The 56th 1st Cavalry
Division Association Reunion was MUCH MUCH better than I could ever have
hoped for, we were treated better than royalty!!
I met up with George Shriver in
Lawton, OK. (Fort Sill) and on 12 June George and I took off for the reunion at
Ft. Hood, TX. (Killeen). We arrived
at the Plaza Hotel parking lot in fine shape where George immediately
started hollering at old buddies ('Tiny' and Ken Olson, 9th Cav. Vietnam
vets.), before we even got parked!! A lot of fine troopers
Now, I may get a few things out of the
correct order and I may omit some things (hell, I AM getting old after
all!), but not on purpose (well, I am getting old on purpose!). Once we got checked in, we went to the
9th Cav. Hospitality Suite and had something cold to drink and
had a few 'munchies'. George continued to renew some old
acquaintances and I made some new ones!
Later that same day (the 12th), we
made it to the welcoming mixer and at one point we met up with Aves
Thompson (a 7th Cav. alumni that I became acquainted with via my web
site). If memory serves me correctly, Aves had seen Tom Crews
earlier but we had yet to meet up with Tom and his wife JoAnn - I am not
real sure when we first met up with Tom and JoAnn (see excuse
above!). In any case we did meet up with them and it too was a
pleasure meeting and spending time with them although not enough time to
really visit, probably my fault as much as anyone's. There was
just way to much to see and do in so short a time, I apologize to Tom
and his lovely wife for my lack of attention, I thought we had more
time, more on this later.
The evening of the 12th we went to the
Welcoming Mixer and I think that might be when we met up with Aves
(rhymes with 'saves'). That was an interesting experience to say
the least, I met up with an 8th Cav. Korea vet, circa 50 - 51 (not real
sure of the years), who apologized for losing the colors. I had to assure this
poor Trooper that the 8th Cav., while almost decimated to the man did
NOT lose the colors - the 8th Cav. Was NOT a 'color bearing' unit to
begin with so there was no way that they could be blamed for anything,
quite the contrary, I told him to "Stand proudly" as he was a
survivor and a damn lucky one at that, and he had NOTHING to apologize
for. An excerpt from the link that follows; "On 06 November,
the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment ceased to exist as a unit.
died gallantly. More than 600 officers and men were lost at Unsan,
most of them from the 3rd Battalion". Click HERE
for the full story! No 1st Cavalry Division unit has ever lost the colors. If you
want to pick the fly specks out of the pepper, the 7th Cav. (Custer),
lost them at "The little Big Horn", but the 7th Cav. was NOT a
1st Cavalry Division unit at that time. The 1st Cavalry Division
was not formed until 1921, just a little bit after Custer's fiasco!
Click For Larger View!
The Motley Crew!
L - R, Aves Thompson, Myself, George Shriver.
Anyway, a few folks came up to me and
said they enjoyed the web site many times over the last several years,
one even said the he had maps of 'our area' from 'our time' and would
send me a copy (we shall see, I sure hope so!! His name was on the
list that I lost!!) UPDATE: 7-5-03, I found him or rather he found
me, Paul Smith, 8th Cav. Medic, 1959-1960. Other than no seating
for the infirmed (sick, lame and lazy, blind crippled and crazy!), I think a good time was had by all, I know I had a
13 June started early as we got up and
went to Ft. Hood where a 'division run' was had my many, even some our
vets joined in. I believe the run included General Peterson, but
don't hold me to that, George can make corrections and fill in the
blanks where necessary. Following the run, we were fed from a
mobile kitchen and while yes, it was army chow, other than the bacon
being a little greasy (what bacon isn't?), I could not find fault with
it (I was a cook my last 2+ years of service). They just needed 3 kitchens to feed that many folks in a
After breakfast we located 9th Cav. BN.
HQ. And went for a visit, Aves took off and looked up his old 7th Cav. unit. We 9th Cav. vets met some very fine troopers, from the
Squadron (now Battalion), Commander, Lt. Col. MacDonald to Sgt. Major
Eddie Gilbert, and many other fine Officers and non-coms. Again
we were given the royal treatment by all. Let me interject here
that several times during our stay, at functions (lunches, dinners, etc),
and while at 9th Cav. HQ. I heard us referred to as "heroes",
the ones who set that standards that we today must live up to" and so
on. Sometimes it was said to the group, other times it was said to
me personally. I know they were 'blowing smoke' and yes it was
said with sincerity, but, after 40 some years of apathy from many, to
finally get some recognition and respect for what we did brought tears
to my eyes and I choked up on more than one occasion, and to hear this
over and over not only from E-8's and 9's but from Company Commanders
and Field Grade Officers was just a little much for this old
Trooper!! 1st Team!!
