North Carolina Trooper Ernest Ramsey Welcomes New Recruit
The North Carolina Troopers Association (NCTA) strongly believed a horse-drawn caisson unit was a worthwhile project to take on, because it would add an extra measure of dignity and solemnity to funerals of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty.
The newly formed North Carolina State Highway Patrol Caisson Unit were thoroughly searching for the ideal horse team.
Meanwhile, Janet and Jay Stingel were looking for the perfect retirement home for their Friesian four horse team who annually spent their summers at Mackinac Island.
North Carolina Trooper Ernest Ramsey who spearheaded the creation of North Carolina’s caisson unit worked with Janet and Jay Stingel for their Friesians to become the official North Carolina Caisson Unit team.
For the last ten years, the Islanders had called them “The Boys”.
However, the 22-year-olds, Detlef, Fetse, Kenny, and Fonger, won’t be making the trip north from their winter home at Biltmore Stables in Asheville, North Carolina, because the Stingels have donated them to the newly formed North Carolina State Highway Patrol Caisson Unit.
“We wanted to make sure they would have a good home,” said Janet Stingel. “Keeping the team together” was the couple’s biggest concern, agreed Mr. Stingel.
The Island trails and demanding hills were a little more than the aging horses could easily handle, he said, but as caisson horses, they will travel only about six blocks with each funeral hearse they pull.
The Stingels were the first to introduce Islanders to the Friesian breed at a time when no more than 1,000 of them lived in the United States, Mr. Stingel said.
With the gift of the Stingel’s Friesian team to the North Carolina Caisson Unit, the state officially has four new troopers.
The Friesian horse team have been assigned badge numbers and are considered North Carolina Troopers and protected under the law.
Each saddle patch displays an official emblem.
According to Terry Story, NCTA president, the caisson unit is unique and may well be the only state group of its kind in the nation.
Only trained team members with experience working with horses and operating horse team-drawn wagons are authorized to operate the caisson unit.
In addition to use at police officer and firefighter funerals, the unit also can be used for services for current and past governors of North Carolina, incumbent members of the North Carolina General Assembly, and law enforcement officers from other states killed in the line of duty.
The wagon being used was built by members of the Amish community in Ohio and purchased for $18,000 by Trooper Ramsey as a donation to the NCTA. The wagon was made to exact Civil War specifications and is similar to wagons used in Arlington National Cemetery.
Military personnel from the Arlington National Cemetery have agreed to provide training free of charge for caisson unit members.
Clearly there is much excitement about the new additions to the North Carolina State Patrol. All are committed to making this caisson unit a first class operation.
As for the Stingels, they are encouraging other Friesian owners to donate their horses to similar noble services