News: Historic charter signing unites 10th Mountain Division cavalry units
Story by Capt. Michael Greenberger
FORT DRUM, N.Y. – Dozens of Stetson-clad troopers gathered Jan. 27 at the Commons on Fort Drum to celebrate cavalry tradition, spirit and camaraderie and to write another chapter in the history of the 10th Mountain Division (LI).
For the first time ever, three cavalry regiments serving the 10th Mountain Division – the 71st, 89th and 6th – have come together to form the Order of the Mountain Cavalry, a professional organization dedicated to sharing tactics, techniques, procedures, and esprit de corps. Commanders and command sergeants major from across these regiments marked the occasion by signing a charter, codifying the union.
"We're hoping to bring the cavalry organizations of the 10th Mountain Division closer together so we can share esprit de corps being cavalrymen in a light infantry organization," said Lt. Col. David Sanders III, commander of 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment. "Cavalrymen in all great organizations should come together to share the tactics and techniques that make us unique as cavalry troopers."
Traditionally, cavalry units focus on reconnaissance and providing the commander with information – the eyes and ears of combat commanders. Cavalry units emphasize their tenacity, flexibility, agility and ability to get things done as part of their core values.
According to Maj. Todd Clark, 1-89 Cavalry executive officer, the Order of the Mountain Cavalry mimics the informal way that cavalry units fight in battle.
"You always coordinate with adjacent units," Clark said. "It's through that coordination you enhance your mission accomplishment capabilities. We all have the same mission – the same lineage. This new organization unites all the cavalrymen in the 10th Mountain Division so we can share stories and maintain a strong brotherhood."
The cavalry also fights as a combined-arms team; represented among the regiments were aviators from the 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment.
"As aviators, we exist to support the guy on the ground," said Lt. Col. Christopher Downey, 6-6 cavalry commander. "So we're proud to be part of this fraternity. When you shake another cavalryman's hand, it's like you've known him forever."
The shared identity of being an American cavalryman runs strong among these organizations. Troopers past and present embrace each other in recognition of the shared spirit, sacrifice and esprit de corps these unique individuals possess.
"Esprit de corps makes up the heart of the cavalry," Clark said. "No matter where you go, when you meet another cavalryman you automatically have a connection with them."
The Mountain Cavalry charter mandates that if two or more of the squadrons in the order are in the same operating environment, they are bound to come together to share the fraternity of the cavalry. The 1-89 Cavalry "Wolverines" plan to link up with the 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, during their upcoming rotation to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La.
The 1st Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, and 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, round out the division’s complement of cavalry troopers in both mounted and dismounted roles.
One story shared this evening, discovered by 1st Lt. Rob Thering, 1-89 Cavalry's former adjutant, told of what could be the last recorded horse-mounted cavalry charge, which took place in northern Italy during the 5th Army's Po Valley River Offensive during World War II in the spring of 1945.
"We believe that the final mounted cavalry charge was conducted by scouts of the 10th Mountain Division," Sanders exclaimed. "On horseback, guns blazing, they charged machine-gun emplaced Germans and took that position. We're basing some of our pride on that, as well as the history of the 10th Mountain Division."
Serving as the honorary senior NCO was Fort Drum's Garrison Command Sgt. Maj Mark Oldroyd, who spent a great deal of his time in service in cavalry units.
"This gives us a chance as cavalrymen to contribute to how we can train better, sharpen our skills and look left and right for people that can service as trainer-mentors for each other," Oldroyd said. "It doesn't matter what walk of life, what [military occupational specialty], where you come from. Cavalry isn't a branch. It's a mindset, and it stays with you forever and unites us all."
The honorary commander attending the signing, retired Lt. Col. Brian Serota, former commander of the 6-6 Cavalry "Six-Shooters," echoed what was to be a long-standing theme of this and many other cavalry get-togethers by simply stating, "Once CAV, always CAV...it's like a family."