By Blair Dupre
Fort Cavazos Public Affairs
FORT CAVAZOS, Texas — A veteran battling cancer and his family were given a special tour of the National Mounted Warrior Museum May 30 here.
Daniel Reel served in the Army from 1989 to 1999. During that time he served in Germany as well as at Fort Cavazos. Though he retired after ten years of service, his love for all things military has never faded.
“I loved all of it,” he said about the museum. “I’m a military guy through and through.”
Reel and his family were guided through several static displays including a Stryker, several different tanks and a helicopter.
“The military profession is built upon our connections to fellow Soldiers, past and present,” said Col. Chad R. Foster, U.S. Army Garrison – Fort Cavazos commander. “Those of us who serve today owe a debt to the men and women who came before us. These individuals set an example that lives on today. Such connections reinforce professional discipline and personal pride in service to our nation. Mr. Reel is one of us, a member of our Army family. Therefore, it is fitting that he came to spend some time with us at Fort Cavazos. You always open your doors to family. His visit to the Mounted Warrior Museum reminds us of all these things.”
Reel said he enjoyed being able to tour the museum with his family and bond with those who currently work at Fort Cavazos.
“Even after all these years the camaraderie is still there,” he said. “That’s a big thing in the military. Your brothers and sisters (while) serving, they’ll still be that 80 years from now.”
Reel’s wife of almost 30 years, Rhonda, said it was also important having their son-in-law, who are currently stationed at Fort Cavazos, tour the museum with them.
“It’s kinda like seeing the younger generation come up,” he said. “Overall, I enjoy it. I still keep up with (the military). (My wife) will tell you I love coming onto Fort (Cavazos).”
Rhonda said Reel liked to drive by the motor pool and the barracks he used to stay in before they were torn down.
“He always says, ‘I wish I was still in the military’ all the time,” she shared.
Reel, originally from Boston, said Fort Cavazos was his favorite duty station throughout his entire career.
“I love the area. I love the unit (I was with) and I just loved what I did,” he said.
“And he met me here,” she said laughing.
Reel said his time in service and passion for the Army and it’s values prepared him for the challenges he’s faced battling cancer after being diagnosed in 2019
“It made me stronger up here,” he said, pointing to his head.
Rhonda said Reel didn’t slow down despite the 137 rounds of chemo. He continued to work at his job simply because he wanted to and also completed a marathon with a chemo bag on.
“I walked 26.7 miles,” he said. “They said I couldn’t do it. I said, ‘Wanna bet?’”
Rhonda said he began at eight in the morning and only took a couple of breaks during the day despite the 104-degree heat. He accomplished his goal around 11 that night, having taken 57,248 steps.
“He was determined to get what a marathon would be,” she said. “Of course, his oncologists, they kept saying, ‘Of course you can do it. Of course, you don’t get sick.’ (Reel) attributes that to being in the military. It prepared him for the mindset because he just has that go, go, go attitude of not giving up and not stopping.”
Before the tour, Reel was presented with a coin and he said that coin is the best he’s ever received.
“Just the love that comes (it),” he said tearfully. “These people are genuine. It makes me feel good.”
Reel said he bleeds black and yellow and knows the National Mounted Warrior Museum will provide families a great, detailed look into the history of the Army and Fort Cavazos.
“I’ll be the biggest supporter of this ever,” he said. “I love this stuff. It’s in my blood. My kids and grandkids will love it too.”