E-News – August 2019

Blackhorse Association Membership Processing & Management System

The Blackhorse Association is currently updating our membership management, fundraising, and database processes from an archaic and manual process that utilized separately maintained spreadsheets. We are undertaking this work to enhance our ability to more accurately and effectively support our members.

Our volunteer officers and staff operate in a geographically distributed environment and are in need of a robust and effective system that has increased capabilities. The new system will be cloud based, and it will provide a long-needed platform from which to conduct the association’s business.
This transition requires a significant amount of effort by our board and is being led by Bob Hatcher. As part of this effort, we are pausing all membership activities until October 1, 2019; this will permit us to transition to the new platform. During this two- month period, we will not process any new or renewal membership requests. On or before October 1, we will resume processing all membership requests.

We appreciate your patience and support during the next few weeks. If you have any questions, please contact Bob Hatcher at robert.lee.hatcher@gmail.com.

 

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Opportunity to Serve Director of Memberships

The Blackhorse Association has an exciting opportunity for someone to serve as its volunteer Director of Memberships.

If you are interested in serving your association in this role, or in any other capacity, please contact either Pete Bayer at blackhorse61@icloud.com or Bob Hatcher at robert.lee.hatcher@gmail.com.

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Riding with the Blackhorse Border Duty!
By Don Snedeker

1911. In 1911, five years before the pursuit of José Doroteo Arango Arámbula – better known as Pancho Villa – into Mexico, the Blackhorse deployed from Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, to Texas. Enemy irregulars were rumored to be gathering on the other side of the border. This was a known approach route for them; they had used it for their main attack during the last major assault into friendly territory. This border crossing, located about 150 miles southwest of San Antonio, was used in 1836 by General Santa Ana when he and his army moved north for their date with destiny at the Alamo. Seventy-five years later, the Secretary of War ordered one-third of the entire U.S. Army to mobilize north of San Antonio, just in case the insurrection that was brewing ‘south of the border’ spread northward. After being brought to full wartime strength and a month’s worth of training with the new recruits, the 11th Cavalry headed for the Rio Grande. One squadron went to Fort Duncan at Eagle Pass, Texas, while another headed for Nogales, Arizona. What was ground-breaking for this deployment was the role technology played. For the very first time in the history of the United States Army, three Signal Corps ‘wireless’ stations were established at forward operating bases. When the Troopers returned to Fort Duncan, the patrol leader reported the results of their reconnaissance via radio to the headquarters of the Department of Texas in San Antonio. What would have taken a messenger on horseback more than three days’ ride took just a matter of minutes. Also for the first time during an operational deployment, Signal Corps ‘aeroplanes’ were used for carrying messages, delivering emergency supplies of ammunition and medicine, and conducting occasional reconnaissance. While an experienced cavalryman on a strong mount might make 50 miles a day, aviators could average an astonishing 40 miles an hour! Things that Blackhorse Troopers rely upon today to give them the technological edge over increasingly sophisticated adversaries can, in these two cases, be traced back to an earlier generation of 11th Cavalry Troopers ‘on the border’.

1970. In early 1970, the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment had the mission of interdicting the flow of men and supplies crossing the border from Cambodia into South Vietnam. All three squadrons were engaged in Operation Fresh Start. The Blackhorse Troopers were greatly assisted by the employment of B-52 bombers on so-called Arc Light strikes. Colonel (later General) Donn Starry, the 41st Colonel of the Regiment, described the effects of these strikes. He had called for a B-52 strike against a known trail terminus along the Cambodian border. The strike was 45 minutes late, so Blackhorse 6 asked that the target box be moved a few kilometers closer to the Cambodian border. The request was approved. Starry was at the 2nd Squadron command post and watched the strike go in. Upon termination, he flew in his command and control helicopter to the target box. Amidst the broken trees and bomb craters, “there were bicycles and bodies all over the ground,” Starry remembered. They saw two individuals who were alive. One was wandering around amidst the bamboo, alternately plugging his ears and waving his arms. Another guy was leaning against a tree, also plugging his ears. The helicopter couldn’t land, so they sent a recon troop in to do the bomb damage assessment. The survivor in the bamboo turned out to be a lieutenant. “His cage was rattled pretty badly,” Starry recalled, but “he wasn’t wounded.” When the NVA lieutenant was finally able to hear and speak, he told his interrogators that he was in the lead of a medical evacuation party of 50 North Vietnamese Army soldiers. They were using 40 bicycles to carry out wounded when the bombs began to fall. The other survivor was so dazed that he was never able to speak coherently. “That may be the only recorded instance in the whole war when we fired a B-52 at a moving target and hit it.”

