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The Spoils of War

This is the second photo I originally attempted to show you on a previous monthly update of my web pages.

This posed shot shows my tank crew at the conclusion of the Reliable Strike II Exercise conducted at Yakima Firing Center in Washington, January 1989.

From left to right is my gunner - Staff Sergeant Taylor, my loader - Specialist Trusty, my driver - Specialist Wiley, and of course, me - the tank commander - Captain Hedly.

In the photo, Specialist Trusty is proudly displaying the wooden crest our crew "stealthily" liberated from LTC Morley's HMMWV the night before the final exercise. LTC Morley was the battalion commander of 2/35 Armor from Fort Carson, Colorado.

This was an important accomplishment for two reasons.

First of all, before my unit was designated as the 1st Battalion, 33rd Armor Regiment, we used to be the 2nd Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment. In time, as part of the realignment of the 9th Infantry Division, 2/77 Armor retired its colors and went away. We were then re-designated as 1/33 Armor. Eventually, the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson was realigned, and needed a new armor force, and the 2/77 Armor Regiment was reactivated. In time, it was redesignated as 2/35 Armor. So, when we saw that crest appear in Washington, it stirred something inside the men, and they felt the need to regain some of their unit history. Hence, the plan to acquire the 2/35 crest.

The other reason also involved a bit of pride. 2/35 Armor deployed from Fort Carson to be our opposing force for the extent of our training exercises. During their time at Yakima Firing Center, they had boasted how good they were and how they were going to kick our ass. During the Reliable Strike Exercise, the battles had gone back and forth --we'd win a battle, they'd win a battle.

This exercise took place in January, 1989. The last battle was planned for Super Bowl Sunday. As true Americans, football fans in the units argued to cut the exercise short so we could watch the game. But it was to no avail. The leaders from the units decided to drive on. Now I'm sure the men from Fort Carson were disappointed they couldn't see the game just like we were. But somehow it seemed to affect our men with more meaning. I think they felt more discouraged because they were so close to home, yet couldn't see the game - and they took it personal! After hearing all the crap from 2/35 Armor for the last several weeks, our men decided to take out their frustration about not seeing the game on the 2/35 Armor forces.

Late the night before the final battle, my crew and I went on a raiding party into enemy territory. We discovered the location of the enemy's TOC (Tactical Operations Center) and looked around until we found LTC Morley's HMMWV. Fortunately, most of the men at the TOC were preoccupied with preparing for the next day's battle. In fact, LTC Morley was giving his OPORD (Operations Order) at that very moment. So, while I stood guard, my men removed the crest from the enemy commander's personal vehicle. Is that cool, or what!? Once it was secured, we went giggling off into the night.

In the final battle, we kicked their ass, and we kicked it good. Their fighting forces were below 20 percent, while ours were above 70 percent. Their "killed" vehicles and simulated casualties littered the battlefield, and included a HMMWV my crew ran over in a smoke-covered engagement area. (Did I tell you that story already and show you that picture? Will somebody who's followed this site drop me an email and let me know. I can't remember. If I haven't, I'll do it for my next update.)

At the end of the battle, the only fun we had was the trip to the wash rack to clean the vehicles in freezing temperatures with high-pressure hoses. Hu-ah!

My Favorite Photos and Stories

They’re Not Wanted Here

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Hide and Seek

Spoils of War

Everybody Helps

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