'Return to Tiger Land' attracts Army Veterans to Fort Polk

'Return to Tiger Land' attracts Army Veterans to Fort Polk

Ft. Polk, LA - On the Fort Polk Army Post, the 162nd Infantry- known as the 'Tiger Brigade'- hosted the first ever 'Return to Tiger Land' on Saturday, allowing veterans and their families to be reunited to a post they once called home.

"The significance of today is that we're bringing them back here to Tiger Land to see what it's like in 2012" said Ft. Polk Commander, Matt McKenna.

Fort Polk is rich in history- having been the post that trained the most combat infantry men in America and shipping them to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War- the same time the post became known as 'Tiger Land'.

"Tiger Land is tied to the history of the Louisiana Tigers all the way from the Civil War" said McKenna.

Long after the War in Iraq, Ft. Polk was presented with a different mission than in years past.  The mission shifted from total combat training to leadership and advisory training with the goal of helping security forces in Afghanistan become self sufficient.

"In the 1960's we trained combat infantry men to fight and win in Vietnam... In 2012 we're training combat advisors to make sure the Afghan national security forces fight and win in Afghanistan" McKenna said.

During the 'Return to Tiger Land', veterans and their families were able to see- first hand- staged combat and rescue training, changing combat vehicles and some equipment used by the tiger brigade.

"Each generation, there is a world of difference in the change of vehicles, weapons, aircraft and training methods and it's just amazing to see how things do change" said Army Veteran and Sulphur resident, Steve Flenniken.

For some veterans, the event marked the first time they've been back to Ft. Polk since training.  They said the event served as the perfect homecoming.

"I'm very humbled for getting the opportunity to come back after so many years" said Army Veteran Edward Holmes.

And for another Army Veteran and Sulphur resident, Pat Stanley, returning to Tiger Land was an act bigger than himself.

"It's me coming here to represent all those others who live in other parts of the country who have probably never been back to Louisiana but they still hold in their memory Ft. Polk, Louisiana and Tiger Land" Stanley said.

The 'Tiger Brigade hopes to make the 'Return to Tiger Land' an annual event.

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