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     What is a Cav MP

  

   
        
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545th Military Police Company

1st Cavalry Division

For the Record

What is a Cavalry Military Policeman?

As of June 17, 2014

COL Jeffrey T. Harris riding his trusted steed! 

Many who view this document will ask why an explanation is even necessary.  Many will say that is about time that someone explained the difference between a regular MP and a Cavalry MP. And some will read on because the thought had never occurred to them that there might be a difference – and there definitely is a difference! The spoken and body language even differs from that of a regular MP.  Their traditions are greatly different from that of a regular MP and most of all their attitude, mind set and way of doing things are different!

To understand the Cavalry MP, one must first understand a little history of the MP Corps itself as well the great history of the U.S. Cavalry!  Bear with me as a brief summary of these histories is explained.

When General George Washington first assumed command of the Continental Army, he acquired a rag tag mixture of regulars, militiamen, volunteers and woodsmen, many of whom did not take orders or direction easily.  Having served under the British Army as a Continental Colonel previously when the 13 Colonies were still friendly with England, General Washington knew that he required a force of soldiers to bring order and discipline to the ranks.  This force also needed to be extremely mobile and imposing in appearance, for it not only needed to portray and impose authority quickly but it needed to be able to reconnoiter routes of attack and supply for the general staff. Another important mission of these Marechaussee troops was the gathering of battle field information.  At the beginning of the American Revolution, the Continental Army adopted, with little change, the procedures of the British Army pertaining to the Military Police. This original force was to be mounted and accoutered as light dragoons and looked like the photo shown at the beginning of this report.  This unit was soon styled the “Troops of Marechaussee” after the French term for their Provost Troops.  They were the forerunners of the Cavalry MP’s.

 

Troops of the Marechaussee in blue coats with gold lapels taking control of British prisoners
Photo courtesy of the MP Regimental Association.

 

From that day forward until the formal establishment of the US Army Military Police Corps by the Secretary of War in 1941 it was on again – off again for the Military Police Corps.  To keep it brief, Provosts Marshals were assigned to each Army and command and by geographical, political or military districts or areas and line units were assigned temporary duty as Provost Troops under the Provosts Marshals command.  Usually these line units were infantry or cavalry with some artillery units mixed in now and then, but there was also the “Invalid Corps” and other similar units that were often assigned as Provosts Troops.  The Provosts Marshal would issue orders and the line units would try and carry them out.  Keep in mind that none of them had any Military Police Training.  So far we have covered what all that MP’s have in common in their backgrounds. 

Now we begin to get into the Cavalry aspect of being a Military Policeman.  During the Civil War the Cavalry was often used as Provost Troops.  They were required to patrol the rear areas and flanks of the movement and maneuver units for stragglers and AWOL’s.  It was not easy to stand in formation as in Bull Run – dress right and cover down while Johnny Reb was dug in behind fallen tree and earth works and shooting at you with Minnie balls from his muskets and grape shot from his cannon.  The ranks broke occasionally and as the Union Soldiers were running to the rear, the Cavalry would stop them and herd them back to the front lines to continue the fight.  Often just the sight of the Cavalry charging the Reb positions would spur the infantry on to do the same thing instead of running away.  So the Cavalry had a lot of experience at being Provost Troops and they knew how to get the Infantrymen to exert themselves above and beyond the call of duty.

During the Revolutionary War, and especially during the Civil War, the Cavalry assigned as Provost Troops was used to collect battlefield information and to monitor and carry messages from spies to the general staff and questionable people within the battlefield and rear areas, as well as round up stragglers and AWOL’s

Since the days of recorded warfare, the problem of displaced persons has remained the same.  In any given battle space there are scores of civilians who through no fault of their own find themselves without homes or businesses and flee the area.  There are usually not enough roadways to allow for the forward movement of supply trains and combat units or the rearward movement of wounded, empty supply trains and POW’s and the masses of displaced persons on these roadways cause extreme hardship on everyone, themselves included. In the horse cavalry days this problem was usually assigned to one of the cavalry units assigned as Provost Troops.  The Cavalry Military Police of today’s Army have taken on this task on as well.

