KEMPNER — There may be an previous saying, “As soon as a soldier, all the time a soldier.”
Retired U.S. Army Regimental Command Sgt. Maj. Harvey Reed in all probability epitomizes that sentiment in addition to any navy veteran.
Now 80 years previous, the daddy of 4, grandfather of 9 and great-grandfather of three, who has been married to spouse, Joan, for 25 years, is an everyday customer to Fort Hood and its historic third Cavalry Regiment, the place he’s honorary command sergeant main and has a classroom named in his honor because the unit’s seventh command sergeant main.
Reed served seven years of his 26-year profession with the famed regiment that dates again to Could 1846 and retired from the unit in December 1985 when it was stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso.
If it have been as much as him, his remaining breath can be in a navy uniform.
“If I may put the uniform on and go to fight tomorrow, I’d do it,” Reed stated, not too long ago, sitting on the entrance porch of his dwelling in Kempner, about 15 miles west of the publish. “I’d not hesitate.
“Each time I move on, I wish to move on in entrance of a formation, or alongside a few troopers. I simply love the Army.”
Reed was born in Bedford, Pa., not lengthy earlier than the U.S. entered World Warfare II. He was despatched to foster care when he was seven years previous and remained there till he graduated highschool in 1959 and joined the Army.
It was not a contented childhood.
“Let’s simply say I used to be handled very badly,” Reed stated.
“My foster dwelling was on a giant farm, and so at seven years previous, I began milking cows. Once I left the farm, I used to be milking 130 cows twice a day – me and one other man. We had these computerized milkers you placed on them. As soon as within the morning and as soon as within the night.
“I left there and joined the Army as quickly as I may. I received bored with the way in which I used to be handled on that farm.”
Fundamental coaching was at Fort Jackson, S.C., and Reed thrived in his new surroundings. In truth, he was head of the category.
“I did wonderful. I received alongside actual effectively with everyone.
“I used to be sort of robust and muscular then, and I may do something the troopers did down there. I received the best rating on the PT (bodily coaching) check, and so I had breakfast served to me in mattress by the child who received the bottom rating.”
After primary, he received on a bus and headed as much as Fort Knox, Ky., for AIT (superior particular person coaching), the place he skilled as a tanker after which headed off to Germany for a two-year keep starting in January 1960. Again then, the journey was by boat and it took 9 days to get there.
He served in a tank unit in Germany, then got here again to the states and Fort Stewart, Ga., an task he didn’t significantly get pleasure from.
“It was actually unhealthy,” Reed stated. “They known as it Camp Swampy — nonetheless do.”
For a change of surroundings, he went to Ranger Faculty after which was despatched again to Germany, the place he was a employees sergeant and tank commander. Sooner or later, there was a memorable coaching train.
“We have been alleged to take this hill,” he stated. “I bear in mind I used to be standing up within the turret, and I had a brand-new lieutenant that was assigned to the unit, and he was answerable for my platoon.
“A platoon has 5 tanks. I had three of ‘em and the lieutenant had two. We have been going to assault this hill. I used to be approach out within the open and I known as again for smoke. The lieutenant comes on the air and says, ‘No, I don’t need smoke on the hill. Overlook it. Don’t name for smoke once more.’
“I stated, ‘I would like smoke, if I’m going to assault that hill.’
“Just some minutes later, we heard this helicopter come throughout the highest of our tanks. It landed within the area. My name signal was 2-4. I heard, ‘2-4. Come to my location.’ It was the deputy commanding normal.
“I went all the way down to his helicopter, and he stated, ‘You’re solely an E-6?’
“I stated, ‘Sure, sir.’
“He stated, ‘As of proper now, you might be an E-7.’ He made me a sergeant top notch proper on the spot. And he stated, ‘By the way in which, ship that lieutenant down right here to me — together with his bag.’”
After that tour, Reed got here again to Fort Knox, the place he was a drill sergeant coaching troopers who have been on their option to Vietnam.
He had by no means been in fight and since he was answerable for younger males who have been on their option to conflict, Harvey figured he wanted to get some first-hand expertise.
“I began happening to the personnel heart saying, ‘I wish to go to Vietnam.’ I couldn’t inform these troopers something about Vietnam. All I may do was practice them to be prepared, however I had by no means been there.
“This WAC (Girls’s Army Corps) feminine soldier was behind the desk, and it occurred to be Joan, my now spouse. She lastly received me on orders, and so I went to Vietnam from late 1969 via most of 1970.”
Reed was critically injured in fight when he bailed out of a helicopter earlier than it crashed after the pilot was shot. He shattered his left heel bone and was taken first to Camp Zama in Japan after which on to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.
Earlier than he left Vietnam, he was awarded a Soldier’s Medal, the best honor a soldier can obtain for an act of valor in a non-combat state of affairs.
“I saved the lives of 4 Vietnamese troopers,” Reed stated. “A captain who was answerable for me on the time put me in for the Medal of Honor, however I didn’t get it as a result of we weren’t underneath fireplace on the time. We weren’t taking fireplace, so that they downgraded it to the Soldier’s Medal … which is gorgeous.”
His different decorations embody the Legion of Benefit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Good Conduct Medal (eighth Award) and the Fight Infantryman’s Badge. He was awarded the Order of St. George, Silver Medallion in June 2012.
After recovering from his foot damage, Reed headed again to Fort Knox, and wound up turning into senior enlisted aide for the commanding normal, an task that fast-tracked his profession:
“That’s what received me transferring quick within the Army. It actually helped me out. I made command sergeant main in 18 years. A lot of the guys who made it received there in 23 years at the moment.”
When he retired, Reed opened a silkscreen enterprise in El Paso, making T-shirts and caps for troopers and navy models all through the nation and components of Europe. He additionally volunteered with the Little one Disaster Heart and El Paso Heart for Youngsters, and served as president of the Millennium Optimist Membership.
Reed was by no means stationed at Fort Hood, however got here right here after his beloved third Cavalry Regiment was transferred to central Texas. He has lived in Kempner for 12 years now.
Along with being honorary command sergeant main, he was director of the third U.S. Cavalry Affiliation for 11 years, however relinquished that obligation final June.
Now, together with being a fixture across the navy publish and visiting frequently with the troops, Reed is a greeter at Pidcoke Baptist Church and serves on the church council and constructing committee, the place he helped with building of a brand new sanctuary.
He appears to be like again on his navy service with nice delight and says the Army will all the time have a particular place in his coronary heart.
“There’s little question,” he stated. “In all probability the explanation I did so effectively is as a result of I used to be handled so badly once I was rising up.
“I feel I used to be in a position to overcome all that as a result of I didn’t wish to be like him (the farm proprietor). I didn’t wish to deal with anyone else the way in which I used to be handled.”