For lunch this day, George Tom and
JoAnn and I had joined the Korea War Veterans (they were the closest to
our service), we were warmly received by our brother Korean War vets, no
hostile intrusion was felt (at least by me). When I checked in I
was met by Bob Johnson, 1st Vice President of the Association and he
told me all about the KDSM. In fact, the lunch handout had the
KDSM graphic and write-up similar to what one will find on the KDVA web
site. I then told him of my involvement with the KDVA
(Charter, Life Member and past SoPac Director, etc.). At
introductions we all stood for our units and times served - he also had
me stand and said something about my having a major role in helping to
get the KDSM, I pointed out to the assembly that literally thousands
(KDVA members and supporters), helped us get the KDSM. He now
wants me to write a column for the Saber for 'our' time in the 'Z'. I told him my plate was full but that I would ask the group
if we have a volunteer, please, someone here needs to enlighten
those still in the dark. The war, 1950 to 1953 is still getting
press, but not our defense service, 1954 to present day! We are still the "Forgotten Warriors
of the Forgotten War"!
That evening we had a Texas style BBQ,
they do if 'funny' in Texas, no BBQ sauce was seen, it was AWOL, even so
it was very GOOD!! Again, a
good time was had by most (some did grip about the AWOL BBQ sauce
(grin), and more people to yammer with. NOTE: I
think that is the difference between Texas BBQ and "Memphis
Style" BBQ!! Texas BBQ falls under "Kansas City
style", dry rub, whereas "Memphis Style" uses sauce.
14 June, our last day of activities, I
don't remember the start of the day but I do know that George and I
spent a good part of it at the
museum and gift shop. I did purchase a new Stetson and I am not
sure that I will wear it until I can
put a KDSM hat pin on it!! If I don't wear it, I may croak before
the pins become available, so, don't
hold me to that! Today
we had the 9th Cav. Lunch at the 'O' Club at Ft. Hood. Tom and JoAnn
Crews, George Shriver and I and several 9th Cav. Troopers
were at our table and I must confess, while I had a good time I forget
what we ate, I think it was Prime Rib! After lunch, Tom and JoAnn
said their goodbyes, I was sad to see them leave so soon but they had
business elsewhere. A very good presentation was put on for us, a
video on CD on what the Cav. Has done, is doing now and plans for the
After the 'movie' introductions were
made of present and past officers, there were 3 former Squadron Commanders
present, each stood in turn and announced
their name, rank and when they commanded the Squadron, the first 2 stood
and I heard them perfectly, both I think were 'Nam vets, the third I
could not hear worth a ____ until he said 'Korea DMZ', I looked at
George and he shrugged as did I as I did not recognize squat.
After the closing I went to get pictures of the 3 former squadron
commanders, one had left already, I got one of one of the Vietnam vets
and the third was about to leave, I walked up to him (the Korea DMZ
squadron commander) and his name tag said "Myron T. Johnston 1-9
Cav. 5/59 - 7/60". My old squadron commander!!! I about
fell over!! We had
a good chat until he HAD to leave with a promise to get together at the
banquet later that night. Prior to his leaving he told me of his
misfortune of losing most of what he brought back from Korea, maps, DI
And many other items, all gone after many moves, very sad indeed!
Click For A Larger View!
Col. (Ret.) Johnston
1st Rcn. Squad. CO. - Korea 1959-1960
The banquet was 'a bit of all right',
good prime rib just the way I like it!!! I met quite a few more
real good folks, won't go into all that now. Maj. General Peterson
made an impressive speech and some of the other things that went on that
night are a blur, George will have to fill us in on the rest of that
night as my attention was diverted for a while by one of our tablemates
and his tales. During intermission I grabbed a set of the DMZ
Police Company DI's and a shoulder tab and looked up Col. Johnston and
presented them to him, he was most happy to receive them and said so as
he had not seen any like them for over 40 years. Intermission
ended too soon and so that visit too was cut short and it was back to my
table for more falderal and so on. After the festivities closed
for the evening I excused myself to go find General Peterson and get his
picture. When I did locate him, there was a line of picture takers
so it took a while, when my turn came I asked him if I could get his
picture, he politely said "Wouldn't you rather have one of my
lovely wife?", I don't remember my exact words but said I would,
but I still wanted one of him! He called his wife Ann over
and introduced me to her and I then took a picture of the happy couple
and then he had me give my camera to his aid, Capt. Fox (who was also the
C.O. of "F" Troop) and he would take a picture of the 3 of us,
the General, his wife Ann and I - they got on either side of me and
squeezed in tight for the shot. I informed General Peterson that I was
much better on the other side of the camera as I have a lousy smile and
while it may not look it, inside I am smiling from ear to ear, the
biggest grin he would never see. Thank you General and Ann
Peterson, a night I will not soon forget!!
Click For A Larger View!
L - R, Ann Peterson, Myself (Big smile!) and
Major General Peterson.
