Twenty-five years ago, two men joined the Army one week apart at different locations. Nineteen years ago, they both became Special Forces sergeants.
Earlier this year, they finished their careers together as brothers-in-arms and leaders in the SF community.
Sgts. Maj. Brian Bushong and Larry Reeb bid farewell to their fellow Green Beret brethren of 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) during a retirement ceremony held Jan. 21 in Panzer Hall.
Maj. Gen. Michael S. Repass, commander, U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne), praised the two warriors for their distinguished service.
“When you joined the Army, you were given a check to serve, to go in harm’s way and to do the nation’s business,” Repass said. “You’ve cashed in with your service and commitment to our nation.”
Bushong, a former anti-tank gunner, decided to become a Special Forces Soldier because he wanted more of a challenge and also because he was inspired by members of his family who served honorably in World War II and the Korean War.
“My father shared his experiences of combat from his time in Korea,” said Bushong. “The heroes who served as part of the ‘Greatest Generation’ were my uncles, and they inspired me.”
Reeb, who described himself as, “nothing more than a poor son of a mountain man from Kentucky,” originally joined the Army as a crew chief on a UH-60 helicopter. In 1987, during a support mission in Beirut, his bird hauled a Special Forces team to a location and he said, “I want to be one of them.
“I could tell they were a tight, focused, camaraderie team and that appealed to me,” he added.
He earned his green beret in 1991 as well, and became a Special Forces communications sergeant.
Both men recalled their many operational contributions to missions all over the world.
Bushong took part in Operation Assured Response in 1996, evacuating nearly 1,000 Americans and embassy personnel from Monrovia, Liberia.
“It was a very hostile environment,” he said. “Normally, we don’t get to do missions for our own people, but having the opportunity to protect our own citizens and protecting their lives meant a lot to me. I still have a sense of satisfaction from what we did.”
Reeb mentioned that the personal highlight of his career was deploying with his company to Afghanistan and returning from deployment with all of his men. Ten of his Soldiers earned Purple Hearts during their tour of duty.
“I went out on every mission with those men,” Reeb said. “As a company sergeant major, I can truly say those men motivated me.”
At the end of the ceremony, both men faced the next generation of warriors who proudly wear the green beret, while listening to the Ballad of the Green Beret echoing throughout the center.
“We all have that certain kind of DNA,” Bushong said of Special Forces Soldiers, with a grin. “It’s no coincidence of who we are and what we do.”