Home Return to Home Station Return to Hidden Stories

  Border Duty Commemorative Posters - Wall Stuff

The history of commemorative Border Duty Certificates and Daley Barracks has been a difficult story to unsort with any degree of certainty. There were periods when they were not given out, the designs and standards to receive the award changed over the years and there are some very big gaps in the story. For what should have been the most frequently found memento of service on the border, we have surprisingly few images. Who were the first men to receive such certificates and who was the last Eaglehorse trooper to take this souvenir home?

   
  John Puagh’s 2/14 ACR Border Certificate from 1960. --John Puagh  

The very earliest reference found to border related certificates and our region of the Rhoen are messages left on various Internet Cold War message boards by a woman named Dena Houston. She was looking for people who knew her father and states in part, that in her possession is her father‘s “ Border Legion “ certificate from when he was a member of the 24th Constabulary Squadron. Contact with this woman and an image of that certificate have been very difficult to come by.

In first talking with veterans on this subject, the impression was that no border related certificates for cavalry troops existed until well into the 1960s. Certainly none of the troopers who had contributed to this site with service dating to the very early days recall any type of border commemorative souvenir. Then an e mail appeared from John Paugh with an attachment showing his 1960 2nd Battalion - 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment presentation certificate. John couldn’t recall many specifics beyond receiving the certificate at the end of his tour. LTC ( Ret ) Ray Teel also sent a copy of his certificate from 1962 and it shows the tradition and design had remained consistent for a few years. Ray also noted:

   
  Ray Teel’s certificate from a few years later. --Ray Teel  

My recollection is that all three squadrons used the same design, just the lettering changed from Fulda to BK to Hersfeld. At Daley, it was up to the Troop - Company commander and I think almost all troopers got a certificate if they had been good soldiers. Up at Regiment, they had some sort of very ornate certificate for VIPs.-

Although the German border had been a concern since the early 1950s, it reached a higher public consciousness once the barriers became more visible and particularly after the Berlin crisis and President Kennedy’s visit to that city. The next example of a certificate I have seen is from the First Squadron - 14th ACR. This impressive document, 19.5 by 12.5 inches, was signed in 1968 by SCO Theron Knapp. The design had changed and troopers at Fulda received a poster showing the border towns in the 1st Squadron sector and an ominous stretch of barbed wire. This design was somewhat similar to the image of the 2/14 ACR certificate John Saunders received just prior to the re - flagging of the Regiment.

   
  Border Legionnaires Certificate from the 11th ACR on the Czech border in the early 1960s. Image collected by Ted Prescott at Grenzer web site. --Ted Prescott  

BG ( Ret ) Mike O’Connell, who was the SCO when the re - flag occurred in May 1972 and then commanded the Eaglehorse for the next fourteen months did not recall the tradition of certificates and the Blackhorse. In very few words - if certificates were given out, he’d of had one … and he does not.

When I arrived in 1978, the Eaglehorse squadron had a great looking certificate based on the Bavarian Border Police Grenz Tafel ( border poster ) that was displayed every 100 meters or so on the West German side. The poster showed all the key border features one could expect to see and made it perfectly clear that the metal fence was NOT the border, but rather the imaginary line marked by the blue and white plastic poles. For cavalry presentation use, the German text had been removed and in its place, room for the usual boiler plate, “ Trooper XYZ, having served with distinction on the Frontier of Freedom, from dates … “ and then the signature block for the Squadron Commander.

   
  A second version of a spectacular 11th ACR early 1960s certificate from Ted Prescott’s digital collection. --Ted Prescott  

I also recall that only those troopers who had actually gone to Camp Wollbach - Camp Lee qualified for the certificate, this excluded the majority of HHT. By 1981, I believe that restriction had been lifted and all troopers who finished their tour in Bad Kissingen in good order received a border certificate. The squadron draftsman from the S3 shop did the calligraphy and specially ornate copies were produced as souvenirs for visiting dignitaries. There may have been some talk about the certificate undergoing a major redesign shortly before I departed Bad Kissingen in 1981. Going into the mid 1980s, Ted Prescott’s border certificate indicates the design had remained consistent.

