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WALTER J. SCHWEITZER TROOP “C” 107TH CAVALRY HORSE/MECHANIZED, FORT ORD, DEC. 1941
Coats of arms: The unit crest shield is yellow for Cavalry. The bend charged with the alerions, taken from the arms of Lorraine, is representative of World War I service and is red to indicate that the 107th Cavalry served as Field Artillery during World War I. The Roman Sword in sheath is for Spanish-American War service and the cactus for Mexican Border duty. The motto translates to “To Act, Not To Speak.”
May 2011: “A TRAGIC LOSS OF HISTORY AT FORT ORD, CALIFORNIA” just after Memorial Day the last complete example of our country’s end of the U.S. Army Warhorse which were still being used at the beginning of World War II. The Series 700 temporary type buildings: artillery, cavalry stables along with their blacksmith shops are being demolished on the California State University at Monterey Bay Campus, California. Leaving only the Fort Ord Station Veterinary Horse Hospital the only buildings remaining to testify of the memory of the “Fort Ord Horse Soldiers” that were there from 1940 to 1942. This action ends a two year long battle for their recognition and preservation.
U.S. Army Veterinary Corps Preservation Group
Words cannot express what is in my heart at seeing and walking the grounds of where the Fort Ord Field Artillery and Cavalry stables once stood.
2nd Lieutenant Walter J. Schweitzer 107th Cavalry National Guard, 1943. (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
I am writing you in regarding to my dad's service at Ft. Ord, California with the 107th Horse/Mechanized Cavalry in the 1940’s during WW2. He has told me about protecting and traveling the coastline of California in search of Japanese subs and winning the Blue Ribbon at the Pogonip Country Club before the unit became mechanized. His horse never threw dad but his motorcycle did after the 107th became mechanized! Mom and Dad were married in Salinas during the war. Today Dad sits quietly with Mom at his side and his Military Memoirs in his lap. (April 2010)
Thank you for your Website
Note: I would like to humbly and graciously thank Karen for sharing her father’s pictures and memories with us, we are so fortunate. - Greg Krenzelok
Sergeant Walter J. Schweitzer Troop 107th Cavalry NG, 1940 (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
THE MILITARY MEMOIRS OF WALTER J. SCHWEITZER
To: Irma my dear wife and best friend.
"As a boy I heard the bakery wagon, the milk wagon, the green grocer, too, come down my street clippity-clop. Those wagons were drawn by horses. Without a doubt, I found myself being drawn “to” the horses." - Walter J. Schweitzer
THE EARLY DAYS
Walter J. Schweitzer joined the recruit class of the 107th Regiment Horse Cavalry of the National Guard on October 3, 1938. The Armory was located at Reading Road and Asmann Avenue. Basic training would be completed in three months. Seven men were in that class and each was in earnest to successfully complete the training course and win his “spurs”. The course was rigorous both physically and mentally. Everything possible was used to discourage us. We learned a lesson in humility just by wearing our uniform. We donned a WWI tunic type 100% itchy wool uniform with a choker collar and wrap-around leggings, which unwrapped when mounting. Our training instructor, Army Sergeant John Stevens, was a true army recruit sergeant. Only myself and Don Flowers managed to survive the three-month ordeal.
The Professional soldier, SGT. John Stevens (left) and the otherwise Wally Schweitzer with his horse “Kenny” (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
We won our “Spurs” and were assigned to Troop K on January 4, 1939. The Rules and Regulations were made abundantly clear to us as we signed up for I-had-no-idea-how long. Don and I were quite content with our shiny Spurs. We committed ourselves to attend drill and training sessions each week plus two weeks each year at designated military posts, such as Camp Perry, (Ohio), Fort Knox, (Ky) or Camp McCoy, (Wisc). The two-week training, particularly periods focused upon weapons training and qualifying with “cavalry” weapons. At the armory we would fire the Cal.22 Rifle on the improvised range beneath the stables. At camp, the normal Horse Cavalry Weaponry included the M 1 Garand Rifle, 30 Cal Machine Gun, Cal 45 Model 1911 Service Pistol, 60 and 81 MM Mortar weapons. We all would be required to qualify with the weapons assigned to our unit. Medals are awarded to troopers who qualify with their respective weapons. Basic qualifiers are referred to as “marksman”. Middle qualifiers are referred to as “sharpshooter” and the highest level is classified “Expert”. I had a distinct advantage over most of the troopers. Almost nightly during the summer of my fifteenth year no one seemed to mind when I carried my rifle all the way from Pitts and Jester Streets down to the Northside City Dump. The beat policeman would drive by and wave good evening as though it was totally appropriate for a minor to walk down the road with a gun in hand. It was also common, on my way home, for an adult to inquire how many rats I hit that night. In my one hand I would hold both the barrel of the rifle and a flashlight, which caught the glare of those beady red eyes in my line of sight. My record evening was thirteen kills. Those rats helped me qualify as “Expert”. For the next eight years I would assist in the weapons training of hundreds of men.
We learned to care for our weapons and treat them as our best friends, but the reason for joining the 107th, “the horses”. . . Finally we mounted up. It was here I learned the most about horses. I met Jimmy Kane, a retired jockey and horse trainer. I had a great deal of respect for his knowledge. I was flattered that he spent so much time with me. Jimmy was addicted to jumpers and converted me without a second thought. Before long I was jumping in The Cincinnati Charity Horse Show on a remount named Kenny.
Every horse in the Troop “K” stable’s name began with a “K”. At Jimmy’s insistence I rode just about all the remounts we received that year, 1940. Kenny, Kildare, Keith, Kansas, Klondike, Kong and others. Each of them had their own little peculiarities that had to be dealt with.
The first half of that year we had much to absorb. The older troopers, as well as recruits, learned just about as much as was expected. We were truly ready for the “Horse Games”. Most of those games related to the communication of horse and rider. The mounted Guidon Drill was a great starting point. This precision drill included all possible maneuvers and turns, Columns of Four, Fours by the Right (and left), Flanks Figure Eights and the Serpentine did call for some coordinating. It was great fun to have my older brother and best friend, Lee, participate in this drill with me. (Lee was a member of the 107th Cavalry up until we were inducted into Federal Service).
Musical Chair as always an attraction the polo fans enjoyed during halftime. Some skill was required, but the real rough and tumble game of Russian Kav-Kas was a little more daring. It required four men on a team, a basketball covered with goat’s hair and a basketball hoop at the end of each playing field. Rules were simple: The referee throws the ball into play, grabbed by one of the players who races toward his basket, being pursued by his opponents who seek only to prevent him from scoring by de-horsing him and turning the ball over, just as in regulation basketball. Each player starts off with a blanket instead of a saddle, held in place by a surcingle, a belt passed around the horse, which usually is detached by opponents. He then becomes a bareback rider, easily de-horsed! Possession is lost when the ball falls to the turf or a basket is scored. The game does not stop to allow a fallen rider to mount. Definitely this game is not recommended for the faint of heart.
I could not resist joining The Cincinnati Polo Club. Polo is a game you do not learn in one year. I did have the privilege of playing with the stars: Reider Schell, Harry Bell, Dick Herschede, Art Stollmaier, Jule Gruenebaum and “Jerk” Undercoffer. At the end of the winter season we played a match game between Troop “I” and Troop “K”. It was then I managed to play a full game.
Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, August 1940. Our bivouac with none of the comforts of home. Our horses on the picket line in the center area of the above picture. (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
Our two-week extended Maneuvers & Tactical Training came up in a hurry that August. We were off for Camp McCoy, Sparta, Wisconsin. It was not a happy go lucky group going on a two-week vacation. We had full knowledge that all was not going well in Europe, that disaster was befalling small countries which had little or no defense and newsreels showed Adolph Hitler way too large and loud. It was at this camp that we did a lot of shooting and qualifying. The mounted pistol course intrigued everyone. It was the days of the Wild West all over again. The course was set up with twenty-eight silhouette targets on a twist and turn track. Each trooper had his Cal.45 pistol and four clips each with seven rounds. Once you are committed to the course, you may not change gaits. That is, it’s a gallop all the way. I did well on this course with twenty-five hits out of twenty-eight rounds fired. Upon the completion of this two-week event, it was a lifetime thrill for me to receive the “expert” medal presented by the Regimental Commander.
On March 5, 1941, we were inducted into Federal Service. On March 15th we loaded our horses and ourselves onto a train headed for Camp Forrest, Tullahoma, Tennessee.
Somewhere along the trip we almost got lost in translation. Our “K” Troop was now designated as “C” Troop and old “I” Troop became known as “B” Troop.
We arrived to find ourselves transplanted in a mud hole, not your ordinary mud hole! The mud was red and when inhaled caused an immediate raw sore throat. We referred to that infection as “Tennessee Red”. It took down almost a third of our troop for about a week. All survived.
It didn’t take long to realize that our newly appointed officers knew little about the art of military leadership. Consequently we didn’t put our best foot forward. As we adjusted, our lives did become somewhat smoother. We were suddenly ordered out of the barracks and into the field for a thirty day maneuver. The Tennessee field training went well and we were settling down a bit. It was a good thing, too, because we just received some thirty remounts and most of those horses acted as though they had never seen a live person before.
Of the remounts, a few of the horses were doggone good and Big Cain was among the few. Standing 16.2 hands with the confirmation of a jumper, he caught my eye right then and there. That was the beginning of a pleasant relationship between a man and his horse. I so named Cain after Jimmy Kane who trained me in the skill of jumping. (No longer being in “K” Troop, the names our new mounts now began with “C”).
Stable stall card for Corporal Schweitzer's remount “Crash” (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
There just aren’t many horses like Big Cain. There was one, however, who is memorable because of his nastiness. He killed the “B” Troop Stable Sergeant by kicking him in the chest. As the senior member of the remount detail, it was up to me to make something of him. I named him “Crash”. After a couple of long months of attempting to calm completely unmanageable animal, our Regimental Veterinarian, Captain Sam Saylor decided to put down this “pig-eyed” horse. Crash tore up his stall before succumbing. I was not unhappy to see him go.
Now with the addition of fresh horses and the presence of old, sickly and seriously injured ones, it became necessary to destroy, and mercifully so, eight of our “C” Troop mounts. It is always a sad day to destroy a horse that had been a good mount. Among those was Sgt. John Steven’s Chestnut with the blaze face. John had permitted me to ride his prized horse for the Mounted Pistol Qualifications. He was perfect. Visitors from home pleasantly interrupted the Camp Forrest training of man and horse. Friends drove down, bringing to me the woman I chose to cherish all my days. During this time, Irma and I talked seriously about the date of our wedding when my year of “conscription” would be up.
Reflecting upon this period, I recall the troubled part of our stay in Camp Forrest. The enlisted men had minimal confidence in our officers. I recall an incident involving one of our ninety-day-wonders who decided he wanted to take over my platoon for Dismounted Drill. The boys in Third Platoon were both good and proud of what they did. This Second Lt. took it upon himself to issue orders that were not heard of in the Annals of Dismounted Drill. The platoon, confused by such poor orders, stumbled over each other. The Lieutenant then questioned me with an inane query: “Sergeant, what would these men do if I gave them this command: ‘Two’s by the right flank’?” My reply was simple and to the point. “I don’t know, Lieutenant. I never heard that command before”. That incident occurred on Saturday. Monday morning I was on KP as a Private. Our Troop Commander, Captain Frederick Kroencke would promote me to Corporal in June, 1941.
We were off to another thirty days of maneuvers. This time we traveled into the wild bayous of Louisiana, a land of snakes, alligators and wild pigs. We knew it would be rugged and tough for both man and beast. The Army, Air Corps and mechanized units would also participate in these maneuvers. It promised to be a wild ride. It was, but not without some wonderment. Many new innovations were being introduced into Modern Warfare. During one of our reconnaissance missions, we were “attacked” by a very low flying fighter plane, ostensibly to strafe our column of mounted horsemen. He arrived without warning and disappeared as quickly. Never had I seen a plane flying so low and so fast. I was in awe and I was proud that we had such efficient flying machines. I learned that it was the Bell P-39 Airacobra. I turned to my buddy, Ray Sipe and said “Ray, there is no way we can lose a war with a plane like that on our side”.
After leaving the trials and tribulations of Louisiana, we returned to the friendly confines of Camp Forrest, only to load up our portees with eight men, eight horses and full field equipment to head for South Carolina. It may have been late August. I do believe we thought it would be easier living compared to our life in Louisiana. We were becoming wiser to the ways of warfare and outdoor living. We were becoming more resigned to inevitable war. For now we were dealing with our own self generated problems. The horses were a constant consideration. They needed to be exercised. Our stable Sergeant decided to simplify this activity by just turning the horses loose in a large compound and stampede them. When I saw this happening I rescued Big Cain out of the way and let the rest of them fly by. Exhausted from running the stampede route, the tired animals slept where they fell – in rattlesnake territory. Some of our sleeping horses got bitten, mostly on their noses. Two of them died and a third survived.
During the stampede, as Jack Myers slept in his improvised hammock, the horses thought it would be great fun to team up and jump over him in group – a remarkable sight. We were, in fact, in jumping and steeple chasing terrain. Lt. “Hoot” Undercoffer and I erected a jumping course over the rolling hills of South Carolina. The Broad River was aptly named. With full Troop compliment and full equipment load, we were faced with crossing a half mile spans with depths ranging from one to five feet deep. One horse, the one carrying the machine gun pack, slipped into the rushing river and struggled to keep his head out of the moving waters. He was unable to regain footing without help. I rushed in, keeping his head up while attempting to remove the weight on his back. It was impossible to remove his saddle pack because the wet cinch had contracted. That day I carried a pocketknife and used it to cut the cinch strap and set the panicked animal free. (I carry that pocketknife with me still). Only Tom Hannon helped me get the horse back on his footing. We removed the gun and ammo pack and placed it in less deep water. After finally managing to replace the saddle on the poor confused animal, who by this time, was about to jump over the moon if he didn’t have a heart attack first, we began looking for the gun. We had moved more downstream than I thought. Tom and I had done quite a bit of thrashing about with our horse, but where is that machine gun? Possibly still in the Broad River since that November, 1941 day. Thanks to our vet, Captain Saylor, Tom and I were off the hook for the loss of the gun. Our more immediate concern was not freezing during the night and again it was Captain Saylor who started a fire to keep us warm. We were never questioned about the gun, nor were we ever congratulated for saving a good packhorse. After that incident it was time to return to Camp Forrest and prepare for our promised furloughs. It was then December 1, 1941.
