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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
of the First Fort Bliss about 1849
Photo of the original adobe barracks at the present day
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
of 250 in the APFT
Sharpshooter or above on personal weapon
of E-4 or above and team leader or above in the company
Complete Spur Ride exercise, consisting of six team soldier skill events
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:
Cav Div Provost Marshal
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?
Cavalry Division Provost Marshal
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
545th MP Co
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
545th MP Co
and Ft Hood
2001 – 2003
And yet another MP unit
commander who wore his Stetson to the MP Ball
545th MP Co
2003 – 2004
545th MP Company
Iraq and Ft
2004 - 2005
Curtis George at the MP Ball in his dress blues
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.
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
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
Fred is a member of our Association and also the
Association Training NCO
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.
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
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 –
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
SSG John K. Kenneday
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
"Cav Speak, Yo! "
offf music to hear the video