AV 10th Cavalry trooper rides in Rose Pa­rade

Antelope Valley Press - - News -

To look at Les Har­ris, it’s an easy leap to guess that he might have done a bit of sol­dier­ing.

Some­where up in the 6’4”, or more, height range, and built like a lum­ber­jack, an­other guess would be he spent some time with the Marines.

Both guesses, each in their own way, would be cor­rect.

You will see the sol­dier in him when he is rid­ing in the Tour­na­ment of Roses Pa­rade this New Year’s Day, 2020.

Har­ris, a re­tired Marine Gun­nery Sgt. and Cal­i­for­nia correction­s of­fi­cer, is also a mem­ber of a his­toric mounted unit of the U.S. Army.

He is a “Buf­falo Sol­dier,” a mem­ber of the 10th Cavalry Reg­i­ment.

The group is a his­toric re-en­act­ment group, a non­profit, that has been pre­serv­ing the legacy of the his­tor­i­cally all African-Amer­i­can 9th and 10th Cavalry Reg­i­ments.

“This is some­thing we do to honor our past,” Har­ris said. “It is some­thing we are very hon­ored to be able to do to­day.”

On New Year’s Eve, he gath­ered sev­eral of his com­rades, a cou­ple of whom will be rid­ing with him, astride their cavalry mounts, in the Rose Pa­rade.

They spoke briefly at a weekly cof­fee gath­er­ing for vet­er­ans at Crazy Otto’s Restau­rant on Av­enue I.

“Our story is more than an African-Amer­i­can story,” David Jones, a proud mem­ber of the Buf­falo Sol­diers, who will be rid­ing in the pa­rade to­day, said. “We are an Amer­i­can story.”

It is a story that con­tin­ues to this day, long af­ter the units were de­seg­re­gated by or­der of Pres­i­dent Harry Tru­man.

“They lived un­der harsh con­di­tions, yet they mounted-up and rode out,” an of­fi­cial his­tory of the group says. “Buf­falo Sol­diers fought, died, searched, res­cued, pro­tected and demon­strated pro­fes­sion­al­ism by how they did their job. Their pres­ence and ac­tions on the Western fron­tier pro­vided se­cu­rity for Amer­ica.”

With its sis­ter unit, the 9th Cavalry, the 10th Cavalry Reg­i­ment was or­ga­nized af­ter the Civil War as a seg­re­gated African-Amer­i­can unit.

The 10th Cavalry was one of the orig­i­nal “Buf­falo Sol­dier” reg­i­ments in the post–Civil War Reg­u­lar Army. It served in com­bat dur­ing the In­dian Wars in the Western United States, the Span­ish– Amer­i­can War in Cuba and in the Philip­pine– Amer­i­can War.

The 10th Cavalry was re­ac­ti­vated as an in­te­grated com­bat unit in 1958. Por­tions of the reg­i­ment have served in con­flicts rang­ing from the Viet­nam War to Op­er­a­tion En­dur­ing Free­dom and Op­er­a­tion Iraqi Free­dom. The cur­rent struc­ture is by squadron, but with the 1st and 7th Squadrons re­cently de­ac­ti­vated, the 4th Squadron is the only 10th Cavalry Reg­i­ment unit in ac­tive ser­vice. It is as­signed to the 3rd Ar­mored Bri­gade Com­bat Team of the U.S. 4th In­fantry Di­vi­sion at Ft. Car­son, Colo., ac­cord­ing to its of­fi­cial U.S. Army his­tory.

The reg­i­ment served dur­ing the Span­ish– Amer­i­can War in 1898 and were in the same bri­gade as Teddy Roo­sevelt’s famed “Rough Rid­ers,” and were with the fu­ture pres­i­dent on the hard fight up San Juan Hill.

They fought in the Bat­tle of Las Guasi­mas, the Bat­tle of Tay­a­coba (where all four mem­bers of the last res­cue party were awarded the Medal of Honor), the Bat­tle of San Juan Hill and the Siege of San­ti­ago de Cuba.

“There is a lot that we would not have to­day, to be who we are, if this group had not done what they did,” Jones told the vet­er­ans in Lan­caster on Tues­day morn­ing.

Buf­falo sol­diers, ac­cord­ing to His­tory.com, were African Amer­i­can sol­diers who mainly served on the Western fron­tier, fol­low­ing the Amer­i­can Civil War. In 1866, six all-black cavalry and in­fantry reg­i­ments were cre­ated af­ter Congress passed the Army Or­ga­ni­za­tion Act.

Their main tasks were to help con­trol the Na­tive Amer­i­cans of the Plains, cap­ture cat­tle rustlers and thieves and pro­tect set­tlers, stage­coaches, wagon trains and rail­road crews along the Western front. One the­ory claims the nick­name arose be­cause the sol­diers’ dark, curly hair re­sem­bled the fur of a buf­falo.

An­other as­sump­tion is the sol­diers fought so valiantly and fiercely that the In­di­ans revered them as they did the mighty buf­falo.

What­ever the rea­son, the name stuck and African Amer­i­can reg­i­ments formed in 1866, in­clud­ing the 24th and 25th In­fantry (which were con­sol­i­dated from four reg­i­ments) be­came known as buf­falo sol­diers.

The Buf­falo sol­diers still ride. They will be rid­ing to­day while mil­lions watch the Tour­na­ment of Roses Pa­rade.

Por­tions of this ar­ti­cle came from of­fi­cial Army records and his­to­ries. Den­nis An­der­son is a li­censed clin­i­cal so­cial worker at High Desert Med­i­cal Group. Dur­ing the Cold War, he served in the 3rd Squadron, 8th Cavalry, an ar­mored re­con­nais­sance unit that pa­trolled the bor­der be­tween East and West Ger­many. Like the 10th Cavalry, the 8th was orig­i­nally a mounted unit, and its trooper still wear spurs for cer­e­mo­nial events.

DEN­NIS AN­DER­SON/Spe­cial to the Val­ley Press

Les Har­ris, 10th Cavalry, with wife Gwen Har­ris.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.