FORT CAVAZOS, Texas – Troopers who paid the ultimate sacrifice during wartime were recognized and honored as the 1st Cavalry Division unveiled three new memorials throughout the week coinciding with the Division’s change of command.
“This has been in the making for two years,” said Maj. Gen. John B. Richardson IV, 80th commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division. “It is with tremendous thanks and a lot of generous donations made by our Veterans Association that made this vision come to fruition.”
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Division was called into World War II and fought primarily on the islands of the Pacific. They utilized trucks and jeeps on various terrain and city streets to move supplies, evacuate wounded, and even use as altars for Army Chaplains.
Located outside the 1st Cavalry Division Headquarters building, a World War II Memorial honors the brave Troopers who fought and died during the war. It serves as a reminder of their sacrifices for the country. It allows Troopers and leaders to pay their respects and honor their memory.
A striking feature on the new memorial is the Army jeep at the center of the display, a vehicle used regularly by the troopers during that era. The jeep is a powerful symbol of sacrifice and a tribute to those who served.
“It is a privilege to honor and memorialize the troopers of this division that fought in World War II,” said Richardson.
In August 1990, the 1st Cavalry Division received orders for deployment to Southwest Asia as part of the joint forces participating in Operation Desert Shield. The mission was to defend Saudi Arabia against a potential Iraqi attack. The First Team utilized the M1 Abrams and M2 Bradley in just 24 hours to attack 200 miles deep into the Iraqi area, where they successfully identified and destroyed Iraqi defensive positions and equipment.
Built next to Legend’s Way, on Cooper Field, now sits the new Persian Gulf War Memorial. The First Team invited veterans from Operation Desert Shield to participate in the unveiling.
“To fight and win in America’s wars, we must be trained to develop and sustain adaptable leaders,” said Retired Lt. Gen. Randolph W. House. “We must be prepared to fight unthinkable enemies.”
During wartime operations, situations arise where American Military personnel find themselves declared captured by enemy forces or listed as missing in action. These Prisoners-of-War and Missing-In-Action endure imprisonment in enemy camps, often for extended periods, without ever being able to communicate with their loved ones again. The 1st Cavalry Division has 708 Troopers who remain missing in action.
“I believe we have two important non-negotiable responsibilities,” said Richardson. “First, never forget. And the second, never stop looking. We won’t forget that if you ever go missing in action or are a prisoner of war in this Division, we will never forget.”
An OH-13 “Sioux” Observance Helicopter, directly connected to 1st Lt. Fred H. McMurray, Jr., rests with the memorial. The helicopter provides an overwatch for the POW/MIA memorial, symbolizing that the POW/MIA troopers would never be forgotten.
During the ceremony, Richardson and his wife, Deanie, were both personally awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and the Meritorious Public Service Medal respectively, by Lt. Gen. Sean C. Bernabe.
These memorials are a physical reminder of the bravery and dedication of those who have fought for freedom. Preserving and honoring the memories of those who’ve served will ensure their sacrifices are never forgotten.
“To the troopers, a word from an old soldier; don’t waste your time on bad activities or other distractions,” said House. “Focus on training, for that’s what wins big wars.”