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'Garry Owen' gets new home, new troopers

By Spc. Joshua McPhie

FORT HOOD, Texas (Army News Service, Aug. 11, 2005) – As part of the 1st Cavalry Division’s transformation, the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment became “Garry Owen” and 1-7 Cavalry became the 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment.

Some Garry Owen Soldiers watched as another unit took over the 1-7 in July.

“It’s kind of mixed emotions. For some folks it’s been difficult to leave Garry Owen,” said Lt. Col. Keith Gogas, the 6-9 Cavalry commander. “We get to start everything fresh, so that’s exciting.”

The 6-9 Cavalry, formerly in the 4th Brigade Combat Team, is now part of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division. 1-12 Cavalry, formerly in 1st Brigade Combat Team, is now also in 3BCT and the newly designated 1-7 Cavalry is now in the 1st BCT.

The timing of the unit switch was almost perfect for the new 1-7 – July 26 was the squadron’s birthday. New Garry Owen troops celebrated with a squadron run and birthday cake.

Now a whole new group of Soldiers have caught that Garry Owen attitude.

“As we made our transition to 1-7 we painted everything red and white,” said Capt. Clint Tracy, Headquarters Troop commander. “It’s been a great boost for morale. When the squadron commander calls us to attention, it’s a lot louder.”

“It was a great honor for us to assume the history of the 7th Cavalry Regiment,” said Lt. Col. Kevin MacWatters, 1-7 Cavalry squadron commander.

MacWatters recognizes the difficulties the 6-9 Cavalry troopers would be having in leaving their unit. Despite those difficulties though, 6-9 Cavalry Soldiers have been helping the new Garry Owen by passing down the unit’s history and tradition.

The 7th Cavalry dates back to 1866, and has been involved in every major conflict since. Its rich history includes Custer’s last stand at Little Big Horn in 1876. The 1-7 was also one of the first air cavalry units and one of the first U.S. units to fight a major battle with the North Vietnamese in 1965, in Ia Drang Valley, the subject of the book “We Were Soldiers Once and Young.”

“It’s a lot of tradition, a lot to remember”, said Spc. D.J. Vines, a new Garry Owen trooper.

The 6-9 Soldiers aren’t the only ones missing their old unit. Former 1-12 Cavalry Soldiers have also found the transition difficult.

“I was sad to see the colors go to 3rd Brigade,” Tracy said.

Not everyone had to leave Garry Owen during the swap. Bravo Troop Soldiers got to stay in 1-7.

“It feels good to be Garry Owen,” said Pvt. James Gaspar, Bravo Troop, 1-7 Cavalry. “But it’s hard to see my buddies from the other troops leave.”

In the end, the current and former Garry Owen Soldiers are learning to deal with the change.

(Editor’s Note: Story submitted by Spc. Joshua McPhie, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs.)

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