FORT IRWIN, Calif. — On Aug. 22, the soldiers of 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment had the honor of hosting the 34th annual Armored Cavalry Veterans of Vietnam and Cambodia. More than 400 Veterans and their families traveled from all over the country to visit the regiment. The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment closed the roads of the Regimental footprint to hold a wide area display for the veterans. The Horse Detachment, Regimental Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, Regimental Support Squadron, 11th ACR, presented the colors and held a cavalry horsemanship display for the veterans. Following this display, the veterans were allowed to explore different stations around the Regiment. For chow, the veterans were given the opportunity to eat at the dining facility with Troopers and senior leaders of the Regiment and Squadrons. While at the dining facility, the veterans were presented with two cakes prepared by culinary specialists from Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, Regimental Support Squadron, 11th ACR, in the shape of the Blackhorse unit patch. There was also a static display set up for the veterans to view the vehicles Blackhorse uses to train the incoming Rotational Units. Additionally, veterans had the opportunity to experience riding alongside Blackhorse Troopers in vehicles within the Regiment. There was also a weapons display staged for the veterans who wanted to experience firing the M4 Carbine, M240B Machine Gun, as well as an M2 Browning .50 Caliber Machine Gun. Veterans also had the opportunity to walk through the Squadron buildings and interact with Troopers at each respective Troop within their squadrons. This gave Troopers the opportunity to explain their Military Occupational Specialties (MOS), and the roles they play in each rotation, and for the veterans to share their experience of what the life of a soldier was during Vietnam.
The veterans then traveled to the Westgate Casino and Resort, Las Vegas, where they held a silent auction on Aug. 23. This auction was held for the veterans who had any memorabilia of Vietnam that they were willing to give up. The items in this auction ranged from pictures of Troopers who are no longer with us to redesigned M1 helmets from the Vietnam War. On Aug. 24, a memorial service led by former Blackhorse Chaplain, Bill Karabinos, took place for the Troopers that had passed before the 34th reunion. This memorial gave veterans the opportunity to speak on those who passed away and reflect on the memories they shared. Later that day, a banquet was held for all the veterans involved to attend. During the banquet, Troopers of the Horse Detachment, Regimental Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, Regimental Support Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, presented the colors for the ceremony with a dismounted color guard. Following the color guard, there was an award presentation for Trooper of The Year, Bill Karabinos, which was presented by Mike “Doc” Rafferty. This award is received annually by a veteran who plays a vital role in preparing the reunion. Col. Scott Woodward, commander, 11th ACR, was present during the banquet to give an update on the state of the Regiment and introduce the 23rd Command Sgt. Maj. of the Regiment, Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Walker. Towards the end of the ceremony, the veterans stood at attention while “Taps” played to honor those lost during the Vietnam and Cambodian war. Following the banquet, Troopers and veterans had the opportunity to interact and share stories from the times they served. This helped the Troopers connect with them and gave the Troopers a better understanding of the trials and tribulations the veterans had to go through while in Vietnam and Cambodia. This entire experience helped build esprit de corps amongst the veterans and the Blackhorse Troopers that attended the ceremony. Needless to say, it was an honor for the 11th ACR Troopers to share this experience with the veterans.