Bivouac scene, Taccoa, GE, December 1, 1941 returning from South Carolina maneuvers. Horses on picket line, camp and portees. (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
We were traveling from Columbia, South Carolina back to our base camp in Tullahoma, Tennessee. That December One we busied ourselves packing up for a three hundred and seventy five mile trip over rough mountainous terrain in a convoy consisting of more than twenty four portees and numerous service vehicles. Eight hours later we arrived at the gates of Camp Forrest. We all breathed a sigh of relief when we parked our portee next to the assigned stable and unloaded our “passengers”, who were also weary, tired and hungry. Only then were we able to focus on the question of our furloughs. We were assured that the rules and regulations regarding our furloughs would be settled the morning of December 6.
The procedure seemed simple enough. Half of the Troop would be home for Christmas and the other half would celebrate the New Year in Cincinnati. We drew lots. If you drew a white marble from the vat, you could be home for Christmas. If you drew a black marble, you have the option of trading for a white marble and spending Christmas with your family. After a few hours of bartering, the problem was resolved to every one’s satisfaction and then the hurried rush to the telephones. After the call to Cincinnati, the warm shower and a good nights rest, we looked forward to the next day. December 7th promised to be a new day for all of us.
Sunday morning, December 7, 1941 was a bright and sunny morning. It felt good going to Mass. Everything seemed to ooze a nice clean freshness. We were carefree. Even Big Cain seemed to enjoy the relaxed canter, as we loped down the trail adjacent to the stable area. Captain Whitey Peters, mounted on his Chestnut Gelding, pulled up rather abruptly. Exchanging salutes he asked as though out of breath and with a distinct sense of urgency, “Have you heard the news? We’re at war. The Japs just attacked Pearl Harbor and sunk most of our Pacific Fleet”.
Pearl Harbor? Where in the world is Pearl Harbor and what is it? He filled me in on the fragments and available details. His only orders were “Start Packing”.
I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening loading 30 Caliber Machine gun belts. We were pretty much convinced that the Japs were going to land on our Pacific beaches. Our collective attitude: we were damned mad. How dare they attack us without warning! While underneath our brazen oratory was the nagging murmuring of our furloughs, our going home. Our dreams of holiday began to blur. Whitey Peters cleared up our foggy vision when he stated simply, “This changes everything”.
During the past year the 107th Cavalry had undergone vigorous and intensive training with an uncertain anticipation. Every arm of the U.S. Forces was in readiness to fight the Axis Nations. Now, on this day, our very own country had been attacked. There had been no provocation. There had been no justification. There had been no warning. We were in shock and more than determined to create an environment that would not be favorable to Japanese plans. The next days were devoted to taking inventory and verifying munition readiness. We did not know when we were going to depart nor where we were to arrive. Rumors prevailed. It was expected that we would be sent to California for patrol duties along the coast. We are advised to keep our eyes and ears open and our mouths closed. The only thing we knew for certain was that our horses would be included in any future plans for the 107th.
Those days were long and torturous. We had that nagging pressure to prepare ourselves for what we didn’t even know. Our distress was interrupted by family visitors: my heavy-hearted mother, two sisters and my future bride. Their loving support was needed; their departure difficult.
The 107th Cavalry was to “Protect” the West Coast of our country from the invasion of the Japanese and watch for enemy submarines . For a short time after the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor fear and panic struck those living on the West Coast. Many thought that they would be next to be invaded. (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
“We upset Dad when we make light by saying that during WWII he rode horseback up and down the coastline of California. This was an extremely serious commission protecting the West Coast from Japanese invasion and watching for enemy submarines” - Karen
FORT ORD, CALIFORNIA
At last, our orders: We leave Camp Forrest December 19th, my birthday! Our destination: Fort Ord, California. Transit time: five or six days with three stopovers to feed and water the horses.
The first stop was the stockyards in Little Rock, Arkansas. Exhausted I laid down in a cattle pen and slept. The next morning I decided never to do that again. The second stop was Julesburg, Colorado. This water stop necessitated de-training each animal in order to drink from a trough and then be returned to the cattle car. The next stop was a cattle stop at Sparks, Nevada, near Reno. Being our last stop we rewarded ourselves for a job well done. We visited the “Sin City of the West”, where we gambled and drank and drank and then managed to get back to the train before five am. We crossed the Sierra Mountains. Just a little bit North of Monterey is Fort Ord.
We arrived at Fort Ord on Christmas Day! It’s raining. It’s cold. The horses are irritable, so irritable they actually had eaten their hairy tails off of each other and in their high anxiety wanted to kick every possible thing.
We, too, were ready to settle into our accommodations. Our mission was complete – we arrived safely at our destination. We quickly learned that that was only a maneuver toward our true mission. Japanese submarines had been spotted off the Pacific coast. Several artillery shells had been lofted from the one-man subs and it was reported that an oil refinery tank had been hit. Based on these reports we saddled up. Our regular Mounted Coastal Patrols commenced.
Ten portees carried men and their mounts to various locations. Each portee delivered a team of eight horsemen who traveled in twos for a 25-mile duration. Because of the rocky terrain it was not possible, even on horseback, to follow the costal waters. None of our patrols reported a sighting. The Coast Guard reported firing at a sub and local newspapers reported the recovering of two Japanese bodies along the coast just North of San Francisco. Ultimately this serious duty was relinquished to the Coast Guard.
Our combat training continued. With emphasis on artillery, we became more efficient in the use of mortars, machine guns, rifles and pistols. The world was at war.
DAILY DUTIES OF THE CAVALRYMEN AT FORT ORD
Elaborating on daily cavalry life the day began at 6:00 am with water call, followed by hay feed and later 9 lbs of oats. After caring for their horses, the men went to their breakfast mess, followed by roll call. “C” Troop lined up with its 3 rifle and 1 machine gun platoons. After roll call they followed through with their personal training schedule, weaponry training. The horses were only a means of transportation and not used for attack purposes. In the morning the horses would stay their stalls in the stable and in afternoon released into the corral, where “Big Cain” would play and roll and become infamously known for jumping the fence. Big Cain seemed to have a free spirit and still he was a beautiful disciplined prize-winning horse. Walter never referred to him as an animal. Inspections were thorough: The appearance of the men, the weapon care and even the horse’s hoofs! Each Cavalryman cared for his own horse; grooming, trimming tail and mane.
Our horses were a big attraction on the Pacific Coast. We had ridden in a San Francisco parade and now we entered our horses in a Santa Cruz Horse Show, May 10, 1942. I entered Big Cain in the Open Class Hunters and Jumpers Event. By this time Cain had gained a reputation in the 107th, that day he lived up to it. In the exclusive Pogonip Country Club Stables, Big Cain jumped 39 obstacles faultlessly, easily clearing each conventional jump. One jump was a dining table fully set with linens, china, silver and floral centerpiece. Big Cain was enjoying himself; his ears were elevated, his eyes keenly alert and his full body flying with eagle wings.
