Photography by John Michael

"Preserving the memories so others will remember"™

Farrier’s Daughters Return to Fort Myer

15 APR 2017 – Fort Myer, Caisson Stables

The past history of the US Army has a deep reliance upon the horse. That past was celebrated when Fort Myer was designated in 1887 through general order to become the showcase for the cavalry.  General Philip H Sheridan had the vision and the US Army had the horses among the cavalry and field artillery.  And the post became that showcase with the numerous cavalry and field artillery units. They were occupying the historic acres which once was part of the Custis-Lee estate.  Fort Myer still celebrates that legacy with the Caisson Platoon of the 3d Infantry – The Old Guard.

Caretakers of Some Equine Celebrities

The Caisson Platoon, besides having the distinction of being the only remaining US Army platoon with horses, has another. Over time it has cared for some major celebrity horses.

When the Army Moved by Horse

From 1908 until 1948 the US Army Remount Service was activated to provide the horses and mules needed by various parts of the army, mostly the cavalry and field artillery. Several “remount depots” were activated across the United States.  Among them were:

The last one and largest at 22,000 acres is where “Blackjack” was foaled.  He was the last of the remount horses.  Named after General John J “Blackjack” Pershing, he wore the brand of his Army serial number 2V56 on the left side of his neck.  His role was as a caparisoned (riderless) horse. His celebrity came from among the more than 1,000 full honor funerals, the most visible of them was the state funeral for President John F Kennedy.   Blackjack is buried in a special grave on the east side of Summerall Field on Fort Myer, VA

A Man on a White Horse

On 19 MAY 1964, Warrant Officer McKinney mounted Conversano Beja and rode out of Madison Garden in New York City.  The Spanish Riding School of Vienna Austria had just donated this white stallion to the US Army.  It was in appreciation of saving of the horses toward the end of WW II.   General George S Patton, Jr. authorized a mission to rescue the Lipizzaner horses from the Nazis. Over the next years, Conversano Beja participated in events with the Caisson Platoon.  Upon the horse’s passing, it was also buried on Fort Myer.

It’s More Than Ketchup

For many years, the H. J. Heinz Company utilized a team of eight Percheron horses combined with an antique wagon as part of their ongoing marketing campaign.  On 16 AUG 2007 that all changed when the company donated the horses to the US Army with the Caisson Platoon of the Old Guard as the caretakers   Since then, the horses have provided service during the many funerals at Arlington National Cemetery.  One of them, named Klinger has even been honored with his own book.



3d Infantry Caisson Platoon – An Open House

The Old Guard’s Caisson Platoon had their “Spring Open House” with over 1,400 people attending throughout the event.  The day, however, began with a strong look back in history thanks to the daughters of a 3rd Cavalryman while George S. Patton, Jr was commander of both Fort Myer and the 3rd Cavalry Regiment.

Historic Revisit to Fort Myer

The last time they were on the post is when they were young girls and the MPs chased them away from the apple trees. Elaine Weber and her sister Joan returned to Fort Myer to make a donation of memorabilia and an album of their father’s photos from that era – including among them was the 16th Field Artillery which shared Fort Myer with the “Brave Rifles “ of the 3rd Cavalry  Their father was a farrier.  In February 1942 when the 3rd Cavalry was sent to Fort Oglethorpe to get mechanized, the farrier and his family headed south with the regiment.

CPT Austin Hatch awards Elaine Weber a Caisson Challenge Coin



Part of the time spent included a look back of decades ago showing glimpses of when the horse was a main “resident” of Fort Myer.  The Old Guard Soldiers of the Caisson Platoon enjoyed examining another chapter of their history – those that preceded them.


CPT Austin Hatch awarded Elaine Weber the Caisson Platoon’s challenge coin in appreciation of her selfless gift and her father’s service to the United States.

The Farrier’s Daughters with some members of the Caisson Platoon

John Michael Sees Stars – 48 of them!

During the Caisson Open House, John Michael was awarded the 48-star American colors by Elaine Weber.


More about the Military Horse

An excellent book about the horse Blackjack


Rescue of the Lipizzaner Stallions


Klinger – A Caisson Platoon Horse



Mounting the Cavalry with America’s Finest Horses


Posted 10 months, 1 week ago at 1:28 pm.

Add a comment

The Value of Monuments

A monument is an expressive symbol. A good one, looked at for even a few minutes will remain in memory for years or even for one’s entire lifetime. Monuments are the milestones in a nation’s history — they will not allow other systems and governments to destroy the core values of a national culture.

—Andrzej Pitynski

Continue Reading…


Posted 3 years, 8 months ago at 5:44 am.

Add a comment

The tradition continues –

Earlier this week another small milestone was set in history…

Continue Reading…


Posted 7 years, 11 months ago at 12:44 am.

Add a comment

And the survey said…

The Old Guard on Parade

The Old Guard On Parade

they’re still the best kept secret!

I spent a week on a special mission.   I wanted to find out peoples’ awareness in the Washington DC area.   I asked about the sports teams, and most people knew without any coaching what teams they had for baseball, football, basketball, hockey and more.   I also asked who would defend Washington DC if a disaster struck.

I even showed photos of …

Continue Reading…


Posted 7 years, 11 months ago at 8:47 pm.

Add a comment

PART TWO: TOG on a Mission – 2010

PART ONE of this entry touched on the selection and inclusion of the photos from the cover through JUN 2010.   PART TWO  gets a bit more into history and background rather than the selection of photos as I go through JUL to DEC of 2010.
Continue Reading…

Posted 8 years, 1 month ago at 5:50 am.


PART ONE: TOG on a Mission – 2010

Here’s a more in-depth look at the making and background of the calendar – “The Old Guard on Mission – 2010” – some history and little known facts…

Continue Reading…


Posted 8 years, 1 month ago at 5:50 am.

