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Chief -- Fort Riley KS
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 39° 03.830 W 096° 47.036
14S E 691730 N 4326197
Quick Description: The tomb of Chief, the last US Army Cavalry horse on the Army muster rolls. Chief was buried with full military honors at Fort Riley KS. The Commanding General of the US Army attended his funeral.
Location: Kansas, United States
Date Posted: 12/12/2013 3:58:39 PM
Waymark Code: WMJPBB
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
Views: 1

Long Description:
---> All visitors to this waymark should know that Fort Riley is a closed military base. The museums on board are usually open to the public, but access to them can be curtailed at any time due to operational or security needs of the Army. All visitors to the base must sign in at the Fort Riley front gate and present photo identification, proof of insurance, and proof of US citizenship to come on board the post. <---

Chief was foaled in 1942. When he died in 1968, he was the last US Army cavalry horse on the muster rolls.

Chief is interred in a large grave at the head of the Fort Riley KS parade grounds. US Army engineers created a special casket for Chief so that he could be buried standing up. His grave is topped with a large statue called "Old Trooper," which honors all the cavalry mounts of the US Army.

The plaque over his grave reads as follows:

"CHIEF

Foaled 1932

Entered the
Miltary service
1940

Retired
1949

Upon his death
He was the last Cavalry
Mount on the
Rolls of the
United States
Army

Died 1968"

Mama Blaster's Dad was Armored Cav, but he was very respectful of and fascinated by the Mounted Cavalry history of the Army. He LOVED his tanks (he was a tanker through and through) but he loved the skill, bravery of man and horse, and history of the Mounted Cav.

The Army knew an era was passing decades before Chief died. This article appeared in 1966 in the US Army Quartermaster's Foundation Magazine: (visit link)

"CHIEF, the last living cavalry horse still carried on government rolls, was foaled in 1932 and purchased by the Army in 1940 at Ft. Robinson, Neb. In December of 1949 he was placed in semi-retirement and was fully retired at Ft. Riley, Kan., in 1958. In the event of his death Chief will be buried with full military honors adjacent to Old Trooper, the cavalry monument on main post.

Chief, the last remaining government owned cavalry horse, is currently in retirement at Ft.Riley, Kan. Though the days of the horse cavalry have long since passed, this horse remains on the Army rolls.

Foaled In 1932, the bay entered the Army eight years later, exactly one year and 12 days prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He was purchased at Fort Robinson, Neb., from L. A. Parker of Scottsbluff, Neb., for $183.00.

He arrived at his cavalry post, Ft. Riley, Kan. on April 3, 1941, where he was assigned to the 10th Cavalry and later the 9th Cavalry. In June of 1942, Chief was transferred to the Cavalry School and remained on the post until his retirement.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about the 34-year-old horse is his physical condition. According to the Post Veterinarian. Chief's physical condition is "excellent." He says that except for advanced age, Chief demonstrates no condition to indicate any trouble in the foreseeable future.

About three years ago Chief was thin and lacking in energy. He carried his head low and his ears back. Then his diet was changed from the standard rations be had been receiving and the change has remarkable results.

Every day Chief, now sleek and fat, is let out in a corral at the Ft. Riley Riding Club. After a first burst of running, he lies down and rolls in the sand. Then he springs to his feet, kicks up his heels and prances around the corral. Usually he stops to roll in the sand several more times before retiring to a shady corner to graze.

In recent years, Chief has become somewhat of a historical landmark at Ft. Riley. During the summer months several hundred visitors call at the Riding Stable to look at the animal.

That Chief is the last of thousands is no idle statement. Illustrative of the number just prior to World War II, the Second Cavalry Division was activated at at Ft. Riley and during the early months of that conflict more than 6,000 head of horses were kept on post.

At Ft. Riley is a monument commemorating the operation of the 26th Cavalry Regiment which was totally annihilated by the Japanese during engagements of Luzon and Bataan in the early moments of WW II. This was the last occasion that mounted horse cavalry was used in actual combat by the United States against the enemy.

So the horse cavalry died, but Chief lives on. In 1953 the number of retired mounts at Ft Riley decreased in number from 43 to 30 at the year's end. In 1954, the number declined to 11. In 1955, there were just five mounts left --two of whom were the most famous of cavalry horses -- Gambler and Joe Louis. The other three were Flicka, Strollalong and Chief. All were geldings except Flicka, a mare.

Now they are all gone . . . all except Chief, the last of thousands. He was a good cavalry mount, well liked and remembered by a few people who have known him for a long time. Chief is a real live reminder of the days of boots and saddles -- Custer and the 7th Cavalry, the great days of opening the American West. Chief was a Cavalry Horse.

The 3rd Infantry (Old Guard) has 28 government owned horses, but they are ceremonial horses, used primarily for caisson-drawing, as mounts for caisson section leaders, or caparisoned horses for military funerals." [end]

From Olive-Drab magazine, some excepts of an excellent article on the mechanization of the US Cavalry and Chief, the last of the cavalry horses: (visit link)

"After serving the U.S. Army from 1776, when Gen. George Washington established a mounted force, to the middle of the 20th century, the cavalry horse at last was retired from service. Mechanization of the Cavalry arm of the U.S. Army (and other services) was near total, the horse had no operational role. Only ceremonial horses, used primarily for military funerals, remained on active duty. Some posts retained horses for sport, remembrance, special events, or reenactment but the esteemed Cavalry horse was gone.

. . . . .

Chief, The Last U.S. Cavalry Horse

Chief, the last U.S. Army cavalry horse, was foaled in 1932. The Army purchased him in 1940 from a Nebraska rancher, at Ft. Robinson, NE. He arrived at his cavalry post, Ft. Riley, KS. on 3 April 1941, assigned to the 10th Cavalry and later the 9th Cavalry. In June 1942, Chief was transferred to the Cavalry School (also at Ft.Riley) where he rose to the rank of Advanced Cavalry Charger. Chief remained at the school after his 1949 semi-retirement until his 1958 full retirement.

During the 1950s and early 1960s the number of retired cavalry horses declined until only Chief was left. For years, Chief enjoyed his retirement days in a corral at the Ft. Riley Riding Club. Each year, Chief entertained hundreds of visitors, a living representative of the more than 6,000 horses who were kept on post at Ft. Riley during WW II, as well as all Army horses. Finally, on 24 May 1968, Chief died, to join the millions of faithful cavalry horses who served and died before him. A military funeral with full honors was held, attended by the Commanding General of the U.S. Army.

Chief is buried at Ft. Riley, at the foot of the Old Trooper Monument (modeled after the Cavalry soldier drawing "Old Bill" by Fredric Remington.) Chief is buried upright, encased in a marble vault, ready to ride again." [end]
Type of Memorial: plaque

Type of Animal: service, work animal

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