Walter J. Schweitzer Troop “C” 107th Cavalry NG, jumping his horse ” BIG CAIN” over a jeep at the stables and corral area, Fort Ord, California, May 1942 (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
Sundays were a day of rest for the horses. Turned loose in a very large corral, they kicked, bucked, rolled in the sand and simply enjoyed their freedom. When Big Cain entered the corral he broke into an extended gallop, raced to the other side and jumped the five-foot fence. I was immediately informed. I quickly bridled a horse and jumped on his bare back to fetch my jumper, only to find Cain solitarily grazing contentedly in a nearby field and agreeable to return. He did enjoy this little game because it happened the next Sunday and then again the next. I didn’t mind. I did mind that the Pogonip Country Club did not award Big Cain a Blue Ribbon. His performance was worth far more than the $7.50 Victory Stamps we were given. It was disheartening to me because my horse’s best was most outstanding.
Because of his celebrity, the Fort Ord Post wanted to spotlight this amazing animal. They thought it would be a great publicity shot to picture Big Cain jumping a jeep, a feat that could possibly physically jeopardize him, yet a feat he gracefully challenged himself to numerous times. I remember the moment on May 2 when that photograph was taken and I remember the feeling of exhilarating pride. That photograph froze for all time my Cain and me in midair above a military jeep.
The next month our Cavalry horses were taken from us by the Coast Guard to continue the Mounted Coastal Patrols. Big Cain, however, went to Stanford University ROTC. He served in the Officers Training for social and historic events. I was never to see him again and he had been so human to me.
Big Cain jumping the 5 ft 9 inch corral fence at Fort Ord. (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
Walter J. Schweitzer Troop “C” 107th Cavalry and "BIG CAIN" stables, Fort Ord, California. (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
The 107th Cavalry's corrals, blacksmith shops and SD-17 cavalry stables on 4th Avenue, Fort Ord, California, 1942. Also SP-14 buildings T-1672 or T-1672 can be seen in the background with their large windows, these buildings are still standing as of February 2010. (Note: look closely at the windows of the T-1672 or T-1672 to identify these buildings today) This is a great picture of the 107th Cavalry with their Portees for transporting the horses. (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
Building T-1371 is clearly marked in the above picture of men from the 107th Cavalry doing yard duty. According to the Fort Ord blueprints it is a Mess Hall (M-170) for 170 men. It is the mess hall for barracks T-1411, T-1351 and T-1331 and was the first row of buildings on 4th Avenue across from the horse stables. Across the street are stables T-1427 and T-1428. Karen tells us her father Walter said they would fall in, in the morning for Reveille in this area and fall-out for Retreat the flag-lowering ceremony in the evening. This information gives us are first evidence where the 107th Cavalry was barracked in 1942 at Fort Ord. The barracks in this area are long gone. (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
VIDEO: FORT ORD U.S. CAVALRY AND HORSE DRAWN FIELD ARTILLERY STABLES 2011
A visit to the Fort Ord Horse Stables and Blacksmith shops by the family of Walter J. Schweitzer, 107th Cavalry at Fort Ord, 1941– 1942
Before the U.S. Army horse stables and blacksmith shops were demolished the family of Walter J. Schweitzer, who was stationed at Fort Ord from Dec. 1941 to May of 1942 had a chance to see the remaining stables and blacksmith shops. Walter's family were special guests at the 70th Anniversary Celebration of the opening of the Fort Ord Station Veterinary Hospital (Horse c1941) held on January 30, 2011. We had a chance after the event to go over to see the stables and blacksmith shops where their grandfather once served. His family made this video and it is a wonderful memory of the day which they shared with Walter later.
THE MARRIAGE OF IRMA KLUG AND WALTER SCHWEITZER
Irma and I had pretty much decided we would marry right after my discharge. My year Military Conscription would be completed March 5, 1942, however, Hirohito, the Emperor of Japan, crushed that dream with his attack on Pearl Harbor. Irma and her friend, Isabel Rogers, who she met at the 107th Armory thru Charlie Linder, Supply Sergeant of “C” Troop, hit it off just fine and they became fast friends. They shared the irrevocable resolve - no war would get in the way of their marriage.
With their families’ blessings, on Easter Monday, the two young women boarded a train and headed toward California. They arrived the afternoon of April 8. Our wedding plans were well under way.
We married on Tuesday, April 14, 1942, at 9 o’clock in Sacred Heart Church in Salinas. It was a double wedding. Isabel and Charlie witnessed our vows and we, theirs. After our wedding breakfast, we came upon a professional photographer and visually kept our first moments together for all time. With youthful enthusiasm we hopped a bus for San Francisco and the Californian Hotel. The ‘Top of the Mark’ was perfect for toasting each other’s and relaxing with cocktails before we attempted to attack the huge spaghetti dinner at Joe DiMaggios on Fisherman’s Wharf. The second day of our three-day pass was well spent. One more trip to the lounge and then sweet dreams came true. (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Linder and Mr. and Mrs. Walter J. Schweitzer a double military wedding. (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
A DOUBLE MILITARY WEDDING
Sacred Heart Church in Salinas, California was the setting Tuesday morning for a double wedding ceremony when a nuptial mass was sung at nine o’clock for Miss Irma Klug, daughter of Mr. And Mrs. Clem K. Klug, and Sergeant Walter J. Schweitzer, son of Mrs. Clara Schweitzer and Miss Isabelle Rogers, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Carl A. Rogers and Corporal Charles Linder. Both grooms are stationed at Fort Ord, Monterey, California. The two couples are residing in adjoining cottages in Monterey.
Those days were to be remembered and savored for many decades. Our honeymoon was a glimpse of just about every days that has since passed. As of this writing, we have been married 68 years and our love for each other has seemed to grow and grow and got us this far.
But, then, honeymoon over; the bus leaves for Fort Ord . . .
Irm and I wanted to be together for as long as possible. Though we are both about twenty five hundred miles from our Cincinnati home, Irm remained to live in the Fort Ord Village at Monterey and I was off to navigate the Mojave Desert. We are separated by three hundred miles. (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
Fort Ord Village. (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
Fort Ord Village. (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
Our convoy had created an impressive sight. Hundreds upon hundreds of military vehicles streamed Eastward in single file, out of Monterey, onto Highway 10 and toward the Mojave Desert. It is our understanding that we will be participating in extensive desert maneuvers in preparation for combat action in Northern Africa, where Hitler’s famed Panzer division is positioned. The British Commander, General Bernard Montgomery, is holding the Nazis in check and awaiting U.S. Troop support.
