This is a postscript to my stories about my Korean War experiences. In the 1970’s there was formed the Korean War Chapter of the 7th Cavalry, - veterans of that war, which at one time had more than 400 members. The overwhelming proportion of those members were Enlisted men who served in combat between August 1950 through December 1951. A smaller portion were officers. Many if not most were drafted. And the overwhelming number of members, were NOT career soldiers, much less officers. They left the service after the war.
The Chapter held annual meetings in various cities, tied together by the spirited ‘Garry Owen’ 7th Cavalry traditions and esprit. A newsletter was published. Over 1,092 7th Cav Troopers died in the 18 months it served in Korean combat. (67 were from my Company K)
I became a member, and attended perhaps 8 to 10 of their annual ‘reunions’
By 2012, the membership, had dwindled – as all were in their late 70s and early 80s, to the point, even with wives and other family members attending the 3-5 day reunions had dipped below 40 or so. In 2013 the Reunion was held here in Colorado Springs. And apart from their telling war stories in the hotel “Hospitality Room” where the beer flowed, trips in rented vans were taken to local tourist attractions, like the Air Force Academy, they enjoyed the Rockies, but they knew little about the local active duty military units.
Because I knew that none of the attending members, long distant from their war-years, knew what the current Army, especially the Infantry (that most of them served in) I was able to arrange, through my new grandson-in-law SSGT Jason Stacy, recently married to my granddaughter Lindsey Clark, daughter Rebecca’s Daughter, a visit to Fort Carson. Where Sgt Stacy – who had had two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan and was a member of the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) at Carson could put on a demonstration of the current Infantry weapons AND the monstrous 3 Million dollar Bradley Fighting Vehicle that Infantrymen now fight from. 30 old, crippled up, 7th Cav Veterans got to see Sgt Stacy’s presentation, right in the Motor Pool area of a Battalion, and learned, saw, and put hands on what the current ‘All Volunteer’ Army was like.
It was a winner. Other than from television, none of the attendees except me had ever seen up close the Army’s key Mechanized Infantry equipment. It was such a great presentation, I wrote to Stacy’s Battalion Commander praising him. The Commander was so impressed he put the letter in a frame, put it in his office, and was going to carry it to Kuwait where his Battalion, including Sgt Stacy would serve another Middle East tour of 9 months. I understood someone else in Association also wrote to him.
September 3d, 2013
Lieutenant Colonel Bailey, Commander, 2d, Bn, 8th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division
Dear Colonel Bailey:
I recently became the grandfather-in-law of SSgt Jason Stacy of your command. Since I am a retired Infantry Branch Colonel who commanded units in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and commanded and trained both a Mech Infantry Battalion and the 2d Brigade of the 4th ID while I was assigned to Fort Carson in the late 1960s I have closely followed Jason’s career. Of course I am happy he has made a fine husband for Lindsey, one of my granddaughters, but I also have been professionally interested in what kind of an NCO he was, and potentially could become.
When I learned that he did well in a competitive series of tests concerning the Bradley Fighting Vehicle – and I knew that the Korean War Chapter of the 7th Cavalry was coincidentally going to have a 4 day Reunion in Colorado Springs, I asked Jason whether he could get permission to prepare a demonstration of the Bradley and its weapons for KW Vets, all of whom are in their 80s. They all served in combat in Korea, and nearly all of them earned the Combat Infantry Badge – as well as many Purple Hearts. But none of them really knew today’s Army – its weapons and volunteer soldiers - much less the Bradley Fighting ‘Infantry’ Vehicle. Which, of course they never fought from. They were boots-on-the-ground all the way in the Korean War.
So SSGT Stacy got your unit’s permission, the POST PIO authorized bringing the ‘civilian’ Veterans to visit Carson to receive the briefing on the 21st of August. The KW Chapter accepted my invitation to attend as one of their reunion events. Twenty nine attended. Even one Army wife.
I want to tell you that SSgt Stacy did a superb job, from planning and preparation to delivery and demonstration, aided by other men from his unit whom he prepared. That is not only my professional opinion, but at least 10 of the 29 Vets who attended (several severely crippled from 63 year old war wounds) came up to me (the only ‘Colonel’ in the Chapter) and praised not only the demonstration and Jason’s hands-on lecture – while he answered many sharp questions - but SSgt Stacy’s quality as an NCO. That is high praise from old veterans who saw the best and worst leaders, in combat and during peacetime, during their time in service.
Personally, I would like to have had Stacy in any of my combat commands. Which given the extreme combat we went through in two wars – Korea and Vietnam - is as high a recommendation I could ever give a fellow soldier.
I just want to thank you on behalf of the 7th Cav Korean War Veterans for your unit’s support for SSgt Stacy’s program, and urge you to take an interest in the further NCO development of a fine soldier who - as the best NCO’s have ever been – the ‘backbone’ of the Army.
David R Hughes Col (Ret)
A page from the newsletter of the Korean War 7th Cav Association. I am standing addressing the Vets before the show began.
Just click on the item below.