Sunday, June 2, 2013

Old Troopers Never Die...

I was honored yesterday by a visit from a trooper who rode with B Troop back in the 70s.  His name was Sherman Pauley, and he rode 1978-1979.  He is getting on in years and was traveling across the country with his family from back east.  He indicated this would be his last trip out west and he wanted to impart some old scrapbook items he saved from his B Troop days. 
We chatted for close to an hour and I asked him as much as I could about a period of time from which we have almost no records.  He have me a troop roster from 1977 and it had about forty names on it.  Not all of them rode, though, some were wagon drivers and artillery crew, but based on the photos he showed me, B Troop had a huge mounted presence once upon a time. 
The troop had no formal training and did not possess its own horses.  Riding training was accomplished "on the job" and the horses were all leased from the Buffalo Corral.  The thought of conducting business like that sends shivers up my spine, but they made it work (although he indicated it was sometimes exciting).  He gave me a list of Buffalo Corral horses that indicated which horses were suitable for B Troop and which ones weren't.  There were about sixty horses they could use and about ninety they couldn't.  How they kept all those horses straight is a mystery to me.  Oddly, some of the horses on the NOT SUITABLE list have name plates on our wall of retired horses, so obviously some of them eventually were used anyway. 
Interestingly, I found a horse on the reject list called Apache.  He was not usable because he was "not good looking."  Obviously, not related to the Wonder Horse.  If he had been, the note would have indicated "insanity" or "evil genius" or something like that. 
Sherman told me that the original troop office was in one of the old Indian scout huts on Apache flats.  I remember hearing from another source how one of the huts was acquired for B Troop use and renovated to make is habitable.  The huts were torn down long ago, which is a shame.  The huts were along the road to the RV park on post and there is no trace of them now. 
To move the troop, they had a semi-tractor trailer rig for the horses and a flatbed trailer to move the cannon and wagon.  The cannon apparently belonged to the museum and they would go get it each time they needed to use it.  The Rose Bowl parade was one of their biggest events, but they also did some of the stuff we do now; Helldorado, Picacho Peak, Fort Lowell, etc.  They also participated in large-scale re-enactments with other cavalry units in which everything had to be authentic down to the food they ate (hard tack, salt pork, and beans).  And, naturally, since they had to while away the hours around the campfire, they had a 4th Cavalry Songbook which featured songs like the Boys of B Troop
"Oh, we're the boys of B Troop,
            We're not so very neat,
            We seldom comb our hair
            And we never wash our feet."
Great stuff.
It was great visiting with Sherman and he had some fond memories of his time in the troop.  He gave me all the articles and photographs he had from those years (including his old trooper manual), which I will add to our scrapbook collection. 
As I bid him farewell, I couldn't help but wonder if today's troopers will be showing up at Fort Huachuca in 35 years to recount their days of glory in B Troop.