Though the 1st Cavalry Division Horse Cavalry Detachment may be one of the smallest in the Army, it might be said they make the most noise.
During the change of command ceremony on Aug. 30, the horses and their riders took to the field with hoops, hollers and gunfire, led by outgoing commander Capt. Jeremy A. Woodard.
Riding beside the guidon bearer, Woodard guided the troop through close order drill, with the horses — matched in size and color — moving in columns of twos or fours, in figure eights and other combinations.
With pistols firing, they rode along rows of yellow and black balloons placed at ground level, aiming and bursting them with expert precision.
Then, Woodard dismounted, approaching Maj. Brandon Dawalt, of Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, who served as reviewing officer for the ceremony. The incoming commander, Capt. James J. Nance, accepted the guidon from Dawalt.
In his remarks, Dawalt acknowledged the Horse Cavalry Detachment as “one of the most elite groups I’ve served with.”
Dawalt told the assembled crowd, “These troops are away from their homes more than people realize.”
The Horse Cavalry Detachment participates in more than 250 events each year, from demonstrations and parades to movie premieres or presidential inaugurations.
“These troopers can truly do it all,” said Dawalt.
With a touch of humor, Dawalt reflected on Woodard’s 18 months in command. “He’s the first who sent dogs to the promotion board.”
The unit’s two dogs were, in fact, promoted in recent days. Buddy, semi-retired, is now a staff sergeant. Bow has achieved the rank of specialist.
Of Nance, Dawalt revealed, “He was the first officer to volunteer to command this unit” when the position opened. Coming from a background of civil affairs, Nance persisted in his resolve.
“Everything else will be easy,” Dawalt joked, concluding, “I know you will rise to meet any challenge you are given.”
Stepping to the podium, Woodard asked those present to remember the victims of Hurricane Harvey. “There are members of the Horse Cavalry Detachment who have lost a whole, whole lot” from the storm, he said.
Woodard praised the unit for their diligent work, including working to restore the detachment’s training grounds from a waterlogged pit earlier in the week to an area suitable for the ceremony.
“I’m not the reason this unit is the best mounted unit,” Woodard said. “The troopers are.”
Growing emotional, Woodard even thanked his mount, Cobra, though the horse was absent from the festivities.
“He’s on profile,” said Woodard. “His feet are hurting.”
Nance delivered a few brief remarks, thanking Woodard for assisting with the transition. Being a civil affairs officer, he was proud to be able to pursue the opportunity of commanding the detachment.
Proceeding to mount his horse, Hammer, Nance rode to join his troop.
Dawalt left him — and the unit — with an idea for naming the next horse to join the detachment: “I recommend the name Shoemaker,” in memory of recently deceased Gen. Robert M. Shoemaker.