On 28 July1866, the 39th Congress of the United States passed an act to improve the peace establishment of the nation. This act authorized the formation of an additional two cavalry and four infantry regiments. For the first time in our nation’s history, these Regular Army regiments were to consist of black enlisted soldiers. The Ninth Cavalry was organized on 21 September 1866 at Greenville, Louisiana, a town near New Orleans. Colonel Edward Hatch, a veteran cavalryman and former general officer in the recently concluded Civil War, was selected to be the regiment’s first commander. The Ninth Cavalry along with its sister regiment, the Tenth Cavalry, became known as the “Buffalo Soldiers” regiments - a title of respect bestowed by the Indians they fought.

In the 1870’s and the 1880’s the Ninth Cavalry fought with great distinction throughout the western United States in numerous campaigns against marauding American Indians, Mexicans, and lawless settlers. The Ninth Cavalry was often the only source of security on the frontier and was often at odds with those who would profit from banditry. While most of the Ninth’s actions were against hostile Indians, in 1884 the regiment also protected the friendly Indian tribes settled in present-day Oklahoma from settlers seeking to steal their land. From these early campaigns, the Ninth Cavalry derived a part of its unit insignia: an Indian in breach cloth mounted on a galloping pony and brandishing a rifle in one hand. The Ninth Cavalry troopers earned fifteen Medals of Honor during the Indian Wars. Most of these Medals were earned by noncommissioned officers leading small detachments of soldiers. The regiment participated in campaigns against Comanche’s, Uses, Sioux, and Apaches.

Two Months after the Battleship Maine sunk in Cuban waters, the regiment, then stationed at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, was alerted for deployment to war. The regiment departed four days later on 60 rail cars destined for Florida to stage for invasion. One of the first units to go ashore, it fought as dismounted infantry alongside Theodore Roosevelt’s Roughriders in the gallant charge up Kettle Hill and San Juan Heights. The regiment’s commanding officer, Colonel Hamilton, was killed in action during the attack. It was here that the regiment derived the rest of its insignia: the five bastioned fort patch of the Fifth Army Corps to which the Ninth Cavalry was assigned. After the fighting ended in Cuba, the regiment was sent to another trouble spot, the Philippines.

During the Insurrection, the Ninth Cavalry continued its hard fighting tradition by conducting three successful deployments to the Philippines from 1900 to 1916 to fight the rebellious Moro tribesman and earned respect of the military governor, General Arthur MacArthur. While most of the regiment was deployed to the Philippines, several troops remained stationed at the Presidio of San Francisco. In 1903, these troops served as a Guard of Honor to President Theodore Roosevelt. This was the first time black regular cavalrymen served in this capacity. During the 1920s and the 1930s, the regiment patrolled the Mexican Border and was assigned to the 3rd Cavalry Division on 1 March 1933.

The regiment was called upon during World War II. On 10 October 1940, the Ninth Cavalry was reassigned to the 2nd Cavalry Division and prepared for overseas deployment. The regiment trained in the Arkansas Maneuver Area from August to October 1941 then returned to Fort Riley. Due to overcrowding at Fort Riley, the regiment transferred to Fort Clark, Texas in July 1942 where it continued training for combat in Europe. The War Department decided a second cavalry division was unnecessary for victory and directed the division deploy to the Mediterranean theater and inactivate to provide replacements to critical logistical organizations. Accordingly, the regiment dismounted, embarked at Hampton Roads, Virginia on 31 January 1944, arrived in North Africa on 9 February 1944, and inactivated on 7 March 1944 at Assi-Ben Okba, Algeria. The regiment’s soldiers were transferred to support units. 

On 20 October 1950, the regiment was redesignated the 509th Tank Battalion. The battalion was activated on 1 November 1950 at Camp Polk, Louisiana and reassigned to the 1st Cavalry Division. At the time the 1st Cavalry Division was in battle with the Republic of Korea. The 509th Tank Battalion arrived in Korea in time for the historic defense of Pusan and fought in numerous campaigns throughout the war, earning distinction and honor in the fight against North Korea and Chinese aggression. In December, 1952, the battalion became one of the early units to racially integrate. After the war, the battalion patrolled the DMZ until 10 April 1956 when it was transferred back to Fort Knox, Kentucky and inactivated. On 1 November 1957, the 9th Cavalry was activated in Korea and redesignated the 1st Squadron (Reconnaissance), 9th Cavalry and reassigned to the 1st Cavalry Division. The squadron was transferred from Korea to Fort Benning, Georgia on 1 July 1965 and reorganized.

On 15 September 1965, the 9th Cavalry began combat operations in the Republic of Vietnam as the division’s air cavalry squadron. The 9th Cavalry participated in such pivotal battles as the Ia Drang Valley, Khe Sahn, Binh Dinh, and QuangTri. Until 28 June 1971, the 9th Cavalry remained in Vietnam. During that period, elements from the 9th Cavalry earned fourteen campaign streamers, three Presidential Unit Citations, five Valorous Unit Citations, and the reputation as one of the finest combat units in Vietnam. It is estimated that the 9th Cavalry was responsible for fifty percent of all enemy soldiers killed by the 1st Cavalry Division during the war. 9th Cavalry troopers earned two Medals of Honor in Vietnam. The Fort Hood Guest House, Poxon House, was named in honor of one of the squadron’s Medal of Honor recipients, First Lieutenant Robert L. Poxon, who earned his Medal of Honor on 2 June 1969, in the Tay Ninh Province. Hollywood honored the squadron in its fictional portrayal of an attack on a communist base camp in the film Apocalypse Now.

After Vietnam, the squadron returned to Fort Hood with the rest of the 1st Cavalry Division and served as divisional recon squadron until 16 October 1986, when it was deactivated. On 16 March 1987, the 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry was reactivated at Fort Lewis, Washington, and assigned to the 9th Infantry Division (Motorized) as the divisional reconnaissance squadron. In 1991 the squadron was inactivated along with the rest of the Ninth Infantry Division.

In July 2005, the 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry was activated, and organized as an Armored Reconnaissance Squadron as part of the modularization and unit of action organization assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division as part of the 2nd (Blackjack) Brigade. The regiment boasts a long list of distinguished members, including General (Retired) Robert Shoemaker, Lieutenant General (Retired) Paul Funk, and Sergeant Major of the Army (Retired) William Connelly.


 

Back to Adopted Unit Main Page
Back To Union State Bank Main Page