Fort Hood, TX- As we honor the contributions Black Americans made to our Nation, the 1st Cavalry Division is also taking time to reflect on the achievements and contributions of the many courageous Black American Soldiers who served within our formation.
Though Black Soldiers have defended our Nation’s freedom since 1775, the Cavalry’s ties to Black American history dates to 1866 with the formation of the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments began made up entirely of black enlisted Soldiers, many Civil War Veterans and former slaves. With regimental motto of “We Can, We Will” for the 9th Cavalry Regiment and “Ready and Forward” for the 10th Cavalry Regiment, these Soldiers would come to be known as the “Buffalo Soldiers” based on their earned reputation of exhibiting as valiant, fierce fighting style.
While America expanded westward in the 1870’s and the 1880’s, Troopers from the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments protected national interests, often serving long isolated tours of duty in the Southwest, providing security from lawless settlers, mail couriers and laborers building railroads. During this period, 18 members of the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments earned the Medal of Honor for valor in combat, many were noncommissioned officers who led small detachments of Soldiers in high profile operations such as the capture of Billy the Kid.
In the late 1890’s, both the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments were called up during the Spanish-American War in response to the sinking of the battleship Maine in Cuban waters. As one of the first units to go ashore, the Buffalo Soldiers once again demonstrated their gallantry while fighting alongside Col. Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders during several engagements including the Battle of San Juan Hill, the Battle of El Caney and the Battle of Las Guasimas. Five members of the 10th Cavalry Regiment were recognized with the Medal of Honor following this conflict.
“It is an honor and privilege to serve in the 9th Cavalry. This is my second time in this great Regiment. The unit is very special to me based on its legacy and great Troopers past and present. So many before sacrificed and struggled to provide an opportunity for Troopers like me,” said Lt. Col. James Ray, commander, 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment. “Our rich history serves as a beacon for us as the battalion continues to serve in eastern Poland reassuring allies. The Troopers of the unit continue to reflect our great history by being disciplined, fit, and ready for any new challenges.”
Over the years, both regiments continued to answer the nation’s call by responding to conflicts in the Philippines, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq.
“There is no question current Headhunter Troopers (previously Buffalo Soldiers) are still answering the Nation’s calling as the original Buffalo Soldiers did in 1867,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Sheldon A. Watson, senior enlisted leader for the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment. “Today, 1-9CAV Troopers display the same level of commitment and willingness to serve, which is currently being showcased for the world to see as we deploy to the European Region where our actions will continue to strengthen international alliances for years to come.”
Today, the Army has preserved the heritage of these regiments by incorporating battalions in each lineage into modern-day brigades and divisions. Currently, the 1st Battalion and the 4th Squadron serve with the 1st Cavalry Division’s 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team. The 6th Squadron serves with the division’s 3rd Armored Brigade Combat team. Additionally, Cowboy Troop, 10th Cavalry Regiment was recently re-activated as a separate armored cavalry troop to provide reconnaissance and security for the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. Together, these storied units remain ready to respond to conflicts around the globe.
“The 10th Cavalry Regiment was cutting edge when the country was expanding west and now, we are again cutting edge with the [U.S.] Army’s redesign and transition to focus on large scale ground combat operations and in standing up the armored reconnaissance and security troop for 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team,” said Capt. Tyler Stankye, former commander for Cowboy Troop, 10th Cavalry Regiment. “It’s incredible when you think about what the 10th Cavalry Regiment Troops did and what they endured and humbling to be a part of the Cowboy Troop legacy today.”