Once synonymous with Fort Stewart, the "Taro Leaf" will make a comeback of sorts when veterans of the 24th Infantry Division and Desert Storm gather Feb. 24-28 to commemorate the division’s role in the 1991 war to liberate Kuwait.
The taro leaf shoulder patch was worn by 24th ID soldiers, including Francisco Irizarry and Steve Harrington, who together made a trip back to Fort Stewart in 2011 to "pay respects to fallen brethren at the Desert Storm Memorial on post," according to Harrington.
That trip turned into an annual reunion, and in 2016 some 600 veterans of Desert Storm came back to Fort Stewart and Hinesville for the 25th anniversary of Desert Storm.
The reunion is "an event of healing and brotherhood and to ensure that the conflict and names of the fallen were not forgotten" Harrington said in an email.
"While there are many off-post events planned for the 2017 reunion at the Econo Lodge in Hinesville, the main purpose has been and always will be the memorial service, laying of the wreath, and calling out the names of the fallen listed on the memorial," he said, noting that two names previously missing from the memorial will be added this year to bring the total of Desert Storm casualties to 18.
The 24th ID played a major role in the 100-hour ground war known as Operation Desert Storm, and its "left hook" was famed for being the fastest armored cavalry charge since World War II when Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army rumbled across Europe.
Also known as "The Victory Division," the 24th ID destroyed Iraq’s elite Republican Guard.
Veterans will begin checking in Feb. 23, and there are activities scheduled for on post and off.
For more information, check out the 24the ID online at www.desertstorm24id.com or www.facebook.com/groups/24thIDDesertStormReunion