‘Diehards’ from past conflicts reunite
Ron Danielson, a Vietnam veteran who served with the 1st Eng. Bn., right, fires an M-4 rifle from the kneeling position Sept. 13 at Range One. Spc. Adam Williams, combat engineer, 41st Sapper Company, 1st Eng. Bn., left, acted as a coach as Danielson fired the weapon.
Story by: Sgt. Scott Lamberson
4TH IBCT PUBLIC AFFAIRS
"I think it's great. Last year I went to their reunion in Williamsburg, Pa. It was a life-changing event for me. Luckily this year they came to Fort Riley, so the whole battalion is experiencing that feeling," said Lt. Col. Kirk Gibbs, commander, 1st Engineer Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.
Gibbs was referring to the Society of the 1st Engineer Battalion, a group of veterans who served with the battalion through many conflicts. The 1st Engineer Battalion hosted the group Sept. 13 at Fort Riley.
Although the unit has moved numerous times and fallen under many different commands, many of the veterans seemed happy the 1st Eng. Bn. once again falls under the 1st Infantry Division.
Veterans from the Gulf War, Vietnam and even World War II had an opportunity to attend an Engagement Skills Trainer, an electronic firing system that allows the shooter to experience the feel and kick of a specific weapon.
The EST allowed the veterans to become familiar with the M-4 rifle, as well as a multitude of different weapons that weren't around when they served. Additionally, the veterans were able to experience the new training the Army has implemented and experience how Soldiers of today's Army train.
After all members of the society fired weapons at the EST, they traveled to Range One, where they received a safety brief.
The veterans then fired M-4s with advanced sights from the foxhole position, prone supported, prone unsupported, kneeling and standing positions. Once the range was clear, the veterans gathered their targets and added up their scores. Although it had been years since some of the veterans had fired at a range, many of their targets were littered with tight shot groups.
"I think it's very important to meet all the young Soldiers today because it's so much different now than when we were in. All the Soldiers I have met are nice and courteous and carry themselves in a professional manner," said Johnny Kinder, a veteran who served with the battalion.
Following time spent at the range, the group was served lunch, where stories were exchanged among the veterans and 1st Eng. Bn. Soldiers.
"We're always talking about the history of this battalion. It's 165 years old. We tied the Soldiers serving today into that history and let them know they are a part of it," Gibbs said. "When you Veterans come to visit and begin sharing your stories with the Soldiers, they see the connection."
Kinder called the event a morale booster.
"It drives home the point that knowing this is part of your life and part of your history, it's a tremendous morale booster to be able to see they're still active and see that what we did wasn't for nothing," he said.