Blackhorse E-News – January, 2013

Troopers Down

Colonel Monsignor Francis Walter Montondon – 1931-2012

Col. Msgr. Francis Walter Montondon, 81, of Port Arthur, Texas, passed away on Sunday, 9 December, 2012 at Rose House in Port Arthur. The dual titles reflected the reality of Msgr. Montondon’s life. He was a Roman Catholic priest appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as Prelate of Honor to His Holiness with the right to the title of Reverend Monsignor. For 23 of his 52 years as a priest, Msgr. Montondon was a military chaplain. He served in the Army, rising to the rank of colonel. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam and was awarded the Soldier’s Medal and the Bronze Star with one Oak Leaf Cluster. He was also stationed in Germany for two tours and served his last four years of active duty at Fort Myer in Arlington, Va.

He was ordained 31 May, 1957 by Bishop W. J. Nold of The Galveston-Houston Diocese and served in the Galveston-Houston diocese from 1957-66. From 1966-2012, he served under the Beaumont diocese. During his years as a priest in Southeast Texas, he served at St. Pius X, Beaumont, and St. Charles Borromeo, Nederland. At the age of 35, he sought and obtained permission from the Bishop to join the Army.

In lieu of flowers, please make memorial contributions to Catholic Charities of The Diocese of Beaumont or to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Following is the citation for his Soldier’s Medal, earned while serving with 3/11 ACR in Vietnam:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 2, 1926, takes pleasure in presenting the Soldier’s Medal to Captain F. Walter Montondon, United States Army, for heroism not involving actual conflict with an armed enemy on 25 January 1971 while serving with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3d Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, in the Republic of Vietnam. On this date a 55-gallon drum of gasoline spilled, spreading to a burning block of explosive matter and thus ignited. The blaze then spread to two nearby trailers, one of which contained explosives and ammunition. The ammunition began to burn and explode, endangering the lives of all individuals within the immediate area. Observing this, Chaplain Montondon moved to the scene of the blaze and personally removed the burning ammunition trailer from the area. He then returned and removed the other burning trailer from the populated area of the perimeter. After accomplishing this he then turned his attention to the burning ammunition trailer. Ignoring the exploding ammunition, and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, Chaplain Montondon climbed into it and began to shovel dirt on the blaze. Noticing a burning case of explosive matter he quickly removed it from the trailer. He then observed an individual wandering dazedly about the danger area. Ignoring his own safety once again, Chaplain Montondon ran to the man and pulled him to safety just as an explosion occurred. Through his swift and decisive actions, Chaplain Montondon averted a near disaster by removing a threat to the lives and safety of all individuals in the area. Chaplain (Captain) Montondon’s actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.

Cornelius "Neil" L. Gray, 88, Major (retired), U.S. Army, died Friday, 28 December, 2012 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Troy, New York. Neil enlisted in the U.S. Army in December 1942 and was assigned to duty in India in 1943 and recruited by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). He parachuted behind enemy lines where he operated with the resistance forces in Burma until the end of World War II in 1945. He was recalled to active duty with the U.S. Army for Korea in May of 1951 and assigned to the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corp. at Ft. Holabird, Md. He was transferred to Japan as an intelligence agent and later to the 7th Infantry Division where he served until the end of hostilities in Korea. He continued to serve in classified intelligence assignments in the U.S., Far East and Europe until he was assigned to command the 541st. Military Intelligence Department, of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, serving in Vietnam & Cambodia from 1966 to 1967. He was a life member of the 11th ACVVC. After retirement he was employed by the Atomic Energy Commission and later by General Dynamics in the Navy’s Nuclear Propulsion Program. He was a charter member of the North Albany American Legion and was the 2nd Commander. Neil received three Bronze Stars for valor in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, as well as numerous medals, commendations and citations. In 1998, Neil was inducted into the Air Commando’s Hall of Fame in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, c/o North Albany American Legion, 31 North First Street, Albany, NY 12204.

