E-News — March 2024

Troopers Down

A Blackhorse Hero Passes

From the Weirton Daily Times — February 23, 2024

John C. “Doc” Bahnsen

 

ROCHELLE, Ga. — The nation lost one of its most highly decorated combat veterans Wednesday with the death of U.S. Army Brig. Gen. (Ret.) John C. “Doc” Bahnsen, who rode helicopters with his troops into battle in the jungles of southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.

He was 89.

Bahnsen died of natural causes with his wife and family members present in a home he recently had built on the ancestral family farm in agricultural southeast Georgia. He had returned to residence in his native state after 26 years of living at the family farm of his wife, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Peggy Miller, in New Cumberland.

“West Virginia has lost a true American hero,” said state Sen. Ryan Weld, R-Brooke. “Doc Bahnsen was one of the most decorated officers in the history of the United States Army — and if you read about his service during the Vietnam War, you will understand why. I have had the privilege of calling Doc a friend over the last few years, and as a legislator I’ve always tried to live up to his motto of ‘fight fiercely.’ I will miss my talks with him tremendously, and my thoughts go out to Peggy and his entire family.”

Doc had remained deeply involved with military issues and leaders following his retirement in 1986. He actively spoke and wrote on warfare tactics and on issues such as using U.S. military forces in undeclared foreign wars with no clear mission goal or “end game.” He spent much of his retirement personally helping individual veterans receive benefits and honors due them.
Bahnsen served under the then-Col. George S. Patton, commander of 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. Patton called him “the best, most highly motivated and professionally competent leader I have served with in 23 years of service, to include the Korean War and two tours in Vietnam. He is one of those rare professionals who truly enjoys fighting, taking risks and sparring with a wily foe. He is utterly fearless and because of this, demands the same from his unit.”

In a 2021 news article, Bahnsen related that Patton saw his regiment’s mission as “find the bastards and pile-on,” meaning to locate and engage the enemy with a scouting force, then escalate with regimental resources.

Bahnsen’s job was the “find” part. “I was good at it,” he said. “That was a unique job and what Patton wanted him for,” Peggy Bahnsen explained.

Bahnsen believed that fighting to win is “the way Americans are supposed to fight a war . . . the whole idea of going to war, if you’re a commander, is to save the lives of your soldiers and destroy the enemy force.”

During his first tour of duty in Vietnam in 1965-66, Bahnsen commanded the “Bandits” helicopter gunship platoon at Bien Hoa. Most of his 18 decorations for valor came in his second tour, in 1968-69, when as a major he commanded an air cavalry troop, including a 40-man rifle platoon, observation helicopters and gunships. He fought in more than 300 engagements and had several helicopters shot out from under him.

In a 2007 interview, Bahnsen said, “My only regret is about the 44 soldiers killed under my command. Every single loss is a tragedy for the military and the family.” He has been vocal that politicians who have no family members serving in the military are much too eager to send U.S. service members into danger.
Patton, son of the legendary Patton of WWII fame, was a lifelong friend of Bahnsen. So was Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, a West Point classmate who wrote the foreword to Bahnsen’s 2007 co-authored autobiography, American Warrior: A Combat Memoir of Vietnam, called one of the best combat accounts of that war.

Doc Bahnsen’s commendations include the Distinguished Service Cross, five Silver Stars, four Legions of Merit, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, four Bronze Stars (three with a V for valor), two Purple Hearts and 51 Air Medals. He was inducted into the Army Aviation Hall of Fame, the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame and was invited to and honored by the U.S. Air Force Staff College Gathering of Eagles. Maintaining a continuous relationship with West Point over the years, Bahnsen was named a 2016 Distinguished Graduate of West Point.

“Our Army is still today liberally sprinkled with graduates who were inspired by him to a lifetime of service,” stated former West Point Superintendent and retired Lt. Gen. Dave Palmer, a classmate of Bahnsen’s Class of 1956.

A mark of the esteem in which he was held by many of those who served under him is that two of his Vietnam helicopter pilots, CW4 Earl Moore and CW5 James Noe, traveled to Georgia during his terminal illness and spent weeks assisting his wife and family members in his personal care.

“Brig. General Doc Bahnsen was a true American hero living in the Northern Panhandle. Beyond his truly decorated military career, Doc was a beloved and well-known active member of the Republican party and helped many candidates with our elections,” said state Sen. Laura Wakim Chapman, R-Ohio. “I first met Doc and his wife Peggy two decades ago when I volunteered my time as a camp counselor for Camp Lincoln. This camp invites West Virginia children from the entire state to participate in a mock political process. Doc was instrumental in helping children understand and appreciate how important policy is to our daily lives. I will never forget the kindness and great insight, advice, and assistance Doc and his wife Peggy provided me. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. He will be greatly missed.”

Three children, daughter LeeAnne and sons Jimi and Chris, and their families, reside in Georgia. Another son, Minh, and family members reside in Los Angeles.

At Doc’s request, he is to be cremated and his ashes buried in an Army ammo box on the Georgia farm. There will be memorial celebrations in Georgia and West Virginia.

Memorial Services and Burial: April 20, 2024 at The Bahnsen Farm, 440 McWhorter Rd., Rochelle, Georgia.

Attendance: Open to Public Dress: Appropriate

Note: Another memorial service will be held in New Cumberland, West Virginia on May 4, 2024. This service will also be open to the public. More info will be posted when it’s received.