Our first duty was to set up Regimental Headquarters and Camp for about three thousand men. Our military vehicles included light tanks, motorcycles, reconnaissance vehicles known as “scout cars”, jeeps and assorted service trucks. We placed ourselves at a crossroad called Amboy and in that god-forsaken spot we managed to settle. It was no small chore. Vehicles upon vehicle got stuck in the sand and our motorcycles were useless. We wondered aloud if we were “here to fight the enemy or to survive loose sand”. Sand storms were a constant irritant. The heat was an extreme 120 degrees. Our vehicles proved to be totally inappropriate for desert use. The scout cars stuck in the sand and would not go forward, nor backward, only “down”, clearly a disadvantage when facing the well-armored Panzers, led by German General, Rommel, known as the “Desert Fox”. We came to respect the British Military expertise; they were defeating the Fox. The U.S. Air Force was a supportive factor in that success. Our medium bombers, the B-25 and B-26, protected by our P-38 and P-51, diverted our need to be in the desert altogether. After six months, we left our futile desert maneuvers.
The 107th, with lightweight armor, departed by Naval transport, for LaHarve, France. I received other orders. I entered the Officer’s Candidate School at Ft. Riley, Kansas, Class #23, on December 7, 1942, one year to the day that began World War II.
Remember Goffs, California near Needles? This photo was taken from the top of a “Little” Mountain overlooking our bivouac area. Desert Training Center (DTC), 107th Cavalry bivouac area. (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
Desert Training Center (DTC), 107th Cavalry bivouac. (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
Above photo was taken from the bivouac area looking toward the “Little” Mountain. Desert Training Center (DTC), 107th Cavalry bivouac tents, equipment and vehicles (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
Our reconnaissance vehicles “scout cars”, equipment set out for inspection. (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
NOTE: THE TOWN OF GOFFS
"At the outbreak of WW2, the town of Goffs was a small railroad station located on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe mainline, and adjacent to a 1930s alignment of US Route 66.
The Camp Goffs Campsite was established in 1942. It was part of the 12 million acre Desert Training Center/California-Arizona Maneuver Area established to train the armored forces of General George Patton.
Unlike other, more substantial camps of the CAMA, Camp Goffs was a small, improvised field encampment. It consisted primarily of the Goffs Railhead, with a surrounding encampment, the Goffs Army Ammunition Depot #4, and the Goffs Rifle Range. The prewar Goffs civil airfield was apparently reused as a military field, as a 1998 Army Corps of Engineers report on Camp Goffs includes the statement that "Goffs also had a 1,500' x 150' sand/gravel landing strip about two miles to the east (Army Ground Forces 1943)."
Apparently, the Goffs airfield was expanded at some later date, as the 1975 USGS topo map depicts the airfield as having two 4,700' runways, along with what appears to be depicted as an unusually large ramp area which covers most of the area in between the two runways. The entire CAMA was declared surplus in 1944. The Goffs airfield was not depicted at all on the 1944 Los Angeles Sectional Chart. Like many of the other former CAMA airfields, Goffs Army Air Field is not depicted at all (even as an abandoned airfield) on 2002 aeronautical charts.
The California State Military Museum
“OCS” OFFICER’S CANDIDATE SCHOOL, FORT RILEY, KANSAS 1942
My bride and I met as planned in the little whistle stop in Indio and quickly stepped into our roomette for a comfortable train ride on the “Chief” to Chicago and then transferred to the John Whitcomb Riley Express to Chicago and then transferred to the John Whitcomb Riley Express to Chicago and then transferred to the John Whitcomb Riley Express to Cincinnati. We enjoyed our family and, then, too soon, I had to leave my new wife once again.
Upon our arrival at the Fort Riley Academic Building, the candidates were met by the school staff and notably welcomed by the Assistant Commandant, Colonel Mershon, who delivered a detailed list of expectations. We were not only to adhere to all military regulations, but were to wear proper dress at all times and were to be extensively tested and graded. It was obvious that Colonel Mershon was an old spit and polish Cavalry Officer. The Colonel clearly expressed his dismay that the new OCS candidates had little or no horse experience. It was George Custer’s Regiment, the Seventh Cavalry that was stationed at Fort Riley. Unfortunately the 7th pulled out for the Pacific while I was still a cadet in training. That regiment was to combat and conquer the Admiralty Islands.
I made it a point to approach the Colonel and express my desire to be appointed to a horse unit, offering my experience with the 107th, and offering a visual - the photograph of Big Cain and me jumping the jeep. He stated that he would give the appointment serious consideration.
During those three months it was my five years in the National Guard and the stint as troop navigator in the desert that would serve me well in my military studies.
The day finally arrived. February 25, 1943 was the day I became a Second Lieutenant in the Cavalry. The honors were received directly from the Commandant, accompanied by General Jacob Devers, representing the War Department, Wash. DC. The ritual pinning of the Gold Bar is a relished memory, however, I also remember the moments of anxiety that were to follow. Each graduate of the Cavalry School of Ft. Riley, Kansas received their special orders. My name was not on the list. My heart sank to my boots. After frantically fumbling through pages and pages I finally saw my name. It was actually a paragraph, advising me of special orders. I had been assigned as an instructor in the 29th Cavalry, the mounted troop. Colonel Mershon had taken my request seriously.
Staff Officers at “Formal Attention” , Fort Riley Cavalry School. (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
DELAY IN ROUTE
The ride to Cincinnati was what one would expect of the U.S Air Force. Four of us piled into a B-25 Bomber for a real flight into Kansas City. From there I flew American Airlines, destination Lunken Airport, Cincinnati. Irma, Mom and Pop Klug met me and brought me into what seemed to be one big welcome home party. Irm thought this was a good time to tell me she was pregnant. With our young, hopeful light-heartedness, we visited everyone we possibly could. I was especially grateful to visit with my loving aunt, Lillie, who was an angel to me. Foreboding thoughts of Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito were left in the newspapers for now, with personal editorial thought: their time on this earth had just about been used up, or better still, wasted.
Irm and I spent many hours discussing our lives before us. We pondered how we could make the best future for our children. Those days of prayers and plans have been realized in many regards, but before that we would suffer separation again and I’d have to experience that same yearning to get Irma back at my side. We understood that we must overcome some high mountains before we can lower our guard. We still had a war to win.
SETTLING DOWN INTO AN UNSETTLING ROUTINE
At Fort Riley I served in many capacities. I was Claims Officers, Surveying Officer as well as serving in my forte, Scheduling and definitely not my forte, Mess. Although he was definitely not a good horseman, the good Mess Sergeant was more deserving to approve the three menus of the day. I did conduct daily Horsemanship Classes for members of the Mounted Administration Personnel; only the three hundred pound Mess Sergeant would ride, in the mess truck, of course. The duties of the S-2 and S-3 Units were more exacting and time-consuming responsibilities. They also proved to be the most memorable. That service involved court cases. The typical charges were brought for drinking, fighting, or failure to execute lawful orders. These activities were generally punishable with six months in the Guardhouse and forfeit of two-thirds pay for like period.
Staff Officers at “Formal Attention” , Fort Riley Cavalry School. (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
THE CAVALRY EXPERIENCE
The number of legal cases was enough to blow one’s sane mind, yet there needed to be enough time to fulfill the requirements of the Cavalry Officer. We were expected to participate in three mandatory exercises each month, which developed our horsemanship as well as conditioned the horses. I enjoyed the Sunday Morning “Ride to the Hounds” Steeplechase. The second mandatory was exhibiting the horses in the East Riding Hall, where we would jump hurdles, each jump exceeding four feet in height and some limited to the width of two to three feet, a jump popular in national and international horse shows known as the “oxer”. I was grateful to have always had good jumpers and also for my earlier Cincinnati days. More than fifty percent of the officers had not had polo experience.
