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Uniforms offer glimpse of past fort ceremonies
Sierra Vista Herald/Review ^ | Bill Hess

Posted on 07/20/2007 5:48:10 PM PDT by SandRat

FORT HUACHUCA — In the 1880s, a cavalry troop change-of-command ceremony on Brown Parade Field consisted of many solders on horseback.

The days of horse-mounted soldiers are about gone, except for a few memorial or special units.

So, it was that a small group — less than a squad — took part in the handover of the command of B Troop, 4th U.S. Cavalry Regiment (Memorial) on the parade field Thursday.

Dressed in the blue wool uniforms troopers wore in the late 1880s, at a time when the 4th Cavalry was stationed on the post, honorary Capt. Rodney T. Preuss handed over the memorial cavalry unit to honorary 1st Lt. Jay D. Hizer.

Both men’s actual ranks are chief warrant officers, with Preuss on active duty on the fort and Hizer being retired.

To the regimental colonel, who happens to be Garrison Commander Col. Melissa Sturgeon, B Troop “adds so much to the fort’s history.”

On one side of the historic parade field are the barracks cavalry and infantry soldiers lived in — they are now offices — and from where they would fall out on to the field for reviews and other ceremonies.

Bands would play during ceremonies, as military musical organizations do today.

On Thursday, a lone trumpeter, Staff Sgt. Leonard Fahrni of the Colorado Army National Guard’s 101st Army Band, played the National Anthem. His crisp and clear notes echoed off the surrounding hills.

A math teacher at Metro State College of Denver, Fahrni, whose unit is almost done with its two-week summer training program relieving the fort’s regular musical group, the 36th U.S. Army Band, said he enjoyed the “bouncing back of the notes.”

Sturgeon noted that Brown Parade Field is where the cavalrymen would charge, keeping their skills honed.

At the end of the ceremony, B troopers performed a charge as Fahrni blew charge on his trumpet.

Parts of the 4th Cavalry were first sent to the fort in 1884, about seven years after the post was established. The fort was one of 50 Army installations in the then Territory of Arizona.

It was under Preuss’ leadership for 18 months that B Troop represented the post and the Army, Sturgeon said.

Preuss said that even though a year and half has gone by since he took command, it seems “it was a short time ago.”

He jokingly said that it appears as if one frog said to another, “Time passes when you are having flies.”

The pun elicited laughter, after most of the audience understood the twist on the old cliché of time passing when you are having fun.

After thanking a number of people, Preuss said he wanted to speak some words for his mount — Natchez. The mount suffers from a problem in some of his legs, meaning sometimes Preuss has to use another horse. So, Zeus, Wyatt, Regent and Cochise were thanked by Preuss for allowing him to use them when Natchez wasn’t feeling well.

Preuss said B Troop participated in 95 events during his 18 months in command.

“That’s not bad for a bunch of part timers,” he said.

The unit is made up of volunteers from active duty, retirees, Reserve and National Guard members and Department of Defense civilians and spouses, who are part of the ladies’ auxiliary.

Preuss is a veteran who left the active duty Army and eventually went into the reserve components before volunteering for active duty. He is the operations officer for the Military Intelligence Mobilize-Train-Deploy Battalion on the fort. Preuss served in Vietnam and talked about friends who were killed there. He tied B Troop to those friends, noting an important word in the unit today is “memorial.”

It’s a word that means to remember an event or person, to commemorate them, he said. Remembering the past of B Troop also helps him remember those he served with in Vietnam.

In the cavalry there is a saying about meeting on “fiddler’s green,” where dead troopers and their mounts come together to rest and drink of cool waters away from the heat of battle.

Preuss said cavalry tradition is something important to him to remember as a way to honor those he served with in Vietnam. But don’t think he will be leaving the troop. Giving up the command position means he again becomes a trooper.

And, Hizer, who once was the unit’s commander, has returned to take over the reins — cavalry, of course.He retired from the Army in April 2000 and currently works for the U.S. Army Information Systems Engineering Command on the post.

Hizer’s speech was short, noting what can be said about his resuming command once again is: “Been there, done that and got the T-shirt.”

As his first act as commander, Hizer led the charge mounted on Regent.

Taking the place as one of the troopers was Preuss on Natchez.

herald/Review senior reporter Bill Hess can be reached at 515-4615 or by e-mail at

TOPICS: History; Local News; Military/Veterans
KEYWORDS: ceremonies; glimpse; past; uniforms

Honorary Capt. Rodney T. Preuss is ready to relinquish command of the B Troop 4th U.S. Cavalry Regiment during the change-of-command ceremony at Fort Huachuca. The position will be taken over by Jay D. Hizer, left, a retired chief warrant officer. (Ed Honda-Herald/Review)

1 posted on 07/20/2007 5:48:11 PM PDT by SandRat
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To: SandRat
My alma mater. Good to see they’re still doing this.
2 posted on 07/20/2007 6:15:58 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (Cuius testiculos habeas, habeas cardia et cerebellum)
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