KILLEEN, Texas - Soldiers of the 1st "Ironhorse" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, donned their Stetsons for a military ball held at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center April 3. At the event, the Ironhorse troopers celebrated their recent homecoming from Operation Iraqi Freedom 06-08 and highlighted their achievements during the deployment.

Those who attended took the opportunity to share in esprit de corps with their fellow Soldiers as well as getting to spend time with their spouses or significant others.

"I always enjoy coming to these things, it's good for the Soldiers, their companies, the battalions and the brigade," said Midland, Texas native Sgt. 1st Class Michael Morgan, the first sergeant of Charlie Medical Company, 115th Brigade Support Battalion. "It shows that the senior leadership in the brigade really does support its Soldiers and all the different units in the brigade as well as their families."

"It's an honor to be here, I always look forward to getting to dress up and come to these events," said Lisa Hagy, Morgan's date.

During the event, Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the acting commander of the U.S. Central Command, served as the guest speaker. Dempsey praised the brigade's Soldiers and family members for their sacrifices during their recent Iraq deployment.

"As commanders and Soldiers who go to Iraq, I want to thank you for taking that burden--it's an incredibly important mission," said Dempsey. "How profound is my admiration and respect for all of you."

"There's an aspect of family here that I hope you carry away, that will continue to bind us together even in extraordinarily difficult times," added Dempsey.

Along with that, Dempsey shared some advice on how leaders and Soldiers can continue to be successful in their missions. Using some analogies to basketball and quoting basketball greats such as Bobby Knight and John Wooden, Dempsey explained that being good leaders and Soldiers includes observation, having heart and continuing to learn from one's experiences.

"You need to be good observers," he said. "You also need to have heart. I know, having served with many of you, that you have heart."

Dempsey also said that the Ironhorse Brigade showed that heart in Iraq while "taking good care of the people in populations where extremist groups live, and explained the differences between confidence and being a good observer.

"It's what you learn after you know everything that matters," he said. "If you don't continue to learn lessons as you go, you won't be successful."

In addition to this, Dempsey added that one of the Army's most important resources is its people.

"We are built around people," said Dempsey. "I hope you all know the issues that are going on with your subordinates. As we make them better, we make ourselves and our organization better."

After his speech, Dempsey led the Ironhorse troopers in the singing of the 7th Cavalry Regiment anthem "Garry Owen."

Roundup, Mont. native Col. Paul E. Funk II, commander, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. who will soon leave the 1st BCT after nearly three years to take over as the III Corps chief of staff, said the event held a special significance.

"I would be remiss not to thank all our mentors, protAfAgAfAs, friends and family members who have been there with us for the past 33 months," said Funk. "And I would like to give a special thanks to all you troopers. Thanks for making this a special and memorable event."

Upon closing his speech and borrowing a few words from the First Team Power Thought which states that Soldiers are responsible for their own safety on and off post, Funk explained that the camaraderie that Ironhorse Troopers share includes their looking out for one another.

"You can save your own life and the lives of your friends and I know you all will," he said.

For the event, each of the 1st BCT's battalions provided static displays in the lobby of the civic center featuring various vintage patches and pieces of equipment used by Ironhorse troopers in previous wars to include Vietnam, Korea and World War II.

The formal also included a tribute to fallen Soldiers, a video and slide presentation featuring Brigade highlights throughout OIF 06-08, a formal dance and the posting and retiring of the colors by the Nation's Finest First Team Honor Guard.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16