   
  2/14 ACR 1962 certificate to Peggy Teel certifying that she is now a “ Frontier Girl “ in good standing. --Stefanowicz  

When the last certificates were awarded at Daley Barracks and who was the last Eaglehorse trooper to receive a border certificate are great questions to which I do not have a satisfactory answer. Once the squadron left BK, was basically done with the border and moved to Wildflecken, did some sort of certificate tradition carry on? Is there an ultra rare Eaglehorse at WTA certificate? I cannot answer these questions until someone steps forward from that era to clarify the situation. Considering that we all were tasked to be scouts, the reporting in this area has been less than sufficient.

The final issue to explore on this topic are the “ new “ border certificates currently being marketed on E Bay. More than one enterprising trooper has cobbled together out of scans and clip art, certificates for both the 2nd ACR and the 11th ACR recalling border duty. If you have lost your original, this is one alternative … these reproductions appear to look something like the originals, in a small scale … but if you really want a certificate like that looks like the one you lost or that became water damaged … keep up on the net, Randy and I are formulating a plan.

   
  2/14 ACR Border Baby Certificate from same period. --Stefanowicz  

Returning to original certificates, if you can take a clear photo of your Border Certificate or similar memento from your service in Bad Kissingen and send it to the web site, we will gladly add it to the article. This includes certificates marking the birth of children or honoring military wives. If anyone knows about the last certificates awarded to Eaglehorse troopers, it would make a great way to wrap up this chapter of cavalry history. Please do not keep it to yourself.

Order of the Spur - The Cavalry Platoon Leader’s Night Ride - More Wall Stuff

One great trend Army wide starting in the mid 1970s was the application of measurable standards to virtually all aspects of the duty day. SQT measured individual trooper skills within his MOS and appropriate to his grade. The ARTEP measured all the collective tasks necessary for a platoon / troop / squadron to be an effective fighting force. Training for both the individual and the unit was based on understandable goals that could be measured. Everywhere one looked, it was task -- condition -- standard. In the mid 1970s, however, one small tradition had not yet been brought into the system, the Order of the Spur.

   
  1/14 ACR Certificate as of 1968. --Stefanowicz  

I guess it’s just in the genes, give a U.S. cavalry trooper ˝ a chance and he will start monkeying with his uniform to pay tribute to the horse soldiers of the past. All of this flew in the face of uniform standardization, brought on by then Army Chief of Staff Bernard W. Rogers. Starting in 1979, troopers bid adieu to their berets, oversize brass belt buckles and Stetson hats. The only locally sanctioned exception in the Blackhorse was afforded to officers at two types of formal functions: Regimental Dining In ( formal meal - wives excluded ) or Regimental Dining Out ( wives included ). I recall two or three of these events were held per year.

Along with berets and later, Stetson hats, many officers could be seen wearing silvered spurs on their low quarters at these memorable chicken dinners featuring occasional fights, bouts, contests and alcohol fueled feats of strength. The spurs indicated that the officer had been awarded the Order of the Spur, requirements set forth by the Regimental Commanding Officer. More than one officer entered the formal function with his spurs pointing to the exit and departed … some hours later, with his spurs pointed to the floor.

   
  2/14 ACR Border Certificate as of 1971. --Scoot Saunders  

If an officer had successfully acquitted himself in his assigned duty for a full training calendar year to include Level 1 Gunnery, ARTEP, REFORGER and the Annual General Inspection, he - and a tip of the beret to the finance officers / comptrollers in Fulda - she - was awarded the Order of the Spur. With the possible exception of the CSM, this honor was not open to enlisted men in the Blackhorse in the late 1970s and early 1980s. New lieutenants had one additional requirement to meet, participation in the Cavalry Lieutenant’s Night Ride.

Back in Washington, General Rogers was probably drumming his fingers knowing that in the vast Army of reserve, national guard and active duty divisions with hundreds of thousands of soldiers were wearing ridiculous wash and wear fatigues and ill fitting - not really functional green baseball caps, somewhere … somehow … the cavalry and their berets were still having at it!!

