By Ms. Wendy Arevalo (1st TSC)November 14, 2019
Sergeant Blackjack, 1st Theater Sustainment Command's mascot, received a visit from Soldier Family Readiness Group spouses and Headquarters and Headquarters Company leaders at Simpsonville, Kentucky, Nov. 13.
The group visited Blackjack, a 15-year-old pony mule, at his home on a 45-acre farm on the outskirts of Louisville, where he is cared for by Arvil Dobson and Kathy Krantz.
"This is the first time the SFRG has come out as a group to see Blackjack," said Theresa Scott, family readiness support assistant, 1st TSC. "He's iconic," she added. "He adds a lot of historical value to the unit."
The Army's tradition of using mules as mascots dates back to 1899, when an officer at the Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot decided the service needed a mascot to counter the Navy goat.
Throughout history, Army sustainment units have used donkeys, mules and horses to carry and deliver supplies, ammunition, equipment and weapons over rough terrain.
"Blackjack is a fitting mascot for the 1st TSC because he symbolizes the history of how logistics was conducted in the past in the military," said Capt. Mark H. Schneider, HHC commander, 1st TSC. "Having a firm grasp of how logistics worked in the past makes one appreciate how far logistics has come, and where it can go in the future."
During the visit, SFRG spouses petted, fed Blackjack treats, and asked his caretakers questions about him.
Dobson and Krantz, both retired Army lieutenant colonels, have cared for Blackjack for the last two years and three months. They specialize in the care of retired show horses.
When asked if Blackjack had any unique characteristics, Krantz said, "He's very particular." "He's very observant about things, he notices if things in the barn have moved," she added.
Sergeant Amir Bullock, an information technology specialist at 1st TSC, also accompanied the group on the visit. Bullock serves as Blackjack's handler during command functions. He helps prepare the mascot before events and keep him calm.
Bullock, who became the mascot's handler in July 2019, visits Blackjack about once a month at the farm.
Dobson said the two mesh well together.
"Sgt. Bullock comes down here so that Blackjack gets to know him," Dobson said. "That way Blackjack is comfortable with him when he has command events."
For the rest of the SFRG group, the outing was a great opportunity to see Blackjack in his home environment; something they will share with the rest of the families in the unit.
"When I met Blackjack at the change of command ceremony, I knew I wanted to see where he lived," said Kristen Small, SFRG co-leader and key caller.
She added that she also enjoyed meeting Dobson.
"He was really informative," she said. "He seemed to really enjoy what he does."
With a chuckle, she noted that Dobson is a retired lieutenant colonel: "It's back to his roots of being an Army officer in charge of a sergeant."