Story and photos by Capt. Ramee L. Opperude
3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs
25th Infantry Division
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Veterans, families and active duty service members gathered to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the 35th Infantry Regiment “Cacti,” and build lasting relationships between veterans and current Soldier, June 25-July 1.
Months of planning and coordination went into the weeklong schedule of events that began with greeting 19 35th Inf. Regt. veterans with a welcome reception and concluded with a tour of Pearl Harbor.
The week’s events included a pass in review, company changes of command, physical fitness competitions, a commemoration service and the Cacti Centennial Ball.
Each event was carefully planned and coordinated by members of the 2nd Battalion, 35th Inf. Regt., which provided the opportunity to inform veterans of current capabilities of the battalion and commemorate the service of veterans who served in the regiment.
Veterans received sponsors from each company to accompany them to dinner events, tours of the USS Missouri and Arizona Memorials, and a golf scramble.
Peter J. Birrow, Bravo Company, 2-35th Inf. Regt., was drafted as a replacement in 1968 and spent his entire tour in Vietnam.
“To come here to the headquarters and see our living organization is just fantastic. I am just as proud of today’s Cacti as they complement us,” Birrow said.
“I am most excited for three events,” said 1st Lt. Zack Farkas, 2-35th Inf. Regt. “The commemoration ceremony, where we will be dedicating a plaque that was donated by the 35th Infantry Regiment Association to the regiment, commemorating 100 years of service; the Cacti birthday party, where we get to grill out in the quad, relax, and show the families and veterans of Cacti our office space and our equipment; and the 35th Infantry Regiment Association centennial ball, because it should be an amazing evening of celebrations, bringing in 100 years.”
Birrow was enthusiastic about all of the events occurring within the boundaries of C Quad.
“I have heard so much about the quad over the years and I am very excited to participate in them,” Birrow said.
The 100th anniversary of the regiment marks the long lineage of the 35th Inf. Regt., where it was formed at Nogales, Arizona, on July 1, 1916.
The regiment was formed to provide security at the borders in Arizona. At barely a year old, the Regiment became embroiled in its first conflict, the Battle of Ambos Nogales.
The action at Nogales against the Mexican bandits of Poncho Villa led to the unit’s motto of “Take Arms!”
“The purpose of this centennial is for the 35th Infantry Regiment to connect to the heroes of the past,” said Lt. Col John E. Hill, commander, 2-35th Inf. Regt. “The veterans in this audience today, are that direct link to the past, and are the caretakers of our history. It is our responsibility to learn that history in order for us to pass it on to the next generation. This is a once in a lifetime event”.
Farkas, formerly of Co. C, praised the veterans for their actions during the war and upon their return home.
“They came home to people cursing at them and spitting on them, which is deplorable,” Farkas said. “I’m sure the hardships these men endured can never be repaid to them, but I hope this week shows them we appreciate what they did for us, and we will never forget the sacrifices that they made for us.”
“I hope that our current soldiers have a deeper appreciation for our unit history,” Farkas continued. “To have 19 combat veterans from Vietnam visit us from the mainland is truly unique. I’ve had the pleasure of going to a 35th Infantry Regiment Association Reunion, and talking to a former 1st Platoon. Co. C, platoon leader which is amazing. I hope the current soldiers get to link up with someone who served in the same position that they served, during Vietnam. It really gives you a sense of lineage you never realized existed.”
Following a commemoration ceremony, members of Co. C recreated Staff Sgt. Kenneth E. Stumpf’s actions in which he received the Congressional Medal of Honor during Vietnam.
David Hockett a former infantryman once assigned to Co. B, 1-35th Inf. Regt., shared his experiences following the narrated display of heroism.
“I was just to the east of Stumpf’s location and I was getting hit by different kinds of shrapnel,” Hockett said.
He went on to say how appreciative he was to be in the quad for this week’s events and acknowledged the efforts of current Cacti over the last decade of conflicts.
Battalion Chaplain (Capt.) Michael Rumschik concluded the June 28 plaque commemoration ceremony by saying, “Legacy is worth big bucks. The hope of this symbol is that it is a blessing to the rich tradition that is passed down in the Cacti. But also the understanding of how we live today, how we train today, how we fight today that that lineage will live on.”