The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment Horse Detachment, aka Black Horse, visited Virgin Valley Elementary School this past week. The Fort Irwin, California, soldiers gave the students a short assembly before taking to the field and demonstrating their military marksmanship skills while mounted on horseback.

During the assembly, SFC Nick Baeza told students that the purpose of their horse detachment was to keep the history and spirit of the  cavalry alive and that there were only 5 such detachments in the army today. He also told students that each of the cavalry detachments represents a different historical period from cavalry history. Fort Irwin represents the 1901 era, which is shown by the authentic uniform that they wear.

Students submitted questions prior to the assembly, that were read aloud and answered. Brecken, a fifth grader, asked, “How do you get into the military?” SFC Baeza told the students that to join a branch of the military students needed to be 18, to graduate high school, and they needed to be physically fit. Students also need to do their best at reading and math because the better they are in those areas, the more opportunities would be available to them in the military.

Blake, a third grader asked, “Why did armies in the past have a drummer boy?” SFC Baeza said that hundreds of years ago, soldiers didn’t have the chance to attend school and so they didn’t know right from left. Hay was placed in one shoe and barley was placed in the other. Soldiers were taught to march, Hay, Barley, Hay, Barley. A drum beat helped them keep time and stay in step.

Another third grader, Bentley, asked, “Why do soldiers risk their lives?” SFC Baeza told the students that most soldiers probably originally join the military and go to war to protect freedom, but once they get on the battlefield, they are fighting to protect their fellow soldiers, their battle buddies, those on their left and right, those people that become their family. Soldiers fight to keep these people alive.

Out on the field, the Black Horse regiment demonstrated their abilities guiding their horses through a course and over jumps, all while drawing sabers and slicing through pumpkins and potatoes, and drawing pistols and shooting blanks at balloon targets. These soldiers recently returned from the National Cavalry Competition at Fort Reno, Oklahoma where they won many team and individual competitions and brought home numerous ribbons and trophies. The students were excited to cheer on each soldier and their horse, PFC Ferguson on Tuff, Captain Cook on Freckles, Specialist Garcia on Hondo, Specialist Brann on Archimedes, and SFC Baeza on Sassy.

The Black Horse soldiers put on a show for Veteran’s Day that will long be remembered by the students of VVES.