Cool before it was cool
What better way to celebrate the 11th of October with this snap of members of the 11th Armored Cavalry stooped to talk with West German Bundesgrenzschutz border police while patrolling the border between the DDR and FGR in Ford M151 MUTT light vehicles (marked with 7th Armored Cav Regt). Date 1979.
Dig the M1911s in leather holsters, OD green uniforms which would be replaced by woodland BDUs in just a few years, distinctive Blackhorse patches and black berets long before it was cool– as a homage to the British Royal Tank Regiment who adopted the headgear as standard in 1924 (while the German Panzer units did the same in the late 1930s and brought them back in 1956 with the Bundeswehr).
As noted by an 11th Cav veteran’s group, “In the US Army, HQDA policy from 1973 through 1979 permitted local commanders to encourage morale-enhancing distinctions, and Armor and Armored Cavalry personnel wore black berets as distinctive headgear.”
Formed in 1901, the Blackhorse served in the Philippines, along the border, and in the 1916 pursuit of Villa in Mexico (where they rode 22 hours straight to the rescue of United States forces besieged in Parral), before cooling their heels stateside in the Great War. Ditching their horses for armor in 1940, they served in Western Europe during WWII, fighting at the Bulge, then alternated Cold War service between West Germany and Vietnam (1966-71) and finally Kuwait before being sent to the NTC at Ft. Irwin in 1994 as the designated OPFOR (with breaks since then to go to the sandbox for real).