Once again, Troopers assigned to 2nd Cavalry Regiment received an up close and personal history lesson on the lineage of their regiment by participating in Operation Cowboy April 30, 2016 in the Czech Republic.
The celebration commemorated the 71st anniversary of an operation that took place at the end of World War II in which Alpha Troop, 42nd Cavalry Squadron rescued several hundred Lipizzaner horses from captivity and preserved the lineage of the world-famous breed.
As it is written in history, Austrian rulers first began exclusively breeding the Spanish horses in the mid-16th century. The horses performed well in battle and as transportation for the Hapsburg elite for hundreds of years. The nobility prized the white horses for their strength, intelligence and beauty.
In an effort to create a pure equine, the Nazis had moved the Lipizzaner horses from the Spanish Riding School in Vienna to a small farm near Hostoun, Czechoslovakia in 1942. At the farm, about 400 prisoners of war cared for almost 1200 horses including almost 400 Lipizzans.
With the war drawing to a close, there was concern in Hostoun about the approaching Soviet army from the east. The horse caretakers were concerned that since "the Red Army marched on its stomach," the beautiful horses might be killed to provide food for the fatigued and famished troops.
The cavalry task force broke through a line of German SS troops and rescued the horses. Then they rode and drove them cowboy-style back to American lines.
During the rescue, several Soldiers were wounded. Two Dragoons, Pfc. Raymond E. Manz and Tech/5 Owen W. Sutton were killed for their efforts.
To remember the sacrifices the two American Soldiers made to rescue the horses, memorial stones were erected in their honor September 2006. Since then, 2CR has joined together with local Czech citizens for an Operation Cowboy celebration every April.
This year Lt. Col. Steven Gventer, 2nd Squadron commander, was the senior leader who, with several Troopers, represented 2CR for the remembrance ceremony and celebration. During a speech in Bela nad Radbuzou, he expressed his sincere thanks for being invited to participate in the event.
He spoke of the sacrifices and enduring honor that Troopers demonstrated on that day in 1945 and throughout the 180 year history of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment.
"We enjoy and celebrate this event with each of you today and our Troopers look forward to coming back here year after year to share in these festivities," Gventer said. "Thank you all for keeping the memories of Operation Cowboy alive and honoring the Troopers that gave their lives for the mission. We will continue to celebrate this day. May our nations always be ready to stand together long into the future for peace and freedom. Always Ready! Second to None!"
The 2CR Troopers of today supported the event by setting up Stryker Combat Vehicle and support vehicle static displays. They also took part in the wreath laying ceremonies along the motorcade route from Hostoun to Ruzov and ending in Bela nad Radbuzou.
The Military Car Club of Pilsen came dressed in WWII period uniforms, driving vintage style vehicles to the delight of the U.S. Troopers and the local citizens.