Page 37 - The Hunt - Summer 2018
P. 37

                  Opposite page: Richard Walkup with his son of the same name. This page:
Billy Wolffe.
First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry is the last of the so-called “champagne” units of the National Guard, where members wear dashing 18th-century uniforms and are skilled equestrians. But First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry is more than a ceremonial institution or a social fraternity. It’s also a combat unit. Alpha Troop, 104th Cavalry Regiment, 28th Division is part of the National Guard. For deployment, members wear Army-issue fatigues and serve in places like Bosnia, Kuwait and Iraq.
For more than two centuries, Philadelphia-area pro- fessionals, philanthropists and diplomats—with wives and children vying for their time and attention—have carved out large portions of their busy lives for First City Troop, as it is known. It’s the oldest mounted unit in the United States military—one that traded its mounts for tanks in 1942.
Steeped in rich tradition and selfless service, the story of First Troop Philadelphia is fascinating but not well known. Two books offer a peek inside its 242-year his- tory. Joseph Seymour’s First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry (Images of America), and G. Andrew Meschter’s The Gentle- men of Gloucester, A New Look at the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry, are both entertaining and informative reads.
Seymour has been a member of the troop since 1996. He is currently an Army National Guard historian at the
U.S. Army Center of Military History inWashington, D.C. For his book, he catalogued First City Troop’s large body of photographs. Unlike the troop’s previous detailed tomes, the image-heavy format uses captions to tell the story. “It’s easy to digest,” Seymour says.
By contrast, G. Andrew “Drew” Meschter took a first- person-narrative approach to his book, weaving his own story with that of First City Troop. As a boy growing up outside Philadelphia, Meschter was fascinated with all things military. While completing a master’s degree in modern British history at the University of Durham, England, in 2001, he watched the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks on television. Returning home, he enlisted in the National Guard and also applied for membership in First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry. Its focus on military history and military service was a perfect fit for him.
In his book, Meschter takes the reader through the process of becoming member No. 2383, beginning with his application and election to First City Troop and his first attempt at riding a horse. Meschter subsequently served on combat and peacekeeping deployments in Iraq and Egypt. The Gentlemen of Gloucester is interspersed with hilarious stories that illustrate one of the traditions and revered attributes of troopers—a well-developed and wicked sense of humor.
the troop
is more than a ceremonial institution or a social fraternity. it’s also A combat unit.
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