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  The Blackhorse

The Paper Chase - From Ice Cream Stands to Change of Commands

Broadsheet and Tabloid

Newspapers capture the day to day rhythms of public life, the significant and insignificant, the who - what - when and where in simple text usually accompanied by photographs with short captions. Their strength lies not in careful analysis of an issue but rather in the simple reporting of the facts. Writing styles vary greatly, evolve over time and reflect what appeals to the buying public. They are the ideal device for modern multi tasking, catching up on the news, drinking morning coffee and helping paper train the puppy. You can get a lot done with a fifty cent broad sheet.

For historians, newspapers are an wonderful tool. They capture the start of a big story before anyone realized the significance of some small event. They contain the thousand tiny pieces, the names, places, events that make up the tone and texture of what historians hope to collect and understand. Only photographs and the clear headed recollections of first hand event participants rival newspapers in research value.

There are problems, however. Newspapers are inexpensive, fragile and tend to hang around in ever growing stacks. This makes them very disposable. Anyone who has ever missed a few trips to the paper recycling center knows the volume of just one month’s accumulation. Luckily, one of the first commercial micro filming applications in the early 1950s was applied to the back copies of US major daily papers and the complete New York Times collection, reduced to film, fits in a space slightly larger than a large walk - in closet. Even most small American towns have their weekly paper indexed and filmed at least back to the end of the 19th century. The modern trend for newspaper files is digital and on demand. The same volume of Times data reduced to digital format fits in a server the size of a suitcase.

Collections of specialty newspapers, religious, fraternal or trade union publications for example, have not faired as well. Often printed in limited numbers in small scale shops, the print runs never approached the sheer numbers that seemed to guarantee that at least a few copies could be finally located years after printing. Every now and then, in a closet, in an attic, in grandpa’s old trunk, a few yellowed copies of the Brooklyn Jewish World Daily, The Woodsman’s Gazette or the Steel Worker Forward turn up, hit E Bay and are reunited to some collection. The paper is fragile, it does not age well. It yellows, it tears and finally, it just falls apart but there is always hope that a few more survivors will be found, scanned and live forever, easily within reach of a Google search and a historian’s demand.

The Blackhorse

The Blackhorse Newspaper, the monthly publication of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, certainly dates back to the Vietnam period of the unit, probably to Fort Meade and perhaps as far back as the first rotation in Germany, on the Czech border in the late 1950s. Sadly, there appears to be no complete collection of all back issues.

In 1972, as the Regiment stood down, the Blackhorse ceased publication in Vietnam. The re-flag of the 14th ACR later that year marked the return of the 11th Armored Cavalry to Germany and in 1975, the unit newspaper resumed publication. The specifics of how the newspaper was revived are unclear, however the key player was Sp 5 ( SGM Ret ) Larry Whitley, Senior, a school trained Information and Publication Specialist. He was assigned to the cavalry in March 1975, to fill a newly authorized position on the R staff and soon had the mission of transforming the Fulda Community newsletter to a full scale unit newspaper. With the command support of the several Blackhorse senior officers who recalled the newspaper from Vietnam, Whitley went to work and by early summer, Volume 1, Number 1 was ready to print.

In Germany, the Blackhorse was formatted in tabloid size, 12 by 24 inches and printed in Darmstadt at the Stars and Strips facility. Initially consisting of a front page, left and right interior page and back page, through the years, the newspaper, like the Regiment, would certainly grow. By 1985, it was not uncommon for the paper to run to a full sixteen pages filled with large photographs and well written supporting articles. Color crept in, integrated into the front page header with a bold red splash recalling the red and white cavalry flash.
The early editions did not recognize writers, only articles from outside of the Regiment attributed the source and many times the focus was on activities in the Fulda Community. As the newspaper evolved, efforts were made to insure that both Hersfeld and Bad Kissingen received their share of coverage. The names of both staff writers and single time contributors almost always accompanied the later articles. Distributed free of charge, Blackhorse was one of the many 7th Army unit and community focused newspapers from that period. Troopers may also recall “Old Ironsides“ - 1st Armor Division. “Scout“ 8th Infantry Division and the “Crusader“, 3rd Infantry Division. For a partial list of similar publications see Walter Elkin’s great USAREUR web site, in left margin scroll and select Unit Newspapers.
 
     
   
  SSG Larry Whitley in a 1978 photo that accompanied an article in the Blackhorse recalling his major contributions in re-establishing the newspaper. He departed Fulda fr a CONUS assignment in February of that year.  
     

