Sunday, August 5, 2007 - While the soldiers of the 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment received plenty of encouraging words during their farewell ceremony Friday in Vilseck, Germany, they also got a dose of reality from one of the top generals in Europe.
“I’ll venture to say you’ll face a fight as soon as you hit the ground,” V Corps commander Lt. Gen. James E. Thurman, told the soldiers who are heading to Iraq for a 15-month tour.
It’s the second deployment for the 2nd Cav, but its first since moving to Vilseck in June 2006. The unit has been gearing up for the downrange mission for months, culminating with a mission-rehearsal exercise in June before the soldiers took a month of block leave in July.
The soldiers are ready to go, according to Command Sgt. Maj. Victor Martinez, who was with the unit during its last deployment to Iraq.
“It’s tough leaving, but I’m excited to get over there and serve the people of Iraq,” Martinez said in an Army news release. “I get guys who tell me ‘here we go again sergeant major, let’s do this,’ and it warms my heart.”
Col. John RisCassi, 2nd Cav commander, addressed his soldiers and the crowd after the colors-casing ceremony.
“It is our honor and privilege to carry these colors into battle,” RisCassi said in the release. “We will not let down the members of the regiment, past and present, nor our friends and family in Vilseck.”
The 2nd Cav will replace the 3rd "Arrowhead Brigade", 2nd Infantry Division, which recently moved from Mosul to Baghdad as part of the "surge". This is a familiar move for the 2nd Cav, which replaced the Arrowhead Brigade in October 2004 in Mosul. About a third of current 2nd Cav soldiers are veterans of that previous mission and most of the officers are combat veterans.
The 2nd Cav's final destination in Iraq is unknown.
In 2005 the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment (Light) moved from Fort Polk to Fort Lewis and was re-designated to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment Stryker Brigade Combat Team.
The regiment's 3,900 soldiers called Fort Lewis home during its conversion into a Stryker brigade before moving to Vilseck in 2006.
The 2nd Cavalry Regiment is the longest-serving regiment in the U.S. Army and has participated in nearly every U.S. military conflict, from fighting Indians in America's West to the invasion of Iraq.