Cacti warrior returns after half a century

| July 11, 2014 | 1 Comment
Alan Stelzer examines a weapon during his visit to a company arms room. Stelzer visited with Soldiers from the 2-35th Inf. Regt., 3rd BCT, 25th ID, at “Cacti Headquarters,” June 25. (Photo by Capt. Ramee Opperude, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

Alan Stelzer examines a weapon during his visit to a company arms room. Stelzer visited with Soldiers from the 2-35th Inf. Regt., 3rd BCT, 25th ID, at “Cacti Headquarters,” June 25. (Photo by Capt. Ramee Opperude,
2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment,
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

Story and photo by Capt. Ramee Opperude
2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — The year was 1965 when Alan P. Stelzer first arrived at Quad C.

Stelzer was a college student and recent draftee with no knowledge of the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, “Cacti,” 25th Infantry Division.

As a noncommissioned officer in the mortar section of Company B, he would soon find himself an integral role-player in training Soldiers and executing the mission in Vietnam.

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Alan Stelzer (left) receives a brief overview of the current 81mm mortar system from 1st Lt. Kris Thodos (far right), mortar platoon leader, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Inf. Division, at Cacti Headquarters, here, June 25. (Photo by Capt. Ramee Opperude, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Alan Stelzer (left) receives a brief overview of the current 81mm mortar system from 1st Lt. Kris Thodos (far right), mortar platoon leader, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Inf. Division, at Cacti Headquarters, here, June 25. (Photo by Capt. Ramee Opperude, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment,
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division)

Fast forward almost 50 years. Stelzer recently returned to visit Cacti headquarters and Schofield’s training areas, bringing back memories of his time spent on the island and the esprit de corps he shared with his fellow infantrymen during those pivotal, unforgettable years.

1st Lt. Loren Bell, along with other Soldiers from 2014’s Co. B, were Stelzer’s guides for visits to 2-35th Inf. Regt., the Tropic Lightning Museum and the Kolekole Pass.

The trip up Kolekole Pass brought back memories of Friday morning runs for
Stelzer.

“On select occasions, the run was optional, and you were given the remainder of the day off after you completed the run,” said Stelzer. “That was the incentive.”

At first glance, Quad C remains aesthetically unchanged since Stelzer departed in 1967. However, within the barracks’ façade, Stelzer immediately noticed the updated living conditions.

When asked about other notable changes since the time he was stationed at Schofield Barracks, Stelzer praised Cacti’s improved dining facility and advancements in mortar technology.

Later, during a question and answer session with Soldiers, he compared the mortar system he used during Vietnam to the mortar system of today. The Soldiers listened intently at the contrast between combat now and then.

Though the Tropic Lighting Division legacy (and that of Cacti) only grew stronger over the intervening years, some things remain unchanged. Stelzer’s takeaway was that 2-35th’s leaders continue to be of the highest caliber. The training environment is unrivaled, and a sense of brotherhood is fostered here that stands the test of time.

Seltzer continues his support for the armed forces through his active roles with the 35th Inf. Regt. Association and the U.S. Navy League, Pasadena, California.

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Category: News, Training

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  1. Terry Reed says:

    Great article. As close as I have come to the Battle Group Cacti of 58-59. Servered in Mortar Battery, 35th Inf Cacti. Our weapon was the 4.2 mortar. Yes, we even marched in Hawaii’s statehood parade. Very proud unit,

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