By Chad L. SimonJune 1, 2018
In February 1991, Soldiers from Company B, 4th Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, crossed the line of departure to take part in what was perhaps the last great tank battle in U.S. military history.
Four days later, commanded by then-Capt. Joseph M. Martin, the tankers lined "delegate highway" as it became known with their tanks on the outskirts of the Safwan Airbase, Iraq, where a peace treaty was signed to end Operation Desert Storm.
About 30 Soldiers from Co. B, 4th Bn., 37th Armor Regt., gathered for a group photo at the foot of an Abrams tank just inside the main gate to Fort Riley May 18 with now Maj. Gen. Joseph Martin, 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley commanding general, during a reunion.
The reunion is the first time most of the Soldiers have seen each other since shortly after returning from Iraq.
"There were one or two guys I kept in regular contact with over the years, but most guys I did lose track of," said David Gallus, former specialist, Co. B, 4th Bn., 37th Armor Regt. "Meeting here today is like old times. It is like we never lost touch."
The former Soldiers had an opportunity to tour their former company headquarters area in addition to eating lunch with current tankers.
"It was awesome talking to them," said Ed Frazier, former private first class, Co. B, 4th Bn., 37th Armor Regt. "They had us laughing about some the things that happens now as compared to how it was from when we were in. One told me he was 25 years old and I have a son that is 25 years old, so it made me feel very old."
Not all the reunion attendees got out of the Army after their return from Desert Storm. Col. Robert Law, military assistant to the assistant secretary of defense for logistics material readiness was a platoon commander Co. B, 4th Bn., 37th Armor Regt. He stayed in the Army and was the 1st Inf. Div. Sustainment Brigade commander from 2013 to 2015.
"It is fun to bring back memories, but also fun to think back when I was second lieutenant, tank platoon leader, in what could arguably be the last great tank-on-tank war," Law said. "It is a special feeling, and it makes you very prideful to be hanging out with a bunch of guys that 28 years ago did what we did."
After lunch, the tankers had an opportunity to climb on, in and look around the M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams tank. The M1A2 SEPv3 is the most modern version of the Abrams tank in the Army's arsenal.
"There is a lot more technical gadgetry than there used to be," Gallus said. "It isn't like it was technically insufficient back in my day. To see all the improvements they have added over the years, it was an amazing piece of military equipment. I am sure it is ten times more deadly now than it was in '91. It is great -- I love it."
Law noticed how the veterans enjoyed being around a tank again for first time in three decades.
"It makes them 20-year-old kids again," he said. "When they (active-duty Soldiers) started the tank up, so many of them said they hadn't heard that sound or the unique smell of an Abrams when it kicks in. When they smell and heard the turbine kick in, they were like kids again."
The Desert Storm veterans then got a brief form Martin about the current state of Army, as he sees it, and the future of the Army. They finished their Fort Riley tour by spending time in tank simulators at the Close Combat Tactical Training site.
"It gives them a chance to relive their youth and getting them in the simulators so they get to gun again triggers all those memories," Law said.