Union Army Provost Marshals Office in Aquia Creek, Virginia during the Civil War. This building had probably once been a general store or Post Office and was taken over by the PM and his staff.  Photo courtesy of the MP School

 

This is a mock up of a Cavalry Provost Sergeant’s Desk during the Civil War.  Note the high desk that was to come into common use at MP Stations in later years by all Military Policemen.  Photo courtesy of the MP Museum

 

Up until the end of the Civil War, Cavalrymen were mostly Irish, German and Italian immigrants and the 1st Cavalry Division Song “Garry Owen” is an old Irish Drinking Song brought over to America by those Irish Immigrants serving in the US Cavalry.  Before and after the Civil War large numbers of Americans and recently arrived immigrants migrated west in large numbers. The 9th and 10th Cav Buffalo Soldiers would also find the west a wild place and were tasked with guarding trails and escorting pay wagons this was definitely wild territory.

 

 

It was wide open land with miles of nothing but barren sand or prairie grass and Indians and the only places of refuse and safety were military installations and the occasional stage stop that was usually heavily fortified.

 

 

Travelers were grateful for the occasional Stage Stop where they could stop and rest for a while in some safety Photo courtesy of the Pecos Trails Association

 

 

The stage coach was also not always a safe mode of travel either as the roads were rutted, Indian attacks were frequent and the weather was miserable.  Photo courtesy of the Pecos Trails Association

 

 

Most military installations in the west were one or two days ride apart so stage coaches and wagon trains had to travel two days and a night in many cases to get from one safe place to another.  Quite often the Cavalry would provide escorts for these travelers as shown in the drawing made by an unknown Cavalryman above.

 

 

 Until 1916 the military installations in Texas were supplied in many cases by Army Wagon Trains like the one shown above and then only once or twice a year.  Photo courtesy of Texas A&M

 

 

Cavalry outposts in the west unlike their counterparts in comfortable installations in places like Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington DC or New York in the East were cut off from the outside world and lived for the most part in crude adobe barracks that they built themselves from local materials.  The Cavalrymen froze in the winter and roasted in the summer. Cavalrymen ate meager rations (if the supply trains arrived on time) or hunted on the prairie or out on the range if the supply trains were late or frozen in.  They ate dust and sand in the summer and sloshed in the mud and sleet and snow in the winter while on patrol or escort duty. They shared their water with their horses and made do with what they had. They were a rough and rowdy lot and completely self sufficient.  They dug their own wells, constructed their own barracks and stables and hunted for their own food in many cases.  They fought Indians and buried the dead from Indian attacks that they found while on patrol. And they were proud and cocky!  They also did not like outside interference and liked to “police their own”  The larger posts that had more than one regiment began to assign the position of Provost Sergeant to one of their own to police the unit and maintain law and order and enforce military orders and regulations. When this started is not exactly known but there is a record of a Provost Sergeant in the 6th Cavalry sometime around 1839 and 1840 so we know that at least that far back they had such a position and such an NCO to fill it. This was the beginning of what was to become Cavalry MP’s

 

 

This is a drawing of a typical Cavalry Sergeant of the 1870’s 1880’s notice the Cavalry stance – the swagger.  Photos and drawings of the same time frame of Infantrymen show them at rigid attention weather sitting or standing. Not so the Cavalryman.  The Cavalryman also tended to be a bit bow legged and it is said that you could spot a Cavalryman a mile away by his swagger and his bow legs. They had extreme pride in their units and themselves as well, but they were not going to be “pegged” as rigid toy soldiers at attention.  These were men of the same ilk as James Cody and George Armstrong Custer, the famous Indian fighters and not only did they know it, they showed it by their body language.  They were to a man lean and mean and weathered brown by the sun and wind and hours in the saddle. This was the attitude and appearance of all Cavalrymen including the Provost Sergeants and what was later to become the Cavalry MP’s

All the famous Cavalry Regiments that would later become part of what was to be the 1st Cavalry Division were formed at a place called Fort Bliss, Texas.  Fort Bliss was originally staffed in 1849 to guard El Paso.  It was originally located on the banks of the Rio Grande, overlooking Mexico, but was later moved to the Northwest about 10 miles to its current location.  To this day, the walls of the Fort Bliss Officers Club still contain adobe bricks from over a century ago and the installation has survived.