During one memorable Polo match I managed to maneuver my horse with ease through the first Chukkar (Period) after which a tall, gangling officer strolled into the arena and right up to me. “Lieutenant, when I was stationed here at Riley that pony you’re riding was my polo pony”. It was obvious that this man knew his horses and loved this one in particular. He asked if I minded if he rode my pony around the arena just to get the feel of the saddle again. I then realized that this man was General Jonathan Wainwright. Only a month ago he was a Japanese Prisoner of War. He had replaced General Douglas MacArthur at Battan and Corrigedor in the Philippines as the enemy was closing in. “Sir, I would be honored”. I held the horse as he mounted and then watched one of the greatest of Generals ride off on his, and my, horse.
WORLD WAR II COME TO AN END
United States Troops were deployed to all parts of the world. The Axis Powers were suffering continued loses. In August of 1945, two atomic bombs fell upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan was most anxious to sign a treaty. We, too, were anxious to get it over with and return to normalcy. We at Fort Riley and other Bases were being shipped to defeated countries to help stabilize their governments and to victorious countries to resume normal relations. Our Top Brass, Colonel Jennings, was sent abroad to points unknown to us. Newly appointed General James F. Hollingsworth covered his leadership at Riley. He reviewed my record and surprised me by writing a letter of commendation in recognition of my military service for file and for future civilian use. Shortly thereafter, he, himself, was transferred to command all U.S. Forces in South Korea. Taking advantage of the volatile conditions, North Korea was in the process of invading the South. President Harry Truman, in a disciplinary action, replaced General MacArthur with General Hollingsworth. Havoc reigned supreme and few military men ever forgave Harry S. Truman for this horrendous and costly blunder.
My last ride in the famed East Riding Hall was shared with Colonel Hiram Tuttle, one of the greatest horsemen of our time. When I would ride with him he would chide me, “You’ll never amount to anything riding those damn jumpers when you might have been a pretty good dressage master if you’d listen to me”. This gentle man autographed a picture of himself and his dressage family for me. There will never be another like him. As a member of the staff I had been privileged to serve with some elite Cavalry Officers: Col. W.W. West, III, Graduate of West Point and Commander of the Mounted Cavalry School Troops, and pretty good polo player; General I. D. White, Commander of General Patton’s ‘Hell on Wheels’ Division, the same General who beat up on Hitler’s Panzers and then came back to Fort Riley to brag about it; and my favorite General of all, Jonathan Wainwright, a Prisoner of War for two years until rescued by the First Cavalry Division, returning to Fort Riley, home of his first love.
Our Forces were in need of replenishment and we at Fort Riley were called upon to fulfill that need and we responded. My friends, Captain Helmer Uglum and First Lieutenant Prince Woodard and myself were assigned for overseas duty. We reported to Fort Ord and were immediately bussed to Camp Anzio, L.A. P. E. (Los Angeles Port of Embarkation). We were probably being shipped to the Philippines because that is where my baggage was shipped. It was discovered that my name had been removed from the availability list. I had an excessive number of points, about one hundred and seventeen. No one with more than one hundred and ten points would be accepted for overseas duty. Uglum, Woodard and my luggage got on the plane. (Sometime later that luggage was forwarded and retrieved in Cincinnati, damaged as it was).
I returned to Fort Riley and on to my discharge, forty miles away at the Processing Station, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. There I volunteered to enlist until December 22, 1962. I completed my duty after twenty-four years. As an Instructor at Fort Riley I had the privilege of teaching new enlistees what had been taught to me. These young men were willing to listen and eager to do well. Their very life, their family, their country and the world depended upon that attitude.
Walt returned to the paper industry with Sabin Robbins, forever grateful that Sabin Robbins Jr. sent checks home to Walt’s mother during his military days, after which Walt exercised Mr. Robbins’ prized thoroughbred named Enterprize. Ultimately Walt retired from Cincinnati Cordage and Paper Co.
Walt continued his days as husband to Irma and father to Walter Jr., Karen, Irma and father to Walter Jr., Karen, Donald, and Douglas (so named after General McArthur). At his front door he proudly hangs the flag of the United States of America.
(W.J. Schweitzer collection)
U.S. MILITARY SERVICE RECORD: WALTER J. SCHWEITZER
October 3, 1938
Joined the recruit class, 107th Cavalry Regiment, Ohio National Guard Underwent Basic Training for a three month period
January 4, 1939
Accepted as a Trooper, “won” spurs and assigned to Troop K
March 5, 1942
Inducted into Federal Service
December 7, 1942
Entered Officer’s Candidate School at Fort Riley, Kansas
February 25, 1943
Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant
Assigned to The Cavalry School, 29th Regiment
December 9, 1945
Appointed to Reserve Status as 1st Lieutenant
January 9, 1946
Honorably discharged from Active Duty
December 22, 1962
Honorably discharged from Reserve Duty
(W.J. Schweitzer collection)
TROOP “C” 107 TH CAVALRY REGIMENT
Camp Young, California 1942. Desert Training Center (DTC),
(W.J. Schweitzer collection)
(W.J. Schweitzer collection)
(W.J. Schweitzer collection)
(W.J. Schweitzer collection)
(W.J. Schweitzer collection)
(W.J. Schweitzer collection)
Radio Set SCR-203 (Phillip pack saddle mounted). Consisted of:
BC-228 transmitter - Transmitter, 2.1-3.1 MHz, 2 ea VT-25 & VT-50, Part of SCR-203
BC-227 receiver - Receiver, 2.1-3.1 MHz, Part of SCR-203
BC-235 control box - Control box, Part of SCR-203
The unit was powered by various battery packs and a GN-35 hand cranked generator and used a 25 ft whip antenna (Image: W.J. Schweitzer collection)
When we arrived at Fort Ord, California on Christmas Day 1941, we immediately did some patrol work along the coast. Upper pictures show the gun crew of a 37mm cannon in action and a .30 cal. air-cooled machine gun mounted on a jeep. Shorty Broemsen and his radio crew is telling Colonel Woods King just what’s going on. (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
Walter with “Big Cain” at the Fort Ord corrals. (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
Irma with “Big Cain” at the Fort Ord corrals. (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
(W.J. Schweitzer collection)
Because of his celebrity, the Fort Ord Post wanted to spotlight this amazing animal. They thought it would be a great publicity shot to picture Big Cain jumping a jeep, a feat that could possibly physically jeopardize him, yet a feat he gracefully challenged himself to numerous times. I remember the moment on May 2 when that photograph was taken and I remember the feeling of exhilarating pride. That photograph froze for all time my horse Big Cain and me in midair above a military jeep. (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
Walter and “Big Cain” jumping behind the stables in the corral area, Fort Ord, California (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
Practice jumping behind the stables in the corral area, Fort Ord, California. (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
“Big Cain” just loved to jump those 5 ft 9 inch corral fences at Fort Ord, California. Blacksmith shop and stable in the background. (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
Jumping 55-gallon drums behind the stables in the corral area, Fort Ord, California.(W.J. Schweitzer collection)
Fort Ord corrals, cavalry stables and blacksmith shop in the background. (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
Loading our portees for what would be our final parade and review as a mounted cavalry unit. Within days after these pictures were taken we would be mounted….but on jeeps, scout cars, halftracks and motorcycles. May 1942 (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
Note: See the below Fort Ord Panorama Newspaper articles on the 107th Cavalry losing their horses.
