Photography by John Michael

"Preserving the memories so others will remember"™

Defenders Day at Fort McHenry 09 SEP 2017

A Historic Celebration – Fortified!





Celebrated annually to commemorate the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812, Defenders Day is a Maryland holiday celebrated in 2017 on 12 September in which Fort McHenry played a pivotal role in the success of that battle.  The British with their array of warships in the harbor bombarded the fort repeatedly during the battle.   The soldiers of the fort responded in kind with a steady barrage and the Americans were victorious.

On one of those British ships was an American lawyer, who was aboard on a mission to release some prisoners takenFort McHenry Stars and Stripes by the British.  Unfortunately, or perhaps very fortunately, he was kept aboard the ship when the bombardment commenced.  It lasted through the night and when dawn broke, the “Stars and Stripes” were still flying over the fort.  He was so moved by the sight of his young nation’s flag, that he penned a four-verse poem.

The name of the lawyer?  Francis Scott Key.   The poem that he wrote? Defense of Fort M’Henry It became known as “The Star-Spangled Banner” – the national anthem of the United States of America.




Something Special for 2017

This year’s celebration was held on Saturday,  09  SEP 2017 and included the participation of the US Army Band (TUSAB) – “Pershing’s Own” and the Presidential Salute Battery of the 3d Infantry Regiment – “The Old Guard” It is the oldest infantry regiment in the US Army with origins back to 1784 – America’s First Regiment!

The Presidential Salute Battery of The Old Guard – 3d Infantry US Army was at Fort McHenry for Defenders Day, the video was captured by COL Jason Garkey, Regimental Commander of America’s Regiment … HOOAH! GUNS RUN LONG!

The Star-Spangled Banner celebrated a centennial in 2016,  for it was in 1916 President Woodrow Wilson signed an executive order making it the national anthem of the United States of America.


Here are the words penned by Francis Scott Key:


Defense of Fort M’Henry

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,
’Tis the star-spangled banner—O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.



Learn more about Fort McHenry and its history told in historic images.


Posted 1 month, 1 week ago at 6:43 am.

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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 6 months ago at 1:28 pm.

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Senator Cotton Speaks to the Society of the Honor Guard

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Tom Cotton It was COL Neale Crosby who wrote some very touching words about “Why We Guard the Tomb” Recently Senator Tom Cotton shared the following words with the Sentinels who have and are guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns:

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A Tomb Guard’s Last Walk


A very rare mission… with an even rarer ending…

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The tradition continues –

Earlier this week another small milestone was set in history…

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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.
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Posted 7 years, 9 months 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…

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Мерры Чристмас !

Or for those who cannot read Russian Cyrillic –


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Mission: ANC

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery

For those who have followed me on Facebook, you have seen how from Saturday morning in the frenzy of the snowstorm, I attempted daily to get into Arlington National Cemetery.  The mission was to capture some of the beauty of this hallowed place in the snow…   ANC closed on Saturday, and when I arrived, the barriers were symbolically across Memorial Drive.

I turned around and decided that Sunday morning was probably a better choice and when I returned on Sunday, I found the roadway of Memorial Drive completely clear thanks to the efforts of the National Park Service.  Alas, the gates of ANC were closed and locked …

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Posted 7 years, 10 months ago at 11:36 am.


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…

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