  

Drawing of the First Fort Bliss about 1849

 

 

Photo of the original adobe barracks at the present day Fort Bliss

Photo courtesy of Texas A&M

 

During the Mexican War, the Cavalry had its work cut out for it and all the regiments had more than one Provost SGT with a detail of at least one squad of troopers from the line troops to handle the Mexican Federales Detainees.  A Detainee Camp was set up at Fort Bliss and it held these detainees under Provost Guard.

 

This is a photo of an old style Provost Sergeant (on the right) and his hard case detail.  Notice the Cavalry Slouch! Circa 1914 Ft Bliss, Texas.  Photo courtesy Texas A&M

 

A Cavalry MP is one who has had to direct horse and mule drawn traffic as well as motor vehicle traffic.

 

Members of the MP Platoon in typical cavalry riding breeches drawing supplies at the Post QM at Ft Bliss, Texas

 

 

Finally the Cavalry had MP’s!  The 545th Military Police Company was constituted on 15 February 1939 as the Military Police Platoon, Headquarters Troop, 1st Cavalry Division in the regular Army.  The unit was re-designated 4 July 1942 as the MP Platoon, 1st Cavalry Division and activated at Fort Bliss Texas.

 

 

One of the very first members of the MP Platoon, name unknown.  Notice the angle of the hat – typical Cavalry swagger circa 1942

 

So just what is a Cavalry MP?  He is a Federal Law Enforcement Officer.  He is a Professional Soldier and He is a Cavalry Trooper - all three of equal importance to these Cavalry MP’s.  He or she comes from a long line of tradition and if you hail a Cavalry MP with the words “Hey Trooper” or “Trooper” you will receive the same response that you would from any Cavalryman “YO!” or if he or she wanted to be a little more formal then “YO Sir” or “YO Sergeant” If an MP responded in this manner in the 1st Infantry Division or the one of the Armored Divisions they would be more than likely be reprimanded for disrespect.  In the Cavalry an officer or NCO beams with pride that his or her troopers respond in such cavalry fashion.

Cavalry MP’s pride themselves in the fact that they can operate independently with little or no support and can adopt and overcome any obstacle or lack of support or equipment as evidenced when they took the beach on Los Negros Island or liberated the American POW’s in Manila or led the flying column that captured the Capitol of North Korea or any number of times when they did not have the equipment required to do the job as in Vietnam when the lack of machineguns was mysteriously corrected and an overabundance of both 50 cal and M 60 MG’s showed up (no matter that the cases they came in were stamped US Navy) or in Desert Storm when the EPW’s were so numerous and unexpected that the Cav MP’s had to commandeer trucks from Division Trains to transport them all. Cav MP’s can sleep at the drop of a hat in any temperature on any terrain.

 

545th MP’s catching a few ZZZZZZZZZ’s in Iraq

 

 

545th MP Ann Golightly taking a snooze in Iraq 2004

 

And Cavalry MP’s have traditions that no other MP unit in the entire US Army has!  These go back to the Horse Cavalry Days.  One of the lesser known traditions for the younger Cav MP’s is that any Officer or senior NCO who actually served in the old horse cavalry was authorized to wear their riding breeches and boots so long as they served.  Many of these old timers remained on active duty until just before Vietnam and the writer of this document personally remembers as a young MP Lieutenant in Germany escorting an old Cavalry Colonel on a Diplomatic Mission from Potsdam in East Germany on a convoy through Baumholder, Germany and he actually wore his pinks with riding crop, breeches, spurs and boots with that Big Beautiful Cav Patch on his right shoulder.  That was in the early 1960’s and what a sight when he stopped for coffee at a Gasthous on the Autobahn. I thought the German cop was going to throw him a Heil Hitler salute when he came to rigid attention as the Colonel passed by. So that anyone reading this document might be familiar with such attire – here are a few photos.