(W.J. Schweitzer collection)
(W.J. Schweitzer collection)
Walter Schweitzer, on a Sunday cycling trip to Palm Springs. Dad said his horse never threw him but his motorcycle did. Desert Training, August 1942 (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
Captain Whitey Peters and Lt. George Jacobson thought we needed more practice and experience on motorcycles, so we “cycled” over to Palm Springs on a Sunday afternoon. Left to right: Bill Means, Wil Schmidt, Wally Schweitzer, unknown, and Jim McShane. Desert Training, August 1942 (W.J. Schweitzer collection)
Note: In Dad's Memoirs he tells of the said days when the horses left the Cavalry. Strangely the horses disappeared during a troop maneuver in the dessert and the men returned to empty stables. That motorcycle jaunt to Palm Springs was more than for experience - it was needed to lighten their hearts, although not all the cavalrymen were an dedicated to their mounts as my Dad. He wished he were back in those stables again! - Karen
(W.J. Schweitzer collection)
(W.J. Schweitzer collection)
The above image of the 107th Cavalry dress review marking the last days of being horse mounted. Taken just north of Fort Ord Village. Front page, Fort Ord Panorama Newspaper, May 1, 1942, see below articles (DLIFLC & POM Archives)
107TH CAVALRY DISMOUNTS, FORT ORD, MARCH-MAY FORT ORD PANORAMA NEWSPAPERS 1942. (DLIFLC & POM Archives)
The below articles come from the Fort Ord Panorama March 27, 1942 to May 8, 1942
WHEN THE CAVALRYMEN PASSED IN REVIEW
Fort Ord Panorama March 27, 1942 – page 3
There is something about the mixed smell of gasoline and horses that doesn’t set very well with veteran cavalrymen. That’s why there’s more to the pictures in this article than meet the eye. But any soldier old or young would agree that this dress parade, conducted here last week for Colonel Roger S. Fitch, post commander and a veteran cavalryman, was one of the most colored ever held at Fort Ord. Instead of being astride a spirited thoroughbred, Colonel Fitch watched mounts and mechanized equipment from the front seat of an armored car. He’s shown in the upper left photo, standing next to Major John F. Stevens, post plans and training officer who is a cavalryman.
The other pictures are self-explanatory. Following the parade the outfit demonstrated how quickly the horses could be loaded into the portees and taken from the field. The parade and demonstration lasted for nearly an hour and a half. Hundreds of civilians were attracted to the parade site, just north of Ord Village. Cars line the highways on both sides for almost a mile and MP’s had to be called to control traffic. Missourians in the animal pack train were also in review with their equipment.
CAVARLY WILL BE FULLY MECHANIZED. GOODBYE TO HORSES AS BIG MOTORIZATION CHANGEOVER ORDERED
Fort Ord Panorama April 17, 1942 – (Front-page)
See Highly Mobile Outfits With Great Firepower as Dobbin Is Put to Pasture; Maneuvers Spelled Doom Of Picturesque “Portee” Claim.
Complete mechanization of one cavalry unit station at Fort Ord was announced this week by the War Department. (Note: because of Wartime censor-ship the 107th Cavalry could not be mentioned). It is one of ten units in the Army affected by the order.
Partial mechanization of the unit already has been completed, but the outfits still held to a large portion of their horses.
In its new form, regiment will become a highly mobile unit of great firepower capable of carrying out the mission of cavalry in modern vehicles at modern speeds.
With their re-organization, there passes from the Army the picturesque “Portee” Cavalry. This was part of the horse-mechanized regiment in which one squadron was mounted on horses while the other operated in scout cars and motorcycles.
The horses, men and equipment of the Horse Squadron Portee were carried from place to place in motor drawn vans, unloaded at the scene of action and rushed directly into combat, fresh and ready. In this manner, it was hoped they could equal the road speeds of completely mechanized troops and yet be available for action in swampy, sandy or otherwise difficult country where the horses was more mobile than the motor. As horse-mechanized Cavalry, these regiments contained about 5000 horses, which now are available to other Army units.
Experience gained in the maneuvers of the fall of 1941, however, dictated that they be entirely mechanized to better fulfill their function of Army Corps reconnaissance units, flank guards and powerful, fast-moving assault forces.
In their new form, the number of officers and enlisted men in these regiments will remain approximately the same. But they will be mounted in speedy armored cars with greater firepower and better protection than the scout cars provided, and capable of much higher road speeds and far greater mobility than the cumbersome horse vans.
Mechanization of these regiments leave the Army with two divisions and one brigade of horse cavalry, the 1st and 2nd Cavalry Divisions and the 56th Cavalry Brigade.
CAVALRY UNIT IN IMPRESSIVE FIELD DISPLAY
Fort Ord Panorama May 1, 1942 – (Front-page)
Major General Robert C. Richardson Jr., commander of VH Army Corps, reviewed what probably was the last formal parade by the cavalry unit stationed at Fort Ord. (Note: because of Wartime censor-ship the 107th Cavalry could not be mentioned).
The event more colorful than any the has conducted since coming to Fort Ord was a goodbye gesture to the horses which will soon be replaced completely with mechanized equipment. It was staged in the area north of the Ord Village.
Following the review and a demonstration of loading the mounts into portees, General Richardson spoke to the officers of the unit, complimenting them on both the appearance of the men and equipment.
Colonel Roger S. Fitch, Fort Ord Post Commander, and Colonel Woods King were among those who shared the reviewing car with General Richardson.
When the loading demonstration began, General Richardson left his place in the armored car, which served as a review stand, and walked to where the horses were being put into large trucks.
Besides the cavalry unit, the review also included a mule pack outfit.
Corporal Bob Warfield, member of the 107th Cavalry at Fort Ord, California, which is among those that will be mechanized under new War Department plans, finds it pretty hard to tell his horse goodbye. The mount is Capri and Warfield has had her for the last 10 months. (DLIFLC & POM Archives)
LETTER OF SUPPORT MAY 24, 2010
Letter of Support in regards to the President (Dianne F. Harrison) of California State University, Monterey Bay tearing down the stables and blacksmith shops on 4th avenue.
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
In regards to: The Artillery and Cavalry Stables on 4th avenue on the California State University, Monterey Bay property and the Station Veterinary Hospital.
While sightseeing in California and driving down Highway 1, my brother-in-law pointed out that we were passing Fort Ord. We could not see it from our vantage point but what I remember is repeating to myself that somehow familiar name, “Ft. Ord”, and not knowing why it was so familiar. Years later while helping my Dad prepare his Military Memoirs, the significance of Ft. Ord then became apparent. It is not only of utmost significance in my father’s life, but in fact, a turning point in the life of the branch of the United States Military known as the “Cavalry”.
