E-News – February 2020

Due to the time-sensitivity of the last-two items, we are sending you our February E-News a little early.

A Note from a Scholarship Recipient

Hello,

My name is Niko Ambrose and I am a senior at Old Dominion University. In the last few years, I have been blessed to have won one of your Blackhorse Association student scholarships to help fund my academic efforts.

I am emailing to express my deepest thanks for selecting me for this award throughout my time at the university. The Blackhorse Association scholarship has been instrumental in removing some of the financial burdens I have faced while in college and it has allowed me to be able to continue my studies as a Civil Engineering major.
Once again, I want to say thank you for your generosity, your time, and your consideration. I cannot begin to explain how great of an impact your contribution to my education has been. I graduated in December of 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering with a concentration in Transportation and a minor in Engineering Management, and that would not have been possible without help from the Blackhorse Association.

Respectfully,

Niko Ambrose

Niko’s father is Samuel Ambrose, who was a Specialist in Sixth Howitzer Section, Warlord Battery, 2/11 from 1988-1991.

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Point Alpha Ceremony

This is a follow-up to the warning order in the January E-News about a ceremony at Point Alpha. The following is a formal invitation from the Point Alpha Foundation.

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Last Border Patrol of the US Armed Forces, the Point Alpha Foundation cordially invites you on Friday, 24 April, 2020 at the Retreat Ceremony at US Camp Point Alpha. The flag ceremony is traditionally held in the morning by cadets from Wiesbaden High School under the direction of SGM Allen Ashton. We expect high-ranking military and political representatives and are looking forward to your participation.

A Request for Assistance

On my last trip to Fulda, (September 2019), I visited with Herr Winifred Jaeger, who is the Director of the small museum at the former Sickels Army Airfield that commemorates the service of the 11th and 14th Cavalry Regiments on the former border. He spoke about his desire to collect short video files of statements from US Army veterans of our two regiments. Basically, he wants a digital short (2 – 3 minutes) video, like from a smart phone, where veterans of the 11th and 14th Cavalry Regiments and/or their spouses or even their (now-grown) children reminiscing of their time on the border.

I think he really would like it if there were some mention in the clip of positive feelings about what the U.S. Army accomplished by holding firm on the border and resolutely preventing the Soviets from expanding their cancerous empire.

Herr Jaeger will preserve these video statements so that visitors in the future will have an idea of what the Cold War was like. I have the distinct feeling from what I saw and heard during my trip that today’s German school children have no idea that their country was once divided into two zones and their young teachers are likewise under- informed.

He says such a video file can be attached to an email and sent directly to him at DAFKS@gmx.de.

Sincerely, Ted Sahlin

Combat Support Squadron, 11 ACR
1985 -1986

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A Note from Ted Raugh to the Association

Please find an enclosed check for $390.46 to be used as the Association sees fit in its Scholarship Fund. The amount represents the 2019 royalties from the sale of the E- book titled Riders of the Storm: Invincibles. I did note an increase in sales following the Association’s E-News alerting members to the book and the fact that proceeds from its sale would be going to the Scholarship Fund. The second book in the series, Riders of the Storm: Death on Your Shoulder, will be coming out soon.

In a previous E-News, Ted promised to donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of his book to the Association, and he has followed through. The book is a fictional account of the Blackhorse in Vietnam. We will post another notice when the second book is published.

Buying this book is a great opportunity to support an Association author and the Association at the same time.

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An Article from the Fulda Zeitung
Translated by Jan Ancker

RASDORF/POINT ALPHA

It is middle of the night, the alarm goes off, the soldiers — all in uniform — jump from their beds and into their boots. In five minutes, they must be ready for combat. The soviet invasion has begun.

This scenario never became reality. But such exercises defined the everyday life of the American soldiers on duty at Point Alpha. One of these soldiers was Vern Croley from Rasdorf.

By staff member Sabine Kohl

Croley, now sixty, is a Georgia born American. After forty years active duty in the US Army, he retired as a Command Sergeant Major. From 1982 to 1985, he was stationed at the American kasern in Fulda, which meant regular rotations of duty at Observation Post Alpha between Rasdorf and Geisa.

“We couldn’t afford any mistakes there, or it was immediately reported back to Fulda,” says Croley.

Enormous Pressure

One could not, for instance, carelessly allow a weapon’s barrel to be directed toward the border — this would have been interpreted by the other side as provocation. Military vehicles could not cross over the infamous “Red Line,” which is still visible at the former military observation point. In a worst case, this could have sparked a Third World War.

“It was constantly hammered into us that up there we lived in constant preparation for a Soviet attack. We were absolutely aware that here we stood at the most forward point, Croley said. “The pressure was enormous, and for this reason the forty or so soldiers there were rotated regularly. Duty at the border usually lasted three weeks, followed by about two months in Fulda.”

