Memorial Day ~ Lest We Forget

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On thy grave the rain shall fall
from the eyes of a mighty nation.

Thomas William Parsons


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From these honored dead we take increased devotion
to that cause for which thy gave
the last full measure of devotion …
that we here highly resolve
that these dead
shall not have died in vain.

Abraham Lincoln

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Former BLM Mustang Escorts Fallen Marine To Arlington Cemetery

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His name was Marine Sgt. Trevor Johnson, a young Marine who was killed by a roadside bomb while serving in Afghanistan.

He was a fifth-generation boy from Montana who grew up riding horses, herding cattle and mending fences.

When the young soldier was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on a cold winter day, a symbol of the fallen soldier’s ranching roots helped to escort him there.

Lonesome, a horse donated to The Old Guard’s caisson platoon from the Montana Bureau of Land Management lead the caisson that carried Johnson’s casket.

Lonesome was born at a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) holding facility in Butte, Montana on Oct.12, 1995. As a young foal, he was freeze marked, a white identity mark that is clearly seen, today.

Lonesome was eventually adopted by Mark Sant, a BLM Archeologist.  Sant soon learned that Lonesome was exceptional in many ways. He was smart, strong and had a great personality.

When Mark Sant heard the Old Guard was looking for large black mustangs for their Caisson Platoon, he could think of no greater honor than donating Lonesome to be a part of that prestigious team.

Lonesome, the stunning black mustang of the Caisson Platoon, has since participated in hundreds of funerals as well as the funeral for former President Ronald W. Reagan, and the 55th Inaugural Parade.

Lonesome has turned out to be a wonderful ambassador for the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program as well as a beautiful, well-trained and loved member of the Third Army’s Caisson Platoon.

How the horse came to assist in the interment ceremony for Marine Corps Sgt. Trevor J. Johnson at Arlington took some initiative by Mark Sant.  Although he had never met Johnson, he wanted the Marine’s family to have a symbol of the state as they mourned the loss of a loved one so many, many miles from home.

Mark Sant e-mailed the office of Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer to seek help finding Lonesome – the horse Sant had donated to the military several years ago.

An Aide for the Governor contacted the Montana National Guard, which in turn contacted the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, or Old Guard, which assists in burial services at Arlington National Cemetery.

It’s not a request the Old Guard hears often, but one that was easy to oblige, said Major Steven Cole. “It’s stories like this that show the depths of care that all Americans have for their service men and women,” Cole said.

Cole further stated that to his knowledge, Lonesome is the only mustang from Montana.

Lonesome, front left lead horse

Just as Marine Sgt. Trevor took the lead in the battlefield, Lonesome took the lead on that day in Arlington Cemetery.

A Montana-grown horse carried the body of one of Montana’s brave soldiers.

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References:
DC Military
Bureau of Land Management
Bureau of Land Management

Last Photo: Adam Skoczylas

Friesian Horse Team Joins North Carolina Police Caisson Unit

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North Carolina Trooper Ernest Ramsey Welcomes New Recruit

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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