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Tough 'Ombres Meet Their Past
by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gary Hawkins - April 26, 2013

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FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. - Vernon Schmidt, a World War II 90th Infantry Division Tough 'Ombre soldier met with some current-day Tough 'Ombre (TO) soldiers from the 90th Sustainment Brigade during a training exercise at Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif., March 21, 2013.

Members of the 90th Sustainment Brigade, "Tough ’Ombres," North Little Rock, Ark., share training experiences with Mr. Vernon Schmidt, former Tough ’Ombre and World War II veteran on March 21, 2013. While the 90th SB was on a training exercise at Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif., Schmidt and his wife Dona visited with them and shared many combat experience stories and how significant the 90th ID was during World War I and World War II. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Corey Beal)
Members of the 90th Sustainment Brigade, "Tough 'Ombres," North Little Rock, Ark., share training experiences with Mr. Vernon Schmidt, former Tough 'Ombre and World War II veteran on March 21, 2013. While the 90th SB was on a training exercise at Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif., Schmidt and his wife Dona visited with them and shared many combat experience stories and how significant the 90th ID was during World War I and World War II. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Corey Beal)

Schmidt and his wife, Dona, gladly accepted an invitation from Col. David M. Hammonds, commander of the 90th SB, North Little Rock, Ark., to observe training along with the opportunity to visit the newest generation of TO soldiers. Schmidt was able to meet them and also got a chance to explain some of the special lineage that comes along with wearing the TO patch.

“I was so impressed with the performance and professionalism of today's training that it was just unbelievable,” said Schmidt. “It brought me a great deal of pride as I witnessed them training on the same dirt I trained on 69 years ago and was able to tell them some of my experiences.”

Schmidt captured the awe and imagination of some young 90th SB soldiers by sharing some stories from his World War II European combat experiences.

One soldier, Sgt. Tiffany Mays, a member of the 90th SB Support Operations section, explained that some details were so vivid she could almost hear the fighting.

“I can't explain how he brought some of his history to life for me, it was so detailed and incredible” said Mays. “I felt like I was there while he was telling us, that I just needed the sounds of battle field to complete it.”

Some 90th SB soldiers were unacquainted with just how deep the history of the TO legacy is and just how far back the patch goes. After meeting with Schmidt, Spc. Chelsi West, 90th SB Judge Advocate General section team member, was able to more fully appreciate her new-found understanding and pride through a World War II veteran like Schmidt.

“I was not aware of how much they sacrificed and how difficult it was for them,” said West. “It was a huge honor to meet and listen to the stories that helped create what we have today.”

“I was so overwhelmed at first just listening that I really had no idea it was that special,” said Pfc. Tee Mackey, Support Operations section member. “I really appreciate our unit more now that I know some of the history behind it from a person that actually experienced it.”

The meeting between this generation and the previous generation of Tough 'Ombre soldiers may have been brief, but it helped these young soldiers meet actual living history from their own past.

Some were left in awe at how much some Tough 'Ombre veterans from World War II endured while creating and carrying on the legacy from the World War I veterans before them. They now have a better understanding that they are the newest generation that will carry the Tough 'Ombre legacy forward and be able to help instill a sense of pride and professionalism to the next generation of soldiers known as the “Tough 'Ombres.”

By U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gary Hawkins
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2013

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