Wednesday, May 09, 2007

If you ain't Cav.......

I was archiving some shots and came across this one from early 2004. It brought back a flood of memories and a rapid succession of thoughts.

All of a sudden I was back in Taji with Fritz, Bob, Lou, the 39th ECB Arkansas National Guard and three brigades of the 1st Cavalry Division. The troopers had a lot of fun tagging all the armor in the bone yard and I saw this everywhere. It says it all about the Cav attitude. "If you ain't 1st Cav, you ain't shit."

I heard fired up young stud warriors yell this at each other before they went through the gates for patrol. I heard it when they came back with no injuries or incidents but with kills. I heard it yelled between escorts during convoy runs. I heard it when they played in MWR sports with other units. I heard it from COL James J. McConville when he was addressing his Aviation troopers in front of Ted Nugent and Toby Keith. I heard it from Brigadier General Hammond when he dedicated an new PX.

This Russian made APC was tagged by proud troopers as were many other things at Taji before the PC folks made us start painting over everything so as to not upset anyone. American soldiers have been writing graffitti for 200+ years and will do so in every war but it eventually gets painted over.

Not so the mind set of the soldier who wrote it. He ran the gamut of emotion that only those who have been in a combat zone will know. He has that deeply ingrained sense of the wonderment of exisistence after having come so close to death. You can't paint over that.

He has the sense of unit pride that comes from sharing those days, weeks, months in such an environment. The guy next to you is your best friend and you will share anything with him including you last can of Dr. Pepper even though the PX ran out weeks ago. The unit is your family. The Division is your family. You can't paint over that.

Being Cav is special. Soldiers who were not Cav were delighted to find out that they could claim a Cav combat patch since they served under their command. I have seen a lot of troops come and go but whenever I see a Cav combat patch I always ask them what FOB they were at. If they were at Taji I tell them I was too and I now have a new best friend for the next few minutes. I may have never met him and may never see him again but that connection will harness us together for that moment. No matter what went down I have his back and he has mine. You can't paint over that.

I saw a friend (Newly pinned O-6 too!) the other day when he transitioned through on his way to Afghanistan. He has the new Combat Action Badge. This is a new badge issued by the Army because only Infantry can earn a CIB or Combat Infantry Badge. So many others have seen action in thie war but were not eligible so the Army issued this new badge. Butch had it on and even though he is National Guard from South Carolina he had on a Cav combat patch. I asked about it and he said,"You know, I will go all my life knowing that I served under the finest combat division in the US Army." I asked if he remembered the engagement where he earned that badge and he said he did. He also remembered that I was there too and was under the same fire as were Bob and Lou.

So here it is. Butch, Bob, Lou and I all earned our CABs that day. We also earned our combat patches from the Cav. Some may argue that we don't deserve it but anyone that was there on that hellish day would argue with you. Haji does not care what unifrom you wear, he just wants to kill you because you don't think like him. Tell you what Haji. Come at me again. Cause if you ain't Cav, you ain't shit.


Anonymous Fritz said...

I imagine a lot of that steel parked at Taji is now rolling stock with the Iraqi Army, right? All those spare parts fresh from Russia, France and Germany are now being used!

Hang in there partner.

2:57 PM  

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