By Laura M. Levering, Northwest GuardianOctober 6, 2011
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash., Oct. 6, 2011 -- Historians have kept written record, generations have shared stories, and last week a group of veterans and their Family members saw firsthand how far along the military has advanced.
Soldiers from 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry of 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division on Joint Base Lewis-McChord hosted the 110th anniversary and reunion of the U.S. Army's 14th Cavalry Regiment. On Sept. 30, 1-14 Cav. welcomed about 40 veterans with the 14th Cavalry Association to its "Regimental Events Day." Veterans and their families were welcomed by 1-14 Cav. commander, Lt. Col. Jim Dunivan, who encouraged them to explore the unit areas and to "feel at home."
"We're here for you, and everybody that's here today is willing to stop whatever they're doing to help and to answer any questions you have," Dunivan told guests.
Soldiers from 1-14 Cav. met with veterans and Families on Rose Parade Field, where different variants of Stryker vehicles were displayed for veterans and their Families to explore. Weapon static displays, a mock tactical operations center and access to an aid station, barracks and armory room gave veterans a close look at how much the Army has changed over the years.
"We're basically trying to show them how we do everything today so they can get a sense of how far we've come since they were in the Army, which is pretty significant," Dunivan said.
It only took a glimpse at the armored vehicles for John Essington to see the difference. As a medic who served in the late 1960s, Essington was part of an armored cavalry regiment that lacked the protection today's armored vehicles provide.
"We were eyeball to eyeball with the Russians across that German border," he said. "The equipment now is very, very impressive."
"The only real armor we had were the steel pots we wore on our heads," said Richard Garcia, a medic who served with 14th Cavalry Regiment from 1958 to 1960.
Essington said he was equally impressed by present-day Soldiers, but admitted one change that would take some getting used to.
"I'm very impressed with the quality of young people. Although it's a little hard for us to see the women," Essington said. "They all want to be warriors, and they're very competent -- so that's a huge change for us."
As veterans explored Rose Parade Field sharing stories about days gone by, several of the young Soldiers Essington spoke of went about the day enjoying their stories while highlighting what today's cavalry regiment is capable of.
"I hope they see that the technology today is so vast that we're able to do missions a lot faster and safer," said Cpl. Dustin Somerville, indirect fire infantryman.
The reunion was a three-day event that began Sept. 29 with a dinner hosted by the regiment's Family readiness group. The Regimental Events Day started with guests observing Soldiers conduct Physical Readiness Training. After touring unit areas, guests rode in Stryker vehicles, went to the Engagement Skills Trainer for hands-on training, then finished off the evening with a social. On Sept. 30, veterans and their families were given another opportunity to talk with Soldiers through a panel discussion, then concluded the weekend with a formal Regimental Banquet and Ball.
"At the end of the day, it's all a way for Soldiers to feel like they're part of something larger than themselves, and it's a way to keep the regimental history alive and moving forward," Dunivan said.