FORT HOOD, Texas - In the chilly, early morning hours of April 22nd, all of 3rd Cavalry Regiment participated in a remembrance run in honor of Spc. Vanessa Guillén.
The day marked the one-year anniversary of her murder, and it was important to 3rd Cav. Regt. Commander Col. Kevin Bradley that the entire regiment honor her memory.
“She was a sister, a daughter, but also a Soldier and a member of the Brave Rifles. We wanted to … remember her as one of our teammates and make this part of our tradition, part of our history.” Bradley said. “What we wanted to do today is demonstrate our ownership and assuming responsibility for this gate to maintain it, take care of it and protect it going forward.”
April is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Bradley stressed the importance of being there for fellow Soldiers that have come forward and those that are suffering in silence.
“We’ve got victims inside, we’ve got survivors inside our formation that are suffering in silence and it’s up to us to have the moral courage to intervene, to prevent harassment, and to intervene and protect our teammates because combat’s a team sport and we need everybody on the team to feel like they are a part of the team and loved by the members of this organization,” Bradley said. “We all have a part in eradicating harassment and eradicating assault and then also caring for the folks in our families and then also in the formation for survivors.”
Three wreaths were laid at the base of the Vanessa Guillén Gate by members of her squadron. The first wreath represented her dedication to duty, the second represented Guillén’s commitment to excellence and the third represented her kindhearted nature and the impact she left on 3rd Cav. Regt.
“Vanessa’s death was a tragic event, and one that the regiment will never forget, and that is why we are conducting this run. Vanessa loved to run, and this is a way we can honor and remember her today,” he said.
Bradley knows that Vanessa’s memory and impact will live on and 3rd Cav. Regt. fully intends to honor her legacy through maintaining the newly dedicated site.
“The 3rd Cavalry Regiment runs this gate, and we take ownership. We will never forget Vanessa as we care for this site every day, and it becomes a part of the Brave Rifles legacy. Her legacy is the People First initiatives that have led to building trust and cohesive teams throughout the regiment and across the Army,” he said.
After the wreath laying, taps was played. Then, after the somber moment, the over 3,500 Soldiers of 3rd Cav. Regt. went on to finish the run.
“Those are the three things we’re trying to do today: remembrance, ownership and awareness,” Bradley said of why they did the run. “Vanessa’s legacy is a foundation for building mutual trust and cohesive teams across the regiment. We are committed to upholding the safety, respect and dignity of every team member and prevent sexual harassment and assault.”