Remembering the past, honoring the present and preparing for the future was the theme during a recent deployment ceremony for the 1st Squadron, 303rd Cavalry Regiment held at the historic Tacoma Armory on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019.
“It’s only fitting we do this ceremony in this armory,” said Lt. Col. Tim Ozmer, Squadron Commander, 1-303rd Cavalry Regiment. “We have a storied history in Tacoma. After looking through historic photos, we discovered 100 years ago the Cavalry troop held a similar deployment right here and we wanted to do that as well.”
As more than 400 members of the squadron stood in formation, the more than 600 guests in attendance learned briefly about the history of the armory, as well as the great work of the Cavalry troops in formation as they prepared for their deployment to Jordan and what they were preparing for in the future while serving with their Jordanian counterparts.
“I am so proud of all of you,” Ozmer said. “We are going to execute this mission to the best of our abilities and going to kick butt doing it.”
1st Squadron troopers are set to deploy in support of Operation Spartan Shield, a unique, multi-component organization made up of active Army and National Guard units which maintains a U.S. military posture in Southwest Asia sufficient to strengthen our defense relationships and build partner capacity. Units supporting OSS provide capabilities such as aviation, logistics, force protection and information management, and facilitate theater security cooperation activities such as key leader engagements, joint exercises, conferences, symposia and humanitarian assistance/disaster response planning.
The 303rd Cavalry’s deployment is part of the Oregon National Guard’s 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team rotation to the Middle East.
“We are so excited about the way the 303rd has seamlessly joined up with the soldiers of the 41st Infantry, we know they will do amazing things in Jordan,” said Col. Eric Riley, commander of the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
During the ceremony, the 303rd Cavalry honored the historic Tacoma Armory, which was an active Washington National Guard facility until 2011.
If not for the Washington National Guard, the city of Tacoma’s landscape would look much different today. In 1880, the newly formed 1st Washington Cavalry began recruiting members for its new Tacoma City Troop, a new unit of the Washington Territorial Militia. This new unit would build the foundation of what we today know as Bravo Troop, 1st Squadron, 303rd Cavalry.
“This squadron can trace its roots back to the early days of the Guard and this armory has been a part of that tradition,” said Ozmer.
In 1903, with the passage of the Dick Act, the organized militias were standardized as the National Guard and became a part of the reserve forces of the U.S. Army. The Cavalry Troop, under the command of Captain Everett G. Griggs, remained in service in Tacoma. Griggs, a businessman in Tacoma, assisted in the design and construction of the Armory which opened on January 1, 1909.
During the Mexican border emergency of 1916, troopers from Tacoma were among the Washington Guardsmen called to federal service pursuant to General Orders No. 19 of June 18, 1916.
Under the command of Captain Hartwell W. Palmer and 1st Sergeant William R. Tyree, the troop departed for Calexico, California by rail on June 30, 1916 and by July 7, had set-up camp. While in California, the Troop served under General John J. Pershing in his pursuit of outlaw Poncho Villa. They remained on duty in California until early 1917 and was mustered out of federal service at Camp Murray on February 22, 1917.
“Our squadron has an amazing history and we are so proud to be a part of that,” said Ozmer, who also deployed as a member of the 1-303rd Cavalry during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004-2005. “We have plumbers and carpenters, police officers and firefighters, just countless professionals in this formation who are less than one percent of the population and willing to leave their job and families to serve overseas. We plan to bring them back smarter, stronger and better for going on this mission.”