During the darkest part of
the night before the most famed amphibious assault in history, armed only with knives,
their training and their wits, two troopers with the 4th Cavalry Regiment swam
100 meters from their small rubber boat onto one of the St. Marcouf Islands,
just off of Utah Beach in Normandy, France.
Cpl. Harvey Olson, Pvt.
Thomas Killeran and others with the 4th and 24th Cavalry Regiments were among the
very first seaborne American Soldiers on French soil on D-Day. Their mission,
which they successfully carried out, was to mark the island’s beach and detect
any anti-tank or anti-personnel mines before signaling ships from the main
assault force. Olson and Killeran, who each received a Silver Star for their
efforts on D-Day, have since died, though the memory of their achievement is
enshrined in their award citations, as well as the 4th Cavalry Regiment’s
In honor of the operation,
officers and senior noncommissioned officers with the 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry
Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division participated
in a group physical training session July 17 at Fort Riley. Those who
participated seemed to come away with a greater understanding of their unit and
the legacy that represents today.
“Before we took off, we did
a rundown of the history of the St. Marcouf operation from D-Day,” said Capt.
David McCrery, intelligence officer, 5th Sqdn., 4th Cav. Regt. “I think it’s
important for Soldiers now to know what those who came before them in this
regiment have done and work to live up to that tradition.”
Teams of two to three
Soldiers, consisting of command teams, platoon leaders, platoon sergeants,
staff section officers and enlisted leaders, biked about half a mile, before
doing 54 air squats, and then running up and then down a steep incline, doing
54 pushups along the way. The number of squats and pushups were a reminder of
the unit’s nomenclature – 5th Squadron of the 4th Cavalry Regiment.
Finally, the teams reversed
their run, did more air squats and biked to the finish line.
“At first, I didn’t know
what to expect, and I thought it was going to be pretty simple, but it was a
real challenge,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ezra Glover, maintenance platoon sergeant,
Troop D, 5th Sqdn., 4th Cav. Regt., and a Waianae, Hawaii, native. “The hill
was the most challenging part – the key was to make sure you didn’t stop, and
once you reached the crest, just ride (the slope) down.”
McCrery said he created the
event in part to strengthen bonds among the various teams in advance of the
squadron’s departure to take part in a training rotation with a unit from the
Iowa Army National Guard at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, later this month.
“It’s a buildup for the
events to come, with the (training rotation) and the gunnery this fall, and in
the future (National Training Center) rotations,” McCrery said. “It’s one of
the first steps in bringing the leadership together, to have a big competition.”
After the event, Lt. Col. Bradford
DuPlessis, commander, 5th Sqdn., 4th Cav. Regt., spoke about the importance of
variety in physical training and using a range of locations, something with which
“It was a nice change of pace,”
he said. “As a platoon sergeant, I think we’re going to start checking things
like this out, going off Custer Hill more often.”
The winners – 1st Lt. Lee
Silvers and Cpl. Nicolas Poirot, both with Troop B, 5th Sqdn., 4th Cav. Regt.,
will be honored with a plaque to hang in squadron headquarters.