Story by Maj. Marcellus Simmons
Fort Hood (Now designated Fort Cavazos), TX- During Black History Month, the 1st Cavalry Division is taking time to reflect on the achievements and contributions of African American Soldiers who served within our formation. Throughout history, these Troopers helped shape the First Team’s reputation of being courageous, audacious and victorious.
“It is amazing to serve in one of the Army’s most storied Divisions,” stated Command Sgt. Maj. Shade Munday, command sergeant major, 1st Cavalry Division. “The 1st CAV is an incredibly diverse and inclusive fighting force and we are stronger for it. It’s always important to recognize this diversity and celebrate it. This is how we build cohesive teams; by knowing who our people are, the value individuals bring to the force, and taking the time to appreciate the contributions of our Troopers past and present.”
The Cavalry’s ties to African American history began on September 21, 1866 in Greenville, Louisiana, with the formation of one the first Regular Army regiments made up entirely of black enlisted Soldiers, the 9th Cavalry Regiment. With a regimental motto of “We Can, We Will,” these Soldiers would come to be known as the “Buffalo Soldiers” based on their earned reputation of exhibiting as valiant, fierce fighting style.
According to the 1st Cavalry Division Association, during America’s expansion westward in the 1870’s and the 1880’s, the 9th Cavalry Troopers protected national interests by serving in western Texas as the only source of security from lawless settlers and bandits along the frontier. During this period, 15 members of the regiment earned the Medal of Honor, many were noncommissioned officers who led small detachments of Soldiers.
In the late 1890’s, the 9th CAV were called up during the Spanish-American War in response to the sinking of the battleship Maine in Cuban waters. As one of the first units to go ashore, the regiment once again demonstrated their gallantry while fighting in several engagements including the Battle of San Juan Hill, the Battle of El Caney and the Battle of Las Guasimas.
Over the years, 9th CAV continued to answer the nation’s call by responding to conflicts in the Philippines, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq.
“As an Army we have made significant progress with regards to diversity and inclusivity,” said Lt. Col. Derek Drouin, commander, 6th squadron, 9th cavalry regiment. “Today, the regiment is made up of a dynamic team of high-performing men and women from different ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds. We honor the legacy of the Troopers that came before us by being a disciplined, lethal and ready fighting force.”
Currently, the 1st Battalion and the 4th Squadron serve with the 1st Cavalry Division’s 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team. The 6th Squadron serves with the division’s 3rd Armored Brigade Combat team. Together, they remain ready to respond to conflicts around the globe.
Lt. Col. Jennifer J. Bocanegra contributed to this story.