FORT HOOD, Texas -- Troopers, veterans and alumni from across the First Team gathered at the 1st Cavalry Division Museum here Feb. 18 to remember Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm and to honor those Troopers who paid the ultimate price to defend freedom.
"Desert Storm and Desert Shield were significant events for our nation, our Army, Fort Hood, and in particular the First Team," said (Ret.) Maj. Gen. George Harmeyer, former commander of 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team "Ironhorse," 1st Cavalry Division.
During Desert Storm, America's First Team added many new "firsts" to its list: first to defend the Saudi border, to fire copper head artillery rounds in combat, to conduct multiple launch rocket system raids, and first to take part in mobile armored warfare in Iraq.
Conflict started when Saddam Hussein ordered his forces to invade Kuwait August 2, 1990. By August 8, Iraq had seized Kuwait, and in response the first U.S. aircraft arrived in Saudi Arabia. During the same month, the First Team was ordered to deploy to Saudi Arabia.
Then President George W. H. Bush marked, "This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait."
"It's a big reminder about what happened 25 years ago," said George McPowell Sr., former artilleryman and platoon sergeant with 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment.
The museum is also the site were 12 trees were planted recently to honor those Troopers killed in action during Desert Storm.
On January 17, 1991, a U.S. Air Force led campaign, along with artillery bombardments, hit the Iraqi air defense and communication systems as allied ground forces moved to new positions.
The air strikes marked the end of Operation Desert Shield and the start of Operation Desert Storm.
The ground war during Desert Storm started Feb. 24 and lasted 100 hours. Two days later, U.S. led ground offenses moved to encircle the Iraqi army in Kuwait.
On Feb. 26, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of the directed, said "Send in the First Team. Destroy the Republican Guard. Let's go home."
After Schwarzkopf's statement, it took only 24 hours for the division to move more than 300 km into enemy territory, only pausing to refuel and clear enemy obstacles.
Before the division had a chance to destroy the Iraqi army's Republican Guard Division, a cease fire was called Feb. 28.
"The 1st Cavalry Division was pressed into action weeks before that time, achieving conditions for success in the 100 hour ground war," said Maj. Gen. J.T. Thomson, commanding general, 1st Cav. Div.
On February 19, Operation Knight Strike started as 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team "Black Jack," along with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), crossed the Saudi Arabia boarder and delved 10 km into Iraq.
Once there, Black Jack confirmed and destroyed enemy positions. During this action, the brigade suffered the first three American Soldiers killed during Operation Desert Storm.
"Once we arrived to Saudi Arabia, we concentrated on nuclear, biological and chemical operations," said Command Sgt. Maj. Edger Fuentes, senior enlisted advisor, 2nd Bn., 82nd Field Artillery Regt., 3rd ABCT, 1st Cav. Div. "Interestingly enough, we started firing way before the ground war started. Once the ground attack started, we were firing and moving the entire time."
The First Team was the only unit from Fort Hood to participate in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. The 3d Cavalry Regiment, then known as 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, took part under control of the XVIII Airborne Corps.
In September 1990, the regiment deployed to Saudi Arabia to take defensive positions. Troop I, 3d ACR engaged in the first ground combat by the XVIII Airborne Corps, as they responded to an Iraqi attack on a Saudi border outpost, Jan. 22.
One month later, Troop G, 2nd Squadron, 3d ACR led the regiment across the berms into Iraq. By the end of the war, the regiment push more than 300 km into Iraq.
"We proved to the world that we were the best trained, best equipped, best led and toughest Army in the world," said Harmeyer.