Celebrating the start of the 1st Infantry Division's second century of service, the "Big Red One" hosted its annual Victory Week Aug. 6-10 at Fort Riley.
Featuring sporting events and ceremonies designed to promote comradery and esprit de corps, Victory Week celebrated the division's 101st birthday and the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Cantigny, where Big Red One Soldiers produced America's first victory of World War I. Soldiers from across Fort Riley competed in nine sports to earn the Commander's Cup, with the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div., taking the cup home this year.
"I'm extremely proud," said Lt. Col. Drew Conover, commander of the 1st Bn., 16th Inf. Regt., of his team of "Iron Rangers." "Our battalion has a really proud history … they have a history of success, and I think it's very, very important to continue to succeed wherever we can. So whenever there's a competition, we're competing as hard as we can to succeed as a battalion."
The Iron Rangers took first place in the Warrior Competition and Danger Dash and earned additional points in the basketball, combatives and water "BROlo" events. Other Victory Week sports included flag football, softball, soccer and volleyball.
"We've been practicing for a couple weeks now, and I've heard from some of our teams that it's the highest morale they've had," Conover said. "Going forward, we're looking at ways to incorporate that into our regular weekly routines. We're going to keep it going, I think."
Victory Week began Aug. 6 with the Division Run on Fort Riley's Custer Hill, where all available service members on post followed Maj. Gen. John S. Kolasheski, 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley commanding general, and other Big Red One leaders on the early morning run. Other events from the week included the Victory Park Wreath-Laying Ceremony, Commander / Command Sergeant Major Annual Softball Classic, Victory Celebration, Combined Regimental Lineage ceremony and more.
The week ended Aug. 10 with the presentation of the Commander's Cup and a Division Review ceremony, where 28 Army recruits took the Oath of Enlistment.
"These future Soldiers come from across Kansas and the Flint Hills region, and will be shipping out to basic training over the next few months," Kolasheski said during the ceremony. "We had an Army before we had a country. Even in those early days, the oath was an important part of joining the Army. It was a public statement declaring oneself in support of the nascent United States."
Kolasheski said this oath was unique in that it was to an idea -- the U.S. Constitution -- and that it remains the core of the oath today.
"We don't swear to a king, a queen or a general, or the Army itself," the commanding general said. "We don't swear to a parliament, or a party. We swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, a document that codifies the idea that all men and women are equal."
Of the recruits who took the oath on Fort Riley's Cavalry Parade Field, at least two are spouses of 1st Inf. Div. Soldiers, and at least one was a referral from a 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Inf. Div., Soldier who recently completed the Special Recruiter Assistance Program.
"Today we see the culmination of a tremendous week where we focused on the history of the organization of which we are a part and the community in which we live," Kolasheski said. "There is no limit to what this organization can and will accomplish. America's First Division will have no problem setting the standard for others to emulate for the next 100 years."