FORT HOOD, Texas - The 1st Cavalry Division celebrated 100 years of service to the nation with a centennial celebration outside their headquarters building here on Cooper Field Sept. 24.
“It is indeed an honor to be back home with America’s First Team, to celebrate our centennial,” retired Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy, reviewing officer of the ceremony, said. “We call upon the sacrifice and service of the thousands of veterans who, throughout the history of the first team, have stepped up to serve when our nation needed them most.”
Malloy, who served as the division command sergeant major from 2008 to 2001, recalled the sacrifices of American veterans, who took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies – foreign and domestic – instead of swearing allegiance to a king, emperor or even a president. He added that the courage and sacrifice of the nation’s veterans are shown in the First Team’s 43 Medals of Honor.
“We’ve all heard the statement, ‘Freedom isn’t free,’ and around the world people sleep safely at night under the umbrella of freedom, protection that our veterans have provided over the last 100 years and continue to do so today,” Malloy said.
Hundreds of people stood as Malloy called upon veterans of each of the wars from the last 100 years, where he highlighted heroic moments from throughout 1st Cav. Div. history. The former division command sergeant major also thanked the families for their sacrifices.
“To our troopers on the field today, you wear a flag on your right shoulder. Our family members and our children don’t wear a flag on their outfits, but they do wear it on their hearts,” he said. “They wear it on their hearts every day and it’s something that can’t be taken away from them because the sacrifices they have made throughout history.”
The celebration also included a living history presentation, showing how uniforms and weapons have changed throughout the decades. Malloy then joined Maj. Gen. John Richardson IV and Command Sgt. Maj. Shade Munday, 1st Cav. Div. command team, on the field to attach five new campaign streamers to the division colors, representing the Global War on Terrorism.
“Don’t take wearing that Cav patch for granted, especially if you have one on both shoulders,” Malloy told the Soldiers in formation on the field, “for one day you’ll no longer be able to wear it.”
The ceremony also included a pass in review and the famous cavalry charge, which Malloy joked was the real reason everyone was there.
“I thought it was outstanding, especially seeing that horse detachment perform,” John Rike III, a 1st Cav. Div. veteran from Haskell, Texas, said about the ceremony.
Rike served with 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, from 1964 to 1965 along the Imjin River, near the Freedom Gate Bridge, in the Republic of Korea. He said he tries to attend the division birthday celebrations every other year, when they are held in Texas.
Following the large ceremony, brigades had static displays set up along Legends Way, with Soldiers on-hand to answer questions. 1st Lt. Hayley Haka, 1st Air Cav. Bde., said the event and meeting veterans was “impactful.”
“They (veterans) are coming over and thanking us for what we were able to provide them in Vietnam,” Haka shared. “They would ride on the back of our aircraft and that’s how they would get to their objective. They talked a lot about how they needed that support to be medically evacuated, as well as aerial support.”
The aviator said speaking with the veterans who came before her made her want to work harder to be a better pilot, Soldier and officer. She said it was an honor to meet the 1st Cav. Div. legends.
“Maybe I will one day be that pilot who brings that Soldier home to their family,” she added. “They thank me for my service and I thank them for paving the way for us, because without them, we wouldn’t be here doing this today. It was incredibly powerful.”