   
  Bavarian Border Police Grenz Tafel that provided the basic form for the 2/11 ACR Border Certificate … --Stefanowicz  

With Pistol and Carbine We Ride by Night to the Roar o’ Cannon - wait, we’re lost!

I guess it was the late Spring of 1978 when the Eaglehorse squadron held its annual right of passage for the new crop of lieutenants - the Cavalry Lieutenant’s Night Ride. My particular recollection is that this was held within a few days of departure to WTA and was looked upon as more of a mid week disruption rather than a miles of smiles event.

The course was laid out on the forest trails and farm roads in the countryside surrounding Bad Kissingen, primarily in the area north of town but south of Wollbach. Various 1st Lts and NCOs were tasked to monitor the military stakes stations that were at each mobile orienteering stop. Paired with a driver, each new Lt set off from Daley with map in hand. Something like a ten minute delay separated each jeep and I think they dispatched every other participant in the reverse course order … otherwise we surely would have ended up nose to tail - following each other into the darkness.

   
  … and how it was integrated into the early 1980s Eaglehorse certificate. --Stefanowicz  

As you arrived at the skills test station, a forest trail crossroad or similar minor map feature, the station monitor logged the time and then one faced a straight forward military stakes related task. Ted Cheatham, my good friend from those early days, picks up the story.

- - Everyone in the Orderly Room looked at me in an odd way. What did I mean, that I wanted to compete in the Cavalry Platoon Leader night ride competition? You are not a cavalry officer, you are a field artillery officer, Howitzer Battery 2/11 ACR.

   
  Ted Prescott’s certificate as of 1986. --Ted Prescott  

My response was a simple one. I lived and breathed the Cavalry. My best friends were Cavalry. Should the time arise, my support of their operations would be crucial. I trained to think like them and understand their tactics (and did my best to keep up with them drinking at the Fiddler’s Green). I was a Cavalry Officer!

In trying to recall these events, here are some of the memories that came to mind. First, it was dark. I have always prided myself in my ability to read a map and very seldom got lost. Finding most of the locations was pretty easy except for one. We were supposed to be tactical and once off the main roads, moved along in black out.

   
  Mid 1980s 3/11 ACR Border Certificate from Ted Prescott’s Grenzer site. --Ted Prescott  

Now, I wish I could remember the officer’s name who ran the .45 disassembly/assemble station because he was a good man...and pretty darn sly. In some areas if you got close, you could see lights of people waiting for you...but not at the pistol station. This guy was in black camo face paint just sitting there not saying a word. You actually had to find him with a red lens flashlight and I must have walked by him twice and he didn’t say a word. To make it worse, he picked a location that was off a trail with no specific terrain relief to be of much use.

I used to orienteer in college and knew how to get close. When we hit a known intersection on the map, I tracked our distance by the odometer which I converted to kilometers and that got us to within a hundred feet or so. From there, it was Indian tracking, gully walking, and a little luck. I understand a few people never found him.

   
  3/11 ACR Certificate from the late 1980s as found at www.grenzer.com .  --Ted Prescott  

So, now I arrived at the station and have found him. He is sitting on a camp stool. In front of him is a tarp on it is laid a .45 pistol. He says something like, “Your job is to disassemble and assemble this .45 cal pistol in the fasted time. Let me know when you are ready and I will start the time. I will verify it is fully disassembled before you can put it back together.” Come on! We have all been here before. There are two ways to take these things apart. One by the book and one with speed. Realizing it was a competition, there was no real decision on my part. I yanked the sucker apart.

   
  11th ACR Order of the Spur certificate as of early 1980s. --Stefanowicz  

Now, if you have ever “yanked the sucker apart”, you know the risk of the spring flying out to never, never land. Luckily for me, the time was stopped because he could not verify it was apart because the spring was not there. And, we had to find it in the dark. Good news is, it took just a second or two to find it and I zipped it back together with a rather impressive time.

Another stop required me to call in Artillery Fire and adjust it onto target. As an artillery officer, I would lose my butter bar if I could not do this one. And, I probably taught a couple of you folks to do this task as well.

