"This we'll defend." Only those of us who have been in the Army know the true meaning of those words; not just an idle phrase, nor common utterance out of necessity, but blood running in our veins and arteries; our thoughts and our being; sweat running from our bodies as we fulfill those words; the food we eat, our regenerating sleep; all for those words.
I was recently at a federal building in this city when I crossed the path of a member of another government agency. I heard him say in my direction, "This country doesn't have to happen."
I did not need to hear that, as it is second nature for me to do what I have to do, with the above opening words of this report constantly on my mind. He apparently needed to say what he did, because of the environment he was working in; possibly because of the feeling of some rivalry by me; or maybe he thought that I needed it; possibly because of the inspiration of, but he should have known my thinking by the Garryowen, saber through horseshoe, on my belt buckle.
This agent must not have been thinking of the many military installations around this country; how could he not? Perhaps he was just a concerned citizen who spent all of his life making this country work.
Military installations are the structural framework for our security. A cleansing of our souls through discipline and depravation to accomplish the mission; bringing us close to our spirit, the enemy, and our commanding officer. Yet even with this, our country can be rotting in the flesh. Where I am I see Neptune degenerating youth and destroying our cities and towns.
This is not a new problem, it is age-old. The Roman Empire ceased to exist because of alliances with others to fight for them. When our youth and populace are no longer concerned with the essentials of managing our country, the enemy surely will.
Before I was completely cured of roundball I attended the 1984 Army-Navy Game, which was held in Pasadena, CA for the first time away from its usual locations near those service academies. Before the game I made a point of speaking to the Army Rangers just back from Grenada, and to the cadets, as they came down to get food and drink.
Unlike the Rangers who were now veterans, and whom I only praised for a job well done, the cadets were of interest to me because they were becoming soldiers. I asked them how they liked the Academy, how long they had to go until they graduated, and maybe what they thought about whatever came up in the conversation. I did not delay them very long, and I spoke to quite a few groups.
At the end of the each discussion I would wish them good luck for their careers, and the game. Off to the side a voice came from the cadre officer instructors whom I saw out the corner of my eye, and that they were observing.
"If you're going to be like that why don't you go over to the other side." I had never heard anything like that before, but I instantly knew what they meant: in the Army we achieve our endeavors through hard work and training.
Probably because of my intense enthusiasm I was able to get out of there with a salutation in the distance from those officers of, "Cav!" and they really did not know. I never looked back after that on that subject. As my Fort Dix, basic training, D.I. helper, cadre P.F.C. with a Cav patch and a C.I.B, from New Jersey, used to say, "O.K. youze guys."
The only other thing that I can think of not hoping for is, "If wishes were horses beggars would ride." So let us, Army, not wish or hope for anything, because, "...that's the fearless Army way."
The extreme and flawless professionalism of West Point graduates has impressed and commanded me to the best that I could be. We, having been in the Army, can all say this. Where would we be without the knights of the Hudson leading us into battle and demanding our training as it is; demanding the exacting standards as they are.
It has only been through reading about our 1\9 Cavalry scouts in Vietnam that I learned of the combat reference to these West Point professionals as "ring knockers." Professionals referring to professionals; only the best could. I am sure that our professional soldiers can handle the challenge, anytime, the same as defeating any enemy.
At the 1991 1st Cavalry Division Reunion just before leaving, I was approached by an associate about whether or not I would make it to the 1992 Reunion. In the presence of two of our outstanding retired generals, with cavalry Stetsons pulled to their eyes and stars up front, shinning white light, in the foyer of the beautiful Killeen Sheraton, I wanted to think positively, as I usually do.
Appropriately I said, "Yes, unless I run into a regiment of N.V.A." Knowing at that time that my finances were at their worst since E.T.S., I nonetheless had a goal.
I am remorseful that supposition virtually transpired- that ain't emotional war talk, is it-and I did not make it to the 1992 Reunion. I am not remorseful, however, like some Veterans Administration employee war protestor-which I experienced-would like me to be, for killing the enemies of the United States-First Team, hoo-ah; and I might add, contribute to democracy and the self determination of a people in their homeland.
From an earlier time, the words of another cavalryman, George Armstrong Custer: "I am in favor of elevating the negro to the extent of his capacity and intelligence, and of doing everything in our power to advance them morally and mentally as well as physically, also socially. But I am opposed to making this advance by correspondingly debasing any portion of the white race. As to trusting the negro of the Southern States with the most sacred and responsible privilege-the right of suffrage-I should as soon think of elevating an Indian Chief to the Popedom of Rome."
The observations of this scout are not necessarily those expressed by the First Cavalry Division Association. Mike Bodnar, is a combat veteran of 1st Plt., C 2\7 Cav., 1969, the a.a.p., 1970, 1st Cavalry Division.