Welcome to Cheyenne:
What’s it like to be a part of something bigger than yourself? To put in countless hours of practice and rehearsal time to make a show perfect, yet still get butterflies in your stomach before show time? To build a family bond not only with the Soldiers to the left and right of you, but also with your equestrian teammates, and trust each of them as you all prepare to enter a packed arena at the “Daddy of ‘Em All” in Cheyenne, Wyoming?
From all sides, more than 15,000 fans, patriots, and veterans cheered and applauded for the entry of the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division Commanding General’s Mounted Color Guard (CGMCG) from Fort Riley, Kansas.
Cheyenne Frontier Days (CFD) Rodeo, the World’s largest outdoor rodeo and Western celebration, invited the CGMCG to be a part of its opening ceremony and grand entry for their 126th Annual 10-day festival from July 22-31, 2022.
With saddles packed, pistols loaded and stetsons donned, the CGMCG left Kansas and arrived at a home away from home in Wyoming. Naturally fitting in with the local community and engaging with others who traveled from all over the globe to appreciate rodeos finest, the troopers received a warm welcome from everyone at CFD, including the military committee, the U.S. Army Wyoming National Guard, and Airmen assigned to F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne.
In addition to having the honor of being an integral part of CFD’s daily events, the CGMCG also participated in multiple Grand Parades held in Downtown Cheyenne, and performed their mounted cavalry tactics demonstration at F.E. Warren AFB during the base’s D.A. Fort Russell Days, a base open house that provides local community members an opportunity to learn about the base’s mission and history.
Beginning at the foot of the Wyoming capitol building, spectators from all over gathered to take in the sights and sounds of some of the top marching bands and horse-drawn vehicles in the country during the Grand Parades. This year's first Grand Parade headed by the 1st Inf. Div. CGMCG in their period dress uniforms as they bore the National flag, the pro-military community stood, cheered and paid their respects by removing their coveted cowboy/cowgirl headwear and placing them over their hearts as the troopers passed.
Although the CGMCG was established in 1992, it makes old school look brand new by providing a link to Fort Riley's historic past when they perform mounted drill and weapons demonstrations. Representing Fort Riley and the U.S. Army in a highly professional and polished display of cavalry horsemanship and military tradition, CGMCG portrays the U.S. Cavalry as they appeared in the mid-to-late 19th century.
Troopers and horses of the unit are outfitted in the uniforms, accoutrements and equipment of the Civil War period. Soldiers are detailed from the ranks of units assigned to Fort Riley and receive instruction from manuals used by Civil War cavalrymen.
The mounted demonstration is an exhibition of skill and precision required of a cavalry horse Soldier that includes various drills using the 1861 Cavalry Light Saber, the .45-caliber revolver and the 1873 Remington .45-caliber lever action repeater rifle.
As they perform as ambassadors to the surrounding communities, military ceremonies and the entire nation, the CGMCG has participated in an array of events globally such as the Normandy, France, D-Day Invasion Anniversary and the Presidential Inaugural Parades of former U.S. Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. The CGMCG have also performed at the World Cup Finals Dressage Grand Prix, the National Cavalry Competition, the Professional Bull Rider Association National Finals in Las Vegas, and now at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo.
From privates to officers, these men and women recreate the colorful spectacle of the American Horse Soldier.
Comradery through Cavalry:
Although an integral part, the grand entries and showmanship are only a small part of what makes the CGMCG what it is. It’s the 5 a.m. horse stable duties, the constant loading and unloading of all of the necessary horse and show equipment, and the time spent together outside of the arenas that turns this unit into a family.
An all-volunteer unit within an all-volunteer Army, the CGMCG prides itself in having a hardworking, goal-driven and uniquely diverse roster filled with Soldiers of all backgrounds. And when taking a nearly 12-hour road trip with 20 other troopers, eight quarter horses, seven mustangs, and two mules, patience and congeniality are key.
But tapping into those characteristics seemed to be no hard feat for the troopers to possess. Continuously working in tandem to ensure that equipment was well maintained, horses were properly tended to, and most of all, that one another were cared for, this family of Cavalrymen and women exuded a positively infectious bond that spread throughout the CFD fairgrounds and Warren AFB.
The CGMCG not only embraced the warm welcome they received, but returned the favor by extending their family oriented bonds to all of those they interacted with. They engaged with local community members following each of their cavalry tactics demonstrations, connected with the U.S. Navy “Leap Frogs” parachute team (who also had the honor of participating in CFD ceremonial events), and had the unique opportunity to speak one-on-one with U.S. Air Force Gen. Anthony J. Cotton, the Air Force Global Strike Command and Air Forces Strategic-Air commander.
Gone, but Not Forgotten:
As CFD came to a close, troopers began to reflect on what it was like to have such a unique opportunity to participate in what is essentially the Super Bowl of rodeo, and the CGMCG made sure to leave something tangible alongside the new connections they built.
A handcrafted plaque, made by Trooper David Cox, was gifted to the CFD military committee as a token of appreciation for inviting the color guard to participate in CFD and being wonderful hosts.
An almost three-foot long 1st Inf. Div. unit patch replica, the wooden plaque hosts a Cavalry Light Saber, a CGMCG unit coin and stetson, a U.S. Army belt buckle and a dedication that reads “Keeping the past alive in the new modern era; presented to CFD; crafted and donated by the Commanding General’s Mounted Color Guard, 1ID, Fort Riley, KS.”
Graciously accepted and placed on the entryway wall of the CFD military committee lodge, a small piece of the CGMCG will hang in Cheyenne until the next time the Big Red One sets its sights on the “Daddy of ‘Em All”.
1st Inf. Div. CGMCG Troopers assigned to the CFD Rodeo mission included: Pfc. Cyrus Dougherty; Spc. Claudia Caudill; Spc. David Cox; Spc. Teegan Myers; Spc. Derek Seifring; Spc. Quinton Witt; Spc. Sammi Wright; Cpl. Samantha Johnson; Cpl. Johnathan Williams; Sgt. Fredie Cohen; Sgt. David Edwards; Sgt. Christopher Johnson; Sgt. Justin Johnson; Sgt. Garrison Kopp; Sgt. Graviel Rafael; Sgt. Alysha Thielen; Staff Sgt. Dylan Lopez; Staff Sgt. Frank Haskell III; Staff Sgt. Carlos Robles, Jr.; Sergeant 1st Class Ryan Craft; 1st Sgt. Roy Walters; and Capt. John Chmelik.
CGMCG horses assigned to the CFD Rodeo mission included: Quarter horses – Boomerang; Comanche; Firefly; Lexington; Rudy; Scout; Shenandoah; and Winchester. Mustangs – Apache; Ardennes; Chief; Duke; Lookout; Sentinel; and Vast. Mules – Dolly and Patsy.