 

Here is a great photo of MG William C. Chase in Japan at a Division awards ceremony in his cavalry breeches and boots

 

 

1st Cavalry Division Provost Marshal inspecting his MP’s with the Division CG (MG Chase) in his breeches and boots following on behind the procession.  Photo taken in Tokyo Japan circa 1947

 

One of the commanders of the 545th MP Company who was our first and founding Commandant ( Deceased) of the 545th MP Co Association and was a graduate of the last Basic Cavalry Officers Course at Fort Riley, Kansas and one of the last MP Officers in the Corps to have actually served in the Old Horse Cavalry.  LTC Louis Mehl commanded the 545th when it led the breakout from Taegu and the Pusan perimeter when he was a young Captain.  He also played polo in good cavalry tradition and often was seen around the company area in Japan with his riding breeches and boots. 

 

Note the Cavalry Stance – hands on hips

Then there is the ORDER OF THE SPUR which is not only a Cavalry tradition but a Cavalry MP tradition as well!

 

Order of the Spur

 

The tradition has its roots in knighthood, where the awarding of gilt spurs symbolized entry into ranks – and fraternity – of mounted warriors.  Usually, the squire aspiring to knighthood had to perform some task or deed on the battlefield or tournament field to “win their spurs.”  The spurs themselves were buckled on during the investiture to knighthood usually during Mass or some other religious ceremony.  Thereafter, it was the spurs that symbolized that a man was a knight – not his sword, horse or armor.  No matter how financially destitute, a poor knight would part with everything else before his spurs.  The primary act of degradation (removing someone from knightly class) was to have another knight cut off the offending knights spurs. 

Today the Order of the Spur recognizes individual qualification for those in a Cavalry unit.  The privilege of being awarded spurs in any Cavalry unit comes with hard work and challenges.  For an individual to qualify and compete for the Order of the Spur within the unit, the Cavalry soldier must first meet or exceed the following standards of performance:

 

Service in the division for six months

Score of 250 in the APFT

Qualify Sharpshooter or above on personal weapon

Grade of E-4 or above and team leader or above in the company

Complete Spur Ride exercise, consisting of six team soldier skill events

 

Upon successful accomplishment of the requirements, the Senior Officer awards the spurs to be proudly worn throughout the Trooper’s Cavalry career.

The certificate for the Order of the Spur shown above is an actual copy of the certificate awarded to 1SG Jody A. George by Captain Ian Townsend, Commander of the 545th MP Co. on the 27th of June, 2003.  It is very possible that you might see a Cavalry NCO or Officer at a formal function in his or her dress blue uniform wearing not only a Stetson hat, but Cavalry Spurs as well

 

Cavalry MP’s are also quite comfortable in their Cavalry Stetsons as seen in the many photos below:

LTC Scott Thorgerson

1st Cav Div Provost Marshal

Fort Hood, Texas

2000 – 2003

 

 

Now you tell me in what other division in the US Army will you find the Division PM seated on a horse and wearing a Stetson at the Division Horse Stables?

 

COL Robert Byrd

1st Cavalry Division Provost Marshal

Operation Iraqi Freedom II, the Iraq War

2003 – 2005

 

What Division Provost Marshal in the entire US Army would be seen wearing a Stetson in a Combat Zone?