The writing styles in Blackhorse were to the point but not without some hint of personality. Volume 1, Number 1 dated July 1975 notes that Colonel John L. Ballantyne was the RCO, the Information Officer was 1Lt Mark A. Hammer and the Editor was Spec 5 Larry Whitley, Sr. There were staff changes due to normal personnel rotations and by 1978, Lt Bruce D. Jette was the PAO with oversight responsibility and the temporary editor was staff photographer and writer Sp 4 Lee A. Reeder. Later that year, Sp 5 Lynford Burley, another Army trained journalist - information specialist was assigned as editor. The earliest regular Eaglehorse article contributor from this period was Lt Austin Bay .http://www.austinbay.net/books.html

Colonel (Ret) Jette Ph. D. offered this recollection.

“I had been a platoon leader with the 1st Squadron and about the time when I could expect an XO position or secondary staff job, Regiment sent out the requirement for an Lt from each squadron to join the R - staff. I was selected and watched as Lt Mike Herrederia from the Eaglehorse and an Lt from the 3/11 went to the RS - 3 shop. Much to my horror, I went to the RS - 1. Looking back, I learned a great deal in the job but it certainly took some getting used to. I had overall responsibility for the Blackhorse Newspaper, but really, Larry Whitley and Lee Reeder had it under control. They had writing skills, knew photography and apparently learned the rest on the job. I spent a lot of my time escorting and briefing VIPs visiting the border and Regimental area plus learning every aspect of a new foreign language, the V Corps - Regimental interface on military personnel management.“

Lee A. Reeder http://www.winningwords.com/ , who on two separate assignments was involved with production of the Blackhorse, recalled how his involvement with the newspaper began.

“Sometimes you make your own luck and sometimes, you just get lucky. I had the very good fortune to be offered a position with the Blackhorse Newspaper shortly after arriving at Downs Barracks. It was a great thrill for a nineteen year old trooper with some writing and photography skills and it all started with my camera. Here is my story

The newspaper maintained a careful balance between interesting information and operational security with the level of factual military reporting held at about the level that any on post German worker reporting back to the East, could have easily observed. In the early years, there was no discussion of military crime and punishment however, by the early 1980s brief articles detailing significant law and order topics were occasionally seen. As Regimental commanders arrived and departed, some choose to add Commander’s Comments, others did not. Cartoons, various trooper forums and clip art segments were experimented with as the paper tried to keep current, interesting and on top of significant issues related to soldier and family life in the regiment.

Mr. Neil Morrison at the Fort Irwin Museum, believes he has much of the production run of Blackhorse from the Fulda years. The copies, first held in the historical files of the Regimental Public Affairs Officer (Germany) and then turned over to the museum, have recently been inventoried and it appears the museum has examples of over 90% of the Germany published issues.

 

         
   
  The banner and a composite of images as the Blackhorse Newspaper resumes printing in Germany, July 1975. The task before us is to try and assemble the entire collection on line. Mike McGehee gets us off to a great start with most of the first three years.  
         

Luckily, cavalry troopers being pack rats at heart, we have Mike McGehee’s personal collection of the first three years of publication of the Blackhorse at our immediate disposal. We are missing only four issues and hopefully, they will turn up in the Fort Irwin collection. Delbert Richardson from the 2/11 and Lee Reeder agreed to help out with scans and copies of Blackhorse from their collections and Walter Elkins, with a huge archive of USAREUR newspapers starting in the mid 1980s, has agreed to search for anything still unaccounted for. http://www.usarmygermany.com/sont.htm

We have two goals for this research. At this web site, we intended to post all articles and images directly related to the Eaglehorse squadron and a brief outline of other Regimental news as covered in each edition. With each site update, we will try to add a new volume, roughly matching a twelve month publication block. The second goal is to locate and provide copies of those issues missing from the Fort Irwin Museum collection. This will allow the home of the Regiment to have a complete historical file of the unit newspaper from the long, Cold War period.

         
   
  Newspapers have a habit of hanging around in the most unusual places. Geoff Walden rescued this front page set of the Soviet Red Star paper from the ruins of Barbara Kaserne in Meiningen earlier this year.  
         

We ask that any troopers visiting the web site who saved copies of the Blackhorse, from a single issue to a significant collection, to contact us. Neither the Regimental Museum or Walter Elkins web site is staffed or funded to perform industrial volume scanning. We would prefer to reconstitute our on line collection as much as possible from individual troopers and then only ask for outside support when we exhaust all other sources.

Please note that it is difficult to produce a high quality scan from an old newsprint image.

We also are adding the image and article collection provided by Erwin Ritter of German articles related to Daley Barracks that was retained as either a clip file by the Saale Zeitung or as part of the Partnership File at the BGS Headquarters at Oerlenbach. We will post those photographs and a brief translation of the caption or articles as appropriate in each year folder. This will be an ongoing feature with updates occurring over several months. Please be patient, this project is more work than you might think.

German Images and Article Abstracts from the 1960s

Blackhorse Volume 1

Blackhorse Volume 2