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Michael Edwin Gunn. It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Michael Edwin Gunn of Arabi, Louisiana, who passed away on January 31, 2024, at the age of 74, leaving to mourn family and friends. Family and friends can send flowers and condolences in memory of Mike. Leave a sympathy message to the family on Mike’s memorial page to pay him a last tribute.

Mike proudly served his country in Howitzer Battery, 3rd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (the Legendary Blackhorse Regiment) in the Vietnam War in 1970 – 1971. He was a Life Member of the 11th ACVVC.

Mike was a regular at 11th ACVVC reunions and hosted many reunions at his home. He was kind, generous, and well liked.

Rest in peace Mike.

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Robert Taylor Rodgers

 

Robert Taylor Rodgers, 76, passed away on January 17, 2024. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Robert was born in Macon, Georgia to the late William Emory and Nadine Anne Greer Rodgers. He proudly served his country in Air Cavalry Troop, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (the Legendary Blackhorse Regiment) in the Vietnam War in 1968 – 1969.

Robert was a member of the United Church of God. He enjoyed reading, history, music, and playing chess. He was a devoted and loving father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother and uncle.

He is survived by his children William “Will” (Tammy) Rodgers of St. Pauls, NC and India (Justin) Harrell of Eastman; grandchildren Alexis Raffield, Kaylee Harrell, and Jessica Green; great-grandchildren Alexander Williams and Gabriella Green; brothers Jim (Margaret) Rodgers and Bill (Lynn) Rodgers; niece Kelly Moody; and nephew Billy Rodgers.

Rest in peace Robert.

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Marion L. “Marty” Silvernail,

Marion L. “Marty” Silvernail, of Arvada, Colorado passed away December 26, 2023. He was born August 26,1948.

He proudly served his country in S-2, TOC, Headquarters Troop, Regimental Headquarters, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (the Legendary Blackhorse Regiment) in the Vietnam War in 1969 – 1970.

He was a Life Member of the 11th ACVVC.

He was interred at Fort Logan National Cemetery, Denver, Colorado. Rest in peace Marty.

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Dennis P. Tonkovich of Belleview, Florida passed away December 29, 2023. He was born June 6, 1946.

He proudly served his country in Headquarters, Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (the Legendary Blackhorse Regiment) in the Vietnam War in 1968 – 1969. He was a Life Member of the 11th ACVVC.

Rest in peace Dennis.

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Nicholas Raymond Palmarozzo,

 

Nicholas Raymond Palmarozzo, 78, passed away on January 16, 2024 from illnesses related to his exposure to Agent Orange.

A memorial service was held on January 21 with visitation at the family’s residence. The funeral service took place on January 22 at Grace Lutheran Church of Mastic Beach, located at 240 Mastic Rd, Mastic Beach, NY. Following the funeral service, the committal with US Army Honors was at Calverton National Cemetery.

Nicholas proudly served his country in A Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (the Legendary Blackhorse Regiment) in the Vietnam War in 1966 – 1967. He was a Life Member of the 11th ACVVC.

In order to honor Nicholas’ memory, donations can be made to Long Island State Veterans Home.

Rest in peace Nicholas.

Celebrating the Regiment’s 123rd Birthday!

On February 2, 2024 at Arlington National Cemetery, Colonel Timothy Ferguson and Command Sergeant Major Christopher Shaiko led a detachment from Fort Irwin to place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in honor of our Regiment’s 123rd Birthday. A very large thank you to Colonel Ferguson and the Regiment’s leadership for taking the time to make this event so meaningful.

LTG (Ret.) Guy Swan, Regimental CSM Christopher Shaiko, Regimental Commander COL Timothy Ferguson, and SMA (Ret.) Ken Preston.

 

LTG (Ret.) Guy Swan, Regimental CSM Christopher Shaiko, Regimental Commander COL Timothy Ferguson, and SMA (Ret.) Ken Preston.

Celebrating the Regiment’s 123rd Birthday

 

Celebrating the Regiment’s 123rd Birthday

Request for Assistance

Hi Folks,

On April 2, 2024, I will have the honor of being a guardian for my dad, David F. Kravick, as he participates in the Badger Honor Flight to Washington DC. He will see for the first time some of the memorials built to honor him and our country’s other men and women from all branches of the United States Armed Forces.

My dad was awarded a Purple Heart due to injuries he sustained in combat during the Vietnam War. I have only begun hearing some stories of his time there because of the trauma he endured.

I’m asking that you encourage him by writing a handwritten letter or sending an email to acknowledge his service to our country. He served with the Army’s 11th Armored Cavalry during the Vietnam War. He sometimes goes by “Tank.”

Your letters can be mailed to me at this address:
Trevor Kravick
N4237 Wolf River Drive
White Lake, WI 54491

Please mail these before March 1, 2024 to ensure I get them to the coordinator of the flight so dad will receive them during mail call on our return flight to Madison, WI.

You can also email messages to me at tkravick@nullyahoo.com. I will ensure that they are printed and placed in an envelope for dad to read.

If you know others who would like to send a letter or email, please send them this note.

Thank you for your service to our country!

From generation to generation,

Trevor Kravick

Scholarship Deadline: April 1, 2024

Applications are being accepted for Blackhorse Association college scholarships. The deadline of April 1 is approaching, so if you or a family member are interested, please complete the application packet and submit it to the BHA.

For details on our scholarship program and its application process, please visit:
Blackhorse Scholarships – The Blackhorse Association

 Send us your Blackhorse-related news.

Do you have items of interest that are related to the Blackhorse? Please send them to Clint Ancker, Director of Communications, at banditsix@nullaol.com.

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