How about a station on headspace and timing of a .50 cal machine gun. This takes me to probably the best part of being in the Cavalry as a field artillery officer. As one of three or four officers in the howitzer battery, we had to do everything that was done by several dozen officers in a field artillery battalion. As such, we were double duty and saw experience that our counterparts never had a chance to try. One of my many extra duties was arms room officer and the .50 cal was no problem for me. As I traveled in my military career and visited soldiers in the field, I was always amazed at the lack of understanding of the .50 cal. This is a fine accurate weapon if treated correctly. Of course in the cavalry and mechanized units, this was a standard weapon. When I hit the light infantry division, it was like a weapon from a UFO. I cannot count the number of adhoc classes I gave soldiers on this weapon that they were supposed to be the primary defense of our perimeter.

   
  Order of the Combat Spur graphic showing certificate and spurs awarded to cavalry troopers deployed to Iraq  

My last stop of the evening was to write an operations order. This one was to be graded the next day. You were given specific parameters and a mission to complete. From there you had a set amount of time to generate an operations order. When I left the 2/11 ACR and went to the FA officer advanced course, I was amazed at the lack of understanding of my counterparts on how to plan to support mobile combat arms operations. Anyway, I must have had a good operations order.

As I look back on the evening, I recall it as a fun little exercise, but the real fun was being a part of a wonderful team of Cavalry officers in 2/11 ACR. One more thing … when the travel times were added up and the scores from the stations were computed … in something I did not let my peers in BK forget for several months … I had won the event. Sometime later, I had the honor of representing the Eaglehorse at a similar Tournament of Champions event at Fulda. I did not win but had a more than respectable time and score. Howitzer Battery, Sir!! --

   
  Spur ceremony for troopers from the First Cavalry Division in Iraq.  

Order of the Spur and the Army of 2008

Task -- condition -- standard … for some time now, it has been applied to the Order of the Spur and the great news is that the honor is now afforded to all troopers at all grades Army wide whose units choose to uphold a cavalry tradition. The night ride in many units has grown into an epic quest, a brutal two day beast in comparison to the little ride that Ted Cheatham and I experienced in 1978 through the woods above Bad Kissingen. The basic standards are still up to the unit commander but they certainly have become more demanding and success at this task represents a significant achievement for any junior enlisted trooper, NCO or officer. Here is a typical example from one unit of the absolute minimum requirements:

  • Service in the Battalion / Squadron for at least 180 days.
  • Service in at least three Field Exercises.
  • A score of at least 240 in the last Army Physical Fitness Test.
  • Meet or exceed the weight standards according to AR 600-9.
  • Qualify at "expert" or "sharpshooter" on personal weapon.
  • Possess the spirit, determination, cunning and initiative in the finest traditions of the United States Cavalry.

Once documented as having achieved the above performance objectives, the candidate is designated to participate in the Spur Ride Exercise. This exercise requires the completion of:

  • Land Navigation Problem
  • Leadership Reaction Situation
  • First Aid Administration
  • Weapons Deployment and Use
  • Signal and Communication Procedures
  • Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Situation
  • Qualified Spur Ride [run]

Minimum spur standards of another unit:

  • A passing score on the written test of Regimental history and cavalry tactics.
  • Recite from memory "Fiddlers Green".
  • A passing score in the top 20 % of the Army PT Test.
  • A passing score on the unit administrated land navigation course.
  • A passing score at the grade of 85% or above in the CTT ( common tasks tests ) evaluation.

Spurs in Iraq information can be found at these links:

http://usmilitary.about.com/od/army/a/cavalryspure.htm

http://www.kwtx.com/forthood/headlines/12033726.html

Spurs in Germany information at this link:

http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,87932,00.html

Order of the Spur on Wiki - Check out the discussion tab at the link.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_the_Spur

The Blackhorse Regiment was unable to provide their current requirements for the Order of the Spur or background on their version of the Cavalry Lieutenant’s Night Ride. It is safe to say, however, somewhere in that high desert country once per year, at least for a few grueling days and nights, lieutenants ride with carbine and pistol to the sound o’cannon and more than one will remark to their driver on a very dark night, “ Wait!! Not that trail … Ch*%&#!! I think I’m lost!! “

 
 


Home Return to Home Station Return to Hidden Stories