Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Da Vinci Code and the Buffalo Soldier.

Did other codes left by Leonardo foretell the coming of a specific Buffalo Soldier? Let's take a look at the facts. 

Fact: Leonardo was Catholic and my father, Trooper Frederic Douglass Jones, was Catholic.

Fact: Leonardo spoke Italian and Trooper Jones taught himself to speak Italian and was his squadron's interrupter when he served with the 92nd Infantry Division in Italy during WWII.

Fact: Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa in the early 1500's and Trooper Jones finished his painting of the Mona Lisa exactly 450 years later.

Fact: Leonardo Da Vinci is an anagram. If you rearrange the letters and then take a few of them out and add others, you get, Fred of Cincinnati, FACT!

Leonardo epitomized the 'Renaissance Man' because he excelled in the arts and sciences. Any of us who knew Trooper Jones knows that he also excelled in the arts and sciences and was without a doubt, a 'Renaissance Man.'

Fact: Leonardo died at the age of 66. In 1866 the Buffalo Soldiers were created by an act of Congress.

Trooper Jones was born in 1923. If you add 19 and 23 you get 42. Now add 4 plus 2 and you get 6. If you hold the number 6 next to a mirror you'll see two sixes, the one you're holding and the one in the mirror. Now, everyone knows that Leonardo practiced 'Mirror Writing,' so the clue here (with one of the 6's reversed in the mirror) is leading us back to Leonardo at the age of his death, which was, 66, FACT!

Not only that, but this clue is also telling us what year in the 1800's the Buffalo Soldiers would be organized, which of course was 1866, FACT!

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We have had a little fun here at the expense of the "DA VINCI CODE." With all the hype that was going on around the movie and the book, we just wanted to show you that Dan Brown isn't the only one who can have fun playing with the FACTS!

Trooper Jones was not unique among WWII Buffalo Soldiers. Just talk to Trooper Eugene Lewis, Trooper Waldo Henderson, Trooper Bruce Dennis, or Trooper Fred Cartha; have a chat with Trooper Andrew Isaacs, Trooper Royal Carter, Trooper Robert McDaniel, or Trooper James Cooper; sit down with Trooper Harold Cole, Trooper Ernest Collier, Trooper Henry Phillips, Trooper Alfred Evans, Trooper Robert Joyce Jr or any of the other surviving WWII, and Korean War Buffalo Soldiers. You will find that all of these men were ahead of their time, true 'Renaissance Men." How far could they have truly gone, in  life, if not for the color of their skin?

Fact: Desertions among White regiments were roughly three times greater than those among the Buffalo Soldier units, during the Indian Wars. Also, both Black Cavalry and Infantry regiments had  lower rates of alcoholism than their White counterparts.

Fact: The 9th and 10th Cavalries’ service in subduing Mexican revolutionaries, hostile Native Americans, outlaws, comancheros, and rustlers was as invaluable as it was unrecognized. It was also accomplished over some of the most rugged and inhospitable country in North America. A list of their adversaries – Geronimo, Sitting Bull, Victorio, Lone Wolf, Billy the Kid, and Pancho Villa – reads like a “Who’s Who” of the American West.

Fact: Lesser known, but equally important, the Buffalo Soldiers explored and mapped vast areas of the southwest and strung hundreds of miles of telegraph lines. They built and repaired frontier outposts around which future towns and cities sprang to life. Without the protection provided by the 9th and 10th Cavalries, crews building the ever expanding railroads were at the mercy of outlaws and hostile Indians. The Buffalo Soldiers consistently received some of the worst assignments the Army had to offer. They also faced fierce prejudice to both the colors of their Union uniforms and their skin by many of the citizens of the post-war frontier towns. Despite this, the troopers of the 9th and 10th Cavalries developed into two of the most distinguished fighting units in the Army.

Fact: Their 30 years of uninterrupted service in the western territories and frontier is the longest by any military unit in the history of the U.S. Army.

Imagine the protest that would be organized today if we left four regiments of the 1st Cavalry Division in Iraq for the next 30 years, with the same men who had little or no chance for reassignment because they could only be reassigned to another segregated regiment and those regiments were  in Iraq already.