Eight hour shifts in the observation tower

“An especially arduous duty during a tour at the border was with the Quick Reaction Force,” Croley said. “They had to be combat ready around the clock because once or twice a day there were readiness alerts. They all had to be combat ready within five minutes. There really wasn’t any down time there.”

Guard tower duty, in contrast, was apportioned in eight-hour shifts. This duty was not always easy either, even though everything was quiet up there. “The tower used to be made of wood, and when the wind blew through its beams, everything swayed,” he recalls.

Despite the strenuous everyday life Croley says, the soldiers, liked duty at Point Alpha. “Because we had a genuine mission here, we were fully mindful of the meaning of our work,” Croley emphasizes. For Croley himself, his tour of duty with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, the so-called Blackhorse Regiment, has had a lasting significance. Engraved on a signet ring, which he received on his promotion to Sergeant Major, is the unit’s crest.

The soldiers didn’t believe the wall would come down

And life at Point Alpha wasn’t all work. The soldiers had a gymnasium and a movie theater. “We saw the latest films, some that others hadn’t seen yet,” Croley recalls of his time on the observations post. “And the provisions were super.” On a regular basis, VIP visitors came to the Observation Point. Croley remembers, such as the elder George Bush, who was at that time Vice President under Ronald Reagan.

As to any notion that the wall could come down, the soldiers didn’t dream of it, Croley recalls. To Croley the fact that it actually happened still seems like a miracle. “We fought so many battles on the map boards, and then the fact that the border fell without one single shot – it’s unbelievable.”

Still in touch today

Croley was not stationed at Point Alpha again after 1989, but resided – as he does today – in Rasdorf with his wife Gertrud, whom he married in 1979, and his children Patrick and Katharina. Prior to 1994, Croley was again stationed in Fulda where he was charged with the closing of numerous American kasernes no longer needed at the end of the cold war.

Until his retirement three years ago, he remained in the US Army, serving in missions worldwide. Still today, he maintains contact with his friends from the Blackhorse Regiment and looks forward to next year’s reunion on the 30th Anniversary of the Last Border Patrol.

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A Note about “Box Tours” with the Blackhorse

The Information Below was copied from the NTC website.

America’s war fighters have been defending our freedoms in Iraq and Afghanistan for more than a decade. Did you know that Afghanistan is just a short 20 minute drive from Fort Irwin? Fort Irwin, located 37 miles northwest of Barstow, CA, is home to the National Training Center (NTC). The NTC is renowned by Soldiers Sailors, Airmen and Marines worldwide for its tough, realistic training, unforgiving terrain, and uncluttered space to hone their warrior skills.

Monthly, visitors can experience firsthand how America’s warriors prepare for deployment. That preparation is done through our Afghan villages and culture, the austere environment, terrorists, insurgents, local populace, tribal/government officials, and the most technologically advanced and elaborate training facilities in the world. The National Training Center’s mission is to provide tough, realistic joint and combined arms training for units prior to their deployment overseas. Every month an Army unit, along with support from the Marines, Air Force, and the Navy, come together at the NTC and conduct their final preparation exercise prior to deployment. During their two week intensive training at Fort Irwin, units prepare for their “worst day ever” in combat. Our focus is for units to prepare here to save lives while deployed. During their training at the NTC, units must interact with Afghan speaking role players, terrorist cells, insurgents, criminal networks, civilian authorities and military forces.

The tour begins at 9:15 a.m. at Painted Rocks and includes an overview by the senior leadership of the installation, question and answer opportunity, a short film, installation tour, MRE lunch, and a trip to the training area, better known as the “Box.” If you’re interested in experiencing how America’s war fighters train before they deploy, book a tour today and bring your camera!

Tours are conducted from 9:15 a.m. till 3:30 p.m. Dates and times are tentative and could change based on our rotational training calendar.

*Reservations are only accepted 30 days before the tour date. Maximum tour group size is 5. You can only book the tour through this website. Registration requests are not accepted through the email address.

2020 Box Tour Schedule

7 Feb will go live on 7 Jan at 0730
6 Mar will go live on 5 Feb at 0730
3 Apr will go live on 2 Mar at 0730

Click here for more info.

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11th ACR Regimental Ball

Date: April 22 at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas
Tickets: $90 per person

The Regiment has reserved 35 slots for Blackhorse Association members and their spouses.

Those interested are asked to submit their information early as it is first come, first served. All names need to be submitted NLT February 7, 2020, and payment must be made prior to the Ball.

A reduced rate at the Rio Hotel is available for attendees of the Ball.

If interested, or if you have any questions, please contact the Regimental Adjutant via personal email or phone listed below:

CPT Dave McKinney
Office: (760)-380-5740
Personal Cell: (757)-903-5369
davidlmckinney18@gmail.com