At the end of September, we were contacted by a soldier formerly stationed in the Caisson Section at Ft. Myer during the time the famous horse Black Jack was there. He was looking for a Breyer resin Black Jack model to donate to the Caisson Section during a wreath-laying ceremony he is organizing for the fortieth anniversary of Black Jack's death, and we were honored to help.
Black Jack was a feisty black Morgan / Quarter Horse cross that was born in Kansas in 1947. He was purchased by the US Army in 1950 and eventually sent to Ft. Myer, Virginia, which was a showplace of the Army's great cavalry. His personality made him unsuitable for harness work, but he was gorgeous and commanded attention wherever he went.
Because of his charisma, he was chosen to be the Caparison Horse for military funerals. The Caparison Horse is the black horse led riderless in a funeral procession with riding boots facing backward in the stirrups, signifying the loss of a fallen leader looking back over his troops one final time. Having the Caparison Horse in a funeral is the highest military honor, reserved for high-ranking military officers and political leaders. Black Jack served for 24 years as the official Caparison Horse, participating in over 1,000 funeral processions including those of President Hoover, President Johnson and General MacArthur, but is probably most famous for his role as the Cap Horse in JFK's funeral cortege.
Black Jack was so important and respected that when he passed away of old age in 1976, he himself was honored with a full military funeral, including a Caparison Horse. He was only the second horse in history so honored (the first being Comanche, said to be the only Army survivor of the Battle of Little Big Horn). The gentleman who had contacted me, Phil Godfrey, had not only known Black Jack personally, but had led the Caparison Horse at Black Jack's funeral.
SPC4 Godfrey and PFC Andy Carlson, who had led Black Jack in JFK's funeral procession, are planning a remembrance ceremony for Black Jack on the 40th anniversary of his death, in February of next year. The event will include a wreath-laying ceremony featuring an equestrian version of the script for the wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, something that has never been done before! It will include up to 25 horses and riders from the Caisson Section of the Old Guard, and should be quite impressive to see!
Following that will be the presentation of the Breyer resin Black Jack to the Caisson Section to insure that Black Jack's memory stays alive always. The Black Jack model is being donated by Triple Mountain and our wonderful collector customers! (More information to come shortly - Stay tuned!)
Mark your calendars: Time and details are subject to change, but it's planned that the wreath-laying will be open to the public and take place on February 6, 2016, at 11am. It will take place at Ft. Myer on the parade field - Summerall Field, where Black Jack is buried. Dress accordingly, as the event is scheduled to occur rain, snow or shine. (The model presentation following the ceremony will be by invitation only.) We'll keep you updated of any changes as we hear about them.
The below photo was sent to us by Phil Godfrey and is used with permission. The top picture shows Specialist 4 Godfrey with the Cap Horse (Midnight) at Black Jack's funeral. The bottom is a photo of PFC Carlson and Black Jack with the caisson carrying JFK's casket during the funeral.
Our gratitude goes out to SPC4 Godfrey for his efforts to insure this historic horse continues to be remembered for his many years of special service to our country!
We're aware that many of you would like to help out in some way, and are working with Specialist 4 Godfrey to see how we can best do that. We have some ideas in the works... Check in often - We'll post updates both here and on our Facebook page. ~ Eleda