Just days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the 107th Cavalry was deployed to Fort Ord. On December 19th the Ohio Regiment of the National Guard from Cleveland and Cincinnati left their training site at Camp Forrest, Tullahoma, Tennessee to travel across the country in six days with 360 horses. The troops traveled by train and the horses by cattle car. The feeding and watering of the horses necessitated three stopovers: Little Rock, Arkansas, Julesburg, Colorado and Sparks, Nevada. Finally the journey ended on a cold and rainy Christmas Day at Fort Ord. The horses were so irritable by that time they were chewing each other’s tails and kicking every possible thing – but they arrived safely and were soon saddled up to become The Mounted Coastal Patrol.
Traversing the California coastline on horseback was serious guard duty. It was frontline protection to our country. Ten portees carried men and mounts from Fort Ord to various locations. Each portee delivered a team of eight horsemen who traveled in twos for a 25-mile duration.
The horses also proved to be a big attraction on the Pacific Coast and were exhibited in parade and horse shows. My father entered and rode his mount, Big Cain, in the Open Class Hunters & Jumpers Event in the exclusive Pogonip Country Club Stables, May 10, 1942. Big Cain gave a Blue Ribbon performance but the rider was awarded a disheartening $7.50 worth of Victory Stamps and to this day my father is disappointed that his outstanding jumper had not been duly awarded. Because of his celebrity, The Ft. Ord Post spotlighted this amazing animal for PR purposes. Big Cain gladly accommodated photographers by jumping a jeep with Dad on his back. My father recalls this moment and still feels its exhilarating pride.
The very next month while the troops were in mechanized training in the desert, the horses were relinquished to the Coast Guard. Big Cain, however, went to college, to Stanford U, where he served in ROTC social and historical events. Dad was never to see him again.
During their stay at Fort Ord the horses required feed, horseshoeing, corrals, stables and veterinary care. I have seen photos of the junk stored in what had once been the stables and decided not to show those photos to my father. What is a great pride to him is now obviously being treated with disregard. Just the other day he spoke about horseshoeing an agreeable animal as it calmly stood in the Ft. Ord stable. He always smiles when he tells of his mighty Big Cain running the length of the Ft. Ord corral and jumping the fence and then calmly grazing in wait for Dad to retrieve him once again.
Dad has a scrapbook of his own photos, which illustrate the activities of the last days of the horse Cavalry. Some picture Ft. Ord buildings that remain today.
After the Cavalry mechanized, it must be noted that horses would have maneuvered better in the Mojave Desert sand than the scout cars that repeatedly got stuck in the dunes. I also have to mention that my father was never thrown by a horse, but, however, was thrown by the motorcycle that was training him to ride.
The majority of the 107th troops departed with light munitions for La Harve, France. My Dad left Ft. Ord to enter Officers Candidate School, one year to the day World War II began.
This year there will be no reunion of the 107th Cavalry. The two remaining men speak over the phone.
Time passes and destroyed monuments never return. I beseech the readers of this letter to do all that is possible to preserve this precious history while it still exists. It is remarkable that Fort Ord stands today to give testimony to the time when “the Cavalry came”.
Daughter of WALTER J. SCHWEITZER, 107th Cavalry Stationed at Fort Ord 1942
107TH CAVALRY IMAGES 1941-42 Click on the below link:
107th Cavalry Images 1941-42
ONE OF THE LAST HORSE TROOPERS DOWN
Lt. Walter J. Schweitzer Troop “C” 107th Cavalry
December 19, 1918 – August 13, 2013
August 13, 2013
Obituary: Walter J., beloved husband of 71 years to Irma (nee Klug) Schweitzer. Devoted father of Walt (Gloria) Schweitzer, Karen (Michael) McMannon, Don (Evelyn) Schweitzer and Doug (Debbie) Schweitzer. Loving grandfather of Kim (Mike), Lee (Shannon), Jim (Debbie), Jenny (Jason), Kellene (Chris), Erin (Bruce), Bart (Lisa), Marc (Tammy), Chris (Terri), Amy, Sarah, Sandy, Holly, Brittany, Ryan and Cory. Great grandfather of 17 great grandchildren. Also survived by numerous nieces and nephews. Passed away on Tuesday, August 13, 2013; age 94. Visitation will be held at Little Flower Church, 5560 Kirby Avenue, on Friday (August 16) from 9:00 a.m. until Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 a.m.
Note: Our hearts are once again greatly grieved as we lose another of the WW2 period “Horse Soldiers”. It has been a great privilege to have known Mr. Schweitzer through his daughter Karen and their family. – Greg Krenzelok
DEMOLITION OF THE STABLES AND BLACKSMITH SHOPS MAY 2011
I was in Alaska at the time and was not able to document the buildings being demolished. A friend of mind did, Efren Lopez a military combat photographer did. I would like to thank Efren from sharing these posted images. This is my first real good look at these pictures as a tear rolled down my face. - Greg Krenzelok, U.S. Army Veterinary Corps Historical Preservation Group
May 2011 Fort Ord horse stables and blacksmith start to come down. Courtesy photo by Efren Lopez
What's left of T-1442, incinerator, dated completed November 30, 1940, 5- ton. Courtesy photo by Efren Lopez
Stable being demolished by excavator using demolition bucket "The Jaws of death for this stable", May 2011. Courtesy photo by Efren Lopez
Overview of the old stable and blacksmith shop area. Demolition is about complete except for T-1672 (SP-14 Motor repair shop). Courtesy photo by Efren Lopez
Fort Ord horse stables being demolished, May 2011. Courtesy photo by Efren Lopez
Fort Ord horse stables and blacksmith are now down and all that is left is clean-up, May 2011. Courtesy photo by Efren Lopez
FORT ORD STABLES AND BLACKSMITH SHOPS DEMOLITION ON FACEBOOK
Click on the below link:
U.S. Army Veterinary Corps Historical Preservation Group Facebook Stables
AMERICAN IMPRESSIONIST: HOWARD EVERETT SMITH, 107TH CAVALRY LITHOGRAPHS 1942
Howard E. Smith, signed lithograph, 1942. (Collection of Liz Rondelle)
Click on the below link:
American impressionist: Howard Everett Smith, 107th Cavalry lithographs 1942
107TH HORSE/MECHANIZED CAVALRY WEBSITE
Click on the below link:
107th Horse/Mechanized Cavalry Website
Return to The Fort Ord U.S. Army Station Veterinary Hospital (Horse) WW2 homepage:
FORT ORD U.S. ARMY STATION VETERINARY HOSPITAL (HORSE) WW2
Click on the below link:
Fort Ord U.S. Army Station Veterinary Hospital (Horse) WW2
Click on the below Homepage links:
11TH CAVALRY PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, 1919 TO 1940
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11th Cavalry Presidio of Monterey, 1919 to 1940
76TH FIELD ARTILLERY REGIMENT PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, 1922 TO 1940
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76th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Battalion
THE ARMY VETERINARY SERVICE DURING THE GREAT WAR, WW1
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The Army Veterinary Service During the Great War, WW1
SERGEANT LEONARD MURPHY VETERINARY HOSPITAL NO. 18, A.E.F., WW1
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Sergeant Leonard Murphy Veterinary Hospital No. 18, A.E.F., WW1