FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Paratroopers are trained to jump into battle. However, a group of cavalry troopers recently jumped into a battle that took place over one hundred years ago.

Leaders assigned to 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division jumped into Little Big Horn, Montana on June 28 to commemorate the 133rd anniversary of the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

This was the first static line jump onto the battlefield, making it an official military drop zone. The forty-four men who jumped made up the largest cavalry unit to be on the battlefield since 1876.

After the jump, the cavalrymen were welcomed by locals who came to watch the jump and thank the men for their service. The troopers danced to the warrior's homecoming song, a traditional Native American song played on drums which welcomes warriors home from battle.

The reenactment of Custer's famous defeat at Little Big Horn is an event that draws spectators to the Crow Indian Reservation every year. During the event, reenactors perform scenes from the battle on horseback.

"It's every little boy's dream to play cowboys and Indians. Now we get to play with real Indians on our own horses," said reenactor John Essington of playing a soldier for the reenactment. Essington is from Long Beach, California and has attended the Little Big Horn reenactment for the past three years.

"The 82nd dropping in was just amazing," said Master Sgt. Michael K. Herrin, of Joint Force Headquarters, Montana National Guard, also a reenactor.

"It put everything on steroids," Herrin said.

"It was obviously the most dramatic beginning to the event," Essington added.

On day two, cavalrymen were given the opportunity to go fly fishing, tour a local brewery or fire period weapons. At the firing range, the men shot 45-70 Springfield Trapdoor Carbines and 45 Long Colt Pistols.

On the third day of the event, troopers saddled up for a Staff Ride following General Custer's route along the battlefields. Some of the men were wary of the horseback journey, but all seemed excited for the challenge.

"It was very entertaining to watch people who have never been on horses ride," said Lt. Brad T. Kerfoot, 1/73 Cav. Regt., who hadn't ridden a horse since he was young.

The men toured several of the battlefields and were given classes on history of the battle.

They were given reading material before leaving Fort Bragg and some were assigned specific soldiers to learn about before making the trip to Montana.

Learning the material was to help the men actively participate in the discussions, Kerfoot said.

"They were doing what we do today but without communications," he said.

"If we don't hear from each other for 15 minutes we freak, but they had no contact for days."

The idea of the Staff Ride was brought to life by Lt. Col. Mike Foster, Squadron Commander of 1/73 Cav. Regt., who attended events such as this in the past.

"Staff Rides made an impact on me as a young officer," said Foster.

He knew he would love to have the opportunity to take his men on a Staff Ride as a Commander.

Foster said he chose Little Big Horn because it was a historic cavalry fight and it is a harder battlefield to get to from Fort Bragg.

"It gives them a better appreciation for the Battle of the Little Big Horn and an ability to analyze the decisions made, the tactics of the day, the equipment used and relate that to how we operate today," he said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16