Texas-based cavalry regiment celebrates 184th birthday, looks to future
By DAVID BURGE | El Paso Times, Texas | Published: March 10, 2017
EL PASO, Texas (Tribune News Service) — One of the oldest, tradition-rich units at Fort Bliss and in the Army recently celebrated its birthday while looking ahead to its future.
The 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment celebrated the 184th birthday of both the squadron and the regiment last week. They are the oldest cavalry squadron and regiment in the Army, dating back to March 2, 1833. They are also among the oldest units of any type in the Army.
The 600-soldier Blackhawk Squadron took time out from its busy training schedule March 3 to celebrate those dual birthdays.
Troopers celebrated with a day full of sporting events, an awards presentation for their recently completed gunnery exercise, a birthday cake that was cut with a saber and a barbecue competition.
It was a way of recognizing the squadron and the regiment’s long history, the soldiers who have come before them and the legacy and reputation that current soldiers need to continue to live up to, said squadron commander Lt. Col. Dave Wright.
The squadron and regiment have taken part in most major Army operations, except for World War I, since their founding nearly two centuries ago, Wright said.
Being the 1st Squadron, the unit also is responsible for maintaining the history and legacy of the regiment as a whole, Wright said.
“It is a reminder of where we came from,” said Wright, from Uniontown, Pa.
The 1-1 Cav arrived at Fort Bliss from Germany in 2010 as part of the process that made the installation the new home of the 1st Armored Division.
As part of 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, the 1-1 Cav served in the Army modernization’s mission for the past six years and was tied to the Network Integration Evaluation and Army Warfighter Assessment exercises.
But that role ended for the brigade on Nov. 1, and the 1-1 Cav and the rest of the brigade have been busy training and transitioning to become fully deployable.
In August, the Blackhawks will go with the rest of 2nd Brigade to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.
In the meantime, the 1-1 Cav is going through a gated training strategy that is designed to prepare it for that NTC rotation, Wright said.
“It is a new, exciting role,” Wright said. “We will always be the first ones out, and the enemy will know we are coming. But instead of testing equipment and setting the Army up for its future, we will go out and set the conditions for the rest of the brigade.”
In many ways, the 1-1 Cav will be returning to its roots as a cavalry organization and will concentrate on the fundamentals of being cavalry troopers — doing reconnaissance and providing security, Wright said.
The rest of the brigade “will be relying on us to report information, to tell them where the enemy is at, to tell them about the terrain, but also to set the conditions for them to come forward and fight and win," he said.
Squadron Command Sgt. Maj. Ken Drury, of Natick, Mass., said that the Blackhawks got a great deal of valuable experience by taking part in the Army’s modernization mission.
“The NIE mission was great and we got a lot of great training out of it,” Drury said. “Now, we are training for our intended purpose. We all joined the Army to deploy.”
“It is an exciting time to be a Blackhawk,” Drury said.
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