Can you imagine?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Walking in the Footsteps of a Buffalo Soldier

The Campo Valley is about half way between San Diego and El Centro, California. Just 12 miles to the West of Interstate 8, you take Exit 51, the State Route S1 exit in San Diego County. The drive from Los Angeles to Camp Lockett was 180 miles by my odometer, but the trip took me 65 years back in time. It was around March of ’43 when a new recruit named Fred Jones boarded a troop train at Fort Thomas, Kentucky. 10 days later he found himself at Camp Lockett, in California. When dad stepped off the train he saw Black Troopers on horseback and he asked, "Where am I?" One of the troopers replied, "This is the 10th Cavalry, son."  Dad was very familiar with the Black men who served this country in the segregated units of the 9th and 10th mounted cavalry, nicknamed "Buffalo Soldiers" by the Native Americans during the Indian Wars. In fact, he was continuing the family legacy that started with his uncle, Trooper John Powell, who served in the 10th cavalry during World War I. Camp Lockett was the new home of the 10th and the newly formed 28th cavalry regiments. Dad and many young men from the mid-west would make of the bulk of the new regiment.

I don't believe the Campo Valley has changed much in the past 65 years. Outside of a few new ranch homes here and there and a freshly paved highway that leads to Cameron's Corners and on to the base, the topology hasn't changed much. Rolling hills and open pastures are dotted by hugh boulders that seemed as though they were dropped by some over  loaded boulder hauling space craft that flew over the area on its way back to its home planet. It's very easy to let your imagination drift back to a time when this area was overrun with Troopers perfecting their skills as premier horsemen. They protected the railways, reservoirs, bridges and tunnels in the area. They were this country's first line of defense for any enemy that attempted to attack the United States from the South and they along with other Buffalo Soldier regiments in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, patrolled the US - Mexico border until all the regiments were shipped out to North Africa in 1944.

During my drive down to Camp Lockett, I was reminded of the last time I drove on State Route S1. It was in 2002. Dad and I were coming down for a rededication ceremony of a monument to the Virgin Mary, built by Italian prisoners-of-war who were held on the base after the 10th and 28th Regiments had shipped out to North Africa. Dad told me the regiments used to do 24 mile force-marches on Route S1 from the base to where I-8 is today and then back to the base. The marches were done at night, leaving Camp Lockett around 22:00 and returning the next morning by 06:00. 

During one of these night maneuvers a trooper thought he would make a little money by selling whiskey to the  other troopers while they were out on the road. Leave it to some enterprising young trooper to try to earn some extra cash on the side. His plan was to fill his canteen with whiskey and after they've been out for a few hours he'd start selling capfuls, of the Devil's brew, at whatever price the market would bear. There is an old saying in the desert, "water is more precious than gold." After a few hours had gone by and no sales were being made the young trooper started to get thirsty. It seems that alcohol doesn't satisfy ones thirst like water does; in fact it makes it a lot worse. A lesson the young trooper learned the hard way. He eventually ended up pouring out the whiskey and then begging his fellow troopers for water. (the best laid plans of mice and men...) 

I didn't do Dad's story much justice here. Dad was a great storyteller! I guess, when you walk in the footsteps of a Buffalo Soldier, you'd best be prepared to fill some might big boots.

Camp Lockett's site was chosen for a cavalry post as far back as 1878 when sixteen troopers wearing the Blue uniform of the US Cavalry bivouacked for several months in this small mexican border valley. At that time it took a week to get to San Diego, the choicest acres of bottomland sold for $5 an acre: smugglers, cattle wrestlers and bandits were a constant problem.

Ground was broken for the present camp on June 23rd, 1941. The surrounding terrain offers unparalleled opportunities to test man, beast and mechanized carriers over a wide variety of terrain that includes heavily wooded underbrush, desert sand, miles of barren, rocky wastelands, streams to be forded and other geographic hazards identical to those which confront cavalry troopers in battle conditions.

Climatically this is a region of extremes. There is summer heat of 115 degrees and freezing temperatures in the winter. Long dry spells alternate with cloudburst. The Campo Valley is known as an area having one of the longest thermometers (meaning temperature swings) in the country.

Today, at the southern edge of Camp Lockett stands a 10-foot tall corrugated wall that runs as far as the eye can see. It represents the US-Mexico border. In the early 1940's, when the Buffalo Soldiers patrolled this area, no such wall existed.

In 1942, the 10th Cavalry Regiment (the famed Buffalo Soldiers) moved into Camp Lockett to replace the 11th Cavalry Regiment, which had been converted into an armored unit. In 1943 the 28th Cavalry Regiment made up of inductees joined the 10th to form the 4th Cavalry Brigade of the 2nd Cavalry Division (Horse).
From Fort  Leavenworth to Camp Lockett: two military reservations separated by 1600 miles and 78 years of Buffalo Soldier History. If their story began at Fort Leavenworth, then history will record that it ended at Camp Lockett. What happened in between is the responsibility of every abel-bodied member of the 9th and 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association to tell.


