"It feels like they care and haven't forgotten," said Cpl. Andrew Hawkins, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.
Hawkins, a Purple Heart recipient, took part in the Oct. 22 Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard Purple Heart horseback ride for "Black Lions" Soldiers who were wounded during the battalion's deployment to Afghanistan in 2012.
The ride, commonly known as a staff ride, is a cavalry tradition and is usually conducted by officers and senior enlisted personnel.
First Sgt. Brandon McGuire, senior enlisted adviser, CGMCG, said he wanted the participants to unwind and free their minds.
"For two hours today, these guys are not going to worry about anything in their life except what that horse is going to do and being safe," McGuire said.
McGuire said he had a personal connection to these Soldiers. He deployed with them before assuming his position at the CGMCG.
The event's coordinator, Capt. Tim Shepherd, chaplain, 1st Bn., 28th Inf. Regt., said it was good to see the Soldiers enjoying themselves. He served as the battalion chaplain during the deployment and was responsible for providing spiritual aid and comfort to the Soldiers.
"I was fortunate enough to be with these guys out there when we were in East Paktika province, (Afghanistan)," he said. "I was in the aid station when a couple of them came in."
Shepherd said the ride was more than an opportunity to have fun.
"It's another way to recognize their service and sacrifice," he said.
The Soldiers were taken on a two-hour tour of historic Fort Riley and given a presentation by the CGMCG about the history of Fort Riley.
"I'm glad to see these younger Soldiers getting recognized for the things they did on this deployment," said Sgt. 1st Class Richard Hancock, 1st Bn., 28th Inf. Regt.
Hancock also received a Purple Heart, but he said he doesn't need the recognition.
"This is for the young guys," Hancock said. "I'm not a limelight kind of guy."
For the Soldiers on the ride, it was about gathering with their friends.
"I think it's great just getting everybody back together again," Hawkins said. "It was a good time."