By Senator Wayne Allard, June 01, 2004
Mr. President, I rise today
to commend the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment for its
long-history of service to our nation and for its more
recent heroic accomplishments in Iraq.
Last week, I
had the opportunity to attend a welcome home ceremony
for the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Carson,
Colorado. Unlike most welcome home ceremonies, this
one was steeped in tradition.
Few units in the U.S. Army
can claim as distinguished history as the 3rd Armored
Cavalry. And, even fewer have had so many of its soldiers
awarded medals for valor on the battlefield. The 3rd
Armored Cavalry's service to our country did not begin
in Iraq, or during World II. Indeed, not even in the
past century. Rather, it began on May 19, 1846 by an
Act of the 29th Congress of the United States. On that
date, Congress authorized the creation of a regiment
of mounted riflemen for the purpose of establishing
military stations on the route to Oregon. Unbeknownst
to Congress, this Regiment would go far beyond this
limited mission in its service to our country.
after its creation, in 1847, the 3rd Armored Cavalry
Regiment, then called the Mounted Riflemen, was sent
into battle in the Mexican-American War. Leading
the assault on the fortress of Chapultepec (Cha-pool-tee-peck),
a key citadel outside Mexico City, Mounted Riflemen
charged through heavy cannon fire to seize the
castle and capture an enemy artillery battery.
in the war, the Mounted Riflemen were sent to capture
another enemy artillery battery halfway to the
Belen Gate outside Mexico city, and then on to capture
a third battery in the assault on the gate itself.
It was extraordinarily successful in all three assaults.
General Winfield Scott, the Commander of U.S. forces
during the Mexican War, was so impressed with the
bravery and toughness of the Mounted Riflemen that
he gave this commendation:
Rifles, veterans - you have been baptized in fire and blood and come out
with steel. Where bloody work was to be done, "the Rifles" was the cry, and
there they were. All speak of them in terms of praise and admiration. What
can I say? What shall I say? Language cannot express my feelings of gratitude
for your gallant conduct in this terrible conflict..."
Due to the bravery
of their service, eleven troopers were commissioned from
the enlisted ranks and nineteen officers received brevet
promotions for gallantry in action.
At the time of
the start of the Civil War, the First Regiment of
Mounted Riflemen was redesignated as the 3rd U.S. Cavalry
Regiment. During the war, the 3rd Cavalry Regiment
fought at the battle of Chattanooga, and in minor battles
in New Mexico, Alabama, Tennessee, and Arkansas. During
the campaign in New Mexico, the 3rd Cavalry Regiment
fought alongside the 1st Colorado Infantry Regiment,
and Colonel "Kit" Carson, who commanded the 1st New Mexico
Following the Civil War, the
3rd Cavalry Regiment was sent to the American West
to the fight in the Indian Wars. The experiences of
the Indian Wars were traumatic and brutal for the troopers
of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, but they continued on.
During the largest battle of the Indian Wars, the Regiment
again distinguished itself. Four 3rd Cavalry troopers
received the Medal of Honor for their heroism during
In 1898, the Regiment's mettle
was again tested in the Spanish-American War. The 3rd
Cavalry regiment, along with five other regular U.S.
Cavalry regiments, was given the nearly impossible
mission of assaulting the hills surrounding San Juan
in Cuba. In the dismounted attack, the 3rd Cavalry
Regiment's U.S. flag was the first to be raised on
the point of victory.
With the turn of the century,
armies began to turn to mechanized warfare. It wasn't
until World War II, however, that the 3rd Cavalry
Regiment was reorganized and redesignated as the 3rd
Armored Group and sent to the European theater.
troopers of the 3rd Cavalry Group became the spearhead
of General Patton's drive across German-held France.
In fact, because this unit was everywhere and nowhere
at the same time, it was nick-named the "Ghosts" by the Germans. And, on
November 17, 1944, the 3rd Cavalry Group became the first element of Patton's
army to enter Germany.
At the war's end, the unit
received high praise from its commanding general. General
Patton commented with these words:
Cavalry has lived up to the accolade bestowed upon it at Chapultepec (Cha-pool-tee-peck)
by General Scott. As horse cavalry you were outstanding; I have never seen
a better regiment. To your performance as mechanized cavalry, the same applies.
It is a distinct honor to have commanded an army in which the 3rd Cavalry
During the Persian Gulf War
in 1991, the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment again distinguished
itself on the field of battle. On February 22, 1991,
the Regiment led the U.S. forces across the
Iraqi border. 100 hours later, the regiment had moved
over 300 kilometers north and left the remnants of
three Iraqi Republican Guard Divisions in its wake.
