Secretary White Rides With Blackhorse Once Again.
By Spc. Charles L. Westmoreland
FORT IRWIN, Calif. (Army News Service, Feb. 26, 2002) -- Secretary of the
Army Thomas E. White joined the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment's "Blackhorse"
soldiers for one final charge on the National Training Center battlefield
while visiting Fort Irwin Feb. 21.
White began his career as a second lieutenant in the 11th ACR while
serving a tour in Vietnam in 1968. He found his way back to the Blackhorse
on three more occasions, serving as the Regiment's S-3, executive officer
and 1st Squadron commander, before finally becoming the 11th ACR's 52nd
colonel in 1986. That was when the regiment patrolled the Fulda Gap and
border areas of West Germany, before it became the premier opposition force
As the battle against the 4th Infantry Division began Feb. 21, White took
his place in the tank commander's hatch of an M551 Sheridan, the same kind
of tank he commanded 34 years ago. With Lt. Col. Timothy Norton, 1st
Squadron commander, on his right side as the gunner, White moved out to
fight one last battle with the Blackhorse.
According to Maj. John Peeler, 11th ACR executive officer, who was
monitoring the battle from the Tactical Analysis Facility, better known as
the "Star Wars" building, White was able to avoid the 4th ID's Close Air
Support and then demonstrated the military prowess and leadership that
helped him rise to the Army's top position by killing several enemy tanks
and Bradley Fighting Vehicles.
Following White's victorious battle, he had lunch with several
soldiers at the 11th ACR Dining Facility, visited the 4th ID's Tactical
Command Post and toured the NTC and 11th ACR museum before calling it a day.
White's visit was more than just a tour of the installation and the chance
to fight with the Blackhorse. He said part of the reason for his trip was
to view the NTC's progression in the past years and to view first hand the
rotational environment and training that takes place.
"It (NTC) is one of the best things we ever did," White said. "Look at what
the Army was like coming out of Vietnam. We had to rebuild the whole Army
from scratch. One of the best things we did was establish this maneuver
training center. It's had an enormous impact."
White said he believes the key to all wars is having "tough, resourceful
people" fighting on the ground.
"What's going on here is relevant to the war on terrorism," he said. "If
you're gonna win, you have to put people on the ground and that's what we do
here at the National Training Center; we get people ready to go, on the
ground, and we train them in the most realistic environment we can create."
Before the NTC battle began, White visited with soldiers for almost
an hour, asking them questions like why they joined the Army and how they
feel about different aspects of military life. He also took the time to
answer their questions and spoke about the importance of the Blackhorse's
"All the veterans, guys like me, are very proud of the young guys who are
upholding the traditions of the Blackhorse," White told the soldiers.
White also told the soldiers that the sacrifices they and their families
make are recognized and appreciated.
(Spc. Charles Westmoreland is with the Fort Irwin public affairs office.)