FORT HUACHUCA — A United States Marine captain took the reins as the new commander of the historic B Troop 4th U.S. Cavalry (memorial) at the installation Friday morning.
In a ceremony on Brown Parade Field, USMC Capt. John Walton shyly accepted command of the unit from exiting commander Army Maj. Eddie Gonzalez, who joined B Troop in 2015.
Walton prompted laughter from the crowd attending the change of command event when he said members of B Troop, “pointed at the one random Marine and said, ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’ “
Walton, 29, is stationed at the Joint Interoperability Test Command on post. He is a cyber survivability analyst.
He thanked Garrison Commander Col. Jarrod Moreland, the honorary regimental commander of B Troop, for “having faith and trust and confidence” in allowing him to take command of the unit. He also thanked his wife, Meredith, for “allowing me to have this very time consuming hobby.”
Walton ended his speech with, “Of course, Semper Fi.”
Moreland said that “A Marine taking the reins speaks to the diversity and uniqueness of this all-volunteer memorial Army unit.”
Outgoing commander Gonzalez, who became commander in 2019, also thanked his spouse for letting him indulge in the countless hours he has spent with B Troop. Gonzalez, also assigned to the Joint Interoperability Test Command, said he will stay on as a member of the unit. He thanked past troopers and expressed a heartfelt gratitude to his current colleagues in the all-volunteer regiment.
“ ... What connects us is our love and passion for these horses,” Gonzalez said. “Most importantly we’re always together.”
Gonzalez’s voice became shaky when he offered a special thanks to longtime former B Troop program coordinator Chris Zimmerman, who passed away in December.
“He taught me everything I know about horses,” Gonzalez said.
Moreland, meanwhile, hailed Gonzalez’s leadership of B Troop, especially his idea to carry out a handful of “neighborhood rides” through Fort Huachuca at the height of the pandemic. At the time, Gonzalez told the Herald/Review, “If riding a horse in front of someone’s house is going to make them happy, we’re gonna do it.”
Ty Reimann, CW4 (ret.) and the current program coordinator for B Troop, explained that the changing of command is a time-honored custom dating back to the passing of the scepter as a symbol of authority from the “old Caesar to the new during the time of the Roman Empire.”
Reimann said the Army adopted the custom of passing the colors from the British, instituting it the 1700s when Gen. George Washington assumed command of the Continental Army on July 3, 1775.
“Additionally, the passing of the unit color emphasizes that the organization is more important than any one individual,” Reimann said. “And that although commanders change, the organization remains constant and a continuity remains.”
According to the U.S. Army, “The 4th Cavalry Regiment is one of the most famous and most decorated regiments in the United States Army. Since its activation in 1855, the 4th Cavalry has continuously served the United States of America in peace and war.
“The unit is officially established by regulation and funded by the Army. The unit has a zero-manpower authorization and relies on volunteers to fill its ranks. Members are drawn from active duty, reserve, and retired military personnel, Department of Defense civilians employed at Fort Huachuca, and military dependents 18 years of age and older. Members of the unit are uniformed, equipped, and armed in accordance with U.S. Cavalry standards of the 1880s.
“A Ladies Auxiliary supports B Troop, primarily by participating in parades riding sidesaddle and wearing period authentic clothing, and may assist with horse care and training. An artillery section known as K Battery also supports B Troop. These members do not ride, but operate the Troop’s 1840 mountain howitzer at ceremonies and public events.”
B Troop not only participates in several ceremonies on Fort Huachuca, but is also involved in various events throughout the community and other parts of the state. Members are responsible for the daily care and training of their horses.
Last year, the storied unit, for the first time, brought home the championship of the National Cavalry Competition in Fort Reno, Oklahoma. The winners were Apache, a 23-year-old Quarab half quarter horse/half Arabian, and rider Martina Peters, whose husband is retired military. B Troop’s new commander Walton won first place in the level one jumping course on his mount Duke, and B Troop member Army Maj. Cassie Bonadeo, MEDDAC CFO at Fort Huachuca, won third place in level one military horsemanship on her horse Ben.
“These troops (B Troop) serve as the ambassadors to our community,” Moreland said.