George and I left the next morning; I
regret that we did not go back to the 9th Cav. Hospitality suite after
last nights banquet as we had planned, old minds get feeble and we lost
out on meeting up again with some that we promised to meet up with that
night.. Oh well.. I am sure that had we done that, I would
now have some email and postal addresses that I need!!!
Almost everyone that I met personally
got one of my 'business cards' and or one of my KDVA cards. All (well,
most really) said they would drop by the web site(s) and leave a
note. I gave out over 150 cards total, mostly to the officers that
I met including Col. MacDonald, Col. Johnston (Ret.) Gen. Peterson and
many others... I informed them "Everyone is welcome at
Cavalry Country", and they are!!
Again, I can not convey the feeling
that the active army bestowed upon us, to say it was GREAT would be a
gross understatement!! Words escape me; all I can say now is; and
I SHOUT IT, "1st Team!!!"
On another note, we were informed
"The Cav. Never deployed to the Gulf" this time, only the 3
units that we already know about deployed, the rest never were on ships
or anywhere but Ft. Hood!
And yes I did get to shake the hands
of and welcome back, and get pics of our 2 'chopper pilots', CWO's Williams and
Young!! Glad to have them and the
rest of the POW's back and I told them so...
I tried several times to locate Harry
Boudreau (Div. Assn, historian) and never was successful, I really
wanted to meet up with him and
shake his hand. Harry has helped me with the web site among
everything else he has done for us all!!
I need to write the Assn. and give
them thanks for a bang-up job, the reunion could not have been any
better. UPDATE: Done!
Letters will go out to Col. MacDonald
and General Peterson as soon as I get their postal address...
Many busy days ahead!!!
Finally, I think it was on the 13th we
were told that our troops in Korea were being pulled back 35 clicks from
the 'Z' and that it started that morning. No more US troops
forward deployed once this move is completed... In my way of
thinking, that means the JSA at Panmunjom etc...
Now an update from my buddy George
This is just some
add-on information to clarify some of John's mission report.
Division Commander, General Peterson did indeed lead the "division run" at 0700,
Saturday morning. Each unit, at the troop or company level fielded one
full platoon for the 5 mile circular run, including all the support
units. Each unit passed by the review area with their unit flags with
battle streamers and guideons held high. So there were well over
500+ in the run. The division band was set-up and played the entire
time. News crews were there recording and doing
The rest of the
divisions personnel where in their BDUs and were in line with us to get
some chow. The line was very, very, long. That's why John
said they could have set-up at least two more of the Army's new field
kitchens. After about two hours, the cooks managed to feed all.
After the run, all the
top brass and NCOs came into the chow tent area where we were eating
breakfast. They mingled from table to table, spending a few
minutes with each. If you didn't have a program of who was who in the
officers and top NCO crop, it was hard to tell who you were talking
to. They were all dressed alike. Morning PT is not performed
in combat boots and fatigues anymore. Each Trooper now falls out
with tennis shoes, running shorts, and Army T-shirt and a mash vest with
reflective material. A few of the officers and non-coms wore their
rank and name on these vest with magic marker; most did not.
General Peterson wore no rank and looked and acted pretty much like all
the rest. One hell of a nice guy who was very interested in our
By the way, one of the
breakfast items served up that morning was S.O.S, made especially for
us. It seems that this food item is rarely seen in the Army
The 1st of the 7th Cav
is now the division's Recon. Squadron. That's Custer's old unit
and the unit of subject in the book and movie "We Were
Soldiers". Their makeup is very similar to the 9th's in the
days of the DMZ, but with a combination of armor and helicopters.
Since it's reorganization back into the 1st Cavalry Division, the 1st of
the 9th Cav. has been strictly a mounted infantry unit. So they
are known as 1st Battalion, 9th Cav. with four line companies, A, B, C
and D. However, in some strange twist there are two additional
"Troops" under the 1st of the 9th banner. They are
another D Troop and F Troop both made up of all scouts... land and air
scouts with about sixty men in each Troop. These two units serve
as the 3rd Brigade recon units, which the 9th is part of. Later this
year, the Army will be "down sizing" many of their
units. The 9th will lose one company, 'D' company. The two
Troops will be renamed something else.
Hope I have not made
this more confusing than before
George M. Shriver
B Troop Scouts, 1st
Recon. Sqn. 9th Cav.
George, thanks for filling in some of
To the 1st Cavalry Division
Association, thanks for a superb job on putting this event together!
To the men and women of the active 1st
Cavalry Division, from Pvt. Gonzales to Major General Peterson, Thank
You all, you outdid yourselves. This old Trooper will never
forget you and your most gracious hospitality!!
May God Bless you all!!
- John A. Maclean-
P.S. For those of you that asked and
for some that wondered,
my 'ol bucket of bolts (The 'Cavalry Country Hummer') made the 4,000+ mile
trip with no problems at all!!