Story and photo by Spc. Andrew Ingram
1st Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait — Soldiers of 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div., celebrated 50 years of the “Raider” Brigade, with a day of competition, music and relaxation, while deployed to Camp Buehring Kuwait, Aug. 24.
Col. Joel Tyler, 1st ABCT commander, shared the brigade’s storied history, which dates back to Aug. 21, 1963, when the 1st Brigade, 4th Inf. Div., was reconstituted for the first time as a brigade element, to take part in the Vietnam Conflict.
Fifty years ago, somewhere on a field at Fort Lewis, Wash., a group of American Soldiers pulled out a set of colors for the 1st Brigade, Tyler said.
“The Soldiers took those colors to Vietnam. The brigade conducted roughly five years of operations, mainly on the border of South Vietnam and Cambodia. It’s a pretty inspiring history. This brigade stands for something. The colors of these regiments and these battalions stand for sacrifice and heroism and service. So today we are going to take some time to celebrate our heritage,” he said.
Tyler thanked his troops for their hard work throughout the deployment and ordered them to relax and enjoy the festivities.
Soldiers participated in events, including basketball and football tournaments, a video game competition and a darts contest.
Dinner featured steak, seafood and barbecue pork, ordered especially for the event.
“It’s a rare thing to celebrate like this while deployed,” said Cpl. Joseph Bizjack, human resources specialist, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1st ABCT. “It’s really a very special experience. It feels amazing to be a part of such a great brigade, (it’s) like we are a big Family.”
Bizjack said pitting the battalions against one another in competition felt a lot like sibling rivalry.
“We don’t see Soldiers from all the other battalions on a daily basis, so getting together like this makes us very competitive; it has been a lot of fun,” he said.
The celebration culminated with a performance by Chewy Nugget Center, a rock band comprised of brigade Soldiers, and the finale of the “R Factor” talent competition — based on the popular television show — before closing out the celebration with an awards ceremony for the winners of each event throughout the day.
The birthday celebration brought the Soldiers of the Raider Brigade closer together, said Spc. Elizabeth Erickson, Raider Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers representative for 1st ABCT.
“I think its great that we can all come together, celebrate and compete for the Commander’s Cup,” Erickson said. “The Soldiers are really excited and keep talking about all the events we’ve been doing, and I am really grateful to everybody who has come out to support this whole event.”
The “Regulars” of 1st Battalion, 22nd Inf. Reg., took home the Commander’s Cup for winning the most events.
Command Sgt. Maj. Edison Rebuck, the brigade’s senior enlisted leader, asked his Soldiers to reflect on the tradition of excellence 1st ABCT Soldiers displayed throughout the past 50 years.
“Last night I decided to take a look at some of the Medals of Honor earned throughout this brigade’s history,” Rebuck said. “What struck me was the commonality between those heroes. They were just like you — they were all Raiders, they were all American Soldiers, they all had pride within their organizations. That is something that has carried on. The uniforms may change, the equipment may change, but the attitude, the heroism, the soldiering and the leadership carry through.”