The purpose of reviewing the
storied past of one of Army's most famed units is for
each of us to understand just how important it was
to these troopers that they live up to the unit's reputation
in battle during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
conflicts, Operation Iraqi Freedom was, for the 3rd
Armored Cavalry, a battle of a different kind.
It was for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.
It was securing the peace and preventing terrorist
attacks. It was for rebuilding a nation devastated
by war, brutality, and corruption.
The Regiment was
responsible for controlling about a third of Iraq,
including the hostile cities of Ramadi and Fallujah
and Iraq's western borders with Saudi Arabia, Jordan,
and Syria. Yet, the troopers performed their mission
with excellence. They were determined in the face
of opposition. They overcame unforeseen challenges.
They worked as never before.
They also cared deeply
about the Iraqi people. In one case, the regiment
helped three rural villages in rebuilding their decimated
communities. The troopers worked alongside families
repaired and reconstructed facilities damaged and
neglected for 30 years under the former regime. Schools,
medical clinics and houses were rebuilt so that children
could return to school and health care could be provided
In other cities, troopers
from the regiment helped build sewer and water projects,
rebuild schools, and provide clothes, blankets, and
food to needy adults and children.
These are only a
few examples of the outstanding work these troopers
did in Iraq. And, now, as these troopers reflect
upon their service, they can say with pride that they
accomplished their mission and made a difference in
the lives of the Iraqi people.
However, their service did
not come without a high cost.
Private First Class Armando
Soriano joined the Army so that he could help his
parents, who had immigrated to the United
States in the 1980s. His goal was to save enough
money to buy his parents and his four siblings a house.
Yet, it was his love for his
comrades that made him stand out, and as a result,
he became one of the best young soldiers in the 3rd
Armored Cavalry. At 5 feet 6 inches, PFC Soriano weighed
barely more than the 100-pound artillery shells he
hefted as part of his job driving a 155 mm cannon through
But that didn't stop him.
He was faster than any of his comrades in lifting these
He was known in the unit
as a soldier who would do anything for his fellow troopers.
He was always positive and kept everyone going despite
the tough conditions. His fellow soldiers described
him as "simply the best".
Private First Class
Armando Soriano died on February 2, 2004 in truck accident
Brian Penisten, one of the unit's best mechanics,
loved fishing, fixing cars
and woodworking. He was a devoted family man with
a four-year old son.
And, he was proud that he got to wear the uniform
of the United States Army.
"He could make us look forward to doing our jobs every
day," according to one of his fellow soldiers. "He would be the one to make
us shine and laugh and cry and everything else."
"He was always doing something
to make things better," said another.
Specialist Brian Penisten
home for his wedding to his long-time girlfriend when
helicopter was shot down on November 2 by a guerrilla
the city of Fallujah.
He was buried on the day he
was supposed to be married.
Mr. President, these are
only two stories of the 49 soldiers from Colorado
that have died while serving our nation in Iraq. And,
another 233 were wounded.
Despite the high cost, the
3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment embraced their mission
and worked each and every day to better the lives
of the Iraqi people.
Troopers like Sergeant First
Class Dean Lockhart have continued to demonstrate a
devotion to the Army and our country despite the high
price he has had to pay.
On July 23, Sergeant Lockhart
was manning his Humvee machine gun when a roadside
bomb demolished his Humvee. Shrapnel from the bomb
pierced his back, shattering his pelvis and leg.
After numerous surgeries and endless days of pain,
Sergeant Lockhart is back in Colorado recovering
from his injuries.
Despite the physical and psychological
toll, Sergeant Lockhart has not given up. He still
wants to spend seven more years in the Army and
he still believes in the U.S. mission in Iraq. He doesn't
blame anyone for his injuries and has no regrets.
If his unit was back in Iraq, he would return in
a moment's notice.
Mr. President, I cannot begin
to express to you and to the rest of my colleagues
how thankful I am for the service these brave men and
women from the 3rd Armored Cavalry have given to our
country. Over 400 of these troopers earned medals of
valor, including 200 purple hearts. They sacrificed
much, but they never gave up. They accomplished their
mission, fought with dignity and honor, and continued
the heroic legacy of the 3rd Armored Cavalry. Last
week, I watched in amazement as the troopers of the
3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment were told that they had
both literally and figuratively earned their spurs.
Each of them are now allowed to wear those spurs in
public in recognition of the unit's historic past,
and more importantly, in appreciation for the unit's
heroic service to our country in Iraq.
Mr. President, these are fine
troopers who deserve our honor, our praise, and our
admiration. I commend the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment
for its for its service to our nation, and I and rest
of the State of Colorado welcome them home.
I yield the floor.