Steel Tigers 1/77th ARMOR ASSOCIATION


Volume 5
January 2004
Standing Firm Then
Standing Firm Now

Words from our New President…Tim O'Neill:

What came home to me at the reunion in Colorado Springs was a simple idea, but one almost impossible to put across to those who have not shared that time. What we did then determined what we are now. I guess I’ve always known that. I’m not alone. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., looking back as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court on his service in the Civil War, revealed what we all know: We have shared the incommunicable experience of war. The key word is “incommunicable.” Wives and friends who do not share that part of our experience simply cannot grasp what that means.
Looking across thirty-three years (and a lot of later military service), I can see now more clearly than ever the profound effects of my time with Charlie Company – the shaping of my attitudes to duty and friendship, the twist of my sense of humor, even the shape of my dreams. In my conversations with those “mature gentlemen” I met again at the reunion, I know this experience and revelation are not unique.

Across all those years there is as well the common ground shared by soldiers, and this connection was clear and moving as we had the chance to share those few days with representatives of the current 1-77. Wars change, they are waged for different purposes and with different outcomes, but the character of a soldier is a constant. This is an important lesson, and one I propose we make a goal in the coming year – to draw in the active duty members of the 1-77 and form an unbroken line of steel crossing decades. When the regimental system was introduced in the Army, those of us serving had to choose a regiment. My choice was clear, and somewhere back in the upstairs closet is a green blouse with the crest of the Steel Tigers pinned above the pocket. I’m not the first, and will not be the last. We’re all brothers, and recognizing and making formal that brotherhood should be a task close to us all.

We should also help as we can in identifying and bringing together those former members who have so far eluded the dragnet – we need to search our scrapbooks, look at our old letters home, search our memories and fill those vacant crew positions.

Also on the list of things to do: make the next reunion even better than this year’s gathering, with more faces and a continuation of the camaraderie of previous years (plus a little mercy for the spouses – they can’t be blamed for their glazed looks after the nth rendition of that same war story, and would probably benefit from a little less hoo-ah and more activities of their own).

But time is short – less than a year to the next meeting, and quite a lot of work to do. The team has a head start, and I personally look forward to a major reconnaissance in force.
We’re brought together by more than caps and t-shirts. We have shared the incommunicable experience of war, and shared it with far younger men still in uniform, a band of brothers that spans more than thirty years. Let’s bring it together, and keep the column moving.

Blood on the axe!

Tim O’Neill