FORT IRWIN, Calif. -- The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment's Horse Detachment helped to preserve the tradition of the cavalry by competing in the National Cavalry Competition with an 11th ACR veteran, Paul Scholtz, during the Major Howze Mobility Exercise on September 18th at Fort Reno, Oklahoma.
On the evening of May 4th, 1916, General John "Blackjack" Pershing received a report which led to the last official charge of the US Cavalry, according to the May 7, 1916 issues of the New York Times. As published, the report divulged the presence of Pancho Villa's men at a farm 30 miles from Pershing's location. Pershing ordered Howze to ready his men and horses to make the night march through the Sierra Madre Mountains and onto Ojos Azules farm. The next morning, Howze's men charged into a 20 minute battle and made it through bearing just one casualty amongst the horses.
The NCC committee credits Howze's march and mounted charge during the Mexican Punitive Expedition for the pattern to the Major Howze Mobility Exercise.
Scholtz shares that he entered military service in July 1969 and attended training in field artillery at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He served in Vietnam in 1970, during the Cambodian incursion. Having achieved the rank of sergeant, Scholtz remained on duty until he received an honorable discharge, July 1976. Scholtz states that he believed he rode with the 11th ACR for the last time until nearly a century later when he joined the Horse Detachment at the NCC.
The Major Howze Mobility exercise takes place after the first full day of the NCC Competition, which is noted by riders to leave the horses somewhat expended after Military Horsemanship and the Mounted Pistol Competition. The objective of the Howze exercise is to cover five miles at an acceptable pace allowing the horses to retain enough energy for the obstacles at the conclusion of the ride.
Scholtz explains that he was in amazement when he was asked to take command and lead the charge as they came upon the 8 saber targets. Taking a deep breath and gathering the reins, Scholtz called out commands, "draw sabers! Forward, ho! Trot, ho! At a gallop, charge!"
"The formation struck out at a long trot, encountering obstacles, dim trails, vague directions, and the muggy heat of Oklahoma," Scholtz recalls. "The unit's camaraderie, discipline, willingness and expertise are outstanding. No navigational errors occurred, the horses held up wonderfully, no major mishaps, human or equine, surfaced and the objective was closed upon in exceptional time."
The honor continued when the Horse Detachment won first place for the Major Howze Mobility Exercise. "Blue ribbons for everyone, even this battered chaplain," said Scholtz.
"This old soldier was hardly qualified to ride with the Blackhorse Horse Detachment in this excellent tactical exercise, but the young troopers were a huge encouragement and allowed me to play a key role," explains Scholtz. "The 11th ACR is still by far the finest unit in the United States Army, and the Horse Detachment represents their legacy in a most outstanding way."
Although this wasn't the first time the 11th ACR competed in an NCC event, it is the first time they won the Howze exercise with a veteran on the team. Scholtz shares that participating in the Howze exercise with the Horse Detachment was certainly an unforgettable experience, "It's outstanding to ride with the Blackhorse once again. Allons!"