News: Former Army ceremonial horse completes first patrol in Arizona
Story by Jeffrey Landenberger
YUMA, Ariz. - A horse deemed too short for an Army ceremonial unit at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, is settling into his new career in Arizona after Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services helped get him there.
Tommy was turned in to DLA Disposition Services at San Antonio by the Army’s caisson section there. Although the soldiers in the section liked Tommy, the horse was shorter than the other horses in the unit, which uses its horses for funerals and other ceremonies.
DLA Disposition Services listed Tommy on its website, and it did not take long for the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office to snap him up. The office has had a horseback posse since 1948. Tommy arrived in Yuma in December.
His rider, Chief Deputy Maj. Leon Wilmot, has trained with him almost every weekend since then. Typically, Tommy trained with three or four other horses, but in early April, he participated in his first formal posse training with a group of 12 horses. Wilmot said Tommy fit right in.
Wilmot said he was a little leery of a free horse he found online. But after a little investigating, he contacted the caisson unit at Fort Sam Houston.
“Once I talked with the handlers and understood what kind of training he had, as far as doing ceremonial work, which the posse also participates in for [a] law enforcement memorial every year, I figured he would be perfect for our work down here in Yuma,” Wilmot said.
Tommy’s first patrol was at the Yuma County Fair in early April. The posse patrolled the parking lots there. Wilmot said the patrols dramatically reduce vehicle burglaries and other offenses that take place in parking lots. He said Tommy did a great job, interacted with the crowd, and allowed children to come up to him.
With his first patrol behind him, Tommy’s training will now focus on other aspects of the posse’s mission, like searching for missing people in the Arizona desert and supporting crowd-control efforts.
Wilmot explained what Tommy’s first training event after the fair was like.
“We did a lot of sensory training with waving flags, going around a truck with lights and siren going off, around road flares, walking over a blue tarp on the ground, kids waving pool noodles at him, [and] spraying them with silly string while riding by. He did great and is a real quick learner.”