Add a comment

2010 Old Guard Calendar is…


John Michael broke new ground when he published the “First” Calendar about the US Army’s 3d Infantry Regiment – “The Old Guard on Parade – 2009”  – The Escort to the President.  Many have seen this regiment earlier this year as they led and participated in the Presidential Inauguration.  Their ceremonial presence is only part of their story.  After pouring through thousands of photographs taken primarily in 2009, a theme finally emerged to tell the story about these Soldiers that few people ever see.

Soldiers in this elite regiment are called upon to do a number of different missions on a daily basis… most of which the public never sees or is even aware.   It’s hoped that the selection of these images provides a small glimpse of the varied assignments carried out and their contributions made as service to the United States of America…

Continue Reading…


Posted 8 years, 2 months ago at 4:24 pm.

Add a comment

Spirit of America – US Army Style!

I had a small inkling of what to expect having spent many days among the Old Guard and US Army Band – “Pershing’s Own” – but after the show began, I thought different. What unfurled was a extravaganza that kept moving right up until intermission… it was fast action, informative, precision, pageantry with a heavy dose of history mixed into the delivery.    I was truly impressed and after the two hours of show, my camera had recorded over 800 photos of these Soldiers in action…  I’m sure the attendees in Columbus, OH and Providence, RI would have the same impression or better.

Continue Reading…


Posted 8 years, 4 months ago at 11:59 am.

Add a comment

13 Reasons to donate to The Old Guard Museum

In 2008, after speaking with men who had served in the Presidential Salute Battery as far back as the 1950’s, I concluded that there hadn’t been a calendar for the US Army’s oldest and most historic infantry regiment – 3d Infantry – “The Old Guard”

I had, since 2000 captured thousands of photographs from the final honors at Arlington National Cemetery, the change of commands, the retirements, Presidential Salute Battery missions, Twilight Tatoo and more. What would be the first calendar for this historic regiment, should be something to tie in with the new President that the United States was “inuagurating” in 2009 – The Old Guard is “The Escort to the President” – AHAH! Why not select the photos that showcase all the elite units and the regiment in all their pageantry and splendor.

That’s how “The Old Guard on Parade – 2009” became an inspiration. To become a reality, I had to find just the right photos that made this calendar the best for the best! With the help of the public affairs office of TOG, I was able to borrow a couple of photos that completed the 13 pages of photographs … 13 Reasons to donate to The Old Guard Museum!
The calendar, A COLLECTOR’s ITEM, is still available for sale via the links that are on this blog or my website Photography by John Michael – But come 31 MARCH 2009 it will disappear from any online sales. So if you’d like to be one of those who has this “RARE” item, BUY NOW!

Posted 8 years, 11 months ago at 6:55 am.

Add a comment

Tour of Fort Myer and Arlington National Cemetery…

I had a glorious day today. A new friend who I met on Facebook came to Washington, DC to visit his dad’s final resting place at Arlington National Cemetery. When he let me know he was coming into town with his father-in-law, I offered to give them a ride and tour of Fort Myer and Arlington National Cemetery…

We drove around the Post of FORT Myer, and I pointed out the buildings that were once stables (Fort Myer once had over 1,500 horses located within the Post’s acres. I learned today that it was supplied by a re-mount depot at Front Royal Virginia as part of the  US ARMY’s Remount Service.) We then visited the Caisson Platoon as they were tending to their horses. From there, we walked across the street to view the offerings of the gift shop tended by the Old Guard Ladies Association (my guest wanted to purchase one of the calendars that he had heard and saw so much about – “The Old Guard on Parade – 2009” … while there I let the staff know that the next tribute to the Old Guard would be soon available.

We finished our tour of Fort Myer almost when I encountered one of the “watchmen” from the Presidential Salute Battery – The Guns Platoon. I introduced my guests to the soldier who promptly provided some great background on the work and missions he and the rest of the platoon execute including the 21 GUN Salute.

From Fort Myer, we headed into Arlington National Cemetery. Me with my eye on the time so we could observe the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. After going around for a while, it was time to head to the Tomb of the Unknowns. I looked closely at the Tomb Guard walking the mat (they all look the same with their sunglasses on and their smartly presented uniforms) … Yes it was… a soldier who had been a neighbor down-the-hall when he lived in the same building… he was “walking the mat” as the guards refer to it (you can see the indentations of their patrol of 21 steps worn into the mat)

I positioned myself down in front to the North of the Tomb to get some good up close photos… As the Sentinel performed his duty, I got an acknowledgment that he knew I was there (I’m not telling how he let me know, but he did TWICE!!!) and greeted me.

My guests were really into the changing of the guard and “my” Tomb Guard did a flawless execution. Later we went into the building behind the tomb and I provided some background of how things came to be. To my surprise, “my” Tomb Guard came up to me and spent a few moments with us before he needed to return to the barracks under the building to rest before his next tour of guard duty. Thanks, Benton! Great Job… Keep up the good work and my Boston based friends were honored to meet you!

One of my guests remarked that it was a true honor to meet that soldier, especially when informed him that the Tomb Guard Badge that he earned was the least awarded in the entire US military. The number is currently around 600 since the US ARMY has been guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns.

From there, we went to my friend’s father’s final resting place. He was 1st Cavalry, US Army and in Air Assault – helicopters… as we neared his spot, a Blackhawk lifted off from the Pentagon and swung nearby. I remarked to my friend “Must be your dad saying hello…”

I love what I do… my mission of “Preserving the memories so others will remember…”

Have you been to Arlington National Cemetery?    How about Fort Myer?   Please share your experiences.


Posted 9 years ago at 8:18 pm.

Add a comment