CPT Chris Cantrell

Commander 545th MP Co

Fort Hood, Texas

1997 – 1998

 

 

And what Company Commander of an MP unit in the entire US Army would wear a Stetson with his dress blues to the MP Ball

 

CPT Timothy Sean Tyson

Commander 545th MP Co

Afghanistan and Ft Hood

2001 – 2003

 

 

And yet another MP unit commander who wore his Stetson to the MP Ball

 

CPT Ian Townsend

Commander, 545th MP Co

Iraq

2003 – 2004

 

 

CPT Matt Mularoni

Commander, 545th MP Company

Iraq and Ft Hood

2004 - 2005

 

 

1SG Curtis George at the MP Ball in his dress blues

 

1SG Scott Mandeville in his dress blues also at the MP Ball

 

1SG Jody George in her Stetson on horseback at the Division Stables

At Ft Hood

 

 

 

A Cavalry MP is a General who thinks it’s great that he is the only general on the parade field or the reviewing stand wearing a Cav Stetson with 545th crossed pistols on it and as he is grinning he assumes that famous Cavalry stance with at least one hand on the hip (comes from the old days when you placed your left hand on the Saber hilt or held the scabbard)

 

A Cavalry MP is one who proudly wears the Cavalry Stetson, 545th crossed pistols and Ascot in a sea of blue berets at the MP School and you can plainly see SFC Carey Killea’ stoic Cavalry facial expression that has been carried down from the old horse cavalry days. THAT’S CAVALRY!

 

 

A Cavalry MP is one who never forgets that they are Cav even when stationed in Alaska, 3000 miles from the nearest Cavalry post.  MSG Connie Dementer is obviously quite proud of her Stetson.

 

Soloman J.

Solomon, J. 1SG in Stetson

 

That may be the Provost Command Sergeant Major and the Provost Marshal General, but CSM Freddie Brock and BG Rod Johnson are clearly Cav MPs

 

    

COL Jeffery T. Harris
Commander of the 545th MP Company during Desert Storm
COL Harris is a member of our Association

 

MSG Mike Pentecost and his wife at a formal function where some Cavalry panache is required
Mike is a member of our Association and also the Association Master-at-Arms
That’s Cavalry!!

 

SFC Fred Killea with a Loving Cup of Cavalry Punch and a bottle of beer at a Punch Bowl Ceremony
(In typical 545th Cavalry MP Fashion!)
Fred is a member of our Association and also the Association Training NCO

 

 

SFC Eddie T. Lagarez a typical Cavalry MP NCO

 

CPT Jerome “Jerry” Koltz complete with Stetson which has 545th Crossed Pistols on it, 545th MP Co Ceremonial Ascot and an original Cavalry Officers Saber.

CPT Koltz is the stuff that Cavalry MP Officers are made of!

 

 

The wearing of the Stetson is authorized for wear with all uniforms as well as civilian clothes by members of the 1st Cavalry Division (both present and former members) and that includes the division military police. In no other military division in the world will you find Military policemen wearing a Cavalry Stetson Hat!  The only concession for the MP’s is the wearing of the crossed pistols in lieu of the crossed sabers

 

"Now that's Cav."

1SG James Sanders and PFC Francis Valiquette

 

MSG  Steven Stone

 

2LT X. Sessler

 

SFC Fred  Killea in Stetson and Ascot '2010

 

LTC Gary Lawhead

 

Cavalry traditions and items of uniform clothing remain in effect and use to this day by all members of the 1st Cavalry Division and nothing says it or portrays it better than this photo below –

 

 

The photo above was taken at the dedication ceremony for the 1st Cav Memorial held at Fort Hood Texas with the bronze statue of the 545th MP’s who provided cover and medical assistance for some children in Iraq while engaging the enemy in a fire fight.

 

1SG Jody George with US Colors and the 545th Guidon in Baghdad

 

 SSG John K. Kenneday

 

Cav MP's

For as long as there are Cavalry units and Cavalry Military Policemen in the United States Army, these traditions will be carried on as only the Cavalry can.

 

545th Flags Plaque

 

 

"Cav Speak, Yo! "

  (turn offf music to hear the video

                     

  

Sam Reinert
CPT MP USAR (Ret)
Founder
545th Military Police Company Association
626 1/2 South 9th Street
Richmond, Indiana 47374 USA
(765) 962 4627 phone & FAX
http://545thmpassn.com/