By Molly BompaneMay 26, 2015
HOSTOUN, Czech Republic (May 26, 2015) -- This past weekend, Ryan Meyer, 2nd Cavalry Regiment's Reed Museum director and Molly Bompane, U.S. Army Europe curator, helped commemorate the 70th anniversary of Operation Cowboy and the 100th anniversary of the breeding farm from which the horses were rescued, here.
Meyer developed and displayed a temporary exhibit on Col. Charles H. Reed (for whom the 2d CR's museum is named), which detailed his role in Operation Cowboy.
Near the end of WWII, the Second Cavalry Group (Mech) found themselves on an unexpected adventure to save an extraordinary culture more than 400 years old.
The rescue of the breeding herd and 400 allied prisoners of war located at a military stud farm in Svrzno, Czechoslovakia, took place between April and May 1945.
Known as "Operation Cowboy", the rescue was Reed's idea, who at the time was the commander of the Second Cavalry Group. As a long time cavalrymen, Reed appreciated the rare breeds of horses and the importance of insuring their protection and survival.
By the end of the war, pressure was mounting to turn the horses over to the approaching and very hungry Soviet Army. It was decided however, to move the herd to a safe zone well inside of Germany.
After successful surrender negations between the Second Cavalry Group and German Army Group that opposed them, the two worked together to successfully move the horses into Germany.
Among the rescued horses were over 200 Lipizzaner from the Piber breeding herd. These horses were of particular significance because they were the breeding mares for the very elite Spanish Riding School in Vienna whose history dates back to 1572.
One of Reed's soldiers remarked that "he was the right man being in the right place at the right time. If there had never been a Charles Reed, I don't believe those horses would have survived."
Within USAREUR's rich history of partnerships, we sometimes find fascinating relationships in unexpected places.
Operation Cowboy is a story of how one Soldier can make a difference and how Reed and his Soldiers helped to save a piece of culture for the world to enjoy.
To this day, this event and events like these have left a legacy of friendship between Americans, the U.S. Army and the Czech people. USAREUR continues this legacy, as we train and work with our NATO allies and partners to maintain a Strong Europe.
About us: U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned in its 51 country area of responsibility to advance American strategic interests in Europe and Eurasia. The relationships we build during more than 1,000 theater security cooperation events in more than 40 countries each year lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships and enhance global security.