The U.S. Army's oldest division will celebrate Victory Week 2018 Aug. 6-10 at Fort Riley, and all service, family and community members are invited to join in on the festivities.
The 1st Infantry Division will kick off this year's annual Victory Week with a four-mile Victory Run around Custer Hill Aug. 6. The week will conclude with the Victory Cup being awarded to the winning unit as part of the Division Review Ceremony Aug. 10.
Other special events include the Victory Celebration -- a free event that takes place the Saturday before Victory Week begins and features live music, carnival games, inflatables and food tickets -- a wreath-laying ceremony in Victory Park, sporting events and more. Members of the community are invited to all public events and ceremonies (please see the Schedule of Events on page X).
"Victory Week is a celebration of the 1st Infantry Division; it builds camaraderie with fellow Soldiers and leaders," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kevin Brown, 1st Inf. Div. Victory Week planner. "It is just a great time. It allows the Soldiers to de-stress from the daily work requirements. It is really just about having a good time, building camaraderie and esprit de corps."
Fewer events are scheduled for Victory Week 2018 than last year's, which celebrated the division's 100th birthday. This updated schedule will make it easier for Soldiers and commanders to support and participate in more events, Brown said.
The Combined Regimental Lineage and Doughboy Statue unveiling will take place at the 1st Inf. Div. headquarters building Aug. 9.
Combining the regimental lineage ceremony last year allowed for spectators to hear about the lineage of each regiment at one location compared to traveling throughout Fort Riley as had been the case previously
The Doughboy Statue was funded and donated by the McCormick Foundation. It is the third statue of its kind funded by the foundation. One is at the foundation headquarters in Wheaton, Illinois. A second is placed at the site of the Battle of Cantigny in France.
"We wanted to do something for the 1st Infantry Division commemoration last year and the division's first battle in Cantigny," said Paul Herbert, executive director of the First Division Museum at Cantigny, which is overseen by the McCormick Foundation. The foundation was established as a charitable trust in 1955 upon the death of Col. Robert R. McCormick, longtime editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune and proud "Big Red One" veteran, according to the foundation's website.
The $250,000 statue was donated to the Big Red One by the McCormick Foundation.
Volleyball, basketball, combatives, softball, Danger Dash (an obstacle course set up by the Special Operations Recruiting Office on Fort Riley), football, soccer, warrior competition and water "brolo" will the sports competitions this year.
The Commander/Command Sergeant Major Softball Classic game does not count for points toward the Victory Cup competition, but does give an opportunity for the commanders and their senior noncommissioned officers to compete against each other on the field of play.
The 97th Military Police Battalion won the Victory Cup in 2016 and 2017. The winning streak has raised the competition level within the Big Red One units since the 97th MP Bn. fall under the Fort Riley Garrison.
"There is always a conspiracy that the 1st Inf. Div. is fixing the events in order to beat 97th MPs because they have won the last two years," Brown joked. "That is the fun competition we are having this year. The 1st Inf. Div. units vs. the 97th MPs. It is fun and there is trash talking all in good fun."
The rivalry became personal last year as Lt. Col. Ann Meredith, 97th MP Bn.,commander, beat out her husband, Lt. Col. Jon Meredith, 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div., commander, for the trophy.
FUTURE SOLDIERS WELCOMED IN 2018
The 1st Inf. Div. extended an invitation to approximately 50 future Soldiers to participate in this year's Victory Week competitions and festivities. Future Soldiers from the Manhattan Recruiting Company, Kansas City Recruiting Battalion, will have an opportunity to intermingle with Big Red One Soldiers throughout the week.
Capt. Steven Belcher, MHK Rec. Co., KC Rec. Bn., commander, said his future Soldiers may participate in softball and volleyball competitions, and will reaffirm their oath of enlist during a ceremony prior to the Division Review ceremony.
"I want our future Soldiers to see how the Army is one big family and I hope they get to experience esprit de corps the 1st Inf. Div. Soldiers experience being in the Army," Belcher said.
Belcher also hopes the future Soldiers get a tour of some of the Big Red One training facilities on Fort Riley.