Ivan Trifon, Major (retired), passed on 12 Dec, 2012 at Houston Hospice after a long fight with cancer. He served with the Blackhorse in Vietnam and retired from the 75th MAC. He was a past member of the Armored Cavalry Regiment Exercise Group-07F of the 75th USA Maneuver Area Command. He attended the BHA Houston/SE Texas Chapter Meetings from time to time. He also attended the 2010 Reunion in Houston.


57th Colonel of the Blackhorse to AUSA

LTG (ret.) Guy C. Swan, III, 57th Colonel of the 11th ACR has taken over the job of Vice President for Education of the Association of the United States Army, replacing LTG (ret.) Ted Stroup.


Houston Chapter Meeting

The Houston/SE Texas Chapter of the Blackhorse Association will hold its quarterly meeting on Monday, 28 January 2013. The meeting will be held at Goode Co Texas Bar-B-Q, 8911 Katy Freeway (I -10 West), Houston, Texas 77024 (Tel 713-464-1901). Plan to arrive NLT 6:30 pm, go thru the serving line to get and pay for your Bar-B-Q, and then go upstairs to our meeting area in the balcony above. The meeting starts at 7pm and ends around 9pm.

Come join fellow Blackhorse Troopers at our Quarterly Meeting featuring a surprise Guest Speaker, John Poindexter, presenting and describing his A Troop and the enemy’s actions in South Vietnam in 1970 during what became known as "The Anonymous Battle." Copies of his paperback book will be available at the meeting. There will also be a raffle of 11th ACR memorabilia – this time a pair of silver cavalry spurs. Additionally, as always, good Cavalry camaraderie will abound at our meeting! In the past, we have had former troopers of the 11th ACR meet someone at the meeting that they served with long ago, but had lost contact with over the years. It could be you this time! Bring your spouse…bring your guests!

Officer elections for the next 2-year term will be held at this meeting. Nominations are due in to our Chapter Secretary Dennis Kelly/Amy Carr via e-mail by NLT 7 January, 2013. Officer’s terms are for two years. Dennis Kelly and Amy Carr have agreed to continue through the next 2 year term as the Chapter Secretary and David Gallman has agreed to stay on as the Chapter Treasurer.

Chapter Meetings are held quarterly on the fourth Monday of January, April and October. July is open.


The 1901 Club

Dear Troopers and Friends of the Blackhorse,

The 1901 Club – named for the year the 11th Cavalry Regiment was constituted and organized – is our primary fundraising tool for all operations of the Association. This effort needs your participation – it is absolutely critical to our continued success. Currently, about 500 members of our total 19,100 members financially support the Association. Our goal is to have 1900 members (10%) participate in the 1901 Club with a $100 annual contribution. We can take our Association to levels not thought possible with small donations from many of you. If you like the direction of your Association, join in now and help us ensure we will be here for succeeding Blackhorse generations.

Our annual operating expenses include printing of our Blackhorse Newsletter published twice each year, maintaining a web presence and a monthly E-News email program, postage, and essential administrative and statutory filing costs—the latter to protect our 501(C)3 non-profit, charitable status with the IRS. When donations exceed operational needs, monies can be transferred to the scholarship account.

If you would like to participate in the 1901 club, please send donations to the address below.

Allons! and Blackhorse Forever!

Don Wicks, Dir. of Fundraising

1807 Hunt Avenue

Richland, WA 99352-2645


Request for Items for Silent Auction

The Association is looking for good Blackhorse mementos, or cavalry mementos, or other neat "things" to auction off with proceeds going to our scholarship fund. Please contact Rondo Jackson, the silent auction coordinator, at 270-242-2833 if you have a contribution – you may either send it to him in advance of the reunion or bring it with you, but we would like to know in advance that you are bringing an item. This is important to our fundraising activities. Please take some time and look through your souvenirs for those items that could help the Association’s fundraising.