Trooper Ron Jones
Greater Los Angeles Area Chapter - 9th & 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Col Charles Young in Sequoia National Park

105 years ago, then captain, Charles Young and a Company of Buffalo Soldiers from the 9th Cavalry Regiment spent the summer working in Sequoia National Park, building the roads that opened the top of the mountain to tourism. On August 28, 2004 a Giant Sequoia Redwood was dedicated in the name of the Black Cavalry Officer.

During a very private ceremony guest from the National Park Service, the 9th and 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association, Vision Quest Buffalo Soldiers from youth camps in Pennsylvania, Arizona, and the Fred D. Jones Youth Center in Hesperia, California along with Buffalo Soldier reenactors from Northern California, stood in silence as descendants of Col. Charles Young thanked park officials and unveiled the wooden plaque located at the base of a mighty Sequoia Redwood.

The tree is located on Bear Hill Trail, just off the main road to Moro Rock. The same road built by Col. Young and the Buffalo Soldiers so many years ago. As you park your car, near the famous “Auto Log,” and head towards the trail, his tree is just out of sight. The footpath has an uphill grade and Col. Young’s tree is about 200 yards away at the end of the walk. The mountain air has a fresh clean smell and the scent of pine is everywhere. The path is covered with a light dusting of fine dirt and the canopy from the surrounding Ponderosa Pines and Douglas Ferns provides a blanket of shading that keeps the air temperature comfortable. As you make your way up the trail it takes a slight dogleg turn to the right and then you see it. At the end of the path stands a mature Sequoia Redwood. The symbolism is unmistakable. A solitary Sequoia Redwood, surrounded by many other tall pine trees …one cannot help but think of Col. Charles Young and his Troopers from the 9th Cavalry Regiment. Buffalo Soldiers one and all. They were true Trailblazers,
in every sense of the word.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Eagle Court of Honor

An Eagle Scout!

By Trooper Ron Jones

What goes into making an Eagle Scout? Take two heaping cups of a father’s guidance and a mother’s love. Add in, support from his family, his school and his community. Mix in a Scout Master’s leadership with the right amount of goals to help the scout learn responsibility, planning, and organizational skills and then reinforce, in him, a strong belief in God and Country. Wrap all of this with the twelve points of the Scout’s Law: A Scout is – Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent. Lastly, since a man is only as good as his word, ask him to take the following oath:

“On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”

Simmer over time with patience, tolerance, love and understanding. If you did everything just right, you might end up with an Eagle Scout. The worst thing that can happen... you’ll end up with a well-rounded young man.

It is a rare individual who has the dedication, the drive and the work ethic necessary to become an Eagle Scout. We, (members of the Los Angeles Chapter, of the 9th & 10th Horse Cavalry Association) had the distinct honor and privilege to be among the many VIP guests who were present at an Eagle Court of Honor ceremony for Matthew T. Seymour, as he received the Eagle Scout - Badge and Medal.

Clifford and Varnessa Seymour got it right when it came to their son Matthew. They deserve to be very proud of their son and his accomplishment. But when you know that Matthew’s grandfather is Trooper Andrew Aaron, one of the last of the surviving WWII Buffalo Soldiers, you almost want to say, ...should we expect anything less!

The next time you see a Scout, please, give him some words of encouragement. 

Congratulations, Matthew! You and young men like you, give me a positive feeling about our future.

There was one other thing that I wanted to mention about the Boy Scouts. If you want to know what kind of a man a Boy Scout grows up to be, you don’t have to look any further than to the men in our own organization. Here are just a few: Trooper Andrew Isaacs - Boy Scout, Trooper Bobby McDonald - Boy Scout, Trooper Andrew Aaron - Boy Scout, Trooper Lennister Williams - Boy Scout, Trooper Fred Cartha - Boy Scout and my father, Trooper Frederick Douglass Jones was a Boy Scout. A childhood friend of my father’s and also a Boy Scout was John Fox. On December 26th 1944, in Italy, Lieutenant Fox (92nd INF. DIV.) was 29 years old when he called artillery fire on his own position that was being overran with Germans. His actions, while saving his regiment, cost him his life and he was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in 1982. After further review, Lt. Fox had his medal upgraded, in January 1997, to the Congressional Medal of Honor. What type of a man does a Boy Scout grow up to be? A Buffalo Soldier. It’s not just coincidental that both groups’ initials are ‘B’ and ‘S’.