1984. (From the Wall Street Journal) “Sgt. Michael Sobczak has been to the American military cemetery at Omaha Beach in Normandy. Walking among those tidy rows of white crosses and marble headstones is a sobering experience — especially if you are assigned in the here and now to the U.S. military detachment at Fulda. ‘You know,’ says Sgt. Sobczak thoughtfully, ‘this place could be a cemetery too, someday, with a white cross for me somewhere.’ This place is the Fulda Gap, a 30-mile stretch of gently rolling German farmland with one disquieting feature: the barbed-wire border separating the two Germanies. Things are quiet here, as they have been for four decades, but even the most unlettered farmhand knows that the wheat fields of Fulda someday could take their place alongside the dunes of Normandy in the history books. The Fulda Gap — along with the northern German plains on the coast of the Baltic Sea — is considered one of the most likely attack points for a Warsaw Pact invasion of Western Europe. About 6,000 cocksure American soldiers are stationed here, 4,000 of them with the gung-ho 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. Their mission, in peacetime, is simple: To patrol a 228-mile section of the East German-West German border. In the event of war, their mission is simple too, and somber: to absorb the initial shock of the Russian attack, and most likely to perish. ‘Our survivability odds? Nil to none,’ says Pvt. Ronald Brown, an ammunition loader aboard an M-1 tank. Pvt. Brown has told his wife about the 11th Cav’s mandate to dig in and slow a Soviet advance, an assignment that is counted in days. ‘But she doesn’t like to talk about it,’ the soldier adds … The I Troop 3rd Squadron has moved its tanks into position along a line of trees on a hillcrest facing East Germany. The soldiers at observation post alpha are pulling out and deploying along the border, peering across with binoculars. Meanwhile, on the other side, East German guards peer back. ‘We’ve got an honest-to-goodness, bad-guy, there-they-are mission,’ says Major Joseph Eszes, the 11th Cav’s executive officer. ‘We see the enemy eyeball to eyeball’ … ‘They’ll be coming right through here,’ says Sgt. Robert Busbee, pointing between a couple of hills that slope into East Germany. The sergeant heads up a platoon of M-1 tanks that have maneuvered into their simulated-combat positions and now have their turrets turned toward East Germany. A 17-year veteran with a booming voice, Sgt. Busbee doesn’t give much thought to what might happen to the 11th Cav in the event of war. ‘We don’t talk about that,’ he says. ‘We’re the Cav. We’re bad.'”

2009. “One of the areas where U.S. forces and the U.S. Embassy are assisting the Iraqis is border enforcement. Last time I mentioned some of the initiatives ongoing to build capacity for Iraq to secure its borders. One very significant initiative is the construction of ‘BorderEnforcementRoads.’ MostofIraq’sbordersareinsomeofthemostinhospitable areas of the Middle East, especially along the border with Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is constructing border roads under the Foreign Military Sales program. These border roads are designed to support border outposts and enable Iraqi Security Forces to move more quickly, safely, and reliably to intercept individuals attempting to gain unauthorized entry into Iraq. This has huge security and economic implications for the country. With Iraqi funding and priority going to the Syrian and Iranian borders first, the Corps expects this $181M dollar project to begin this fall.” (Letter from Major General Guy Swan, III, Chief of Staff, Multi-National Force, Iraq, and 57th Colonel of the Regiment)

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A New Blackhorse Book
“Heroes of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment During the Vietnam War”
By C. Douglas Sterner

The note that follows was provided by Allen Hathaway

Author Doug Sterner served in Vietnam with the 25th ID and runs a website called “Military Times – Hall of Valor”. Over the years I’ve submitted hundreds of general order citations for awards for 11th Cavalry troopers that were researched at the National Archives in College Park. Doug told me he was publishing a book of these citations.

