Author: Steve Traywick
So, another Veteran’s Day is upon us. August was the ninety-ninth anniversary of the opening shots of World War I, a war that became so horrific that the world could not even
imagine it. Veteran’s Day was instituted to remember the men that fought and died in that war.
After the guns fell silent in Europe, the world was certain that there would not…could not be another war as horrific as the one just ended. Had someone stood up and announced that not only was the World War the opening round of another even worse World War and that it would carry on for nearly fifty years I’m pretty sure they would have been promptly locked away. But, that’s exactly what it was, the opening round of an even worse war.
When the First World War ended, world leaders could not make a decent peace. Then they
didn’t have the moral fortitude to enforce the peace that they did make and again the world exploded into World War II. Again, millions died. And again, a bad peace was hammered out. Two super powers were left standing facing each other. Posturing and blustering, each did everything short of another full blown world war to bring the other down. The Cold War was the third chapter of a century of war.
It was during this period that most of today’s veterans stepped up to serve. There are a comparative few warriors left from World War Two but we lose more every day. It’s the same with veterans from the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. Before long, it will be my generation’s turn to exit this life except for our faint footprints on history’s pages.
I can’t speak about the other services; The Navy, the Marines or the Air Force, except to poke the occasional joke at them. I can’t even speak about the other branches of the Army except the one I served in…The Armor Corps. They were all I knew of the military and I can’t not talk
about them. They brought me from being a dumbassed kid with no self-esteem and little common sense to manhood.
The officers and NCOs of the Armor Corps showed me that I could be good at something, even excel if I wanted to. They gave me a sense of place. I became part of an organization much larger than myself. I became part of a unit and the unit became part of me. All that was required of me was to be the best I could be at what I did within the unit and to pass my knowledge to the kids coming up behind me so the unit could live on.
The units do live on although many have been deactivated in the name of budget cuts and cost efficiency. They live on in the hearts and minds of the men that rode Heavy Metal. The Pentagon can pack away the unit standards and send the tanks to the bottom of the ocean to become reefs so environmentalists feel warm and fuzzy, but they can’t take away the memories. The Armor Corps will live on in the hearts and memories of thousands of tankers.
We don’t want or care about the nation’s gratitude on Veteran’s Day. For us, it’s enough to know that we have the respect and brotherhood of other DATs. It’s enough that we love and respect each other. After all, we only did our jobs.
[Editor’s Note: Steve Traywick was born in Union City, Tennessee on April 11, 1958 but grew up in Houston, Texas. Steve went into the Army in June 1979 as a 19E10 (M60A3) Tank Crewman. He arrived in Fulda FRG, Germany in November 1979. Strategically important during the Cold War because it was an area where tanks could invade, The Fulda Gap is situated between what used to be the East German border and Frankfurt. Steve was assigned to B Trp 1/11 ACR and served there until January 1984 when he was transferred to A Co 2/8 Cav, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood. Steve continued his service with the 1st Cavalry Division until he left the service in 1989.]