106th Cavalry celebrates a year full of accomplishments Print
News Releases - Military & Veterans News
Written by Staff Sgt. Patrick DeGeorge, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs   
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 11:21

EAST PEORIA, IL (02/24/2014)(readMedia)-- Soldiers and family members of the 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry Regiment (2-106th) gathered for the seventh annual cavalry ball at the Riverfront Conference Center in East Peoria, Ill., Feb. 22.

The evening began when the Draper Armor Leadership Award was presented to Troop B, 2-106th in Dixon, Ill., an award given to top cavalry units in the nation. Capt. Michael R. Kowalski of Chicago Heights, Ill., Troop B commander, retired 1st Sgt. Eric L. Brown of Dixon, Ill., former Troop B first sergeant and 1st Sgt. Kevin T. Guyot of Lindenhurst, Ill., current Troop B first sergeant, received the award on behalf of the troop.

"The Draper, as a troop award, really embodies how far we've come as a two-time deployed cavalry unit," Kowalski said. "This is a pretty big deal with the other brigades we were competing against."

Lt. Col. Wickliffe P. Draper established the award in 1924 as a means to competitively test the leadership of small cavalry units. Only armor companies and cavalry troops are eligible to receive the Draper Award.

"The unit has earned it," said Brown. "This troop has a history of camaraderie. A history of always working together. That is why they earned it."

Following the Draper Award presentation, retired Master Sgt. Allen J. Lynch of Gurnee, Ill., who received the Medal of Honor for actions while assigned to Company D, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment in Vietnam Dec. 15, 1967, spoke to the squadron.

"It's great to be back with the cavalry," Lynch told the troopers. "It's nice to see all those Stetsons (the ceremonial headwear of the cavalry) in the audience."

Lynch spoke about the importance of training at all levels.

"When I got in my first firefight and my M-16 jammed, I don't remember fixing it," he said. "We had been so well trained at that point, I just fixed it without thinking."

Lynch also told the troopers never to allow one mistake to dictate a Soldier's career. He recalled an experience where one of his own Soldiers made a tragic mistake that cost the life of a close friend.

"After that, nobody wanted anything to do with John," said Lynch. "He had to earn his way back to being with us."

Lynch said when he left Vietnam, John had learned from his mistake and had been made a squad leader.

After his speech, Lynch was presented with a cavalry saber and plaque by Lt. Col. Mark Alessia of Sherman, Ill., the 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry Regiment commander.

"I wish I could ride a horse with this right now," Lynch said while holding the saber over his head.

Later in the evening Ashley Roux, Troop B family readiness group president, was inducted into the order of Saint Joan D' Arc for exceptional volunteerism to promote the moral and spirit of the cavalry.

The night concluded with seven Soldiers inducted into the order of Saint George. The order was established in 1986 to recognize the very best tankers and cavalrymen.

Those inducted into the order of Saint George included Staff Sgt. Travis Ellefritz of Pekin, Ill., a squad leader with Troop B; Staff Sgt. Kyle Bishop of Cherry Valley, Ill., Troop B readiness noncommissioned officer; Sgt. 1st Class Zachary MacGrath of Clinton, Ill., the former Troop B readiness noncommissioned officer; 1st Sgt. Eric Achuff of Kewanee, Ill., the Headquarters and Headquarters Troop (HHT), 2-106th first sergeant; 2nd Lt. William Leak of Normal, Ill., a platoon leader with Troop A, 2-106th; 1st Lt. Brad Yakle of Washington, Ill., a staff officer with HHT, 2-106th; and Capt. Michael Kowalski of Chicago Heights, Ill., Troop B commander.

After the order of Saint George was concluded, 1st Sgt. David Ziolkowski of New Lenox, Ill., Troop C, 2-106th first sergeant, was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for more than 21 years of meritorious service to both the 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment and 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry Regiment.

Once the formal ceremony concluded, the troopers and their families enjoyed a night of socializing and reminiscing.


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