• FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas " Kenneth O. Preston, former Sergeant Major of the Army, reaches up Dec. 12 to pat "Preston," the newest member of the Fort Sam Houston Caisson Section, after leading him into his stall following a formal naming ceremony for the horse next to the historic Quadrangle. In keeping with tradition, once they earn a place in the section, all male horses are named after former Sergeants Major of the Army. Preston is a nine-year-old Percheron Draft horse and stands 18.2 hands high, or nearly 6 feet 2 inches at the shoulder, and weighs more than 1,800 lbs. He was named after the 13th SMA, is the 13th horse in the section and occupies stall 13 in the stable.

    Fort Sam Houston Caisson horse named for former SMA

    FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas " Kenneth O. Preston, former Sergeant Major of the Army, reaches up Dec. 12 to pat "Preston," the newest member of the Fort Sam Houston Caisson Section, after leading him into his stall following a formal naming ceremony for the...

  • FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas " Command Sgt. Maj. Hu Rhodes (left) helps steady "Preston's" head while Kenneth O. Preston, former Sergeant Major of the Army, puts on his new bridle Dec. 12 during a formal naming ceremony for the horse across from the historic Quadrangle. The horse is the newest member of the Fort Sam Houston Caisson Section and, like the other male horses, was named after a former SMA. Rhodes is the senior enlisted leader for U.S. Army North, Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis.

    Fort Sam Houston Caisson horse named for former SMA

    FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas " Command Sgt. Maj. Hu Rhodes (left) helps steady "Preston's" head while Kenneth O. Preston, former Sergeant Major of the Army, puts on his new bridle Dec. 12 during a formal naming ceremony for the horse across from the...

  • FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas " Kenneth O. Preston (left), former Sergeant Major of the Army, and Command Sgt. Maj. Hu Rhodes ride "Preston" and "Van Autreve" respectively back to the Fort Sam Houston stables Dec. 12 following the official naming ceremony for Preston. The naming ceremony, conducted outside the historic Quadrangle, formally welcomed Preston into the ranks of the Caisson Section. It is the section's tradition that once a male horse formally becomes part of the section, he is named after a Sergeant Major of the Army.  Rhodes is the senior enlisted leader for U.S. Army North, Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis.

    Fort Sam Houston Caisson horse named for former SMA

    FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas " Kenneth O. Preston (left), former Sergeant Major of the Army, and Command Sgt. Maj. Hu Rhodes ride "Preston" and "Van Autreve" respectively back to the Fort Sam Houston stables Dec. 12 following the official naming ceremony...

  • FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas " Jack Tilley, a former Sgt. Maj. of the Army, stopped by the Fort Sam Houston Caisson Section to visit Dec. 13 and to ride his namesake, "Tilley," a 12-year old Percheron draft horse. It is tradition within the section to name all of the male horses after Sergeants Major of the Army. Accompanying SMA Tilley on his ride was Command Sgt. Maj. Hu Rhodes, senior enlisted leader for U.S. Army North (Fifth Army), Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis.

    Fort Sam Houston Caisson horse named for former SMA

    FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas " Jack Tilley, a former Sgt. Maj. of the Army, stopped by the Fort Sam Houston Caisson Section to visit Dec. 13 and to ride his namesake, "Tilley," a 12-year old Percheron draft horse. It is tradition within the section to name...

FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- For the newest member of the Fort Sam Houston Caisson Section, 13 is his lucky number.
Cole, a 9-year old Percheron Draft horse and the 13th four-legged member of the section, was formally named after the 13th Sergeant Major of the Army -- retired Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth Preston during a naming ceremony Dec. 12 outside of the historic Quadrangle.
The tradition of formally naming a horse after an SMA dates back to the founding of the section in 2001.
"Sgt. Maj. Van Autreve was instrumental in starting up this unit," said John Deeley, stable master and training officer for the Caisson Section. "The first horse was named after him as a way to honor him. It was then decided that once a new horse earned a place on the caisson team, he would be formally named after a Sergeant Major of the Army." Leon Van Autreve was the fourth Sergeant Major of the Army.
While 11 of the 12 other caisson horses have been named after SMAs, this is the first time a formal ceremony was conducted. The 12th horse, Mystique, is a mare.
"I am very honored and humbled to be a part of this," said Preston, who participated in the ceremony. "The mission of this section is a humble and proud tradition for our Soldiers and society."
As part of the ceremony, Preston removed his namesake's training bit and halter and replaced it with a brand-new one bearing his new name. Once the ceremony was complete, Preston rode his namesake "Preston" back to the stable and led him into his stall, which now bears his new name.
The significance of the naming ceremony is larger than giving a horse a name. It formally honors the legacy of SMA Preston by perpetuating his name within the section.
"As long as there is a caisson section here, there will always be a horse named Preston -- just like there will always be a 'Hall' or 'Van Autreve, said Command Sgt. Maj. Hu Rhodes, senior enlisted leader for U.S. Army North, Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis.
The Fort Sam Houston Caisson Section is one of two active-duty caisson units in the Army; the other is the U.S. Army Caisson Platoon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, Third U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). It was established in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Page last updated Wed December 18th, 2013 at 00:00