by Gavin McILvenna (1997-98), SHGTUS President
It been six months since I became the President, and it’s been even faster paced that I imagined it would be. I set many goals for 2017 back in January for the Board of Directors (BoD), and you will soon get a brief update on where we stand and what we need to do to complete those goals. I hope that you have been getting more of an information flow from the BoD, the projects we are working on, and the daily operations of the Society. My phone and email is always available to any member, so keep reaching out to me with your questions, concerns, and ideas.
I was shocked to receive the news that Neale Cosby had passed away, and for many days at a loss for words as I tried to comprehend the immense loss. I returned to Virginia and represented the Society, but more importantly to be with the family during this difficult time. Dot, Cam, Scott, and the entire Cosby family were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from his brother and sister Tomb Guards. While there I learned even more about a man who inspired, mentored, and motivated me.
Neale faithfully served this nation for 30 years in uniform, and 20 more with the Institute for Defense Analyses. Neale didn’t have an “I love me wall” and kept those many mementoes of his service in an Army issue wooden foot locker. It was only after the memorial service that I learned his call sign on his second tour in Vietnam in 1971 as commander of the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division: “Bald Eagle”. If I had known this years ago…
While I was back in Washington DC for Neale’s memorial service, I had the opportunity to be present for the last walk of SSG Dallas Kempo (2015-17). While there I spoke with COL Jason Garkey, the Regimental Commander (RCO), and he mentioned that he is working within the regiment to ensure that its unique histories and traditions are passed on to the newest member. Growing up in the Airborne Corps of the Army, I found that the unit’s traditions I was assigned to have endured since 1940, and are passed down with vigor to the youngest paratrooper. Keeping traditions alive helps younger Soldiers understand the grander meaning of the regiment that they serve in.
My personal regiment is the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment and I still remember learning about the battles, deeds, and traditions including learning how to describe our unit crest down to every detail. How many of you can say the same about The Old Guard regiment? No matter how long you were a Tomb Guard, at one point you were assigned to a company within the Regiment before volunteering for the TUS. Whether you served in another unit in the Army or not, this is your regiment. While my home regiment does not have an association like The Old Guard Association (TOGA) or the Society, I will forever follow and honor its traditions. Having said that, I do feel a strong sense of unity with The Old Guard, and I think we can help the RCO in restoring and reviving the history and individual traditions of the companies that make this unit so great.
The RCO is planning two special events in 2018 and is reaching out to ensure that Tomb Guards of all generations will have the opportunity to once again stand with our Regiment. In April 2018, the Regiment will re-enact an important part of our regimental history during the 70th Anniversary of the activation ceremony at the United States Capitol. Later in the year will be a formal Regimental Ball open to all generations. Knowing that the RCO doesn’t miss any details, the Regimental Ball will be over the top, and the place to be before our Reunion in November. More information will be coming down from the RCO and TOGA, and I hope to see you at both.
Many thanks to everybody who stepped up to help remember our fallen brothers over the past quarter, and to the Associate and family members who are taking a more active role in the Society. Thank you!
As always, keep safe and try to link up with a Tomb Guard in your area for a coffee, beer, or a picture sometime!