By Capt. Eric Hudson, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne)September 16, 2016
New York City -- The "Horse Soldier" has a permanent home. De Oppress Liber, the 16-foot-tall bronze statue also known as the "Horse Soldier," depicts a Special Operations soldier in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, and commemorates the first time US troops used horses in combat since 1942. The sculpture's new home now watches over the Ground Zero Memorial in New York City.
On Sept. 13, 2016 members of Task Force Dagger -- a joint Special Operations team consisting of Green Berets from the 5th Special Forces Group, aircrew members from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), and Air Force Combat Controllers -- gathered to commemorate the America's Response statue and remember their actions in the wake of 9/11.
Vic McGowan, a spokesperson for the United War Veterans Council, said, "In mid-October 2001, as the nation watched from their living rooms and their couches, their board rooms, their offices and from the streets, members of Task Force Dagger rode through the mountains of Afghanistan and we were once again reminded of our great American spirit."
It was a dangerous mission. U.S. Special Forces were on the ground in Afghanistan within weeks of the 9/11 attacks to begin the war against the Taliban. Despite all the high-tech gear at their disposal, it was the use of horses that proved pivotal in the crossing the rugged terrain. The mounted troops became known as the "horse soldiers."
U.S. Army Major Mark Nutch, who served as a ground commander for a group of Green Berets known as ODA 595, said the Special Operations Forces worked with Afghan Tribes of the Northern Alliance to fight the Taliban.
"Together we were hunted by a common enemy," he said.
Nutch said the task force was surprised to employ a horse calvary to combat armored vehicles, tanks, rockets, mortars and machine gun fire. He said besides the horse calvary, the task force used many non-conventional tactics.
U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. (Ret.) Calvin Markham, a Special Tactics combat controller, said, "We promised the Northern Alliance air power against the Taliban, and we delivered with devastating effects."
U.S Army Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Baker served as a chinook crew member for Task Force Dagger.
"I was proud and scared," he said. "We were doing things that had never been done before. I was a young 25-year-old. I was just thinking of the moment and getting the mission done."
The "Horse Soldier" statue, which commemorates these actions, was previously located at Two World Financial Center in New York City.