only is he an outstanding Soldier, what truly makes him a renowned Red Currahee is time he spent deployed to a combat zone totaling 43 months, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
"Sometimes it feels like I was the most unlucky Currahee in history," Weiland joked, "but with each deployment you learn new stuff and form a bond with the Soldier and NCOs (Non Commissioned Officers) you're with. That is what I like about deployments, the bonds I form."
While deployments play an important role in the development of a Soldier, as well as generating cohesion in service members, they do tend to put added stress to the spouses, children, family and friends of the deployed Soldier.
"Deployments are hard on my wife and family," said Weiland, "but I will have all the time in the world with my wife when I retire from the military."
While retirement is still a ways away, he still reflects fondly on all of the friendships he has made during his nine years as a Red Currahee Soldier.
"I have made a lot of friends during my time here," expressed Weiland. "I actually call them life-cycle friends, because while they are here for a couple of years then gone, I just keep staying here."
Having had no other duty assignments, aside from Fort Campbell, he still cherishes all of the opportunities for growth provided for him, as well as the support from the 506th Inf. Regt. veteran community.
"The (506th) veterans here are like no other in the Army, these veterans support us like crazy," "I have been seeing them ever since I was a Private. They have devoted a lot of time and resources, the veteran support here is second to none."
Having shared a lot of hardships past Currahee veterans have endured, he has proven himself a trained, disciplined and fit, as both and NCO and a leader to his Soldiers.
"He is a tremendous NCO and leader to his junior Soldiers," said Capt.Tad Reed, commander of HHC, 1st Bn., 506th Inf. Regt., 4th BCT, 101st Abn. Div. "I can't say enough about Sgt. 1st Class Weiland, he is the best we've got. It's not just his experience; it is the dedication he shows for his Soldiers every day."