January 26, Shreveport, Louisiana-

Members of the Louisiana National Guard 2-108th Cavalry Squadron came together to celebrate their accomplishments, recognize excellence, and honor their fallen at a banquet in downtown Shreveport.

The 2-108th is a combat unit, more accustomed to kevlar helmets and mud than dress uniforms and dinner parties. Despite this, the squadron cleaned up nicely and went to great lengths to make the evening unforgettable; especially for the young troopers who were recognized for outstanding performance and warrior abilities.

In front of friends, family, and their fellow troopers, several soldiers received awards such as the Order of Saint George, The Nobel Patron of Armor, the Shield of Sparta, the Order of Saint Christopher and The NCO of the Year Award. Each award has a specific meaning, and the soldiers of the 2-108th take great pride in receiving them.

LTC Jeremy Cook knights this year’s recipients of the Order of Saint George, the Patron Saint of Armor. [From left to right kneeling/standing: 1LT Jeff Davis and SSG Jason Robinson]. In 1986 the United States Armor Association began an awards program to honor the very best of America’s tankers and troopers. The Unites States Armor Association recognizes its finest tankers and cavalrymen. The Bronze medallion recognizes the top tier of our very best officers and noncommissioned officers with the rank of SFC and above. In 2008, the United States Cavalry & Armor Association introduced the Black Medallion of the Order of Saint George to recognize cavalry and armor junior officers and enlisted Soldiers.

LTC Jeremy Cook and CSM Trinity Edwards present this year’s recipient with the Ordnance Order of Samual Sharpe Medallion. [Center: SFC Allen Thomas] The Ordnance Order of Samuel Sharpe is to recognize those individuals who have served the United States Army Ordnance Corps with demonstrated integrity, moral character, and professional competence over a sustained period of time. And whose selfless contributions to the Corps stand out in the eyes of theirs seniors, peers, and subordinates alike.

LTC Jeremy Cook and CSM Trinity Edwards present The Non Commissioned Officer of the Year with a Model 1860 Saber to SGT Jonathon Braggs, The saber is in honor of the history of the Cavalrymen.

LTC Jeremy Cook and CSM Trinity Edwards present this Year’s recipient of the Armor and Cavalry Leadership Award to 1SG Michael Barrett. Established in 1924, the Armor and Cavalry Leadership Award recognizes those outstanding Armor and Cavalry leaders who have demonstrated remarkable initiative and exceptional fortitude in the area of doctrine, tactics, training, and mentorship. Their exemplary service ensures Armor and Cavalry will forever remain the “Combat Arm of Decision.” This Award is given to Armor and Cavalry Unit Commanders and 1SGs for both Active Component and National Guard.

Just like their coveted silver spurs, no award is just handed out- they all have been earned.

The unit also took time to honor their fallen. The 2-108th has made two deployments to the middle east, one to Iraq in 2005 and another in 2010. Both deployments were part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and many of the soldiers in attendance wore the Iraq campaign ribbon or the combat action badge. On each deployment, the 2-108th has gone into harm’s way.

The unit took time to honor their fallen.

The Iraq Campaign Medal, awarded to service members who fought in Iraq from 2003 to 2011.

Colonel William T. Rachal, commander of the 256th Brigade Combat Team- the unit the 2-108th deploys with- was the guest speaker. Colonel Rachal previously served as the commanding officer for the 2-108th and recalled his time with the unit fondly.

The 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Commander, Colonel William Rachal, delivers his remarks as the Guest Speaker of the 10th Annual 2-108th Cavalry Ball.

It wasn’t just the soldiers who were recognized; several of the trooper’s family members also received recognition. “The people we leave back home [when we deploy] are just as much a part of this organization as we are,” said one Senior Noncommissioned Officer.

The 2nd Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment Commander and Command Sergeant Major (LTC Jeremy Cook and CSM Trinity Edwards) present the Family Readiness Group Leaders and members a plaque of appreciation. [FRG Leaders and Members from left to right: Melissa Hogue (Headquarters and Headquarters Troop FRG Leader), Mary Ann Pickering (B Troop FRG Leader, Erin Wells (C Troop FRG Co-Leader, Megan Davis (B Troop FRG Co-Leader), and Beth Wilkerson (A Troop FRG Leader)]

Lieutenant Colonel Jeremy Cook, the commanding officer of the 2-108th, spoke at the end of the ceremony. He praised the work the unit did in 2017 but reminded his soldiers that the year ahead will bring new challenges and trials. The unit will begin intense training over the next 24 months to prepare for their “ready year” which may see the 2-108th once again deployed overseas. In the meantime, the 2-108th must remain vigilant to deploy within Louisana in case of natural disasters or civil emergencies.