Blackhorse NCO and Soldier of the Quarter

The Blackhorse Association (BHA) supports the Regiment’s Soldier and NCO of the Quarter Recognition Program through the award of BHA Windbreakers. A BHA Certificate of Recognition is also signed by the association’s President and sent with the Windbreakers for presentation to the awardees at Ft. Irwin. The BHA also supports the regiment’s Awards Program for the Annual Soldier and NCO of the Year through the award of Windbreakers and memberships in the BHA. The 3rd Quarter awardees are:

NCO of the Quarter: Sergeant Shantel D. Mayo, Operations NCOIC, Maintenance Troop, Regimental Support Squadron, 11th ACR

Sergeant Mayo is from Corona, California. She has been in the Army since enlisting in 2007. She is a 91G, Fire Control Repairer. Her first assignment was with the 514th Maintenance Company, Fort Drum, New York. In 2009 she deployed to Iraq where she repaired over 6,000 weapons in support of the 402nd Army Field Support Brigade, and she also found time to earn her EMT license. Upon return, she was assigned to the 699th Maintenance Company at Fort Irwin and graduated from the Warriors Leaders Course. She was transferred to the Regimental Support Squadron in 2011. She has two children: son Matthew, 16; and daughter Leilanie, 8.

Soldier of the Quarter, Specialist Damien Wagner, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Squadron, 11th ACR

Specialist Wagner is from Aurora, Nebraska. He enlisted in the Army in 2010, when he became a combat medic. He is currently the senior line medic in G Troop, 2/11. He is currently enrolled in American Military University where he is working towards his Associates degree in General Studies. He is married to Taimel Wager. The have a daughter, Allyson Marie.


Reminder – Louisville Reunion

11th Armored Cavalry Regiment’s Blackhorse Association will hold its annual Blackhorse Family reunion in Louisville, KY, 30 May to 2 June 2013. Hosted by the Association’s Gold Vault Chapter, the reunion is open to all past and present troopers who served with the Regiment, the Regimental Community and all separate units who supported the Regiment.

The reunion will be held at the Hyatt Regency Louisville, 311 S. 4th Street, Louisville, KY. The hotel has just completed a $5.8M renovation; and it has great new facilities, a downtown location near the river, and excellent restaurants. Rooms have been set aside for reunion attendees at a special negotiated rate of $115 per night. Parking in downtown Louisville can be difficult and expensive, but we have negotiated a $10 per day rate in a city parking garage adjacent to the hotel. Attendees are encouraged to make plans early. For electronic reservations at the Hyatt Regency Louisville, go to the special website they have set up for us at or call 800-233-1234 (be sure to tell them you are attending the Blackhorse reunion). For additional lodging options, go to Tentative reunion agenda:

Thursday, May 30: Registration/Hospitality Room/Silent Auction (8am – 5pm)

Golf Tournament (afternoon)

Blackhorse Store Open

Sightseeing on your own

Evening activities on your own

Friday, May 31: Registration/Hospitality Room/Silent Auction (8am – 5pm)

Blackhorse Store Open


Visit to the Regiment’s Monument near Fort Knox/Memorial Service

Sightseeing on your own

Stable Your Mount – casual evening social (6pm – 9pm)

Saturday, June 1: Registration/Hospitality Room/Silent Auction (8am – 3pm)

Blackhorse Store Open

Business meeting (9am – 11am); Memorial service (11am – 12 noon)

Sightseeing on your own

Cocktails/banquet (6pm – 10pm)

Sunday, June 2: Church services (est-9am)


Registration fee is $95 for adults and $30 for children 12 and under who do not attend the banquet. This fee covers reunion mementos, hors d’oeuvres at the Friday evening Stable Your Mount social, the Saturday banquet with wine, and other reunion costs. Please complete the attached registration form and make checks payable to "Thomas Smart (Blackhorse Reunion)". Attendee transportation, including airfare, rental car, and lodging must be organized separately. For more information, see and; or contact one of the following Reunion Committee members: Tom Smart at (703) 973-3703,; Glenn Snodgrass at (703) 250-3064,; or Wes Walters at (571) 276-9471,


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