FORT SILL, Oklahoma (April 1, 2021) -- It is not every day that there is a retirement ceremony for a horse at Fort Sill, but that is going to change.
The ceremonial Fort Sill Artillery Half Section conducted its inaugural retirement for one of its horses. Marty, a standard breed, who has served 20 years with the unit was recognized. Now as horses retire from the unit, they will be honored with such pageantry.
Dozens of guests gathered for Marty’s retirement March 26 outside the Patriot Club.
Marty was born in 1989, and he spent eight years of his life as a racing harness-horse before entering the Army. He joined the Half Section in 2001, said Gerald Stuck, chief of the Half Section.
Marty’s first ceremony was at Altus (Okla.) Air Force Base just two weeks after arriving at Fort Sill, Stuck said. “He showed those Air Force ‘zoomies’ what right looked like, and that he did have the right stuff.”
Marty has trained about all the horses on the hitch, as well as breaking in new Half Section Soldiers to riding, said Stuck, who has worked with Marty for 15 years.
In 2009, when Valcourt was training to be on the team as a wheel horse he threw a fit and fell to the ground, said Stuck. Marty, having enough of this behavior, stomped on him. After Marty’s wall-to-wall counseling (physical intervention) session Valcourt was a perfect gentleman from then on.
Marty, as part of the Half Section, has performed from coast-to-coast, Stuck said. In 2016, the Half Section participated in the Tournament of Rose Parade in Pasadena, California.
In 2018, the Half Section performed at Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Also that year, Marty galloped in the National Cavalry Association Competition in Fort Reno, Oklahoma, “where he believes he would have won if he had a better rider,” said Stuck.
“He’s done over 600 change of commands on Fort Sill,” said Stuck, That’s not even counting the retirement ceremonies, parades, rodeos, cavalry competitions, and funeral details. He’s even been dressed up as a reindeer for Christmas celebrations.
“Marty gave his all each and every day,” Stuck said.
It was just time for Marty to retire, Stuck said. He’s 32 and starting to lose weight and muscle tone, and has a bowed tendon in his front left leg. “He’s put in a lot of years.”
The Soldiers of the Half Section are happy for Marty, Stuck said. They’re glad he found a really good home because he just needed a place where he will be loved and can live out the rest of his life.
Marty was adopted by the Moodys who own a family farm in Lawton. It was easy finding a good retirement home for Marty because so many people were interested, Stuck said. The Moodys were selected because of their land and fencing. They were at the ceremony to take Marty home.
Luke Moody said he’s always been a big fan of the Half Section.
“I feel it unites the communities of Lawton and Fort Sill,” Moody said.
What will Marty’s life be like at the farm?
“He’s going into full retirement,” said Moody. “He’s going to walk around and be yard art.”
Like Soldiers, Marty was required to finish his clearance by turning in his gear. Stuck removed his saddle, harness, and blanket. Much of the tack was original equipment dating back to 1913.
During the ceremony, Fort Sill Garrison Commander Col. Rhett Taylor passed Marty’s reins to Luke Moody symbolizing the transfer of ownership. Marty was also presented his certificate of retirement. And, former Fort Sill First Lady Diane Valcourt placed a floral bouquet around Marty’s neck.
Taylor spoke about Marty’s mischievous past.
He said Marty would leave the Half Section corral without authorization and visit the then-nearby 2nd Battalion, 2nd Field Artillery mascots (mule Big Deuce, and goat Short Round).
He was also known to aid and abet AWOL Soldiers in training by giving them a ride to downtown Lawton to catch a bus, the colonel said. All that changed once Stuck came on board.
The 77th Army Band provided music for the ceremony. Its selections included the William Tell overture finale ("Hi-Yo Silver Away"), theme from “The Magnificent Seven,” “Auld Lang Syne,” “Old Soldiers Never Die,” and “The Army Song.”
Half Section horses are named after former Fort Sill commanding generals, said Stuck. Marty is named after Maj. Gen. Fred Marty who was here in the early 1990s, and under his leadership Fort Sill was recognized as the Best-Managed Installation in the Army in 1992.
Horse Marty participated as part of the funeral honors team for General Marty in 2013, said Stuck.
Marty’s replacement was recently purchased from the Texas State Prison, but hasn’t started team training, Stuck said.
Stuck said he will visit Marty.
“I plan to stop by quite often. On my way home from work I drive right by his (Moody’s) farm.”