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Squadron shares story of all-black Army units

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Posted: Thursday, February 9, 2012 12:00 pm | Updated: 9:53 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By Rose L. Thayer

Killeen Daily Herald

Ellison High School students got a history lesson on the Buffalo Soldiers from a Fort Hood unit still carrying one of the famed cavalry regiments' names Wednesday.

In honor of Black History Month, troopers from the 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, spoke to social studies classes throughout the day about the history of the 9th and 10th Cavalry regiments - the first two all-black Army units organized in the 1860s to protect settlers in the West from hostile Native American tribes.

During a presentation that included clips from the 1997 made-for-television movie, "Buffalo Soldiers," starring Danny Glover, students learned the term Buffalo Soldiers was coined by their enemies.

"They got their name because of their proficiency and how good they were," said squadron commander Lt. Col. Cameron Cantlon.

The soldiers were admired by the military, as well, he added, and were even invited to the U.S. Military Academy to teach future officers to ride horseback.

Cantlon stressed the importance of making connections between the past and present.

"It's important to associate with those who went before you," he told students of the squadron's adopted school. "It's important because we have to know where we came from to know what we stand for right now."

Amanda Hillman, a freshman world geography teacher, agreed.

"It's good for us to let them know about the local history," she said of her students.

Ken Patman, a ninth-grade student in Hillman's class, said he learned "a lot" from the presentation. "(I) didn't know anything about the 9th Cavalry Regiment and that it was all black. ... It's been a long time since I've learned new things during Black History Month. We typically hear about the same people every year, so I'm pretty glad I learned this."

Cantlon said it was important to remember what the monthlong observance commemorates.

"The key to celebrating Black History Month is to ask, 'What does it mean to me?'" he said. "We can refresh ourselves on history because it applies today. It's important because it's our history."

Contact Rose L. Thayer at rthayer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

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