The book is 470 pages and measures 8 1/2″ x 11″ x 1 1/4″ thick. The book contains a history and background of the 11th Cavalry plus 864 citations for Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Soldiers Medal and Legion of Merit awarded to 11th ACR troopers in Vietnam. I supplied all but the LOM citations. There are another nearly 3,000 Bronze Star Medals for Valor and Army Commendation Medals for Valor that we have – equal to another three books!

This is a link to Amazon for his self-published book.

This is not a book that a person would sit and read cover to cover but it’s an excellent reference. It’s good in that it recognized these individuals and their actions, but we all know there were countless heroic actions that occurred every day that went undocumented and unrecognized.

As recognition for the research at the Archives, Doug has dedicated the book to me.

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A Novel of the Regiment in Vietnam
And a Generous Contribution to the Association
A Novel of the Regiment in Vietnam

This new book about the 11th ACR in Vietnam is by Blackhorse Association member Ted Rauh. The cover photo is 2nd Platoon, G Troop, 11th ACR in 1968. You can access this book and Ted’s other novels, known as the “MANipulated” series, at this link on Amazon.

Ted writes: “I have contributed to both 11th ACR Association scholarship funds (including the Blackhorse Association scholarship funds) for years. I am offering both Associations an equal share in the royalties from the sale of this book and the other two that complete the series. My offer is to provide each Association at least $1 per book sold beginning from the date of the book’s publication. I will write each Association a check for its scholarship fund on a quarterly basis beginning in September of 2019. My hope is that your publicity efforts will directly benefit the scholarship fund.”

Ted also provided this synopsis of the book:

It’s fall, 1967, and 2nd Lieutenant Frank Danner is on a plane heading to Vietnam. Having lost his college deferment, Danner enlisted and volunteered for Armor Officers’ Candidate School, mistakenly thinking he would have more control over his situation. As the plane touches down, he feels both excitement and fear, seeing the war as merely the next chapter in his life-a life he hasn’t realized could end at any moment.Less than six hours after landing, Danner arrives at Blackhorse Base Camp and learns he will lead a Platoon of Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicles that is part of G Troop, 2nd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. He’s both proud and chagrined, because the 11th is the most highly sought armored command in the service, and, unlike Danner, its leaders are seasoned, capable professionals. To ride with the Blackhorse is to be part of an elite fighting force and Danner can only begin to glimpse how much he must learn.

By the time Frank has met all the men of 2nd Platoon, he realizes they are older and have more relevant armor cavalry training and experience than he does. They trust and rely on each other and are very skeptical of ‘Newbies’ and especially new officers. At the same time, they all (including ‘newbies’ joining the platoon as veterans go home, are wounded, or killed) have to rely on Frank’s skills and leadership to keep them alive. Frank struggles to satisfy his commanders, learn the job from his Platoon Sergeant and XO, and carry out assigned missions in an environment where one wrong decision can cost mortal injury or death.

Frank learns the balance between accomplishing each mission and protecting and preserving the men in his command. Twenty-four hours a day he rides with the four- man crew in his ACAV and interacts with the other men on the seven other tracks in 2nd Platoon. In spare moments he wrestles with his role to support the human vulnerabilities of his men, and is left with new and unpleasant feelings of inadequacy. Can he create a relationship with men he must send into battle? And should he?

Riders of the Storm: The Invincibles delves into the multi-layered experience of war, beginning with the talisman all young men carry into it-that they are, indeed, invincible. The crucible of daily dangers, separation and estrangement from loved ones at home, and the growing debate over the validity of the war leaves the men of 2nd platoon, call sign Sabre, struggling not to buckle under the weight of their mission and their own sense of mortality. Meanwhile, the North Vietnamese Army maneuvers in the jungle. Often unseen and seemingly free to attack at will. The enemy draws Frank’s platoon north toward Cambodia as North Vietnam sets the stage for one of the 11th Calvary’s greatest tests: The 68 Tet Offensives.

T N Rauh is a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War who served as Platoon Leader, Executive Officer, and acting Troop Commander with G Troop of the 11th Armored Cavalry during the time period this book series takes place. He returned home at the close of 1968 to face the changing views of a divided nation.

The Invincibles is Book 1 in a three-book series that will carry the men of 2nd Platoon through the Tet Offensive and back home to an America that has soured on the war – and on its Vietnam veterans. The second book in the series will be available in late 2019 early 2020, and the third book, the following year.